Hi all- I see a lot of search traffic on Google around "instagram tips" and the like (especially for entrepreneurs). Wanted to share a few things I've been seeing on Instagram that caught my eye and would love to hear if you've seen (or done!) things that are working.
Put a link in your bio
Instagram is notorious for its design decision to not allow clickable links in comments or posts. The one route around this is to include a link in your business profile on Instagram, which is one place where a clickable link is allowed. An overlay on an image or comment of "see link in profile" is a good way to call attention to that link. Here's an example from Tokyorecordbar.
Keep it authentic and keep a coherent look and feel
Yes, Instagram is a highly visual platform, but don't over-curate your images. (The Atlantic just announced that "the Instagram aesthetic is over" from a look-and-feel standpoint, even as the platform's popularity continues to expand.) Ensuring that things are real is key. That said, do aim for a coherent look and feel that supports your overall approach to how you hope your brand will be perceived.
Explore Instagram stories
The current trend in social media is toward the ephemeral, driven originally by Snapchat and now embraced in force by Instagram, their parent Facebook, and others. Instagram stories are episodic pieces of content that get top-billing in the Instagram interface, meaning they are the first thing seen on the top of your followers' experience on Instagram. One thing to watch for with Instagram stories, however, is that any images in the stories automatically "self-destruct" after 24 hours, meaning that stories require constant care and feeding to stay in your followers' fields of view.
Follow and engage with others
When starting out and after you have a few posts in your feed (say, 15-20 posts), definitely start following and engaging with others on the platform. You want to make sure you're not spamming folks, but try to follow a handful of new folks each day or each week and like and comment on their posts if you see fit (schedule time for this). You'll begin to build relationships with those individuals and a portion of them will follow you back.
Use hashtags judiciously
Hashtags are searchable keywords preceded by the pound sign on Instagram. Many Instagram users search the platform by clicking on hashtags to search across the platform. For example, I often search the #smallbusiness hashtag to see how different entrepreneurs across the globe are using the platform. This Instagram guide goes into more detail on hashtags.
Measure your results
While it's seductive to try to get a zillion followers on Instagram, it's way more important to have engagement. Track the number of link clicks to your website (you should be able to see Instagram as a referrer in Google Analytics), and track the engagement on Instagram itself by keeping tabs on the number of likes and comments you get over time.
Anything you've seen that's working out there, either for yourself of others? Any particular Instagram accounts you've seen doing this well?
Good stuff and lots of good points!
I believe that the most important thing is authenticity! That is the one unique thing that no one has -- YOU! Key is to be consistent in reflecting your "personality" in not only how you describe what you post and but being selective as to the type of visuals you choose to share. We don't need TMI.
If you think about it your Instagram account is a mini-community, right? So making sure that you engage would be a close second.
Thanks for sharing!
"We don't need TMI." Indeed.
Your point on authenticity is spot-on, @Muse. That's where the good stuff happens. Would way more prefer to learn from someone who is going through the process -- ups AND downs -- than from a perfectly curated experience that glosses over the hard parts.
@ccarfi , thank you for sharing.
I would have to admit the only social media I use as an entrepreneur is Twitter, but looking at possibly expanding out to other social products (ie. Instagram, Facebook, etc..).
Being authentic I believe is important when posting. I agree what @Muse stated.
I could not agree more with your final point that engagement is what you want to be successful. In fact, in my opinion, your whole social media marketing plan (yes, everyone should have one) should be focused on engagement over click-thru traffic. Engagement builds communities and that's how a brand survives.
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Those are some very good points @ccarfi, certainly the "follow and engage with others" is essential. Engagement puts the social in social media.
One small note, when marketing your business keep it business focused. It is okay to be personable (that might even be part of your brand) but please don't allow personal things leak onto your business page. Sharing certain things might endear your audience to you but as a general rule leave the personal things to your personal social media accounts.
roy darling *my posts seem a lot shorter in my head
Full disclosure, I haven't had a personal cell phone since 2007.
I had a quick look at your social @ruralart and your feeds seem on brand to me? Your work is beautiful, I can see that it is nature inspired and given your company name the animals even fit. Also, cat pictures on the internet is a bit of a cheat code. I don't follow you so I don't see what you post day-to-day and I didn't see everything but your aesthetic seems to be spot on to combine your work and personal? I also didn't see pictures of you at a political rally which is an example I would feel like should now be included.
As for the engagement I'd suggest using the "throw out the high score and the low score" approach. Engagement can be a reason to separate your personal and business social media. A family member liking things on your social may not be the kind of interaction for which you are looking? On the other side personal engagement could cause posts to flourish?
For myself I practice a device per business approach. Back when I was bold (or batty) enough to do social media for clients each client had a different device. Given the cost for social media services buying a Android based phone and keeping it on WiFi was in budget. It allowed me to easily know what account was which, it was portable (could give the phone to someone else to monitor, take home...) and it allowed me to leave work at work.
Really good Android phones will be under $200 for the very latest models in most cases. You can fight the urge to trade-in/trade-up for the latest gadget and assign your old device to social media for business. Don't discount using old devices, I know social media managers that are using tech that is several generations behind without issue.
If you must mix (or prefer to) please take the Chanel approach. Coco Channel once said "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off." For me that is more about presenting too much of what you love when holding back a bit might present best..
roy darling *my posts seem a lot shorter in my head
Thanks @rd ! That was very helpful! I keep politics off my business and mixed feeds, except for stories. Having multiple devices had not occurred to me as a way to separate accounts.
This is great advice. I have also found success going live on IG at times when my followers are most engaged (weekday evenings). I'll usually post a story or 2 about it as a heads up and have a general topic of discussion that relates to my audience. That has been great at engaging with my followers.
IG TV is also a good tool for engagement as it's one of the newer features on IG and you can tell that they want to promote it. You can have it go into your regular feed to reach your audience and then they can click to watch more.
Finally, I also will link to IG stories and pictures on my blog as a way to reach people who might not have known about my IG but find my blog through Google or email.
Thanks for sharing, @StudentsofHist! Great call-out on IGTV.
Also, re: day-parting -- YES! I've similarly noticed that for me as well, things posted at particular times of day seem to get more engagement than things posted at other times. Since every channel is different, finding out what works for the group of folks you're connecting with is worth spending some time on. A little bit of investment in experimentation can make later weeks/months significantly more effective.
Am totally going to go check out your feed now.
Thank you for sharing a great article @ccarfi, really inspiring. I am also promoting Instagram for some years and my business is growing. Really help.
Thanks for the useful post @ccarfi.
Does the order of the hashtags matter? We use a lot of the same ones but tend to shift which comes first, which is last, etc. Does it make a difference?
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