Alright, so this post is going to be helpful to you whether you’re a total Instagram newbie, OR a seasoned ‘grammer who is feeling a little stagnant in your growth on the platform.
DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
You have an online business, everyone keeps telling you that you NEED to be on Instagram, but you have no idea where to even start. So you signed up for an Instagram Account. Now what?!
You felt like you understood Instagram initially, but the addition of features like IGTV, Stories, Algorithm changes has thrown you for a loop.
You keep hearing that Instagram is “super saturated” and have no idea how you are going to grow your account with so many people doing well on the platform already, you fear there is simply no room for you.
...if any of these sound like you, you're in the right place, my friend.
I’m going to give you my top 7 tips for using Instagram to grow your online business or blog. Let’s get to it!
1. UPLEVEL YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY
This sounds a little bit obvious, doesn’t it? Well, you’d be surprised how many people are still missing the mark on this. Instagram is a VISUAL platform so aesthetics are everything! Having beautiful, well lit, high quality photography is essential if you want to stand out on Instagram. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a fancy DSLR (iphone photos can work, as long as their high quality).
Ready to uplevel your photography? Here’s how:
Lighting is your new best friend. Seriously. Pay close attention to the lighting in your photos and use natural lighting whenever possible! Take your photos outside or by a window. If you’re taking your photos directly outside, aim for those glowy magical sunset portraits (not direct sunlight).
Use cheap white poster boards to create DIY light reflectors for indoor photography. These cost are 1-2 bucks at your office supply or dollar store and can help reflect the light on your scene. You can also consider making a DIY photo box (check Pinterest) if the only time you’re able to take photos is at night after work, for example.
Edit every single photo you post to your Instagram feed. I can’t recommend this enough! And I’m not talking about using Instagram Filters. Use high quality phone editing apps like Lightroom Mobile or VSCO. Editing your photos will make a world of difference.
Using lighting to your advantage and optimizing your photos will help build a cohesive feed. This is great for brand recognition too! It’s definitely a process and photography takes practice though ;) so keep on snapping. Always tie your photos into your business with the caption. Even if your photo seems completely random (i.e. not on brand), the caption is a great way to bring everything together nicely!
2. WRITE HIGH QUALITY CAPTIONS
Instagram captions are equally as important as the photos that you’re posting. Because of this, I encourage you to dig a little deeper than the emoji caption, or the basic caption that describes exactly what we’re seeing in the photo. “My breakfast,” anyone?! Your captions should help represent your brand and build trust with your audience. Give, give, give! Instead of telling us exactly what we’re seeing (we can see it, afterall), try sharing the story of how you got there or what was happening before the photo was taken. Take us through the story!
Higher quality captions will also help your engagement increase. With the algorithm, engagement in the first hour means more eyes on your photo. That’s the goal, right? Get more eyes on your business/product/ services. The better your engagement the higher your chances for being discovered in hashtags as well (or even getting featured somewhere).
If you feel totally lost when it comes time to caption your posts, I totally feel ya. The best workaround for this is planning ahead and having a “bank” of ideas and captions that you can use. Share the story behind the photo, offer some insight, teach about a topic, share a quote. You can ask your audience a question or encourage them to “tag a friend” or “double tap if…” to encourage them to engage with your post.
Want to learn how to optimize your Instagram Profile? Grab the video tutorial!
3. USE HASHTAGS ON EVERY PHOTO
Hashtags are a tool that you should be using consistently. They allow people to search for you and discover your amazing content. For example, I recently was searching for a photographer in Tulum, Mexico. I went on Instagram first to start my research! I searched for #Tulum to check out some of the photography and see if any of it was by professional locals, then I headed to #Tulumphotographer to check that hashtag out. Eventually, I did find what I was looking for! To find hashtags, you can start by searching keywords that your ideal audience might be looking for. You can also check out what other accounts in your niche are using!
You’re allowed 30 hashtags in your caption and I always use every single one. This is how you have the best chances of being found.
I recommend using hashtags with over 10,000 uses and under 500,000 for best odds. Another hashtag goal is to be featured in the top posts for that hashtags so being strategic is important to achieve that. Don’t make up your own hashtags (unless you’re JUST using them to be funny). They won’t help you be found.
4. COLLABORATE WITH OTHER SIMILAR ACCOUNTS
If you want to get your content in front of more eyes, consider collaborating on Instagram in the form of an account takeover or a shoutout. You’re aiming for people with your ideal audience (but not direct competitors to what you’re offering). DM people that might be a good fit for a collaboration and pitch how it’s beneficial for them to work with you! The key to doing this successfully is to reach out to the right people—-similarly sized accounts will work best in a niche related to yours (but not exactly the same).
5. SEND PEOPLE TO A SECOND CHANNEL (YOUTUBE, FB, EMAIL)
Because we don’t own Instagram (or any of our social media channels, for that matter) we always want to be sending them to a second location (i.e. our email list, our facebook group, etc). You can send them to your other channels by mentioning it in your instagram posts or direct links in your stories. Share your freebies to get them onto your email list but also feel free to promote your new Youtube video or your new blog post on Instagram to help grow your following everywhere (and you’ll always have a way to reach your audience too).
6. BE CONSISTENT ON INSTAGRAM
A question I hear very frequently is “how often should I be posting on Instagram?” and here’s my take on this. If posting two times a day is fun for you and realistic, go for it. I don’t think it’s necessary though. I do think posting multiple times a week (daily if possible) is what to aim for. Being consistent on Instagram is super important for your followers and for your growth (and for IG Algorithm, for that matter!)
Just make sure you’re consistently adding value to your audience and posting high quality photos and captions each time. Remember that storytelling is important!
Instagram stories should be DAILY though. I’m actually doing an experiment where I’m posting every single day on Insta stories and I’m already seeing increased engagement from that. Boom! Just try it for 90 days and see what happens.
OPTIMIZE YOUR INSTAGRAM PROFILE WITH MY FREE VIDEO GUIDE!
7. MAKE FREEBIES AND SHARE THEM ON INSTA STORIES WEEKLY
Give continuous value on Instagram stories and encourage them to download your freebie (and grab their email address in exchange). This way, you’re able to reach them directly via email and continue to provide value to them over there. You’ll be able to reach them directly when it’s time to sell your product or service!