It's no secret that instagram is a big deal in my world. I love how visually stunning pictures on instagram are, how perfect, and how engaging they can be. I have used instagram, successfully, for several businesses to help them grow.
One great perk about instagram is instant connections. My followers are the most likely to buy direct from my website, because they are already followers. All I need to do is show them my products, encourage the sale, and generally it works!
Do you often wonder what the big deal is about instagram? Maybe you're trying but aren't quite seeing any returns? I can help you with that.
So what gives? What can you do NOW to change posting to instagram from that dreaded task you often forget about to a task that gets you excited about your business!?
1. BE MEMORABLE //
Use the same high quality, personality-filled profile picture or your business logo across all of your social media accounts. This continuity will help people remember who you are. Keeping the image clear, with a clean background will allow the image to be visible when used in large scale or small.
2. WHATS IN A NAME //
Make your username similar to your business name so it will be easy for potential clients and customers to find you in the search results. I mean, hotfuzzypeach is a great twitter handle, but maybe not professional enough for a business, you know what I mean?
// Keep in mind, however, that each social media channel restricts the number of characters in each name and they're not all the same.
- twitter: 15 (username)
- facebook: 50 (username)
- pinterest: 37 (name) / 15 (url)
- instagram: 30 (username)
3. DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS //
Explain your business and purpose for being on instagram with a succinct tagline. And while you're at it, make sure you have your account converted to a business account.
4. ENGAGE WITH YOUR FOLLOWERS //
Every comment, even an emoticon deserves a thank you, nod, or returned emoji happy face. Visit the instagram accounts of those who have liked or commented on your posts. Share the love, comment and like their pictures too. You can also search hashtags within your brand scope and engage with other creatives, brand experts, you never know what you'll find exploring instagram. You might even be inspired.
5. POST GREAT PICTURES //
We all love pictures of food or that giant moon on the horizon, but if it doesn't make sense for your brand, perhaps you should post to your personal facebook account, rather than your business instagram. As well, unless your product is kids clothes, maybe keep your munchkins out of your feed too. I recognize that for a lot of small businesses, their families are as connected as they are and I wholly agree the odd family photo or two have a place in your feed, but those pictures should be staged, include your product, or professionally photographed (see number 12, share your story).
6. DEVELOP A CONSISTENT STYLE //
Think of your Instagram feed as a portfolio for your brand. Choose 10 adjectives you would use to describe your brand. Fun? Colorful? Minimalistic? Classy? Quirky? Before you post a photo, think about whether or not the photo you are posting is in line with your brand. Bonus points for posting photos containing your brand colors on a regular basis!
Example: Erin Ireland
7. VARY THE TYPES OF PHOTOS THAT YOU POST //
Because instagram is "pretty", think about your scroll. Your scroll is what your instagram account looks like when people click on your name and see your instagram page (from their mobile device). Having a beautifully curated scroll consisting of pictures taken both by you or reposted showcasing your brand, product, and aesthetic you want to evoke will really capture the hearts of your potential customers.
This also is key if you have had few photo shoots and your product shots all look the same. By adding in inspirational posts or cross-promoting other brands, you won't overwhelm your audience.
Example: Frank Stationery
8. SET A SCHEDULE //
When I first decided to kick my instagram into overdrive and really grow my audience, I set the goal to make ONE post per day. Look at your insights, if you have a business account, when are your followers most active? For me, they are most active before they get out of bed (or when they're on the bus to work), lunch hours, and late at night, before bed. If you can catch those waves and post relevant content prior to their consumption, you can increase exposure and potentially increase click-throughs and sales.
9. KEEP AN ACE UP YOUR SLEEVE //
Always have pictures readily available for those days when you have no new content but still feel compelled to keep to your posting schedule. I like to use Dropbox - All of my product photography is saved online so I can easily export and post with a moment's notice. It's great for when I'm waiting on the bus or in line at the coffee shop. If the timing isn't right to post, I just shuffle over to Later and prepare my post for then. Later is one of the coolest (and they're Vancouver-Local!) apps, it lets you prepare your posts and reminds you to post them later.
I highly recommend it.
10. DON'T OVER POST //
If you have a new product or just took a bunch of new pictures, please, for the love of pete, do not post them all at once. Spamming your followers is a major no-no. Posting in rapid-fire-succession is the fastest way to lose followers.
Start slow, if you're excited about a product, share it with the world! Prepare another post for the next day or maybe a week later. After you've set a schedule and you're feeling good about it, up your ante. Generally, as your following grows, it makes sense to post once or twice a day. As you get bigger, you can post more often. For me, my goal is to post between 1 and 3 times per day.
11. COLLABORATE WITH OTHER INSTAGRAMMERS //
Is there a brand or fellow creative that you could collaborate with? Perhaps you could host a giveaway or start a challenge together! Reach out to them and propose an idea. I have always been a fan of Poppytalk's Spring Colours week. It's really great when a bunch of creatives jump onboard and curate such a beautiful feed!
12. USE HASHTAGS //
Always. Use. Hashtags. There are many schools of thought about how you should present your hashtags with each post, you're welcome to develop your own style, but this is what I do.
Because I often cross-post to instagram and facebook (we can get into what differs between the two platforms soon, stay tuned!), I don't want to inundate my readers with posts that look too spammy. I always include 3 or 4 hashtags with my original post and then in the comments section, I snag the first comment with my hashtags.
How do you know which hashtags to use? This is the fun part. Ok, it's the homework. Take half an hour and troll the internet. Look up your competition on instagram and see what tags they use. When you click on a tag, you can see how many other photos have been posted with the same hashtag. I often aim to use niche or sub-culture hashtags specific to my posts. For each post, you can use up to 30 hashtags, so be creative.
Mix it up, have fun with it, change the tags you use on a regular basis, drawing from a pool of 50 to 60 tags.
13. GIVE CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE //
When you post an original picture, it is assumed its yours and all of the copyrights included with your instagram service agreement. It is also a common courtesy to identify any images you post that are not your original pictures.
14. SHARE YOUR STORY //
Instagram is amazing for pictures, but my favorite part about it, is that you can connect one on one with your core demographic - your true believers. Tell a story with every post. Build anticipation. Tell the truth. If you're having a shitty day, say so, but look further ahead. This, is where you can even post pictures of yourself or your family. Tell your followers who you are, where you come from and help them grow a personal connection with you and your product!
ARE YOU READY TO TAKE YOUR INSTAGRAM TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
Well alright! If you'd like to kick up your social media strategy to get more traffic, engagement and growth so that you can have a successful online business, let's talk. We can strategize about your brand identity, develop a consistent posting schedule and work together to achieve your business goals.
What about you? Have you tried anything in particular that has helped to grow your Instagram account? Please tell us! What didn't work? We want to know that too.