Instagram for me used to be just a place I could post any old photo without thinking about who might see it, what it might become and how it might develop. I would maybe post once and then not look at it for a month. I’d hardly engage and then decided to set up my own Virtual Assistant and Social Media Business and found out the amount of work needed to boost your business by using social media.
Facebook I can do, I’ve had it for years so I know I've pretty much mastered it now.
From reading social media material, taking courses and listening to podcasts, my knowledge has grown tremendously over the past two years and my client base has increased due to my skills and awareness.
So I’ve come up with the ‘Seven Wonders’ of Instagram for Businesses. This has taken a lot of research and the analytical evidence is really favourable.
1. Switch your Instagram to be a creator or business account
Anyone is able to switch to either of these accounts and it is free. It's also helpful to know what they are if you are just starting out. Creator accounts are generally used for bloggers. Business accounts are basically as it sounds, for businesses, so if you are selling a service, this would be ideal for you. I have a business account. That being said, there isn't really that much difference between the two.
Those with a Creator Account can access daily data on audience growth whereas Business Accounts only give users access to weekly data. With business accounts you can add additional Call-to-Action buttons so that visitors can contact customer service, make reservations and even book appointments. Social Media Scheduling applications like Buffer, Hootsuite and Later are only accessible to Business Accounts. Also if you run advertisements, you need to have a business account.
Creator accounts are good for bloggers and influencers and you can manage your daily stats and get detailed insights into your audience demographics, the best time to post and different metrics. You also get an Inbox separated into three labels, Primary, General and Requests so that you can sort your DMs and take full control on your messages.
To switch your Instagram profile, go onto settings.
2. Algorithms - Don’t try to ‘beat’ the system!
Lots of people talk about trying to ‘beat the algorithm on Instagram’. If this is what you want to do then your strategy will not work. You cannot beat it and you will never win.
You need to learn how to work with the algorithm if you want to succeed on Instagram.
The Instagram feed no longer posts in date order. Sometimes it will show you posts from the same day, sometimes it will be from 5 days ago. Engagement is now the best way to work with the algorithm. The way to get engagement is to make your content engaging. Unfortunately and irritatingly Instagram doesn't show all of your followers all of your content. If you want more of your followers to see your post, you need to get the people who do see it to engage with it. When Instagram sees people engaging with a post it shows it to more people as it appreciates you posting valuable content.
3. Make your posts engaging.
Instagram is a visual platform. Which means it is mainly made up of pictures and videos and they have to be aesthetically pleasing to get noticed.
Boring, sloppy, photos will be scrolled straight past. Generally subject photos do quite well, for example pictures with animals or people in them. Also motivational quotes and tips relate to a lot of people, meaning it will get more shares and likes, leading to increased engagement and hopefully new engaging followers.
Make sure you tag the relevant people in your posts along with location. You can add up to 10 pictures in one feed post which people can swipe through one by one. Instagram counts every swipe as one piece of engagement. The longer you keep them on your account the better. Instagram will reward that and show your content to more people.
Your caption also needs to be engaging. Don’t use just one sentence with loads of emojis. As I said before you want your followers to stay on your feed as long as possible. Entertain, educate and inspire your audience. Asking questions at the end can also increase engagement as well as giving you insightful feedback on your followers and what interests them.
Always reply to your comments. As soon as possible. When you reply to your comments, you are doubling the amount of comments your post receives. That being said, I wouldn’t reply to comments who are obviously bots or just loads of emojis.
4. Post to your stories every day.
Post on your stories minimum 3 times a day, morning, afternoon and evening. It can either be one post of a handful of posts that relate to one another three times a day. The more you show up on your stories the better, especially if you show your face and engage to your audience.
IGTV is another up and coming aspect to Instagram and my good friend Holly at Media Matters is an expert in this! Download her e-book for more information.
5. Hashtags Strategy
Hashtags are really important for your reach and engagement. An amazing app I use is Hashtag Expert. You are allowed to post up to 30 hashtags per post. I usually research specific hashtags for my clients' businesses and add additional ones depending on the type of post I'm creating, ensuring the hashtags relate to the post.
There are arguments as whether you should place your hashtags in the post caption or in the first comment. I tend to use both. When you post in the comments, you need to make sure it's the first comment after the post is added. See which one works better for you, Use a mixture of small, medium and large hashtags. More niche hashtags have a smaller audience however using popular hashtags can also get lost in the sea of content and will be harder to rank. It's all trial and error until you get the best fit that works for you and your business. If you are discovered through a popular hashtag, you will get a lot of engagement.
6. Post Consistently
There is no definitive answer to this, however as a general rule, you should post at least 3 times a week minimum. Don’t post every day just for the sake of it. Remember you still need good quality posts. It's better to post something engaging a few times a week than something substandard everyday as this can have a negative effect on your overall instagram engagement.
7. Be Supportive
For me, this is probably the most important point. Be supportive. If you want people to support you, you need to support others. Even those in the same business or industry as you. There is healthy competition which is extremely beneficial for you and then there is unhealthy competition. Poaching, negative comments and messages is not what being a business owner is all about.
Like the content your followers post and leave meaningful comments on the ones that resonate with you. Go and follow up to 10 new accounts that are in your niche or that interest you and start interacting with their content. Send people messages via their DMs but don't be spammy and don’t be fake. Instagram will see conversations going back and forth and will label you as friends and will begin to show your content to them on an increasing basis.
So there you have it. My seven wonders of Instagram for business owners and bloggers. Engagement is key along with being supportive and consistent.
If you enjoyed this blog, please head over to my Instagram account @elevate.management . I’d love to connect.