Oh Instagram, I love you. You're full of pretty visuals and you're so much fun to look at! I could scroll through your feed for ages and ages ...
I have a thing for Instagram. Can you tell?! Hahaha! But seriously, Instagram is currently the fastest growing social platform with over 300 million brands and consumers in it's ranks. For online business owners and bloggers Instagram is the perfect way to engage with followers and share your stuff! And if you're looking to use the platform to market your online business, then it's super important to make sure that you're doing what you can to use this platform to it's full potential! So with that in mind, here are 11 ways to grow your Instagram account and really kick it up a notch!
1. Use the same high quality, personality-filled profile picture across all of your social media accounts.
If you've taken my free Strong Brand mini course then you'll know that I'm completely obsessed with consistency! Why? Because strong brands are consistent, baby! Help people recognize you and your brand immediately by creating consistency across ALL of your social media accounts. Use the SAME photo as your profile picture on all of your accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Make sure that it's clear and something that is consistent with the vibe of your brand! Don't be afraid to really let loose and show your personality. :-)
2. Make your username the same as your business name so that it will be easy for people to find you in search results.
I recently changed my handle on Twitter because back when I first joined, I joined as "BeansVooMama." (Inside joke!) Unfortunately, "BeansVooMama" had absolutely nothing to do with my business name (or business, for that matter!) and came across as a bit confusing to most people. If your business name is not yet taken, I'd recommend using it! (And if it's already taken, try to still incorporate it into your name somehow.)
3. Explain your business and purpose for being on Instagram with a tagline.
You should have a specific tagline for your online business, so why not further brand yourself by letting people know exactly what you are all about on Instagram? What types of content do you post and who exactly is it for? (Bonus points if you include this same tagline across all of your social media accounts!)
Notice how on my Instagram account I explain what I'm all about in the bio section (and also point people to a juicy free resource on my website!)
(By the way I'm totally obsessed with Adventure Time, incase you can't tell by the Lumpy Space Princess embroidery that I just made!) :P
4. Engage with your followers.
Don't be a hermit; engage with others! Instagram IS a social media platform, after all. (Emphasis on the word SOCIAL.) :-) Respond to comments on your photos, comment on other Instagram user's photos and find new people to follow each week. I make it a point to expand my circle by following at least 5 new people each week. Look for users that share your passions, inspire you and people that would be your ideal client! Follow them and take a moment to like and comment on a few of their photos.
5. Post better pictures.
The dark, grainy snap that you took of last night's meal? Proooobably not the best thing to post. Make use of natural light and post photos that are clear! Edit and crop your photos to kick them up a notch. Currently my favorite app to edit all of my photos on is A Color Story- it's freak'in awesome. Some of my favorite iPhone apps for this are A Beautiful Mess and Afterlight!
Speaking of photos, I love shooting pretty stock photos and I have a bunch that you can grab for free to use on your Instagram account! Yep, you can click below if you'd like to grab 15 free stock photos that I shot with my own 2 hands. :-)
6. Develop a consistent style.
Think of your Instagram feed as a portfolio for your brand. What words would describe your brand? Fun? Colorful? Minimalistic? Classy? Quirky? Before you post a photo, think about whether or not the photo you are posting is in line with your brand. Even better if you can post photos containing your brand colors on a regular basis!
Check out Sam Ushiro's Instagram account, this girl has got it going on! Yes, her account is what I aspire to. Notice the fun profile photo, the fact that her username is the same as her website and that she includes what she's all about in the bio! Notice how she's got a very clear and consistent style throughout! In addition to all the lovely pinks, yellows and whites her posts ALWAYS make me ravenous for donuts.
DAMMIT now I want a donut!
7. Vary the types of photos that you post.
I'll bet you are either guilty of or know of at least one person that will post a billion photos of their pet or the meal they just ate ... all in a row! As much as I'm sure you love your baby ... resist the urge to post 5 photos of him/her in a row. Instead, pick and post the very best one! Also make sure to have variety in your photos. Ideas for variety would include:
- Fun, personal images
- Business related images
- Photos that are relevant to your brand and potential customers
- Behind the scenes photos
- Photos that tell a story
8. Have some photos on hand for days where you have nothing to post.
I bet you're thinking that some bloggers and creatives must have this picture-perfect life where every day is "Instagram Worthy." But uhhhh, no. (At least, not me! Haha.) Believe it or not, there are some days when I'm inside my apartment all day long with nothing that I feel is very pretty or interesting enough to post. And when that happens ... I turn to the stash of images I have ready to go on my phone! Spend an hour or so picking out some images from your personal archives/blog/portfolio to have on hand for days when you feel like you have nothing to post!
9. Don't over post.
Speaking of posting, it's important to not OVER post. I'd say that posting 1-3 times a day is pretty ideal, and even taking a day completely off from Instagram here and there won't hurt you either. (Speaking of posting, I like to use Later to schedule my Instagram posts! And guess what? You can post 30 times a month on it for free.)
10. Collaborate with other Instagrammers.
Is there a brand or fellow creative that you could collaborate with? Perhaps you could host a giveaway or start a challenge together! I recently did my first collaboration with my other Instagram crush Katie where we pick a new color each week and challenge people to take photos inspired by that particular color and share them using the hashtag #ihavethisthingwithcolor, it's been so much fun!
11. Use Relevant hashtags.
I'm not gonna lie, up until about a year ago I refused to use hashtags. For some reason they made me feel corny and embarrassed, and I thought they were really silly and annoying. But if you're trying to use your Instagram for business, then using them is a MUST. Hashtags automatically publicize your photos and make them searchable to the millions of Instagram users out there! Embrace'em, baby! Use hashtags that are relevant to what you are posting. Some of my favorite hashtags include:
- #ABMlifeiscolorful - The gals over at A Beautiful Mess created this one. Use it on photos that really have lots of fun and color!
- #thatsdarling - Created by Darling Magazine, this hashtag celebrates the darling little life moments. You can really get creative with this one because the possibilities are endless!
- #ihavethisthingwithcolor - This is the hashtag that myself and two other ladies started for the challenge pictured above! We love to choose a color each week that will inspire our photos and we share them with this hashtag! (Pssssst, you should totally join in. It's really fun!)
- #mybeautifulmess Another one created by the A Beautiful Mess gals! This one is especially good for showing your beautiful messes: creative projects, crafts, DIYS ... you get the idea!
If you're not sure which hashtags to use, look at other popular Instagram accounts that are in your industry and have the same type of audience. Which ones are THEY using?
Want to up your social media marketing strategy even more to grow your online business?
Heck yeah! If you'd like to further kick up your social media strategy to get more traffic, engagement and growth so that you can have a successful online business, check out From Blog to Business. I literally took all of my bazillion hours of learning and implementing strategies in my own business (over the course of the past TEN YEARS), figured out what worked and rolled them all into a simple, step-by-step course.
What about you? Have you tried anything in particular that has helped to grow your Instagram account? Do share, my dearest! And if you'd like to find me in the Instagram world, you can do so right here.
And now if you'll excuse me, I'm having a massive craving for some Sour Patch Kids, which MUST be quenched.