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!

Reviewing Your Year On Social Media

The end of 2019 is fast approaching!!

I for one am very excited for 2020.  It’s going to bring a lot of change in my business and a new approach to how I do things.

A big part of that for me is going to be planning my content for the year ahead (look out for the next blog for more on this!).  But the first stage in that process is to review how well this year has gone on social media.

For this, I’ll be looking at the free insights and analytics available on each platform.  I’ll look back through the year’s posts and see which performed best in terms of:

  • Reach
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Clicks
  • Views

This will help guide my content for next year, as I’ll know what content my audience has been loving in 2019!

I’ll also be looking at which posts performed least well in each of the above metrics.  This will then give me an idea of what I should doing/talking about in 2020.

You see, your audience are telling you what they enjoy and what they’re less keen on.  You just need to pay attention to them!

This is definitely something you should be doing more than once a year.  At the very least, I would suggest looking at your content every month to see what performs best and least well.

So, set yourself an appointment before the end of the year to review your metrics before you start to plan your social media content for 2020!

What Do Your Audience Want On Social Media?

If you want social media success, the most important thing to focus on is your audience.  It is very tempting to focus your content on what you want to tell people.  But if you instead shift that to what they want to hear, you are likely to achieve so much more success.

But how do we know what our audience wants from us on social media?

 

  1. CREATE A PERSONA

Write down every detail you can possibly think of in relation to your target audience (and remember if you’re B2B, your audience is not a business.  It’s people within the business).  Drill down to age, location, gender, job role, family, education, industry, what makes them laugh, what are they worried about, what challenges them, what do they read, what are they interested in, what do they want to learn, and anything else you can possibly think of!!!

Grab yourself a big piece of paper and write down everything.  Then create a persona from this.  In other words, take it from being a huge audience to being one person.  You can even give them a name!  If it’s tricky to make just one persona, you can make a few.  But try to avoid having any more than 5.  Each time you create content, have this ‘person’ in mind.

 

2. SPEAK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

I’m sure you’re trying to attract people that are similar to your customers to follow you on social media.  So, speak to your customers.  If you have regular conversations with your customers, ask them about their social media use and what they would like to see from you on social media.  Ask them to give you honest feedback on your current activity and whether they can relate to it.

 

3. RUN A SURVEY

You can ask questions on social media directly to get some feedback from your audience.  You can also run a more in-depth survey to gain a better understanding of what might appeal to your audience.  Free tools like Survey Monkey will allow you to email a survey or share the link on social media.  You could incentivise the survey with a prize draw to increase response.  Ask questions like which platforms they use and the type of content they like to see (top tip: don’t leave this open ended.  Instead give multiple choice responses so you don’t end up with lots of different answers!).

 

4. LET THEM TELL YOU

But by the far the easiest and most effective way of understanding what your audience wants on social media is to let them tell you.  And they do this by engaging, or not engaging, with your content.  Each platform gives you insights and analytics behind each of your posts.  At the end of every week, look at how much engagement you have had for each of your posts.  Likes, comments and shares typically suggest that your audience is interested in that content.  If you don’t get as much engagement for a post, it is likely this is due to them not being as interested.  This will give you an idea of what your audience wants to see from you.

Pay attention to overall themes.  For example, if you get more engagement for videos rather than images.  Or if you get more comments on images with people in rather than products.  Do more of what gets you the most engagement, and less of what gets you the least!!

 

So, what does your audience want?  If you don’t know, it’s time to start figuring it out!

 

 

 

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?

Mental Health Awareness Week – Making Social Media A Positive Place For Business Owners

This week (13 – 19th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK.  So, I thought I’d talk a bit about the impact social media can have on anxiety of business owners.

There is no doubt that running your own business is stressful in the first place.  We are alone are responsible for our own success, and that brings with it a lot of anxiety.

But, social media can sometimes make that feel even harder.  We get to see what other businesses are doing.  And then we worry that we’re not doing the same thing.

So, how can we use social media to help us feel less anxious as business owners, rather than falling down a comparison rabbit hole?

  1. Remember, It’s Not Always Real Life

What you see other businesses getting up to on social media might not be a true reflection of their business.  It may look like they are generating far more business than you.  But you don’t know what they’re charging, or what their outgoing costs are.  Or whether those really are their customers.  Of course, it’s important to be authentic on social media.  But don’t forget that, just because you are authentic, doesn’t mean that everyone else is!

2. Being Different is GOOD!

Don’t worry if you’re doing things differently to everyone else in your industry.  In fact, doing things differently is really important on social media!  It allows your business to stand out from everyone else.  Do things your way.  In a way that feels right for your business.  And that allows you to have fun in the process.

3. Spread Positivity

The more positivity we put out on social media, the more we will attract.  Think about how you can use social media as a positive place to be.  Share posts that lift people up.  Don’t knock down other businesses.  If we were all like this, how much nicer would the social media world be?!  And remember, you get to choose who you follow.  If an account makes you feel on edge or overwhelmed, unfollow!

4. Use It To Build Relationships

Now I have three young children, I’m not able to get out and network as much any more.  It can be quite lonely as a business owner.  But now, I have built relationships online instead.  I don’t need to leave my office to network.  I’m able to find the people I want in my community and build relationships with them.

5. Be Real

I touched on this above, but if you put on a facade on social media, chances are it will leave you feeling more anxious.  Like that knot we get in our stomach when we tell someone a lie.  It sits there until the truth comes out and we suddenly feel relieved.  Don’t lie on social media.  It’ll burn away at you.  Speak the truth and be real.

6. Use Social Media To Learn

Social media offers a great opportunity to learn new things.  Follow the right experts and you have free information right at the scroll of a thumb!  I always find I feel empowered when I’ve learnt something new!

7. Ask For Help

None of use are immune from needing help now and again.  As business owners, we can’t always have the right answers.  Use social media to ask questions from your community and get their input on problems.  A problem shared is a problem halved after all!

So, please, please, please don’t see social media as a negative place to be.  Somewhere that makes you feel more anxious as a business owner.  Instead focus on the positive impacts it can have on your business and on you as a business owner.

A Few Things That Are Coming Up

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog!  I won’t list a million different excuses here.  Instead, I thought I’d do an update on a few things that are happening that you may be interested in!

  1. Speaking Engagements

I’ve been so busy with numerous different speaking engagements recently.  Many of them have been private events.  But, I thought I’d let you know about one I’m doing in Manchester on 6th July. Big Social Media Conference is an event filled with fantastic social media speakers.  I will be speaking about Stopping The Social Media Bore.  If you fancy coming along, book your place here: BIG SOCIAL.

 

2. My Own Event

I’m busy squirrelling away at an event I’m hosting on 11th September.  The finer details haven’t been confirmed as yet.  But what I can let you know is that it will be a two hour event, in which I’m going to pack as much value as I possibly can!  Plus, each attendee will receive one of my new courses for free!  Speaking of which…

 

3. Online Courses

I’m in the process of creating a full range of online short courses in different topics around social media.  These will be launched at the event on 11th September.

 

4. Growing A Baby

And that event will be my last for a few months, as I’m currently growing baby number three!!  Which is why I wanted to have a range of courses available for anyone who was interested in learning while I’m on maternity leave.

 

On top of this, my diary is getting really busy with in-house training ahead of maternity leave.  So, if you would like me to come to your business to deliver training, get in touch asap!!

 

5 Ways To Overcome Your Fear of Video

Believe me when I say, you are not alone in hating being in front of camera!  Whenever I talk about using video at conferences, I ask for a show of hands as to how many love being in front of camera.  There’s usually about 2 hands up in a room of 100 people!

Yet putting out videos of yourself talking to camera is a great way of building engagement with your audience, or showing your expertise and of creating a more personal connection with those who follow and are connected to you.

So, how can you overcome your video fear?

 

  1. Remember, Only You Are Bothered!

The reason most of us hate being on camera is because we are self-scrutinisers!  We focus on the way we look and/or on the way we sound (because who likes hearing their own voice?!).  The thing is, we are the only people scrutinising ourselves like that.  No one else cares.  They care far more about our message than about what we look or sound like!

 

2. Brainstorm

Come up with some ideas for what you can talk about on video.  It will give you more confidence that you have a reason to be in front of camera, and some great advice to share.

 

3. Practice and Relax

Chat to yourself about what you are going to record in your video.  Maybe jot down a few key points.  I’d definitely recommend going script-free, as it sounds very obvious when you’re reading from a script.  So, have a practice of what you want to talk about before you hit that record button. And relax!  The more real you are, the more authentic you will come across.

 

4. Record and Don’t Post

Record some videos without posting them.  Watch them back.  Have a think about how you could improve.  Could the lighting be a bit better?  Are you talking too fast?  Never worry about the little stuff.  I often fiddle with my hair in videos.  I can’t help it and if I tried to stop I’d probably have to record about a thousand videos to get the one when I don’t!

 

5. Hit That Publish Button!

Get that first video out there.  Once you start getting comments and likes, you’ll feel less embarrassed and realise that you’ve helped people by sharing your knowledge!  Plus, how rewarding is it to go out of your comfort zone?  And, let’s face it, out of your comfort zone is where success happens!

So, my challenge to you is to post a video if you’ve never done it before!  Please tag me too and let me know that you’ve done it, and I’ll be there with a huge round of applause for you!

Keep It Personal

There seems to be a habit in business of leaving yourself at the door when you log on to social media and becoming a corporate machine.  But people don’t want to speak to a machine.  They want to speak to a human.  Plus, corporate speak can be pretty boring!!

So, how can you make your social media more personal and less corporate* (*boring)!

 

1.   Your Personality

Include personality in your posts, or as I like to call it, BRANDONALITY.  This is the personality of your brand.  This could be the personality of the business overall, or it could be your personality.  The latter is especially the case if you are a small owner-managed business.  My personality is definitely what you get on social media.  So, embrace your personality.  It will immediately strip out the corporate approach.

 

2.   Your Voice

As a result, it should sound like someone talking in your social media posts.  Use a conversational tone.  Don’t use words you wouldn’t use in every day language.  We have a habit of using words like ‘therefore’ and ‘however’ in text, but often do you actually use these in everyday life?

 

3.   Your Day-to-Day

Share more of what’s happen in the day-to-day life in your business.  It brings your audience along with you and they understand more of the ‘behind the scenes’ and what it is you do.  You could do this via short videos, such as Instagram or Facebook stories.  Or share short updates on Twitter, including pictures.  Bring your business to life!

 

4.   Your Interests

Take it beyond talking just business.  Share the interests of those within your business.  Is there a particularly sport that everyone in the office is talking about?  Is someone running the marathon?  Are you doing something as a business to raise money for charity?  Or if you work on your own, you can share more of your personal life (though of course only what you’re comfortable sharing online).

 

5.   Your Conversations

And the final part of being more personal on social media means not just broadcasting but also interacting!  If you’ve ever met someone who talks non-stop about themselves and doesn’t bother to listen to what you have to say, you’ll probably remember some of the choice words you had in your head about that person.  Yet, so many businesses take this exact approach on social media.  Interact with the posts of others, especially your target audience, and build conversation with them!

So, it’s time to get personal on social media.  Just don’t get ‘too’ personal, ok?!

7 Quick Ways To Increase Engagement on Social Media

Engagement is more key than ever on social media.  The more someone engages with your post, the more likely they are to see future posts of yours.  It helps increase the reach of that post.  AND, it builds a relationship with the person engaging!

So, how can you increase engagement on social media?

  1. Ask Questions

Why should people respond when you don’t ask them to?!  Statements close conversation, questions open it up.  Add a question at the end of your update to encourage people to hit reply /leave a comment.

 

2. Fill in the Blank

We struggle to leave an unfinished _________ sentence!!  So, ask people to fill in the blank.  ‘The best thing about my day was _____”.  “The one thing I love most about gin is _______”!  Whatever it is, get people to fill it in!

 

3. Tag a Friend

Get them to tag a mate who the post applies to, or who they think of when they read the post.  It’s the trigger to get other people involved, and leads to comments too!

 

4. Caption This

Always a good bit fun with photos!  Get people to caption your images, or maybe guess where they were taken!

 

5. Respond to Comments

The more you respond back, the more you will encourage people to engage with. you.

 

6. Engage With Their Posts

Go and engage with other people/user’s posts!  The more engage yourself, the more engagement you are likely to see returned.

 

7. Give Them Content That They Love

This is probably the most overlooked one.  Most businesses focus their content on what they want to tell people.  Instead, focus your content on what your audience wants to hear.  They are far more likely to engage with content they can relate to, helps them out, or that they find funny!

So, there is your quick guide to increasing engagement!  I hope it leads to some very fruitful conversations on social media!