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.
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. You can completely overhaul your Insta in just five days! Sign up for the challenge here