So, after talking about how to maximize your Twitter following, I thought the next conversation should be about Instagram. Just like everyone else, I LOVE Instagram. By breakfast, I've visited IG at least a couple of times. In fact, that's where my biggest social media following is. (I hit 10,000 followers last week!) Instagram is very different from Twitter as it's way more visual. But similar to Twitter, hashtags still play a big part and following others can help you increase your following. But like anything, it's all about strategy and maximizing the medium to benefit your business, blog and/or personal brand. Having a great Instagram is simple but not easy.
POST CONVERSATION STARTING PHOTOS
As you know, Instagram is the most visual of all the social networks so taking & posting good pictures goes without saying. I can't tell you how many brand campaigns I've been hired to be a part of because of my Instagram alone. (I was hired once to post an IG video for $1500. That's $100 per second. Craziness.) A picture is worth a thousand words and hundreds of possibilities for your blog and business if you post the right pictures (or video). Think of it as telling your blog/brand story via a photo news feed. What are the most interesting and visually appealing part of your day? That's what your followers want to see. And you don't need professional equipment for that. That's what the edit options and filters are for. Take clear and INTERESTING photos. Use natural light or great lighting to post clear fantastic photos. You also want to take composition in consideration. Here's an example:
You'll notice that I lightened the photo (by turning down the shadows, increasing exposure & brightness + slighting bringing up the saturation without taking away the softness of the photo) and then cropped it. In the before photo, you'll notice to the left that the picture frame has a drawn photo that Hubs placed in there until we put an actual photo in it. That doesn't look appealing so I cropped it while focusing #Babyologie to the left and capturing the essence of the nursery to the right. (Get into the rule of thirds to fully understand photo composition.) It doesn't look like I was trying to hide anything, instead it portrays my baby in an interesting and delightful way.
Because I like really clear and crisp photographs, I've also been using my DSLR with a wi-fi SD card to take photos for IG. The wi-fi card sends the photos straight to my phone from my camera. I usually edit the photo using Instagram edit options or even apps like VSCOcam or Snapseed.
But most importantly, tell your story. On Instagram, I share everything from snapshots of my latest outfit post, photos of #Babyologie and the really pretty salad I had for lunch. Ask yourself: Would I like this photo on Instagram if it wasn't my photo? Is this interesting? Is this pretty or presentable? If you can answer yes to all three of those questions honestly, you're in pretty good shape. And great photos will always increase your Instagram following.
GET THAT USERNAME & BIO TOGETHER
This is very important, yet people always tend to overlook the seriousness of their bio and username. First, let's tackle how important your Instagram username is. Have you ever looked for a brand that you follow on Twitter on Instagram only to go on wild goose hunt for 15 minutes because their Twitter and IG handles don't match? Yeah, very annoying. The same applies to your blog or business. Don't make it hard for your followers or customers to find you. If it's hard to find you, it's hard to follow you.
[bctt tweet="If it's hard to find you on Instagram, it's hard to follow you."]
Your Instagram username should match your other social media handles and if you're smart (and lucky), your domain name. People are lazy so if they have to work to find you, you'll probably lose out on getting them to follow you. Now, if you aren't able to match your Instagram username to the rest of your social media handles (maybe someone has the same name & already registered it), then promote your Instagram account on your other social media and make it as easy as a click for them to follow you. Tweet it out, post it on Facebook & even pin your most liked photos.
Another important factor in maximizing your Instagram account is having a dynamic bio. Again, I know we all want to win Miss Witty Social Media Bio 2015, but the important part to share is what you do. By letting people know what you do (not just your title "blogger/host/editor/wife") they know what they're getting into. You can even include a little blurb about what kind of photos you post on IG. The message is much more clear. So many times we get caught up in sounding good instead of being good.
LIKE, COMMENT & ENGAGE
You would think that this is a no brainer, but I'll say it anyway. Get involved on Instagram versus just seeking followers. You want people to comment on your photos? Comment on other people's photos. You want people to follow you? Follow other IG accounts. To be clear, I don't necessarily believe in follow for follow. You know where you to someone to follow you because you're following them. But I believe in getting involved in Instagram or any social media platform you're on to maximize your potential on it. If you do not use something, it can not be useful to you. Instagram included.
[bctt tweet="If you do not use something, it can not be useful to you. Instagram included."]
To really get in depth Instagram stats on your account and the behavior of your following, you can use an Instagram metrics app like Iconosquare. They break down everything from the followers you gained and lost in the current month, your most liked and comment posts of all time and how quick/often your following engages with your posts. It's pretty fantastic. Take a look at some of my stats.
This is a general overview of my account. Keep in mind the last time I signed in to Iconosquare was March 31 which is why my numbers are a little off. But in the last week it tells me how many new followers I've gained and lost. It also shares how many posts I've shared plus a grand total of all my likes and comments. Great info for a press kit!
My posting habits and media average lifespan are also some excellent intel to determine when I should post to maximize the engagement of my following. Apparently, I post a lot on Wednesday mornings and Sunday afternoons which makes for a great response for my audience. The graphs also shares that after 6 hours, my posts rarely trigger any interaction. I could improve my re-sharing my posts on my other social media platforms. Something to think about.
POST, SHARE, TAG & HASHTAG APPROPRIATELY
Ok, you're on Instagram. Now you need to post regularly and share your content on all of your social media. Link your account to your Twitter and Facebook accounts to draw your other followers to follow you on Instagram. Again, posting clear pictures are imperative. Also, use hashtags appropriately and sparingly. If you hashtag something, make sure it's necessary. (If you're a local makeup artist, maybe hashtag #ATLMUA or even #makeup.) But anything more than three hashtags is excessive. It is. Trust me.
Posting shouldn't be too excessive either, but enough to keep your following interested. Once a day is cool, and to be honest, so is 10. But your 10 posts shouldn't be back to back to back. Spread it out. According to Latergramme, the best times to post on Instagram is at 2am and 5pm and the best day to post is Wednesday. Posting at these times on this day has been proving to get you more likes. While you don't have to follow this to a tee, keep it in mind when you're posting something you want a lot of eyes on.
FIND YOUR AESTHETIC
Just like with anything else - your blog, your brand, etc. - your Instagram should have an aesthetic: a certain feel to it. There are bloggers are I follow who post amazing photos on the various trips they on throughout the month. So their IG serves as a form of escapism for me. Others I follow on IG, take amazing food pics or give you great black and white imagery.
The aesthetic of my Instagram is girly, capturing vignettes of pretty things (usually flowers), hair & makeup focused while giving you sprinkles of my family. This is a great representation of who I actually am in real life. It wasn't always like this. It took me a while to make a method to the madness.
The last 12 photos of on my Instagram are my baby & Hubs, a selfie showing off my hair and makeup, a flat lay of my breakfast/morning, my 3 favorite fragrances, an outfit post, a vignette of my computer with lipsticks and a notebook, my sister in a selfie wearing the wig I made her, a throwback outfit post, a flashback to my maternity photos, flowers I came across at Whole Foods, another outfit post and another selfie. You'll notice that while these photos are relatively different they are all bright and/or soft in finish/filter. I only post a photo on my Instagram if it's bright, cheerful, stylish and/or clear. I seldom use filters. Never borders. There's a "look" to my Instagram. That's what aesthetic is all about. Because it's consistent, my followers know what to expect and new followers know what they're getting into.
So there you have it; how to maximize your Instagram following. It's simple yet far from easy. You have to be consistent, intentional and have some sort of aesthetic. Just think of your Instagram as a digital stage and leave your audience wanting more.
This is part two of a 4 post series on the blog that I’m calling Socialologie. I’ll be breaking down how to maximize your social media networks – Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook – and how to take it to the next level. It’s not just about being on these networks, it’s about being present. Being present and utilizing them correctly increase your digital equity. Next week, we’ll be covering Instagram.
[bctt tweet="I just read part 2 of Socialologie: How To Maximize Your Social Media Following."]
Also, after being asked more than a few times and telling myself that yes, one day I’ll do it, I’m finally offering social media strategy and blog + content strategy consulting. (All consultations are 61% off until April 30!) Each consult is 90 minutes long and we break down your social media or blog to make sure you’re reaching your goals with 3 follow ups. Interested? Check out more details here.