10 Instagram Success Tips For Beginners

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?

  1. 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!

Making 2020 Your Best Year Ever On Social Media

I have a really really REALLY good feeling about this year!

It may be because I’m launching my new business.  But I also just have this feeling that great things are about to happen!

2020 can be a year we can all achieve huge success.  I for one am committing more and more time to my social media activity, in particular Instagram.  LinkedIn has served me as a great source of business for many years now, and continues to do so.  But I think Instagram could take its crown for my new business.  Time will tell!!

So, how can you make 2020 your best year ever on social media?

1. Create content your audience wants

Don’t create content for you.  Don’t focus on what you want to sell them.  Don’t focus your content on what you want to tell people.  Focus on what they want to hear.  With every new year, there are more and more social media users.  If you focus your content on your business and away from your audience, they’ll just scroll on past.  Think about how you can help your audience, how you can add value to them, how you can entertain them, how you can inspire them, how you can make them laugh, how you can get them thinking.  All of this will have a much bigger impact and will undoubtedly lead to more sales than focusing on sales related posts.

 

2. Spend more time engaging than creating

Engagement is more important than ever on social media.  Why expect engagement on your posts if you don’t give it elsewhere.  My engagement went up dramatically when I spent more time engaging on others’ posts.  I aim now to spend approximately an hour a day engaging on social media, and it has had a massive impact!  It’s lead to more engagement and reach on my posts.  But, more importantly in business, it’s lead to more sales!

 

3. Pay attention to your insights

Your audience is telling you what they enjoy from you through your insights.  Those posts that get the most engagement are the ones they love.  Those that get the least are the ones they are less keen on.  Don’t ignore the messages your audience are giving you.  Check in weekly with your insights and analytics to see what’s working best for you on each platform.

 

4. Be more you!

I’ve always spouted on about how important it is to be personable on social media.  But again, I think that’s more important than ever.  Businesses that don’t have faces tend to struggle on social media.  Your audience want to see the people in the business.  Faces bring your business to life.  And, after all, we socialise with people.  And this is SOCIAL media!  Include selfies of you and your team, sign off with names if managed by multiple people, share more about your life beyond your business.  You know you’ve got this right when your audience feels like they know you despite having never met you.

 

5. Stop worrying about the number of followers you have

If I had a penny for every time someone asked me how to get more followers, I could buy myself a fair few chocolate bars!  My first question would be ‘how much business do you get from the followers you already have?’.  If the answer is very little, then what’s the point of getting more followers that you hardly get any business from?  Instead, focus your attention on building relationships with the followers you already have.  Get to know them.  Let them get to know you.  It’s very rare that any follower is going to buy from you after seeing one post.  So be consistent with your content, engage with their content and build that relationship. Then when you do post a sales message, it’s far more likely to convert.  When you build relationships with the followers you already have, you will naturally grow your follower base too, as you’ll have more engagement on your posts and will get more and more reach!

 

6. Create video content

It’s time!  This is the year to get out of your comfort zone and start getting in front of the camera!  People hearing you speak is a sure fire way to increase the relationship with them and often a great way to get your message across.  Hardly anyone likes being on camera.  Which is why hardly anyone does it!  Be the one who does.  It will really help you stand out.

 

7. Stop doing what everyone else is doing

It’s tempting to look at successful accounts on social media and think ‘I’ll just do what they do’.  Then when you do, it doesn’t work!  We firstly need to work with our audience, not someone else’s!  So, think more deeply about how you could appeal to your audience. And being the same as everyone else will not help you stand out.  Think of a way you could be different.  For example, a video I put out on Instagram at Christmas received my highest view count of any video I’ve ever posted on there.  Why?  Because I sang on it!  Be different!

There is so much I could add to this.  But definitely, doing the 7 things above will lead you to much greater social media success in 2020.  I hope it’s an amazing year for you!

If you want to explore more about how you can make 2020 your best year ever on social media, I’m hosting a free webinar on Wednesday 15th January.  You can register here!

Using Instagram To Market B2B Businesses

While I am of the thinking you can’t be everywhere on social media, unless you have both resource and time, I do think it can be easy to overlook platforms that could have a significant impact in marketing our businesses by claiming our audience doesn’t use it.

This is often the case for companies who target other businesses.  Instagram, in particular, gets pushed down the list of platforms to be present on.  But could you be missing out?

 

If you target small businesses, with the social media managed by the business owner and the business having selling to consumers rather than other businesses, Instagram could have huge potential for you.

It is also a great platform to elevate personal brands within businesses, such as the owner or other key people within the business.

And, don’t forget, when targeting businesses, it is the people within the business you want to bring in to your audience.  With over a billion monthly users worldwide, there is a high chance some of that audience will be on Instagram.

According to TrackMaven’s research, B2B business experience their highest engagement ratio on Instagram than on any other platform.

So, how could you be using Instagram to market your business to other businesses?

 

  1. Go Behind The Scenes

Where your LinkedIn approach may be more ‘professionally-focused’, Instagram could offer the opportunity to take your audience behind the scenes of your business.  What happens day-to-day?  Who are the people within the business?  This helps to showcase what the business does and helps to build relationships with those people in it.  Instagram stories offers a great way to do this, building a story of what goes on in your business.

 

  1. Share Your Knowledge, Thoughts and Opinions

This is particularly important for thought leadership.  It helps show your expertise, and audiences love to learn, so will help you attract new followers too.  While you do need to include a photo or video (up to 1 minute long) with each post, the text of your post matters too.  You can share tips and advice in the text, and open up discussions, allowing others to comment and build conversation with you.  Short video posts are also a great opportunity to share your knowledge.

 

  1. Take Pictures/Videos On Your Phone

Just because Instagram is visually focused, doesn’t mean you need expensive camera equipment.  Your phone is all the kit you need to build your Instagram presence.  Take pictures when you’re out visiting clients.  Take pictures round the office and in the local area.  Take selfies and pictures of your team.  Try different angles to get different perspectives.  Use apps like ‘Clips’ to quickly create square video with subtitles on your phone.  For longer videos (between 1 and 10 minutes) you can use IGTV to share video content.

 

  1. use Hashtags, Location Tags and Mentions

Use hashtags to reach your ideal audience.  For example, if you target small businesses in the UK, you can add #smallbusinessuk, #uksmallbusiness, #smallbizuk, #uksmallbiz, #businessowneruk, #ukbusinessowner, #entrepreneuruk, #ukentrepreneur…and I think you get the gist!  Don’t forget to tag your location and tag any other businesses worth a mention in your post, where relevant.

 

  1. Use Instagram Ads

You can target your Instagram Ads at businesses and owners of businesses.  For example, you could target home workers, small business owners, self-employed, etc.  This is an opportunity to reach out to a cold audience, so warm them up with an interesting video or post and encourage their engagement.  You can then target the warmer leads, who have engaged with your advert, with a lead capture or possibly a sell.

 

If you want to achieve Instagram Success but still feel you need a bit more know-how, join me for my LIVE online course INSTAGRAM SUCCESS on Thursday 5th September.  You can find all the details by clicking HERE!

5 Ways To Use Instagram Stories

I LOVE Instagram Stories.  It’s probably where I spend the majority of my personal time (and some business time too) when it comes to social media use.  It feels so much more real and in the moment than any other social media content.  And really helps you to get to know businesses and people too.

Instagram users are spending more of their time on stories now than looking through feed posts.  So, if you’re an Instagram user, how could you be using Instagram Stories for your business?

Instagram Stories

  1. Research

There is a poll feature on stories, allowing you to give users two options to choose from.  Which means it’s a quick and easy way of getting answers to important questions.  Such as, ‘bourbon or custard cream’ (bourbon), ‘ketchup in the fridge or cupboard (cupboard)’, ‘gin or wine’ (both!).  Obviously you can ask some serious questions too relating to your business, industry and products/services.

You are also able to see individual’s responses, so you can then strike up a conversation with them via DM relating to their response and build the relationship further.

 

2. Behind-The-Scenes

Where your grid posts might be more thought through and creative, your Instagram stories can take people straight behind-the-scenes of what goes on in your business day-to-day and give them a greater understanding of what it is you do.

 

3. Share Tips

Use your stories to impart wisdom.  You can do this with video, or by sharing an image with text over.  Think about current hot topics in your industry and create a small number of stories about that topic.  You can then create highlights on your profile to add this to so that people can come back at a later date and still so those tips.

 

4. Increase Your Post Reach

By clicking on the paper aeroplane symbol under your post, you can share it to your story.  Add a related hashtag and this will increase the reach of your story, leading more people to click through to your post.

 

5. Have Fun

Stories are fun!  You can add face filters, GIFs, do boomerangs, rewind videos, and so much more!  Have fun with it.  Show the personality of you and your brand.  This will undoubtedly help your customers and potential customers build a stronger relationship with you!  Don’t be afraid to be yourself!!

Are you using Instagram Stories?  How do you use them?