You just started using Instagram and you’re ready to give up because your head is spinning and you can’t figure it all out…sound familiar??
IG has been driving people batty for the past few years because the “algorithm” is constantly changing! BUT, it’s here to stay and IG can be a huge part of your marketing plan and strategy. IG makes it difficult to grow at times, but if you stop focusing on the numbers, and start focusing on content, you’re already ahead of the game!
So, with that, here are some tips and tricks to help you become IG Fabulous!!
#1 Be a Storyteller
There are many times I scroll through IG and see pretty pictures, with little or no captions. For example, I may see a picture of a cat, and the caption reads, “my cat”…
First thing I think is…DUH!!
Not that there’s anything wrong with posting a picture of your cat sleeping by a window, but what’s the point? What ‘feeling’ are you trying to tap into? Why would someone care?
Here’s how you can change that…tell a story in your caption, like:
“Check out Finster basking in the sun. It reminds me that I have to take time to savor the sweet, soft moments in life. There are days I just go, go, go…I need to be more like Finster. Do you ever feel this way?”
Boom! You just engaged with your audience.
Did you know longer captions get more attention than shorter, one word captions? Use your caption space to your advantage. Create mini stories to captivate your audience. Let them in your world a little. Your picture will come to life with a “mini-story” backing it up.
And, I usually end my “story” with a question for my audience. What a better way to initiate 2-way dialogue with your followers…ask them a question! (and remember to respond back if they answer!)
Here’s the best part, in addition to your photo, you can also start using IG-Stories to post more behind the scenes by way of video! So maybe record yourself playing with Finster and post it in your story…this let’s your audience into your world and makes you ‘real’.
#2 Create a Posting Schedule
Many of my clients don’t know where to start. I usually help them come up with a posting schedule. Whether they are posting once a day, or three times a day, it’s good to come up with a plan.
First, I do a “Weekly Plan”, for example:
Sunday Sermon, Motivation Monday, Tip Tuesday, Whacky BTS Wednesday, Hero Thursday, Game on Friday, Laid Back Saturday.
This will give them enough ammunition to jumpstart their feed.
After they get going on that, I may have them start posting more to create a theme. But for beginners, the goal is to get you posting daily. Here are some other ideas for your daily’s:
Promote a Product, Show BTS of your workspace, Fave Book Friday, What Inspires Me Wednesday, Fave Food Friday, Take a Poll Tuesday, A Day in the Life Post, Inspirational Quote…just to name a few.
#3 Geo Tagging/Add Location
Utilize your Geo Tags (Add Location)! When you post a pic, you have the option to ADD LOCATION to your post. DO IT! If Instagram gives you the option to add a location, then by all means, utilize that feature.
Let’s say you Geo Tag “Easton, PA”…anyone that looks through the Geo Tag Easton, PA will see your post in the feed.
This will help you to reach a localized audience or audiences in a specific area. When I have people come to my studio, I ask them to GEO TAG their photo on IG if they are posting. This is just as important as hashtags…
Wait! What are hashtags???
#4 Hashtags….use them!
First of all…what are they? It doesn’t stand for “pound” anymore, or tic-tac-toe. Think of hashtags as your own little Google keywords for people to find you. They are a way of categorizing your pics so they are grouped together and allow your photo to be part of a wider network online and make you more discoverable. It is a jumping off point for people to find you.
For example, if you are a baker, you want to connect with and find other bakers, so you may use the following hashtags: #baker #cookiemaker #cakegirl #EastonPABaking #mixandstir.
By tagging your photos with these hashtags, you are now a part of the bigger crowd and in anyone’s search for that particular subject. You are in the game. If you don’t use hashtags only your followers will be able to see your image, if you add them, the whole world can see your photo.
As of today, you can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram. I usually have my students make different lists of hashtags. I’ll use me as an example. I have 30 hashtags each for:
I created these lists and save them in a NOTE on my iPhone. This way you don’t have to go crazy retyping them every time you post something on a particular subject. You can simple copy and paste into your caption.
Create your list the following way: 1/3 generic hashtags with large numbers (like #baker: it has 2,240,000 posts), 1/3 generic hashtags with lower numbers (like #cakemaker: it has 120,000 posts), and 1/3 specific to you and your location (like #eastonbaker: it has 268 posts). You want to reach the low lying fruit and the big dogs on Instagram. So mix it up!
You can search them on IG by typing in the Search Bar on top. Now, start making those lists.
#5 Engage, Engage, Engage
The big dogs at Instagram want you to be human and engage with one another (same thing on Facebook!). So, this means you have some homework to do. When you take the time to shoot a great pic, write a kick-butt caption, load it up with hashtags, and you start getting ‘likes’ and more importantly ‘comments’…it is your job to RESPOND back to your followers!!
This is most likely my #1 tip for you.
If people take the time to respond to your post, then make sure you are engaging back! If someone likes your post, go check them out, and possibly follow them back, and like some of their pics. If someone comments on your photo, go to their page and comment on some of theirs. But, BE GENUINE. Instagram will think you are a computer BOT if you only respond with one or two word answers like, “nice!” or “great pic”, or “sweet!”….Don’t do that!! Engagement will count in IG’s eyes if it’s more than 4-6 words.
Gaining a following and having “relationships” on IG takes time and interaction. It will come with hard work and dedication.
#6 Photos on Point
So, being a photographer first here, you know I will have to talk about the quality of the images you are putting out there. This will come with investing in a good camera and good lighting. (Even though natural light and some bounce work perfectly fine at times!) Instagram is a Visual Candy Land, and a good image can go a long way. You can troll and scroll through IG now and pick out the professional images from the blurry, over or underexposed images. Guess which ones have more likes/comments? No brainer.
If you own your own company or are a blogger and you want to be the face behind your brand, then it’s a MUST to get quality images. This can be by way of headshots, brand portfolios, product shots, BTS shots, and tutorials. You may have to invest in a professional photographer every few months, but they will provide you with ammunition for your posts for months to come. Hint…Hint…Hint.
There are many apps out there that I use to enhance my images:
Canva (see platform below)
Just to name a few.
#7 Stop concentrating on numbers…worry about connecting
I honestly remember waiting and waiting for my numbers to go up…and, all that did was cause me headaches. The fun in IG is creating, teaching, and inspiring others around you, one photo at a time. I used to follow anything that was breathing...including dog and cat accounts….yep, I did!!
Now, I pick and choose who I want to follow and interact with. I want my IG feed to be filled with like-minded people (like you!), and people I am interested in. I also want to attract the right people to my site, which comes from producing the right content. I want people to engage with me and follow me back because I’m offering them something, or maybe just because they just loved my content.
#8 Update our Instagram Bio
This bio is just as important as a LinkedIN Bio, or like a quick little resume. It will tell a visitor WHO you are, WHAT you do, WHERE you’re located, WHAT you are looking to showcase, & HOW to find you. Please take the time to update yours.
For the e-mail section, I use LINKTR.EE to create my “links”. You can add many alternate websites/links via Linktr.ee, instead of one main website.
This gives your followers more to see off of Instagram, and you can direct them there via your captions! (Ex: “follow link in bio to my STORE”) Makes life easier!
There you have it...8 tips and tricks to jumpstart your Instagram into Insta-Fabulous!! Hope this helps a bit!! Reach out if you have any questions, or want to book a 1-on-1 Social Media Session in person or on-line!
And don't forget to follow me on Instagram...I'll follow you back!! Hit me up with a DM (direct message).