Let me begin by admitting that I am not good at social media. As someone who is very shy and visually-minded, social media confuses me. There is one network that I absolutely love and do fairly well at, however, and that is Instagram. I want to share my Instagram tips with you as part of this month’s social media blogging tips post topic.
I didn’t start putting much effort into my Instagram account until fairly recently, but I am addicted and have been able to grow it quite a bit in that short period of time with these techniques:
Because Instagram is a very visual network, great pictures is so important, but you also want content that is real and not too staged. I will share pictures that I’ve taken for my blog that are a little more staged and a little more edited, but most of my pictures I take spur of the moment as we enjoy fun family time or if I am inspired.
While we all enjoy the classy staged, white-background photos (and I include those sometimes), a lot of people on Instagram want to see the real you. My goal with Instagram is to let my readers have a chance to get to know me so much more. It is a very personal network, so get personal! I don’t even schedule posts. Sometimes I’ll share at the end of the day, but usually I share in the moment so others can enjoy with us.
Content I love to share (and Instagrammers love to view):
- Kids (add a watermark, an adult, or take pictures not face-on for safety purposes as people are less likely to steal your photos for bad uses)
- Coffee (seriously, I am counting this as a category)
- Healthy eating/living
- YOU (don’t be shy, smile for the camera!)
Having a niche Instagram account (i.e. just food or just family) is definitely a way to grow your following, but I choose to do more of a lifestyle account, featuring my family life and stories, recipes from my website and occasional extra pictures, crafts we create, and fun activities we do.
Have fun with it! Try different angles for your pictures, different filters (if you find one you love, stick with it–people tend to prefer accounts that have a personal style to them), and keep them personal and real. Call for interaction by either asking a question, including a fun or sentimental story, using a picture that stimulates the senses, or use a picture that hints at what your completed project/craft/outfit/recipe might be.
I usually post once a day, though some days I am unable to post and others I will share two or three pictures if we’ve had an especially exciting day.
A great app for editing your pictures is BlendPic.
Growing Your ‘Gram
As with all social networks, one of the major goals is to grow your numbers. I mentioned above that Instagram is a very personal network. For this reason, one of the best ways to grow your page is to interact with others and build relationships. While I do not recommend forcing relationships, definitely step out of your comfort zone. Find some accounts you just love and leave nice comments on their posts. Like posts from those in your feed. Be genuine.
A great way to grow followers is by following others. You can follow those who follow other accounts you love, follow your fellow bloggers, and follow accounts that inspire you. One thing that I have found is that the best results come from following those who are frequently interacting with, not just following, other accounts I love. If I see one person always commenting on or liking posts on another account I follow, I’ll check out the page and usually give a follow.
While you follow other accounts, see about interacting a few of their latest pictures as well.
Rules to keep in mind:
- Don’t follow just anyone (some accounts are spam or dirty or a little awkward; remember, you are representing your business and do not want to unintentionally support accounts you do not approve of).
- If someone’s account is private, they don’t have loads of followers, and they don’t specifically share a blog, you can assume it’s just an average user rather than a business.
- Before following others, check out some of their latest posts. Even if someone claims to be a blogger, they may share some very crude images you don’t want in your feed. I found this out the hard way.
- If someone has tens of thousands of followers and only follows a handful, it probably isn’t worth sending a request if you want one back (but sometimes it is, so take a chance if you are feeling it).
One thing I do is I follow a handful of people each day or two then will give it a couple of days and unfollow those who have not followed back. There are a handful accounts I just love and follow for pure joy or because of giveaways or because I am inspired by their pictures, regardless if they follow me back a lot, but a lot of times I will unfollow those who do not follow back. For those I do continue following, I will interact with their posts every so often (and even more on my favorite accounts when I see them).
Similarly to adding new people to get follows back, you will want to check out accounts that start following you. A lot of other Instagrammers are doing the same thing, so if you find accounts that are a similar niche to you or that you love or simply want to support, follow them back!
Lastly, figure out your favorite hashtags and visit them on occasion and interact with some of the others posting with the same hashtags. You will always find some that are irrelevant or inappropriate, so find ones for other accounts that interest you and that you would want following your account. Again, be genuine in your interactions. If you don’t enjoy a post, don’t pretend you do.
A great app for keeping track of follows and unfollows is Crowdfire. Sometimes I have found it glitches, but for the most part it has been a useful tool for quickly unfollowing those who don’t follow back or those who unfollow you. There are some out there who will follow tons of other Instagrammers then once they get a follow back they unfollow you thinking you won’t see. This app is how I prevent that (please don’t do this; it’s slimy.). The unfollow limit is 25/day, so keep this in mind as you follow other accounts to grow. You can also “copy followers” from other accounts you love, but I prefer to do this manually in Instagram.
Since Instagram has changed up their feed some with the rebrand, it can be a little more challenging to be seen in feeds. This is one reason why hashtags, and good ones, are so important. I am still messing around with this to see how I can get more likes on my pictures (I have seen accounts with fewer followers get hundreds of likes on their posts where I haven’t gotten past 100 yet, so I take note of their formatting and which hashtags they use).
Some of my favorite hashtags:
- #momlife or mommylife
- #mommyblogger or momblogger
- #boymom or #momofboys
- #toddlersofinstagram or #kidsofinstagram
- #motd (for makeup) or #hotd (for hair)
- #ootd (for clothes)
- #invitationtoplay (kid activities)
- my own personal hashtag with my site name so people can see all of my photos in one place (and occasionally a random other post someone adds)
Another thing I have been messing with is formatting. Too many hashtags in the body of your post can look cheesy. It will get the job done and I used to format that way, but I have started adding a few to the post (my personal hashtag and one that represents the picture, usually, including any required campaign hashtags and disclosures), then I add the rest in the comments. I actually type them all on the post itself then cut and paste into the comments after I post it up. You can begin right away with hashtags, but I found that adding a five rows of periods (so . enter . enter . enter and so on) then adding the hashtags after that leaves my posts looking much cleaner while still accomplishing what I want it to.
Sharing Your Site
One reason I love Instagram, besides for the enjoyment and interaction and inspiration I find there, is that I can use it as a tool to direct people to my website. Not all of my posts are website-related and I do not just share pictures from my website, but when I do I make sure there are plenty ways to quickly view my site. Check out my profile to see how I do it.
Unfortunately, Instagram will not hyperlink text to urls within your Instagram posts, but you can include a link in your bio and call it out with #linkinbio or #linkinprofile. Some will change this with each post they create, but I leave it at my home page. Instead, I create a shortlink to my post using goo.gl and share the shortened url in the description of those pictures, letting people know they can type in that simple link and go directly to the featured post. This also opens up an opportunity to track how many clicks through I get.
You TOTALLY have to check out this recipe for FROZEN STRAWBERRY ? CHEESECAKE ? BITES. You won't believe what I used to make them (hint: it's kid-friendly and adds extra nutrition.) Find out more at ? goo.gl/j2ADnc You can make these in all sorts of flavors. They were a huge hit by us. So creamy and sweet, but not *too* sweet. #artscrackers #cookingwithgerber ad
There is so much more I could share about the Instagram platform and so much more I am still learning, but I hope these tips were very helpful for you! Remember, the biggest tips for Instagram are be genuine, be active, and have fun. OH, and of course, follow me 😉
I would love to hear from you in the comments below–Do you use Instagram? Have any Instagram tips? What are your favorite hashtags?
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This post is a part of the Behind the Blog Series! I will be joining other bloggers in sharing a little of my “behind the scenes” each month for the whole year! Visit these lovely bloggers below to read their posts then come back and visit each month to read on the topics in the graphic below!
- Social Media Marketing for Bloggers | The Natural Homeschool
- Behind the Blog: Social Media Tips | The Speckled Palate
- Behind the Blog: Social Media Tips & Tricks | Twin Stripes
- Here’s my post from last month’s topic