5 Tricks To Up Your Instagram Game
I shouldn’t really need to explain this in detail, just go on Instagram and see for yourself. Look at any account and it’s very clear that all photographs featuring people, especially the owner of the account, will perform much better than any other flat lay, quote, or a beautiful sunset. I know all the excuses: 'it’s awkward', 'what if they’re not interested in me', and 'I’m not like that', but you have to ask yourself, how much do you really want to take your business to the next level? Your audience is there for you, they are invested in you and want to see you. People do business with People, not with businesses. If you aren’t sure why you should put yourself out there, you can read more about how I kicked myself in the butt to open up and show myself in my post, Talent and Hard Work. Not Enough! So, your first task is to try to feature yourself on your feed at least once a week.
2. Theme and Colour Scheme
Your feed and online presence is the face of your business. Nowadays, these platforms are just as important as your logo, business card or website, and should be a part of your branding. When people glance at your feed they will get an immediate impression of who you are and how you do business. Having a feed with a cohesive, well-thought-out style will demonstrate to your audience, and potential clients, that you take pride in what you do and that your business is more than a hobby. There are apps out there to help you pre-plan your content and make sure your feed looks exactly how you like it. My two favourite apps right now are UNUM and Preview, and I hear a lot of good things about Hootsuite as well. It all comes down to personal preference.
When it comes to an eye-catching presentation, there is more than just making sure you use good quality images and organise them in an order that creates the right dynamic. Being conscious of shades and colours, as well the balance of dark and light tones can also improve the overall look of your feed. There are many ways. You can also play around with colour schemes and themes: Dark/Moody, White, Colourful, Tropical, Natural, Brown, and Vintage, to name a few. I’ve started to build my own feed on neutral colours, featuring black & white, grey and blue whilst ensuring I keep the overall look on a light and bright side. Picking three or four colours as your go-to shades when it comes to creating content is an easy way to get started. Pushing just one colour and having a consistent tinge pop up on your feed can be just as effective as going completely against colour coordination and creating a very vibrant and colourful feed. Creating a certain tone on images with filters, or with the new and more professional Lightroom presets, will instantly bring your feed together. Presets allow you to adjust each image to the desired look accordingly to your original images, so you have a little bit more to play around with than the basic app filters.
3. Audience serving captions
For a long time I didn't pay enough attention to this, but I now believe it is the way forward. Without a caption, your feed is like an online gallery or portfolio. People will turn up, look and leave. Maybe you will get a like, or even a follow if you have strong imagery, but you can't expect high engagement from your audience. Would you like a loyal following who are invested in you? To be the person they come to any time when they are in need of your service or product? Then show up! Consistently showing up on their feed and serving them information will not only prove that you are an expert in your field, but also keep you in their subconscious. Maybe they don't need your service or product right now, but if you are present in their lives on a daily basis then you will be the first person who comes to mind when they are ready to purchase. Make sure you serve your audience regularly. For a long time I was just 'a' photographer; people looked at my feed and website, but I didn't speak to anyone directly. I sat down and asked myself ‘who do I enjoy working with, who do I feel connected to?’ Today, I know that working with fellow entrepreneurs and business owners, helping them visually express what they do and who they are, is where my passion lies. Every time I sit down to put something out as a caption, blog post or any content, I always speak directly to them, to you. I imagine and relate to small business owners, entrepreneurs with their different stories, backgrounds and their questions. Who are you talking to? Who might need your service or product? Talk to them. Once we know who are we talking to, our next question has to be how can we serve them? What information can we put out there that will encourage or support our followers, make them think or even just put a smile on their face? Show them that we don't have to have it all figured out. Create a safe place where people can listen, learn and teach. Next time try this when writing a caption. Sit down and imagine your audience and potential clients around you and ask yourself, how can I serve them, what are they missing from their lives and how can I be the one to fill that hole with my expertise? I promise, caption writing will get so much easier.
4. Using the Right Hashtags
Just to be clear, you have thirty opportunities per post to reach out to people who might be looking for you. Why wouldn't you use them all? I find it easier if I have a structure before I get lost in the infinite world of hashtags. Always use your own hashtag, i.e. #*yourname* , #*nameofyourbusiness* which will create a gallery with your content. There was a time when you could write up thirty relevant hashtags and just copy paste it whenever you posted a new image. Those days are over. Instagram encourages individuality and quality content , so anything automated will be featured and shown less. I would recommend you write up a bunch of relevant hashtags in your notes and randomly pick out some when it comes to posting. A good formula is to use ten hashtags to describe who you are and what you do, ten hashtags that your audience would use under their images, and ten hashtags very closely related to that specific post. These post-specific hashtags can be seasonal, geographical, descriptive etc. This is a great and easy way to start your hashtag game, and as your confidence grows you will be able to play around and test out other ways that might work for you.
5. Engage With Your Audience, Potential Clients
First of all, try to make sure that you reply to the comments and private messages you receive; prove that you really are there to connect to and interact with the community you’re building. Engaging with your audience will not only help build a trusting and strong relationship with them, but it will also help the statistics of your post. The more engagement a post receives (especially in the first ten-fifteen minutes of posting) the more likely it is that Instagram will push it in front of a wider audience. If you don't have a lot of traffic on your account, I have only one thing to say to you: go out there and get them. Think as your audience thinks. Type and search for hashtags that they would use under their own images. Once you’ve found them, like their images, comment under their posts and draw attention to your account and your existence. With a like or a nice comment on someone’s post, you can spark intrigue in them about who you are, and indirectly direct them over to your feed. If you have an inviting, professional (yet approachable) feed, there is a big chance you have just gained a new follower, or even a new fan.
These are all thoughts and ideas based on my experiences and logic. Instagram will always be a place of mystery and an amazing partner with whom I have a love-hate relationship. My biggest lesson has been to focus not on numbers and quantity, but instead on quality and real relationships.
You might think to yourself that no-one is interested in you or your life (I’ve certainly said that to myself a lot), and you might be right. To connect and to be engaging, you have to give value and serve. It doesn’t have to be perfect or polished, and you hopefully have a lot to learn, but if you share you and your life with the purpose of serving, I believe you can’t go wrong.
We all want to belong and be understood. When you are in doubt and feeling insecure, think about how much you want to serve and who you want to reach out to. Share.
Looking forward to see you on the gram. xx