Instagram is the ‘platform de jour’ at the moment (unless you’re under 18yrs old, then of course it’s all about TikTok!).
I’ve recently been having a lot of conversations with business owners who want to give Instagram a go but feel a little apprehensive about it. What are stories? What pictures should I share? How do I get my first follower? Starting any platform can be daunting. But with the different features of Instagram, it’s one that seems to bewilder quite a few people.
So, what would be my top tips for getting started on Instagram?
Go take a look at other people’s profiles
To get a good idea of what goes on on Instagram, it’s worth having a little snoop around first. Search for businesses and influencers in your industry, or other businesses/people you know, on Instagram. Take a look at how they use it so you can get a feel for it. This is definitely not for you to replicate what they do. More to give yourself a feel for the platform and a little more confidence in using it yourself.
You can look at anyone’s profile without logging in. If you Google ‘Instagram and BUSINESS NAME’ it should help you find their profile. Or if you know what it is, just type www.instagram.com/USERNAME in to your browser.
2. Make sure your profile introduces YOU!
Sounds so obvious, but there are so many businesses with wishy-washy bios. The ‘we help make people’s dreams come true’ type ones!! Just get straight to the point. Make it easy to read by using bullet points. You could use emojis as your bullets to bring more interest to it.
Also, if you’re a small business like me, don’t hide behind your logo. Use a headshot for your profile picture.
3. Start posting as if you have an audience
Don’t wait for your audience to arrive before you start posting content. If you go to follow people and they see you have posted nothing, chances are they won’t follow you back! Plus, posting content means you can include hashtags that will allow people to start finding you (more on this below..).
An obvious one to begin with is introducing yourself/the business and include a selfie or a team shot (FYI, you have to include a picture or video with your post). You could do a ten facts, including some comical ones to engage people. Make it more interesting than “Hi I’m NAME, I’m new to Instagram. Let me introduce my business…..”.
4. Post consistently (every day!!!) with content your audience wants to see
Don’t dabble then decide it’s not going to work because you posted one picture and only got one like! You need to post consistently to help build your audience and the engagement on your content. Set yourself the challenge to post every day. You can have the weekend off if you want, though I find my Saturday posts get a good bit of engagement!
Don’t get too hung up on what the image should be. You can share selfies, team pictures, employee spotlights, product pictures, office views and whatever you think would work well to showcase your business. I mainly share selfies on my account, so that people can get to know me. But I do incorporate text based images too. These are easy to create using Canva.com.
The important thing is that you are consistently present while you build your audience. Avoid selling in your posts. Instead, share knowledge, raise discussions, introduce your team members if you have a team, ask questions. Essentially, anything except trying to sell! Your audience won’t be attracted to follow you if you only posts sales messages.
5. Go follow those you know to start
To start building your following, think about who you already have a working relationship with. This could be customers, people you know through networking, other local businesses, or your industry peers. This will help to start off your presence. As these people/businesses already know you, chances are they will follow you back.
6. Then start looking for your audience
Once you have started to build your following and have posted consistently (I would wait until you have posted 9 posts so you have a 9 square grid), you can then start seeking out the audience you want to be following you.
You firstly need to get clear on who that audience is. Who do you want your Instagram audience to be? For example, if you are B2B, do you want to attract someone within the business to follow you rather than the business account, which may be controlled by a marketing team or an external agency.
You can then search the hashtags they are likely to be using in their content. For example, small businesses in the UK are one of my target audiences on Instagram and so I search the hashtag #smallbusinessuk, #businessowneruk or #entrepreneuruk. Follow those you think fit the audience you are looking for and, most importantly, engage with their content to start building the relationship with them.
You can also seek out your audience by thinking about who they might already be following and then taking a look at the followers of that account.
7. Use hashtags your audience will be searching for
This will also help you to build. your following. You can add up to 30 hashtags to a post. Don’t use hashtags just to increase the reach of your post. For example, if your target audience is working mums, there is no point you adding #coffee to a picture of your drinking coffee!! This may up your reach but not to the right people! Instead, you’d want to be using hashtags that your audience are likely to search for. For example, #workingmum, #motherhood, #mumhacks, etc.
To find the hashtags to use, have a look at what other influencers in your industry are using. Search hashtags that you think might be relevant and Instagram will give you a broad idea of how many posts use that hashtag on Instagram. It’s good to use a range of hashtags, including some that are very popular and others that are less so. Searching for hashtags will also show you similar hashtags.
There are also websites that help you find relevant hashtags, such as hashtagify.me.
8. Engage, engage, engage, engage and, engage!
This is the bit that you definitely shouldn’t miss out, and yet most businesses do! Engagement builds relationships with your audience. It encourages them to follow you. Plus, the stronger relationship you have with your audience, the more likely they are to buy from you.
When anyone comments on your posts, respond back. Build the conversation with them.
But, don’t just leave it at that! Take time daily to look through your home feed, where you’ll see the posts of those you follow. Then add a comment to those posts. Make it a meaningful comment rather than a simple ‘this is great’. This definitely makes Instagram a more fun place to be. But it also has a huge impact on success.
9. Create daily stories
Instagram stories sit across the top of your home feed. They are the little circle profile pictures with a red ring round them. These stories only last 24 hours. So you can be a bit more relaxed with them. I have a blog here on 5 ways to use Instagram Stories, which may help give you some ideas. Again, take a look at a few stories to give you an idea of how you might use them. Then get stuck in!!!
People spend more time looking at stories than they do their home feed, so it is definitely worth being present on there daily.
10. Post video content to IGTV
This may feel like a step too far for some of you. And, if you’re not creating video content for other platforms yet, you may feel like you should wait until you’ve been on Instagram a while and are feeling more confident with it.
BUT confidence comes from taking action!
IGTV is for longer videos on Instagram, between 1 minute and 10 minutes. It stands as it’s own feed and allows a new audience to find your content. Plus, you can share a 1 minute preview of your IGTV video to your feed to increase the views on it. I think it’s well worth getting involved with IGTV as soon as you start posting to Instagram, as this will quickly help establish your authority on the platform. I personally aim to post one IGTV video every week. You could start with an intro video then progress on to more knowledge based videos.
Of course, you don’t have to take all these steps. But success really does come down the actions you take.
Are you ready to storm Instagram? Come and say to me on there!! You can find me here!