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Instagram. As a creative business owner, you know how important this little app can be to the long-term success of your brand, but you don’t know where to begin to put a system in place that won’t drive you into a state of full-blown panic and frustration.
How often should I post? What should I post? Do hashtags even matter? These questions are ones that have plagued many business owners as they’ve learned to navigate the world of Instagram for business. It’s easy to forgo a well-thought-out plan and instead move forward with a “whatever works” mentality. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
While it’s true that using Instagram for your business is important, it doesn’t always have to be a source of anxiety for you or your team. In today’s post, we explore some best practices for using the app as a creative entrepreneur, and some ideas for your content so that you can start planning and scheduling from a place of confidence, not chaos.
Engage, engage, engage
Engaging with your audience, those you follow, and your ideal clients is one of the best ways to grow your business on Instagram.
Think about it in a real-life context – if you go to a party and don’t talk to anyone, you’re not likely to meet many new acquaintances. Sure, a couple of people may find you mysterious and approach you, but you will have missed out on a boatload of potential connections.
Instagram works the same way. The more you put yourself out there, the more connections you’ll gain. This growth is organic, which means that it takes time, but it leads to true, authentic engagement with your page and brand! That’s a major win-win.
How do you do this? Go to the pages of people you admire or aspire to work with and comment on and like lots of their content. Go to the pages of your creative peers and like and comment on their work. Let the world know you’re there.
Be sure to engage sincerely, which means composing genuine comments that respond specifically to the content of the post. Impersonal copy and paste style comments like ‘Great job!’, ‘Love your content’ or just a single emoji are not the way to win friends on Instagram. Not only are these types of comments lazy, they’re also glaringly obvious that they’ve not come from a place of sincerity. Take the time to write something personal. It doesn’t have to be a super long comment, aim for more than six words and be sure to make sure that the comment is relevant to the content in the post.
Most importantly, nurture your own followers. When someone engages with your stories, posts, or reels, show them that you see them! Comment back or, at the very least, like their comment or DM. People want to feel like they’re engaging with a human, not a robot. This is the very best way to do that.
TOP TIP: One of our top tips for increasing engagement and visibility of a post is to engage 15 minutes before you post and the 15 minutes after. Don’t just post and drop the mic. By engaging both before and after you post, you’re increasing the visibility of your content being seen. We also recommend responding to any comments that you receive shortly after you post, as this shows IG that you’re genuinely interacting with your followers.
By consolidating your engagement around the time that you post, not only are you increasing your chance of your post being seen (folks you’ve engaged with are more likely to see your latest post), but you’re also time hacking too. Sporadic engagement (i.e. all throughout the day, or as and when someone comments/likes your post) can be a total time drain and an easy way to lose hours to endless scrolling.
You don’t need to spend hours a day to grow your Instagram, but by simply being intentional with when you engage you can save time and reap the rewards of organic growth.
The goal here is to stay at the top of your audience’s mind as much as you possibly can. Your engaged audience wants to feel like they can count on your presence in their feed, and in addition to your presence, they’re craving your knowledge, insight, and inspiration, too. Algorithms for Instagram are constantly changing, but it seems that regardless of these hard-to-keep-up-with changes, consistency is a mainstay.
So, get to posting! Somewhere between 3-6 days per week is the sweet spot for most business types. Posting more than that can actually lead to a drop in engagement or followers, and starts to chip away at your ROI (return on investment).
The work of curating images, crafting captions, researching hashtags, and timing your posts can be tricky, exhausting, and time-consuming. Our suggestion? Batch your work days so that you knock out your social media posts for the week all on one day.
Once you’ve done that, you can use one of many wonderful scheduling apps to set your posts up for the week. Some of the most popular apps for social scheduling include Later, Planoly, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social. At Moyo, we’ve always used Planoly as it’s super simple to use and we love how you can easily visually plan your grid.
Use smart hashtags
Hashtags are widely known, but not-so-widely understood. Most users slap a few hashtags on their posts for fun, wit, or with the hope that they’ll attract more followers to their page.
The true intent of hashtags is to congregate posts of a certain topic in one place so that they are easy to scan and search based on a user’s interest. In essence, they are a GOLDMINE for all business types because they are a way you can find your ideal clients on Instagram without a ton of effort.
But using hashtags isn’t as simple as typing “#design” at the end of your post. Instead, you’ll need to do some market research to discover which tags are the ones your ideal audience engages with, and whether or not you’ll be able to stand out in those crowds. Don’t be afraid to get specific. If you create website designs and you specify in a particular platform, rather than use the #webdesigner try opting for #squarespacedesigner to increase your chance of being discovered by businesses who might be looking for just that.
Our tips for hashtags:
Use branded hashtags YOU create for your own work and brand. For example, we use #madebymoyo on most of our posts as a way for users to engage with our brand in their own posts.
Study the hashtags your competitors or creative peers use consistently. Decide which of those you also want to start using.
If you love working with local businesses, use as many localised hashtags as possible. Local leads are always warmer leads than any other. For example, #londongraphicdesign would be a smarter hashtag to use than #graphicdesign.
Make the most of the 30 hashtag limit and so try and list at least 15 hashtags per post. Each hashtag is an opportunity to get discovered, so you might as well use as many as you can.
Don’t forget to use hashtags in your stories, too! Stories are turning out to have better visibility rates than posts these days so add hashtags to increase the chance of yours being seen.
TOP TIP: Don’t love the look of hashtags or how they look in your post? Post them in the comments section instead, your post will still appear when someone searches that particular hashtag.
Finally, we wanted to end with that slow growth is still growth. Whilst it can sometimes feel frustrating if you’ve not yet hit a certain number of followers, remember these things take time.
Also, please don’t get hung up on numbers. There’s no point having thousands of followers if no-one engages with your content. It’s far better to have fewer followers whether that’s 10, 100 or 1000, who genuinely like and comment on your content. It’s all about quality, not quantity.
So now we’ve covered our best practices for growing your Instagram account, in our next post we’re shifting our focus onto what exactly to post aka content.
Above image taken from the Aria Collection.
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