Ever wonder how to use Instagram? Or any other platform for that matter?
The secret to gaining visibility, followers and conversions – be it sales or website traffic – via social media is knowing how to engage on your respective platforms in the right ways. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: “Engaging” on social media in the wrong ways, is worse than not engaging at all. One of the most common questions I get from social media and design clients is, “how do I DO this?!”. With an ever changing social world, I can understand the frustration. Between Facebook changing their algorithm every other hour, Twitter announcing it’s no longer social but rather, a news feed (we can change this btw), the mystery that IS Google+, and the proliferation of image based social, it’s a lot to keep up with!
Enter Instagram. While it’s been around since Oct 6, 2010 (happy 30th birthday to me!), the platform is projected to skyrocket over the next year likely thanks to ever-growing short attention spans & the need for immediate gratification, growing visual media and the acquisition by Facebook. With this in mind, I want to provide you with the tools to take your company, blog or brand from zero to sixty (thousand) followers in as little time as possible so you can get ahead of the curve and make it a platform that works for you.
Ultimately, I want you to be successful. Because the more of us who are successful in social media, the higher quality social experiences are for us all. Here are 3 ways on how to use Instagram to enhance your experience, increase followers, engagement and conclusively, brand awareness and sales.
1. How to Use Instagram: Comment Thoughtfully.
Anyone can double click an image or hit the heart button to like it, but taking the time to write a thoughtful comment that is specific to the picture will make you stand out. Focus on making it about the person who posted the picture, but also include one or two brief details that are personal to you will not only invest in the person whose attention you’re trying to get, but will also endear you to them. Don’t write a novel – keep it to one – three sentences and you’ll be set. Do that for 2 or 3 pictures on their feed while liking a couple others, and you’ll have more followers in no time.
Another key here: Monitor who likes, comments and follows you and then give back. You don’t have to follow back if their feed isn’t your niche or of any interest to you, but you can always find something nice to say about one or two of their pictures.
The same goes for others who comment on people’s posts that you follow. Click on their names, check them out – it’s THESE people who are engaging and interested in what’s happening in your niche. Chase them up! They could be your most valuable contributors, support and conversions.
Do not: Copy/Paste the same vague message like “Great post!” or “Looks delicious!” (smiley face, thumbs up, heart heart heat) because people can see right through that. Plus they can look at your activity and see you’re just spamming people. Also, PLEASE don’t ask for them to follow you or check out your feed – why should they invest in you if you haven’t taken the time to invest in them? Again, give them a reason to check you out – comment thoughtfully.
2. How to Use Instagram: Use the Search Function (appropriately).
You know that random star icon at the bottom of the toolbar? Use it. Never mind the feature images you see when you first click on it, use the search tool to look up hashtags that interest you or that you think your target audience would use. Then, spend time going into images and profiles and deploy point numero uno. The key to Instagram – and really any social media – is to get in front of people who wouldn’t find you otherwise. Invest in them, and watch them invest back.
Do not: Expect people to just find you. Social media is a constant effort. It’s like people have gotten so wrapped up in the term “media” they don’t realize that they’ve forgotten the first word! Social media isn’t traditional advertising – it’s social and actually, a little personal. So be that. Be present, be social, be real.
3. How to Use Instagram: Hashtags, bitch.
And while we’re at it, tagging people & places too. Unlike platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, you get to see exactly what you’ve elected to see – specific people’s feeds. You don’t get prompted to follow similar boards, tweets or pages so the ONLY way to get found by a totally new audience is via popular hashtags and tagging. So unlike other platforms that recommend no more than 2 or 3 hashtags per post, hashtag the shit outta your updates. Be sure to include thoughtful remarks or comments too, but finish it off with a butt load of relevant hashtags and if you’re at a specific venue, tag the place and anyone you’re with! This is how you get in front of new audiences on Instagram so don’t be shy. Be social!
Do not: Tag photos, places or people that have no business being included in that photo. The same goes for hashtags; if I want to look up pictures of puppies and search that hashtag only to find your boobilicious-selfie (I’m talkin to both men and women here) with no drooling, adorable baby dogs in site, you can sure as heck bet I won’t be liking or following you. Ever.
Other points that warrant note but not as their own headings: Liking, posting (regularly), video and having your Instagram profile visible on your website and your website clickable on your Instagram profile. These are kind of like “duh” mentions, but in order to be successful on Instagram, you need to like people’s pictures, post your own regularly (I shoot for one per day at minimum), use video once in a while to make your feed dynamic and of course, be sure your Instagram account – whether a button link or a live feed – is immediately visible on your website so people can find you as well as make sure you include your website in your Instagram profile so people can convert to your homepage. Duh.
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Are you on Instagram? What’s your experience? Any tips on how you make it work for you? Struggles? How can I make Instagram – or the social world in general – easier for you? Leave your thoughts below and I promise to reply directly!