Episode 16 – Instagram Tips Part 2

Ok, so we few weeks back we talked all about Instragram profiles, bios and how to use hashtags strategically. If you missed that post you might want to pop back to Episode 10 and read to that one first, as the information in today’s podcast it going to build on what we talked about in Episode 10.  I have had lots of good feedback from people saying that these tips really worked, they are seeing gains in their followers, but they want more! So, let’s talk posts, engagement and connection on Instagram!

In Part 2 I want to dive into how to make meaningful connections through your content and interactions on other people’s posts, to build a bigger and more loyal following. Through these methods my Instagram account has continued to grow really well (I mean, it’s still pretty tiny since it’s only a few months old and I have limited time to apply this, but I see significant daily growth) and  to have excellent engagement rates. Let’s get started!

So why does the level of connection or engagement matter when building a following? Lots of people just want to focus on their followers, and watching that number tick up higher every day, but honestly having a huge following that doesn’t interact is going to hurt you more than help you. Yes it looks cool when someone clicks on your profile and sees that K for 10k, 20k or even a hundred K beside your name, but that’s about all it does unless those followers are actually engaged – commenting and liking your posts, because that is what the algorithm cares about – engagement. It is more likely to continue to show your posts to people if they are liking, commenting, reposting, and all of that jazz. If you are posting and never getting any response from your following the algorithm will decide your content isn’t interesting and you will reach less and less people over time. Which means that theoretically someone with a huge following and very little interaction will get less views than someone with a small following and high engagement rate.

This means things like the “follow and unfollow” game where you follow a bunch of accounts in the hopes that they will follow you back is a complete and total waste of time. Sure, there might be the odd person in there that is actually interested in what you are posting, but 90% of them aren’t and that is going to kill your engagement rate. It’s also REALLY annoying, so please, just don’t.

This also goes for all of the 3rd party software that comments, like and posts on your behalf to try to get you followers. The comments aren’t written by a real person, so they aren’t relevant and most people are going to be wise to it, realizing that it’s a bot anyway. You also run a VERY real risk of having your account deleted as this goes against Instagram’s rules. They are REALLY cracking down on these things now, so please, don’t risk losing your account that you are working so hard to build and grow, over some 3rd party app that isn’t really going to help you anyway!

What should you do?

Tailor your content to your ideal client. Use excellent images. Write captions that hook the reader in and make them want to read more. Use video. Post call to actions. Interact and engage – with your followers, with the followers of people in the same sphere, and with other people that you think might be your ideal client.

I’m a photographer so let’s start with the images. Use clear, crisp images that catch the viewers’ attention. They don’t HAVE to be professional (although bonus points if you can hire a professional brand photographer and get them to help you out with curating your content) but they should be bright, and of good quality. No blurry or underexposed photos please – they do not perform as well. Try as well to be IN the images a good portion of the time. Statistics tell us that images with faces – especially the face of the account – perform at a WAY high rate than images of objects, places, etc. I know many of us hate having to put our face out into the world and it can feel uncomfortable, but in this case it will get you better results. (And it helps with the know like and trust factor I’m always mentioning!)

I am not someone who believes in a highly curated feed. They are pretty, it’s fun to see when someone does a great job with it, but it’s not ME.  I am not that person. If you are, that’s awesome, rock and roll. If you aren’t then here are a few tips to keep it cohesive without giving yourself a migraine. Use the same filter or editing style on all of your images so they all have a similar feel. Likewise, don’t jump around from colour to black and white, dark and moody to light and airy. Pick a style and stay within it. Ideally over time your audience will be able to recognize your image in the feed without even looking at the name. If possible use your brand colours frequently to tie it in. If you are using quotes or captions you can try making your own branded meme with the same colour and font, and your IG handle stamped in the same spot each time – that way if it gets shared your account gets exposure. Keep in mind which images appeal to your ideal client (and you don’t have to just guess, you can pay attention to what’s working!) and then try to use more of that type of image.

When you are writing your captions it is wise to make sure that the first sentence is going to grab their attention. Think Click Bait style headlines – but don’t actually make it click bait – give them the good stuff! In the feed the viewer is only going to be able to see the first line of text, so you need to make that line interesting enough to cause them to click the “view more” button and read the rest.

The content that you are posting should also appeal to your ideal client. Instagram is trending more towards longer captions these days, so you can think of it as a mini blog. Write little stories, share ideas, ask questions, tell jokes, anything that will entertain, inform or amuse.  Make the captions interesting so that the reader wants more. Inspire them to want to follow you and to be excited for your next post. Try to pick a few topics that you want share about and stick to those so that it becomes somewhat predictable and your audience can have an idea of what to look forward to. For a business account I would recommend picking 3 – 5 topics that you want to share about. Obviously the bulk of it will be related to your product or service but I would encourage you to trickle some personal stuff in there too. What is happening in your life that your ideal client might find interesting or relate to? Do you have kids? Pets? Love to cook? Love yoga on the beach? Whatever it is add it in there so that your clients and potential clients can get to know you a bit better and keep growing that know, like and trust factor.

Once you have your image, your hook line, and your caption planned I also want you to consider what your call to action is. EVERY post should have some form of call to action. It could be anything from asking a question, sending them to the link in your bio, asking them to double tap to show you some love, or tagging a friend who would love it in the comments below. Try to keep your call to actions fresh by switching it up a bit and make sure that you are doing lots of easy “little” asks like double tap to show me some love, to get them used to interacting so that when you ask for a bigger one such as wanting them to follow a link off the app, they are more likely to be willing to engage.

So now that you have the perfect post organized, you need to strategically plan WHEN you are going to post it. There are some awesome apps out there that can schedule your posts for you, so that you don’t have to be available in real time. In theory, this is fabulous, because you can batch an entire week’s worth of content, or more all at once and then not have to think about it. The downside to that is that you miss out on real time interaction which is SO key! I would suggest a happy medium of planning out the week’s content in advance and then setting reminders on your phone so that you are able to post the content manually, and stick around for 15 – 20 minutes to chat with your followers. This means that planning the when needs to take 2 things into account – when do YOU have time to not only post but stick around for a bit and engage, and when is your ideal client around to read it and want to engage? If you are lucky then these will line up, if you aren’t then you could either stagger it, scheduling some posts for when you ideal client is likely to be online, and then posting others in real time so that you can boost your engagement by interacting.

The next one is probably going to make a lot of people cringe, and honestly me too, but probably for a different reason. The next one is to use VIDEO. Social media LOVES video right now and you will be rewarded for using it by the algorithm because it will prioritize you. Viewers also love it. Video feels more authentic. They get to see your face, your smile, hear your voice and it feels like a more personal connection then words on a page. Bonus points if you go live. (I can HEAR some of your cringing right now). I get it. Lots of people hate being in front of the camera. So many of us are more comfortable happily hiding behind our keyboard because it is less exposed and nerve wracking.  

Or maybe you are like me and you don’t actually mind doing video all that much but your life is chaotic and it feels like work to find time when the kids aren’t running in and out, interrupting. Or you feel like you would rather looked more polished and put makeup and a cute outfit on – but who has time for that? (Basically, reading between the lines here, I feel lazy when it comes to video and I’m betting some of your do too)

At the end of the day, posting video or jumping on a live every now and then is worth it. And if you are nervous that no one will watch – don’t sweat it, that just means you get more time to practice and get really good before people do start paying attention. If you are afraid you are going to mess up, lose your train of thought or stumble on your words – let it go, no one is perfect, and your people won’t judge you for being human – truthfully they will probably relate better and love you more as a result. If you are like me and feel like it’s too much work to get all camera ready and find a clean quiet space in your house, well, get over yourself? Pretty sure that if my followers were given a choice between “I can show up sweaty from the gym, or even fresh out of the shower but my hair will be wet and I won’t have make up on” or “I can jump on and share this great hack but my kids might, let’s be real, WILL likely interrupt the video” and “I will just wait another month until I get everything perfect and THEN I will share my amazing content” they are going to be willing to deal with the wet hair and unruly children, because they are following you for a REASON and they WANT To hear from you!!

So let’s work on letting go a bit and showing up as authentically as possible. And I don’t mean fake authenticity where you put in extra work to make it LOOK like you are being authentic but if you were to turn the camera around you would see the true chaos, but actually being authentic because it will allow you to be loved and appreciated for who you are, and will allow you to get more of your ideas into the world faster.

Before we go on I need to take a few seconds to remind you to check out this week’s sponsor, Fiverr. Here’s the thing, when I decided to create this podcast I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to do ads on the show. The point of the podcast wasn’t so much financial gain, but to help people, so it wasn’t a massive priority BUT the show does take a lot of time and some money to produce so I opted to put ads in but ONLY if it is a company that I have worked with, TRULY love AND think would benefit you guys. Fiverr is one of those companies. They offer solutions from graphics, to music, to voice overs, to copywriting and editing. I mean seriously, if you can think of it they probably have someone who can do it. They are reasonably priced and everyone I have interacted with so far has had fantastic customer service. Plus they offer straightforward reviews, so you can check out what the previous customers had to say before you decide who you want to work with. This is such a great way to get a little bit of help in your life or business without having to hire on a staff member if you aren’t quite there yet. Go check Fiverr out!

Next key is HOW do you engage? I do a few things. The obvious being that I will make sure to comment back to anyone who replies on my post. Even if they just leave an emoji or something simple like that try to respond back with another emoji, or even a question to get them talking.

While waiting for comments I would also recommend spending some time scrolling through your feed and engaging with posts that you see. Double tap, or leave a comment with some genuine love on someone else’s post. This will not only feel great for them, and boost their engagement, but it will also boost your visibility.

You can also go onto other profiles who have a similar ideal client to you (try to avoid direct competition, but often there are other people who do different business with the same audience) and engage with their followers in their comment section.

The final step is to engage with people who you don’t follow and don’t follow you. I personally do a little bit of this right after I post, and then spend more time on it while I am waiting for clients to arrive, waiting for doctor’s appointments, waiting for… well anything! Or while watching Netflix because my brain likes to do multiple things and doesn’t like JUST watching tv… Try to think of hashtags that your ideal client might use in their posts. For the podcast account I tend to look for entrepreneurs, creative moms, Etsy shop owners, and other people who are likely Moms AND running some sort of business. I will search these hashtags which brings up all of the recent posts that have used that tag, and then I can scroll through double tapping and commenting on anything that appeals to me. Sounds like a waste of time, BUT when done with genuine intent it exposes a LOT more people to you and your account and will gain you followers pretty quickly. I have also stumbled upon SO many cool accounts while filling time this way, and make some great connections!

The biggest key and I cannot stress this enough is to be AUTHENTIC when you are doing all of these things. Don’t be spammy, don’t just scroll through copying and pasting the same comment onto everyone’s post. Don’t just scroll through double tapping everything you see in all sorts of random categories. It might work in the short term to gain you some followers, but unless you are specifically seeking out and authentically interacting with your IDEAL CLIENT then it is all a waste of time because those new followers likely aren’t going to engage with you, purchase from you or anything else that is even remotely helpful. You aren’t helping them and they aren’t helping you, so target carefully, interact genuinely and make sure you are showing up to serve your audience to the best of your ability. Be consistent, post regularly and your people will find you!

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