If you’re one of the 1 billion people who use Instagram each month, you’ve likely seen the shift from food pictures and sunsets in sepia tones to the mecca of influencers. With more than 500 million people using the platform every day, it’s no wonder there’s been a massive surge of effort placed on a photo and IG presence.
You’re likely using the platform for personal use to keep in touch with friends but you also follow comedy accounts or your favorite brands.
If you were to search La Croix, Nike or McDonalds would you be surprised if an official account didn’t show up?
If you were to search Melania Trump, the Obamas or an SNL cast member to follow and support them would you be bummed that nothing came up? Remember how big of a deal it was when the British Royals got on the platform?
Instagram is a visual brand. Humans are visual beings.
More than 80 percent of people will buy something solely based on how it looks.
If you have a brand you need to be utilizing Instagram and one other platform. End of story.
Another reason the grid of squares dominates the online world is of the intimacy of it. You can post stories to keep people updated every minute of your day if you’d like, you can go Live to bring them into a moment in real time or you can interact in the comments or DMs.
If you have a business account you can check the exact stats of your audience but a majority of IG users are scrolling through the platform in the evening. Picture this (*Pun not intended but enjoyed). You’re lying in bed, scrolling through images before you go to sleep. You see photos of people’s faces, their homes, their pets and their kids. You read long captions filled with emojis teaching life lessons, selling products or asking you to take action on something.
There is a lot of potential for influence there.
Maybe now you understand WHY Instagram is so important so let’s get into the HOW.
Much like imposter syndrome, it’s important to realize it’s not about YOU, it’s about YOUR BRAND.
I don’t personally do too much editing on my photos nor do I seek to be an influencer for a brand so I can do what I want and when I want. I do try to stay active with my friends online and share support and interaction with other small business owners. It’s a great networking platform.
Once you have your photo you can create a witty, catchy or serious caption. What are you trying to tell your audience? What do you want them to take away? Where do you want them to click? Where do you want them to go or what should they do?
While you cannot directly click on a link in captions you can direct them to your bio.
See how it’s one large loop? That’s why it is SO important for your branding to be complete and consistent. Here’s five steps on how you can do that.
Don’t want to overhaul your social media alone? We can do it for you.
Start with your bio.
Start simple. Is your profile photo going to be a logo or your face? If it’s a personal brand, clearly show your face. If it’s a brand, show the correctly formatted logo.
Next, write your bio. I like following Jenna Kutcher’s suggestion of choosing five pillars to post around and make sure you pinpoint those in your bio. *CONSISTENCY!* While this is an old bio, you get the picture of what you can expect.
I need to know exactly what to expect from you, who you are and what you do. Let your personality shine!
You’ll notice there’s a character limit on bios. Want to add more? Try this:
- Open the note app on your phone.
- Type out your bio, using the return button to create new lines of text. Emojis take up more character space than text but add them in place of words if/when you can! Cut any excess words or fluff and leave the good stuff.
- Once you’re happy with your bio, copy the text.
- Open your Instagram app and navigate to “Edit Profile”
- In the “Bio” field and paste your text into the box.
You are also only allowed one link. I would suggest this link be to your website but if you’re a company who regularly posts offers for your audience to take advantage of, I recommend creating a free Linktree account.
Linktree gives you the ability to post this month’s newsletter, your website, your Facebook page and your current offers all without having to update frequently. Simply say ‘Direct Link In Bio’ in your captions and you’re always set!
Make your grid consistent.
This might seem minuscule but by making your brand consistent online you will be able to showcase quickly to new viewers who you are, what you do and what they can expect. Like this.
Is your brand outdoorsy and rustic or bright and cheerful? What preset for editing are you consistently making? Are you using reds and pinks or hints of yellow?
If I were to look at your grid as if it were a magazine would I be scrolling through seeing people’s faces, plates of food, or a mix of nature and quotes? Is it all product focused or are you also showing some BTS actions of those creating the product? Another favorite of mine is looking at grids where they follow a posting pattern like this.
You can look at your competition to see what they are doing, get tips from major companies or start new. Whatever you decide, be aware that the highlights bar should follow the same ‘rules.’
Your messaging should be the star…
Are you known for long, story time captions? Or quick one-liners? Test out a few and see which get the best response from your audience. You don’t always have to say something poetic or a life coach lesson but if you have something relevant and pressing on your mind, share it. People always respond best to authenticity.
A problem many people run into while writing lengthy captions is spacing issues. To ensure your editing is accurate and your formatting is the same as it was in the notes app, remove spaces after each period. Go to the end of the last sentence and backspace. Add emojis in between paragraphs to emphasize your message and insert some character.
When creating your Branding + Positioning Strategy you were provided with a brand voice. The way you speak, the words you use, the repetition of your brand’s mission statement and phrases you repeat or stay away from are all part of your messaging. Stay consistent in your bio, captions, replies and videos and you will be set.
…and your hashtags the backup dancers.
You are not too goo for hashtags! Even if they seem to get annoying. That’s why I add
after each caption. To ensure my message gets across but my hashtags are still performing well for interaction. Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement.
7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded. This can be #Target or more specific #TargetStyle. While it may be tempting to #Love #Follow or something else popular you will actually get in front of more people by niching down. You’re not just a #blogger you’re a #KCBlogger or #LifestyleBlogger. If you’re new to this world try to get 3 niche hashtags, 3 location hashtags and 3 generic hashtags.
It’s important to note you will perform best if you stick to the 30 hashtag limit. **Reminder to remove the spaces after the periods, paragraphs and hashtags.**
CONTENT IS KEY. HASHTAGS ARE THE CHERRY ON TOP.
If you’re consistently posting the same type of content or if you’re posting for a client, I would create hashtag blocks and have them saved in your phone notes or on your computer to easily copy and paste.
As Things Change They Stay The Same
The algorithms are always changing so you’re best bet is to test out a variety of things, share an array of photos and focus on moving forward. Stay consistent enough to give tactics a good shot but don’t be afraid to switch things up and play around.
At the end of the day you should never focus all of your efforts on one platform in case it were to ever shut down (which is why having a website you own is so important.) It can be the most influential platform you focus on but at the end of the day it is also just a page of photos. You can do everything right but if you don’t focus your main efforts on your customer experience you can kiss the likes goodbye.
Ready to brand your business? Let’s get started.