This week I am taking you through all things Instagram to do a full audit of this valuable social media platform. Given how many normal businesses activities are currently on hold due to Covid-19, this is an opportunity for you to do a review of all your social media accounts and update them.
If you don’t have an Instagram account, this is still worth a read, as you may decide you are ready to open an account if your target marketing audience is on there!
9 million Aussies are on Instagram – of that 9 mil – 57% are men, 42% are women (as of May 2019). 75% of users are between 18-44 years old and the biggest demographic of 32% is between 25-34.
So, if you’re target market falls into any of those stats – this is article is for you!
Full disclosure, straight up here guys, Instagram is my least favourite platform of all the social media platforms. I don’t know exactly why, it just is.
But does it work? Absolutely. And at the end I’ll give you my biggest tips on how to make it work for you, but this blog is all about auditing what you’ve got there already.
Your Instagram Bio
Your bio is super important – it’s your opportunity to tell how your brand can help others who are looking.
There’s 5 key essential elements here
- Your profile pic
It should be a recent picture of you! Having your brand logo in your bio pic is not wise. You might get sick of me saying it, but you’ve got to think H2H – human to human. Unless you have a national or internationally recognisable brand logo – your bio picture needs to be of a human. Professional yes. In keeping with your brand – yes. Again, no dogs, no cats, no partners – YOU!
- The Headline (that’s the line that’s in bold).
Besides hashtags – this is the ONLY searchable terms you get on Instagram – yep the ONLY. So, make it count. Use keywords that describe your brand. By default, Instagram fills in your name, but you can change it and you should. And as with everything on social media, done once is NEVER done. Change this as your business changes, as events or seasons come and go in your business. The key here is remembering “keywords that describe your brand”. Absolute Prime Real Estate here! PRO TIP – if the keywords you use don’t fill up all the spaces – put some relevant emojis in there – not searchable but eye catching to a visitor perhaps!
- The Body – tell your audience the value they get from your account – straight away.
I’m pretty sure you get 150 characters here – again use them wisely! None of this is searchable though.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether you should put #’s in your bio. The answer is yes and no. No if you are doing it for search related reasons. You will not come up in searches because you have a # in your bio. Yes, if you have #’s that are brand specific to you. Let’s say you have a # that specifically to your brand, putting it in your bio will allow someone to click it and then they’ll go and see all the posts related to that #. In this way, it can be a fabulous little marketing tool.
I know you only have 150 characters, and that’s tiny – but try to make it interesting. Use emojis to make sentences stand out, use emojis instead of words where you can to save word count!
If you have space, write something personal about you, like “almond latte lover” or use an emoji to describe a feeling, your fav food or pet – like a doughnut emoji for being a lover of doughnuts. Why, because of the H2H thing again? People connect with people who they believe have the same interests or values as them.
Again, and I cannot stress this enough, done is never done. Come back here often, check it, change it, make it relevant to the season of business you are in.
- Call to action – this is part of your 150 characters but should be the last line.
In any marketing, you should never leave your prospect/client/customer wondering what to do next – your Instagram bio is no different. What do you want your “Instagram Looker” to do next? For example, you might have something like “Find Your Tribe eBook here (with an emoji arrow pointing down to the link below – we’ll get the link shortly) or “Find our More here” or “Download x” or “For Sale Items go x”. Again, done is never done – this will need changing as business changes.
- The Link – the only freakin link you get! (Except for IGTV).
I think the founders of Instagram went “how can we make this hard to marketers to use and thought, I know, only 1 link out!” – oh and by the way – that’s you! If you are in business, you are in the business of marketing!
So, you get one link. Use it oh so wisely! Use it to promote your latest project, your opt-in offer, or whatever is your “champagne” that you offer new visitors!
There are some tools out there to help with this.
I use a tool called Link tree – https://linktr.ee/ Creating a Link tree account (there’s a free version and a paid – free is totally fine) allows you to use that link to send people to several options rather than just 1 place. Hope over to my Instagram account @smallbusinessmadesimple if you want to see what I’m talking about.
Link Tree is fabulous – but to up-level you should build your own “link tree” type page to send your clickers too. That way you are getting the traffic on your website, which you can then retarget with retargeting campaigns or Facebook Pixel campaigns etc etc. It just has so many advantages sending them natively to your website to a page that has several options – just like Link Tree.
Just a couple of other things to think about using your 150 characters on
- Your physical address
- Contact number
- Email address
Ok – so that the bio and bio photo – I hope that helped. Remember, make it short and to the point and it’s never done – always go back to change it up depending on your business season.
Hashtags are arguably Instagram’s primary method of sorting and filtering content – so they are super important and not to be glossed over or put in willy nilly.
For every post you get 30 of these little creatures!
Some of the biggest questions I get are
- Do I have to use 30?
- Should they go in my comments or in the post?
So, first question – should you use 30. My answer is yes and no! Typically, isn’t it!
Yes, if you have 30 relevant hashtags that relate to the post – then that’s 30 opportunities to be found for that content you’ve spent time creating. No, clearly, if you’re just hashtaging for hastaging’s sake. They need to be relevant.
Should they go in your post or in your comments? I’m going to caveat my answer here by saying, I don’t think anyone really knows but here’s what I think and why.
I think you should put them in your post because when you post – that’s when the algorithm starts to notice your post and gives it some love. Plus, if you follow anyone that’s a “Gram Expert” like for instance Jenna Kutcher, you’ll see she and many others like her, put them in the post (or the caption as it’s called on Instagram).
A recent study undertaken by Agora Pulse which used 117 posts from the 3 Instagram accounts (13,700 followers combined) found that the key takeaway is that when hashtags were used in the original caption the reach was 29.41% higher.
So, when organic reach is becoming harder and harder to achieve in social media, this result should not be overlooked. Also, it’s more time consuming to go back and add hashtags to your comment section once your post is live.
My biggest piece of advice – TEST and MEASURE – see for yourself on your own account.
I believe the trend in putting hashtags in the comments was started because it looked “neater, more professional”, and to that I would say, it’s about engagement, social media is always about engagement – without it you’re just posting to crickets!
One last thing on hashtags which is a biggie – how do you find them!
Whether you post with 30 or 10, (but don’t do 10 – do at least 20!) there’s a system I use. I spilt my hashtags into 3rds. The first 3rd is #’s that have under 10K posts on them (how do you know, you search the hashtag – it says the number of posts – PRO TIP – you should follow your most relevant hashtags, search them and click follow). The 2nd 3rd has been 10K and 500K posts and the last 3rd are big accounts – so over 500K posts connected to them.
Why is this relevant? The idea behind the hashtag system is to be found for that #. If all the hashtags you are using on your posts have GIANT numbers against them, the chances of you being found for that hashtag, are small – you are a tiny fish in a really big pond – in marketing was want to be a big fish in a small pond – stand out, easily found.
DO NOT # FOR THE SAKE OF IT or because I said you had too!
It does take time and it does take research especially if you’re serious about using this platform to gather a community of followers who might one day do business with you.
I save my hashtags in my notes on my phone and then cut and paste the relevant ones for the post I am creating – saves on hours of work! But I’ve researched them first!
There was noise late last year about “you shouldn’t use the same hashtags in every post” – which put the wind up many people – I have to think of new ones all the time!?!?
I think that thinking is floored and untrue to boot. If you have hashtags that are brand specific to you and your products or your service or your offerings, of course you can use them over and over – why would you not! That’s what you want to be found for!
BUT, here’s the bit, you shouldn’t be using hashtags over and over for convenience that are clearly not relevant for that post. For instance, if you are posting a photo and caption about your holiday to the Gold Coast and you use the hashtags for say the Royal Family – no relevance at all but you think, they’re trending at the moment, I want a piece of that, then that’s a no! A user following that hashtag and sees something they don’t like they can select the “Don’t Show for This Hashtag” option – which is bad for your account. So, hashtags – relevant to post and/or your business and brand.
Just a bit more on hashtags.
You can use hashtags on Instagram Stories.
- Hashtag pages have an Instagram Story icon in the top left corner. Click on it and you’ll see a collection of Stories posts tagged with the hashtag from people with public profiles.
- If you’re lucky enough to get your post in a hashtag Story, you can expose your brand to a large audience.
- There are two ways to add hashtags to your Stories. The first method is by using the hashtag sticker and changing the text. Or you can simply use the text tool and the # symbol to type out the hashtag the same way you would on a photo or video post.
- You can add up to 10 hashtags on a Story but take care not to clutter your content. You can shrink your hashtags or even hide them behind an emoji, sticker, or GIF.
How do you find the right hashtags for your business? RESEARCH! Start typing into the search function in Instagram and it will give you a list and if you click of them (there’s a list within a list.)
On any hashtag page, right above the “Top” and “Recent” tabs, you’ll find a list of related hashtags that you can scroll through by swiping left. This is a great way to find relevant hashtags that might be a bit more niche. And that means an even more targeted audience with less content to compete with.
Check out what your competitors use and if you sell brands, like for instance clothing brands, check out what hashtags the brand uses – they spend big money on market research which you can leverage to piggyback on that and use those hashtags too!
How often should I post?
This is another question I get all the time.
My answer is when you’ve got something valuable to say! Don’t post 5 times a week with sub-par captions – if you have something valuable to share with your audience 3 times a week – then post 3 times a week. However, I think you should be posting stories every day They are quick, they are easy, and they are oh so engaging.
Your audience will love engaging with you with stories (which only last for 24 hours) – love seeing behind the scenes – they don’t have to perfect – they just have to relevant! There are so many fabulous “stickers” available for stories. Polls, questions, quizzes, gifs – so much!
Use stories to tell about your day! Engage with those humans who follow you!
Highlights – highlights sit below your bio. They were a new feature back in 2017 and they are the place you can save your stories and repurpose them so that they last longer than 24 hours! And you can have multiple highlights on your profile.
Highlights are a great way for people to see relevant and related content (repurposed content) all in one place.
For instance, you could have a highlight for motivational posts, or recipes you like, or podcast episodes, or from an event your ran/attended etc. This will allow the user to click the highlight and run through the stories like a little book!
How do you make highlights? Here is a link to a great article by Social Media Examiner which explains it all!
Your Instagram Feed
When I refer to “your Feed”, I am talking about the place you can go to see all your posts together. It is located under your bio.
Your feed should look engaging. The more disjointed it looks, the less the user is going to have a good visual experience – and Instagram is all about the visual.
So you do need a visual pleasing feed. You can buy templates from the likes of Creative Market – which will help your feed look great – but really there’s two things you probably need that cost nothing
- A common colour palette – so stick to your brand colours as much as possible, and
- If you use an Instagram filter – always use that same look filter.
Take the Cadbury company for instance – not all their photos have their signature purple in them, but their feed certainly has enough of it to look visually pleasing and on brand.
Think about this when thinking about what photos you will use.
Does your feed need to look perfect? Not necessarily, but it does need to represent your brand and you and give the user a good experience.
I will say one last thing here – and it’s a biggie – in fact my absolute pet hate when it goes to someone’s Instagram feed – WHO THE HECK ARE YOU?
(And we will pause here for your Instagram challenge. Go to your feed and see when was the last time you posted a photo of you – you the business owner – YOU baby YOU! If it’s more than 5 posts ago – then today’s the day for another one!)
Seriously, I follow some local accounts and I have no freaking idea who the business owner is. I could walk past them in the supermarket or have the table next to them at a restaurant and how no idea.
And you might be thinking, “Why would that matter?”. Referrals and word of mouth – those marketing strategies that cost next to nothing and yet can drive SO much of our income.
There’s a local hotel/resort that been taken over recently in my part of the world and 6 months in I have no idea who they are – it drives me bananas! If I don’t know who they are then 90% of the rest of the local populate probably don’t either.
Human to Human! I cannot emphasise it enough. I know putting yourself out there can be tough, but you’ve been brave enough to start your own business, be brave enough to embrace who you are and let the world see the wonderful people behind the brand. I promise you it will lift your engagement.
Instagram TV (IGTV)
IGTV was supposed to be the next “BIG” thing and send YouTube packing but alas it has not taken off the way Instagram thought.
But if you do any video on this platform, or another platform, share it on IGTV (as long as it’s relevant for your Instagram audience of course). It’s easy to set up – it sits in the right-hand corner of your Instagram app and it’s another way to be found.
And the big benefit to IGTV is that you can directly add a link out! So when you post on there, ensure there’s a call to action!
Captions are what you write under your photo. Every post on Instagram has a photo, a caption and hashtags.
For your captions, make sure you are telling me a story. This could be short or long, it doesn’t matter, just make it engaging and a story. H2H is coming to haunt you here too – it’s got to be engaging to humans, people!
If you have a beautiful yellow coat that’s just landed – don’t just say “yellow coat, brand name x, price y” – tell me a story – maybe just a short one that might involve it being designed or made in Australia, maybe the story is around having a timeless piece like this in your wardrobe – how it’s an investment or maybe the story is last time it sold out because of x and now it’s back in store and tell me why you think it was so popular.
You might not sell products – but you get it right? You’re not selling the yellow coat or the course or the workshop or the book, you’re selling me a feeling, an outcome, the solution to my problem.
So no excuses for lazy “slap it up with no thought or energy” captions! Take the time to invest in this part of your Instagram post and it will give your audience a more engaging experience.
One more thing when it comes to Instagram and strategy to grow your following with people who might one day do business with you:
We’ve discussed hashtags and captions and how they can help, and how important that your bio is right, but the biggest and best way to get traction on this platform is to (drum roll) ENGAGE.
Yep, spend time on the platform, not just posting and ghosting!
And within the strategy of engaging is the all important social media strategy that I think is close to number one and yet so many people forget to do it – the ol’ reach out strategy.
That is, finding people who might one day do business with you, people who fall into your “who” avatar, and start engaging with their posts and engaging with them through their stories and DMs.
So, let’s sum up so when you are doing your audit review you know what you’re looking for/at::
- Your profile pic – make it YOU. A human and/or humans. Recent and on brand.
- Your bio – does it need some work? Does it tell me what you do and what you can do for me? Does it have a call to action? Short and to the point! And think about your only link out of this platform.
- Hashtags – you’ve got to do your research. They’ve got to be meaningful to the post and/or your brand. It’ll take time, but it will pay off. They are crucial to be found and followed.
- Your feed – be visually appealing, on brand and I make sure I can see you! A little note here: if your feed isn’t what you want – you can archive posts – just go to the post, click the 3 dots in the right hand corner and pick archive (you won’t loose any analytics but it will be hidden from your feed and you can start to design it the way you want!).
- Your captions – tell me a story. No posting for postings sake.
- Engage – take the time to reach out to your audience and potential customers!
Before I finish up, some tools which might help you with Instagram:
- Planoly, Plann and Tailwind – great scheduling apps and great for hashtag help, planning your grid and monitoring and tracking.
- SquareLovin for more analytics on your Instagram account
- Do you have a link to your Instagram account in your email signature, on your blog, is it connected to your Facebook Business page or mentioned as a link on your personal Facebook page, is it on your website? Remember to put this link in as many places as possible so people know where to find you quickly and easily!
Talking about having yourself easy to find – have you ever looked at or used your very own “Nametag” from Instagram? Not sure what I’m talking about!?! Well if you go to your bio, click the hamburger menu up the right-hand corner (3 lines – looks like a hamburger!!) and you’ll see in that menu “Nametag”. If you have a physical store you could print it out and have it at your reception or counter or you could put it on your business cards – loads of uses. Also, you can change the look of it too – have a play!
There are so so many more tips and tricks I’d love to share with you but instead I’ve found this awesome blog I’m going to link to here: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-hacks/ –
It’s a blog by Hootsuite all about Instagram hacks.
So there you go! Follow these steps and your Instagram feed should be looking lovely and refreshed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenn Donovan is a marketing strategist and social media extraordinaire, coach and mentor to savvy business owners. Owner and Founder of Social Media & Marketing Australia.
With a passion for making business simple, because it’s isn’t easy but it should be simple or at least simpler, she’s built a reputation for helping other small business owners simplify their marketing and businesses so they can reach their goals, be more profitable and live the dream (finding the freedom they set out to achieve when they started … the illusive small business owner freedom dream …!)
Jenn believes in giving before asking and that’s why she’s the host of the popular Small Business Made Simple Podcast