Instagram is the social media I love to hate. It’s so easy and fun on my personal account, but when it comes to managing my business account, it can be daunting. Nevertheless, Instagram can be a great way to find your target audience and turn followers into customers! Without a large following, I’m able to consistently get site traffic, engagement and clients from Instagram. These tips are to bring you success, no matter your number of followers . Because trust me, it can be done! 😉
1. Be in your own photos.
Are you present in your Instagram photos? Photos of your work are great and intriguing, but at the end of the day, people want to know who they are working with! This becomes more and more important when you’re a 1 person show. If you don’t have any high quality photos of yourself, consider hiring a photographer. If this is out of your budget, doing a service exchange with a photographer or asking a friend who is good with a camera for a helping hand. This doesn’t have to be awkward solo shots of you. Photos with family or friends work, too. If you’re part of a team, same thing applies, only share photos with everyone. Set a goal that for every 12 photos your post, you will include one of yourself.
2. “Lights. Camera. CAPTION!”
Yes, Instagram is a visual platform, but that doesn’t mean you can go without a rocking caption. Your social media page should not be a one-sided conversation. When a reader finishes reading your post, they should know exactly what to do next. Invite the reader in, and ask them to engage with you! The simplest way to do this is directing the reader to your “link in bio” or asking them a question.
Along with writing actionable captions, don’t limit your content to just your products or services. Let people get to know about other things you love! I often post about my hobbies, such as yoga or cooking! I’m not asking people to buy anything. Just simply inviting them into my world!
3. Use a variety of hashtags.
Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags. Try using 15 to 30 hashtags, and make them a mix of popular tags and more refined tags. For me, this looks like using "#graphicdesign" which has millions of tags and "#nashvillegraphicdesigner" which has under 1,000 tags. Do some research on relevant hashtags for your target audience. Think of what they would be searching for or using themselves.
4. Don’t add hashtags directly to your caption.
Put all those lovely hashtags in the comment with the following in front of the first hashtag.
#firsthashtag #secondhashtag #etc
When you do 5 periods first (one per line), Instagram condenses this into a couple of dots, so people aren't immediately seeing all of your hashtags when they first see your post.
5. Stop worrying about having a perfectly styled feed.
The trend of having a feed with the perfect on-brand colors, filters, and patterns is starting to end, y’all. (Praise hands for this because it’s so much easier for you!) An over-styled feed can often come off as insincere. Instead, focus on posting high quality photos with stellar captions. Make your rule of thumb: just post great content.
6. Find out what works for you.
Trial and error is key in creating social media that works. What works for me may not work as well with your audience. Try different things, and compare results. Does your audience prefer shorter captions or long story-form captions? Do you get higher engagement on an image with text or on a photo of you? What time of day is your audience active on Instagram? Learn about your audience!
7. There’s no place for bots on Instagram.
When you get comments on your photos from random accounts saying things like “Awesome,” “Great,” “Good work,” or a series of random emojis, chances are, it’s a bot. Businesses often use bots as an attempt to create engagement. But, what really happens is they end up making their business look bad by posting irrelevant (and often annoying) comments on people’s posts. This may seem like a smart solution, but it will just annoy people and prevent you from getting genuine interactions on your account.
Instead, spend around 10 minutes a day engaging authentically with other accounts!
8. Be a BRAND, not a business.
Every other point will come back to this. Be a brand, not a business. A brand is an expanded business. It’s your personality, what you like, who you are, your voice, and SO much more.
Instagram is not the place to sell. You will actually end up repelling people if every post is asking the reader to buy something.
“But, Elizabeth, the whole point of this is to make more sales… ”
Don’t worry, I got you…
Instead of operating your account like a salesman, operate it like a friend. Use Instagram as a way to find and connect to the people who are attracted to your business and your services. By offering your audience consistent, helpful and meaningful content, they will engage with what you are offering and hopefully become customers.
Take a few minutes and consider these suggestions. Make a list of things you want to put into practice. Try intentionally putting them in action, and notice how it impacts your account’s interactivity and your overall business!
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