Using Instagram to get work and grow a business

Guys, gals and everyone in between. A lot of you have been asking me for tips on using Instagram to get work, to grow an audience and to grow a business. So today’s the day! I bet you’re excited.

So let’s get to it. Instagram now has 1 billion users worldwide, that’s a potentially huge audience! It’s my favourite platform for reaching new people and encouraging people to get involved with your stuff (products, blog, courses, you name it). It’s also the best platform for tracking your audience, which takes us nicely to tip #1.

Upgrade to a business account

This is totally free and gives you insights into how your posts and stories perform. You can see what your audience engage most with, as well as when they are most active.

With this info you can tailor your content to what your audience will most enjoy. If you’re working on a blog or a business, you’ll potentially get more traffic and sales. If you’re just in it for the likes and follows, you’ll rack up those too. But most importantly, you’ll create an engaged audience.

Develop your audience

Having an engaged and dedicated audience is the most overlooked power tool in the Instagram for business world. You could have 500k followers but if none of them are interested in what you’re doing, then it won’t convert to traffic, sales or jobs. It won’t even convert to likes either *gasp*

Aim to have engaged followers, and getting your engagement rate (rather than your follow count) up. The best way to do this is to encourage people to comment, and make sure you reply to any comments you get.

This is a great calling card for your business and yourself. If you’re a freelance photographer trying to get work, for example, people will get to see your image portfolio AND what you’re like as a person. They’ll get to know you and be more inclined to hire you over a stranger who’s just emailed their CV.

Building a connection with your audience will get more traffic to your blog and have people that are really interested in you and your work. It will also help you to beat the Instagram algorithm!

Beating the algorithm

A lot of people don’t like the algorithm and I get it. I’m someone that likes to tick boxes and do everything in order, so seeing posts chronologically and knowing I’m fully caught up totally appeals to me.

But if you’re using Instagram for business, then the algorithm can actually help you! Crazy, right? The algorithm means that the most popular posts will be featured (and often stay featured) on people’s feeds. Let me clarify: ‘popular’ does not mean the popular, bitchy kids you went to school with. Popular on Instagram means a high rate of engagement, so if you skimmed over the last step thinking it didn’t matter, you better go back and read it again.

Use hashtags

I know no one likes to see a huge list of tags in the caption. They seem to swallow the actual caption and distract people! So put them in a comment instead. It’s less in-your-face.

But what captions should you use? And how many? Don’t worry, we’re totally getting to that. You need to do a bit of research for tags. Think about what you regularly post and what you do/what your business focus is. If you’re a blogger, #blogging #blogginglife #lifestyleblog (or whatever focus your blog has) are obvious choices. Find at least 15, and then search them on Instagram.

The reason you should search them before blindly adding them in a comment like the pro-blogger you are, is because you need to find out the number of posts they have. If a tag has 1 million posts, it’s popular so there will be a lot of searches for it, but you’ll also get lost in the mix pretty quickly. If there are only 100 posts, it’s niche, but you won’t get lost.

You can post up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, and I recommend using at least 20. So research 20, and go for a mix of popular and niche.

People who aren’t connected to you at all will find you through hashtags, which will mean more views, traffic, sales and jobs!

Automate your content

It’s not as scary as it sounds! I schedule all of my Instagram content in advance. That way, I know I’m posting at the right times for my audience even if I’m busy.

This is also a huge time-saver. I block out a couple of hours twice a month to upload all content, captions and hashtags for the next two weeks. That’s about four hours per month, which is amazing compared to the three hours per WEEK I used to spent wondering what to post, when to post and panicking that I hadn’t posted.

Posting consistently is also key to beating the algorithm and staying relevant in searches and recommended banners. It also keeps your audience engaged. Win win win!

Et voila! Not too tricky? Well, not once you’ve gotten started, so what are you waiting for?!

P.S. Do you want to know about the hashtags I use to reach people? Get exclusive access to my own special tips and tags right here

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11 Comments

  1. dimi22fili
    October 29, 2018 / 3:27 pm

    Great tips although I still am a little unsure as to what eveyone means about engaging. I mean if you have people who just like your posts and don’t comment how are you supposed to engage? Also vice versa, if you comment on someones post and they don’t really answer back to continue the conversation, then what? Another questions is how to deal with people not actually reading your captions or your call to action and they just comment anything on your post. How do you deal with this?
    Sorry for all these question but I do want to improve and havn’t found a post like yours which answered most of my questions. Thank you

    D, xo || from https://livedreamcreate-d.com

    • charlotteproduces
      Author
      October 29, 2018 / 3:52 pm

      Hey, great questions! The key to encouraging engagement (meaningful comments, ideally) is developing a connected audience. For example, say you follow a celebrity just because you like what they’re up to and, well, they’re a celebrity. You’re not too fussed about what they’re actually doing though, so you’re not a connected audience member. Creating a connected audience that is invested and interested in what you’re up to is the best way to get people to engage in your photos because they’ll want to engage.
      Not everyone will reply to your comments, which is completely fine. There are BILLIONS of other posts to comment on! If you want to be strategic about it, target micro-influencers (those with 1000-10,000 followers) as they are the most likely to reply to comments.
      I find that being open on social media is a great way to connect with people. Posting consistently is also very important. It’ll keep you relevant on people’s feeds and people’s minds and they’ll feel more and more like they’re getting to know you.
      I hope this helps. Feel free to get in touch if you need any help with anything! I’ve also got a post coming up that goes deep into increasing engagement x

  2. jmusselman8
    October 29, 2018 / 6:54 pm

    Great tips and I agree engagement is so important. I see some huge accounts that barely have any engagement compared to small accounts. Good things to keep in mind.

    • charlotteproduces
      Author
      October 30, 2018 / 12:25 am

      That’s actually a really common trend and it’s why a lot of companies are going to micro-influencers now for sponsored posts due to their higher levels of engagement. And it’s not just on Instagram, it’s a trend on all platforms!

    • charlotteproduces
      Author
      October 30, 2018 / 12:25 am

      You’re very welcome! Let me know how you get on x

  3. Jessica
    October 29, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    I need to be better about consistantly posting to Instagram. However I have been trying to engage more and I am seeing some results! Do you mind sharing what program you use to automate your content? Thanks!

    • charlotteproduces
      Author
      October 30, 2018 / 12:31 am

      Congrats on the results! I personally use Planoly. It has the same layout as Instagram, so you can see exactly what your feed will look like. It’s great if you have a theme. It also allows you to ‘autopost’, which means you just set a date and time you want the post to go live and it does the rest of it. You can have one Instagram account and upload 30 photos per month for free!
      It also has some nice little extras, like being able to create sections of hashtags. For example, I have two sections: one for filmmaking, one for blogging, and I can select the tags that are right for the post.
      It’s such a time saver! And no, I’m not sponsored by them, I’m just obsessed with the app! This post might be useful for you, as it’s all about organising your social media so your life doesn’t get consumed by it! x

  4. Lauren Becker
    October 30, 2018 / 2:25 am

    Thanks for the tips. I definitely need to get better at scheduling Insta posts ahead of time; it would definitely help me keep posting on a more regular basis.

    Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

  5. November 1, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    This is very clear and helpful. Thanks for demystifying a few things about Instagram. I’m still new to IG and trying to figure out what makes one post popular and another missed is still a tricky part.

    • charlotteproduces
      Author
      November 1, 2018 / 2:04 pm

      You’re very welcome! Often it can just come down to the number of people who actually see a post. If you have a business account on Instagram, you can check when your individual audience is most active each day. Once you begin posting at the right time for your audience it can make a really big difference, as can reaching a new audience with hashtags!

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