Instagram states they now 1 billion active monthly users users on their platform and 500 million of those users are active daily!
- Average of 95 million photos shared daily
- Over 40 Billion photos have been shared on IG
- 60% of users log in to Instagram Daily
Instagram is growing DAILY, not only in users but updates and features as well!
DO NOT IGNORE THIS PLATFORM, your audience is on here!
That being said, with all the new growth, it is now harder than ever to get your content in front of your desired audience! In a nutshell, this is attributed to a change in the platform’s algorithm as well as MORE and MORE content being generated every second by your competition.
This “cheat sheet” is designed to help you start tapping into this audience and adding another lead generating platform to your repertoire.
I have included 10 Hacks that have effectively grown accounts for many small businesses I have personally worked with. I am confident that if you are able to implement these tips into your own account you will be able to grow your account as well!
Let’s get started…
1. CLEAN UP THE BIO!
Think of your Instagram profile as your website…
Viewers click through to your profile and you have only seconds to capture their attention, if you don’t they’ll bounce straight off. Much like driving traffic to your website’s landing pages, if the pages aren’t optimized your visitors will leave (often referred to as “bouncing”).
Here is my checklist for an optimized bio:
- Description of who you are and what you do
- Contact – do not make it difficult for your viewers to find you off of the IG platform (email, call, directions).
- Branded or unique hashtag – allows users to include it in their posts or find your content from the search bar.
- You get one link… use it! If you can give anything of value at no cost do it here. This may be a coupon code, an informational resource, or at the very least a link to your website
- [Small hack] Use the name slot to plug in keywords, especially if your name is already in your @handle (see example below) You’ll see that instead of using her name again she utilized the space to write “FITNESS-FASHION-LIFESTYLE”. This will increase her chances of being higher in the results when someone searches those keywords in the search feature (by the way, no affiliation to the below accounts, just served as examples.)
Do not forget about your highlights – I like to think of these as the “pages” of a website. If set-up correctly they will serve your viewers well, giving them quick reference points for anything they may be looking for.
If you are a business you may use instagram highlights for topics such as new products, new blog post, FAQs, Testimonials, Meet the Team, etc. Users on the web are accustomed to dealing with common website structures, if you can replicate that feel on your profile, your visitors will know exactly what to do (see the example from Mindbodygreen below).
2. DO NOT IGNORE INSTAGRAM STORIES
It is obvious IG built out this feature to go after the SnapChat crowd and it worked! That also means Instagram has put emphasis on this feature and wants you to use it! Best of all it alerts users that you have created a story and highlights you on their homepage (See Below).
It is a great place to humanize your brand by showing “behind the scenes” footage of your day-to-day activities or workflows. The good news is that the stories feature is meant for “real untouched footage” that doesn’t require any lighting or stress of production quality video on your end! Additionally, you can add hashtags, mentions, and location to your story giving yourself even more exposure! Engage with your audience by using some of the interactive features of stories such as audience polls.
If you are an influencer or work in conjunction with other accounts this is a great place to share their content or give them a shout-out without messing up the flow and theme of your grid, or “feed posts”.
I am a HUGE advocate for video, even I need to work on this. Video has the highest overall engagement (Roughly 38% more engagement than image posts).
Now I know I spoke about Instagram stories quite a bit but there is more….
I have found that it is some people’s worst fear to create videos of themselves but you have to get out there!
With features like 59 sec feed video posts, IG stories, live video and IGTV you have got to try it! However, my biggest reason for doing it is the relationship it will build with your audience. People want to get to know and trust you, there is no better way than getting personal with video.
Your first thought is probably, “No one cares what I have to say or talk about…” That is a false belief, I promise, people DO care. The better you get and the more often you do it, you will find your engagement will also increase.
Now while I don’t have time to get granular with all the features, I hope this was enough to bring it back into your awareness and make you reconsider using video! We will spend more time covering video in the Facebook community group.
4. POSTING FREQUENCY
This is probably the most frequently asked question, “How much should I be posting?” If you have been reading resources around the web, you probably already know the answer is all over the place…
Here is my advice – put simply, quality over quantity. If you gave me the option of 7 mediocre posts per week or 2 quality posts that catered to my audience, I would take the latter any day. Do not post just to post. Each post should have intent and serve your audience well, even if it is pure entertainment (remember to stay on brand and make sure it is relevant).
If you are just starting out, you’ll want to post as much quality content as possible. If you can post several times a day, I would. Once your account has been active, you’ll develop a rhythm and determine your own publishing frequency, times to post, and what your audience prefers.
If you have a business account (which is free) you’ll have access to some insights that may better help you determine what time and how often you should be posting.
5. USE CTAs TO INCREASE ENGAGEMENT
Now you know IG for the most part is a very visual platform but the caption is where you can get “wordy”.
I’m sure you have seen plenty examples of call-to-actions in the captions which prompts users to engage with the account.
You may have seen the following:
- “Leave a comment if you agree”
- “Does this make sense? Why or Why not?
- “Tag a friend that does this”
You have seen this a lot because it works. It is great for creating a bond with your audience and it is a nice algorithm boost because the engagement tells IG that users like your post and they should show it to more people. This will boost your reach and impressions which opens the door for more followers!
Ah, hashtags! Probably one of my favorite topics when it comes to helping accounts gain the exposure they deserve. Everyone knows about hashtags and most people already use them. However, most people are not using them to their full potential.
It is common to think that using broad popular hashtags will get you tons of visibility and grow your account quickly. I have found its quite the opposite.
What tends to happen is when you use common hashtags such as #love and #awesome millions of other people are too and your content will get pushed down on the explore page as soon as it is posted.
When I do 1-on-1 coaching with clients we conduct extensive hashtag research and find out what the target audience is interested in and where they are hanging out. You’ll want to get niche specific and use “trade terms” that’s where you’ll find passionate followers.
7. CURATED CONTENT
As if posting and maintaining your account didn’t take long enough, now you have to worry about where in the world you are going to get your content…
This is where curated content can really help you out. There is nothing wrong with borrowing content as long as you adhere to best practices. It is always a best practice to message an account and ask if you may use their post in your feed (you can also ask in the comments). You’ll want to remember to give proper credits and use a branded hashtags to make sure the account gets credit as an original author.
The great thing about curated content is all it take is a little preliminary research on what the market is responding to and then you can implement your findings into your content. If it has performed well once why wouldn’t it work again for you.
Additionally, if you are having trouble finding pictures with creative commons (free for commercial use, no attribution required) here are two of my favorite: www.pixabay.com and www.unsplash.com . These sites are libraries of photo content contributed by photographers and free to use. Hopefully, I just saved you the hassle of spending money on stock imagery!
8. CROSS PROMOTION
If you are building a loyal tribe on instagram you’ll want them to follow you on other platforms as well. It is always good to diversify and grow your tribe in as many places as you can.
The highlights we spoke about earlier are a great place to make your instagram followers aware that you are on other platforms because “guess what?”, so are they… there is no reason you shouldn’t connect with them there as well.
There are many accounts that naturally find success on other platforms after building their initial success on IG.
9. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Your network = your net worth. Chances are you have heard that quote before.
It couldn’t be any more true on Instagram. Get to know and engage with other accounts, not just your audience. You can participate in IG “takeovers”, guest posts, and shout outs. The opportunities are endless with this one…
I have seen accounts blow up overnight because of one mention from an influencer account. Networking is definitely one of the most underrated ways to quickly grow your account on Instagram.
10. STORY TELLING
Remember when we talked about getting more personal?
Story telling needs to be woven into your message, especially in small business. Many small business owners win over clients business not by undercutting the market in price but by connecting with their audience. It is an advantage the smaller brands have over the larger ones. Tell your story, how you built you business, downfalls, upsides, be as transparent as you want to be.
Ok everyone, I won’t hold you hostage with a marathon of a cheat sheet. I wanted to provide real value and give you advice that has worked for real businesses. You can implement all of this advice if you want to but none of it will work if you don’t IMPLEMENT! I know for the sake of length I have left out some detail and step-by-step instruction. If you have a question you can join the facebook group and ask in there!
You’ll find other great resources there as well such as my favorite social media tools and my Facebook “cheat sheet” which is just as comprehensive as this one.
Thank you for reading and I’ll see you in the group! #businessgrowth