Having an Instagram strategy in place is one of the smartest ways you can invest in your business, and it’s free. Whether you’re a lone ranger or a small business owner, having a killer Instagram account is an invaluable tool to be seen, to be heard and to interact with your target market – post a pic, get some likes and add a couple of hashtags and voilà you’re #instafamous…. if only? Truth is, there’s much more planning and intention that goes behind that sleek AF grid you stalk on the daily. There’s the researching, strategy, shooting, editing, captions, hashtags, scheduling and sadly you’re not done there, then there’s the ongoing interaction and reporting. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Instagram is one thing to start, and it’s an even better thing to get it right so to save you many a Google search, and trial and error, we’re giving you our top tips to creating, growing and maintaining a slicker-than-your-average Instagram to help you and your business thrive.
SETTING UP A PROFILE
Name: It sounds simple but consider this the 101 of consistency – having a username that is homogenous to your brand name, website and other social media accounts is key. Why? Because if your audience comes across you through another platform or by word of mouth then it makes their life a whole lot easier when they try to find you (on the gram because that’s what errrybody does) and check out what goods you’ve got to offer. Same goes for your profile pic, be consistent across all of your social channels.
Hot tip: Use your logo or brand stamp as your profile picture, not only will you look legit but you’ll be easy to find and your branding will become to be memorable with your audience.
Account type: Your next decision will be whether to create a personal or business account. They both have pros and cons but we think when it comes down to it, the benefits of a business account are far more impressive than the downfall. Think of what a contact button and instant access to insights and reports can do for your biz!
BIO: 150 characters don’t seem like much to sum up the very essence of your business but, we’re telling you, it is more than enough. Your bio should be short and sweet, a tagline or a summary of your services. Play around with it and if you’re after some serious bonus points try creating a short and sharp bio in the tone of voice that is consistent with your brand, and don’t forget to add your website link!
Any Tom, Dick or Harry can rip off photos from other Instagram accounts or Pinterest. When it comes to creating a dreamy account, one that catches the right kind of attention and the right kind of peeps, it’s all about original content. True story.
What’s also a hard truth is that unless you are a maestro with a camera / iPhone then it’s not always feasible for a freelancer or small business to pay for a professional shoot. It is wise to invest in creating beautiful visual content but if you don’t have the cash then it might be worth offering a swap. For example, if you are a writer in need of some imagery, reach out to a photographer who has a similar aesthetic and offer to write their website or something that is of the same value.
We’re not saying every image has to be original, go by the 70/30 rule and try to aim for at least 70% original content and weave the rest of the regrammed content throughout your grid.
Tip: Curate a collection of imagery that will work for your feed, ensuring the images stay within your style guide – colours, vibe etc and also ask yourself if it is related to your brand and offering. Quality over quantity wins. Always.
STRATEGY AND DIRECTION
When it comes to social, we can spot an imposter from a mile away so we believe there’s no better strategy than being yourself (thanks, mum!). When we say yourself we mean yo’ fine self – the one who practices what they preach, who only posts with intention and purpose, who truly loves and believes in their brand, and of course the one who posts frequently and engages with their audience.
Don’t know where to start? Write down the four key elements you want to portray about your brand on social media. Take Smack Bang for example, if you look at our grid you will see that first and foremost we are about good design, but we are also about good people, good plants and good vibes. Each element should share a different side of you/your business but as a whole, look like one big happy family of images that all belong together.
Now you’ve got a rough plan, it’s time to get cracking on some image research to either use as shoot inspiration or keep for a rainy-day regram. It’s okay to use ‘moodboard’ images as your starting content (make sure you credit the original owner) as this allows you to set the tone for your brand, and to also engage with other brands or individuals who you’d like to connect with.
Once you have your final curation it’s time to schedule – try out a few apps and see what’s right for you, we can’t go past schedugram but we also love UNUM and Planoly. In the beginning, embrace trial and error, and learn the best times to post, what posts are working/what’s not and what hashtags have helped you gained the most traction.
THE ART OF THE PERFECT CAPTION
It’s all well and good having all these beautiful images but what about the caption? The words you use along with your image are just as important and help to share a bit more of that brand personality, allow you to relate to your audience, and show you are indeed a real person (no bots here!). Like your bio, it’s all about consistency when it comes to tone of voice. If you are feeling a little stuck for words, as a guideline always intend to:
Educate: this may be revealing a little about yourself, sharing your most recent project or offering tips around your expertise.
Persuade action: Promoting your most recent blog post, subscribing to a newsletter, asking a question or to take part in a competition.
Evoke an emotion: This can be something cheeky, funny and oh so relatable or something a little more open and vulnerable, whatever it is, try and write something that truly connects with your followers.
We’ve talked about being authentic and here’s where to let your personality shine – your caption doesn’t have to be long, if you are a straight shooter and fast talker then make your captions short and sharp, one word may even do the trick!
Now, for the hashtags, choose a few that have your name in it and stick to it. For example, #madebysmackbang shares our projects and #smackbangdreamabodes are for our dream spaces. Tip: Feel free to add more hashtags that relate to your image or offerings in the comments section. Adding it to the caption can take away from the post and look a little too wordy.
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