Oh hey! You’re still with us? Welcome to the third post in this series on getting started with Instagram. 😀
In Part 1, we looked at how to write a great Bio – you only have 150 characters, so what you say needs to be to the point and interesting to potential followers. We also looked at your images – because images are what it’s all about, hey! We investigated what sorts of images should you be posting, how often, and some photography tips to make sure your photos are beautiful. In Part 2, we explored the types of people you might like to follow for inspiration, and how to build up your own following through following others, through hashtags and by connecting it with your other social media. We also looked at sharing other people’s photos (which is a great thing of course – the good stuff should be shared!), and how to do that in an ethical way so that everyone wins.
Today’s post is about engaging with your Instagram community, because (a) it’s social media, and (b) that’s how you build your followers and turn them into loyal, paying customers.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
Like all social media, it’s not all about you. When your followers like your images a lot, they’ll often take the time to write a comment. So be nice to them and say thank you! Let them know they’re appreciated. You need to mention them by their Instagram handle – @theirname – for them to see your reply though.
More engagement creates a sense of community, so think of questions you can ask them, or post something thought-provoking like a great quote. Sparking conversations in this way is good for everyone – you get to know your followers a bit better too.
Hashtags again! As mentioned in Part 2, they’re great to help others to find you in the first place. But they can be used in lots of other ways too – for instance, create a hashtag that your followers can contrbute to. FatMumSlim has the long-running and extremely popular #fmsphotoaday, and she publishes a list of daily photo prompts on her blog. Jess Van Den of CreateAndThrive has recently started the very beautiful #MakerKinMonday – it’s a lovely opportunity to share the work of other artists/makers you admire. Spreading the good stuff around is beneficial for everybody – those makers you admire will be chuffed you love their work so much!
ENGAGE WITH CONTESTS
Running a contest or giveaway is a great way of getting exposure for your Instagram account and your business. There are lots of ways you can so this, but the important thing is to make sure everybody is clear on the terms and conditions. These are things such as such as what they have to do to enter, the deadlines, and when the winners will be announced. You can put the basic entry requirements into the slide (use another app capable of adding text to your image, such as PicsArt or MadeWithStudio), and in the text of your post, you can also direct them to your website page that has a full list of terms and conditions.
A competition can be as simple as putting up a photo of one of your items and say ‘Like’ the photo to win the item. You ask them to comment on your photo too, and this can also be a great opportunity to get valuable feedback.
If you want to increase your followers, you can say that one of the requirements of entry is for your followers to tag a friend in the comments, and this will increase your organic traffic. If those friends like what they see, they’ll follow you too!
You can ask them to repost one of your images (using one of the many repost apps) and tag you for an entry to win.
You can create a special hashtag, and ask followers to participate using your products in photos or creative situations where your products might be used. They will need to tag you too, so that you can track their entry. For instance, I might ask them to put up a picture of them with one of my bags in an exotic location, and use the special hashtag #tractorgirlonholidays. They would also have to tag me @tractorgirlmakes so that I know they’ve entered. Add extra hashtags to ensure the comp gets outside attention, such as #instagramgiveaway, #giveaway, #contest, and #(YourBrandName). This not only provides better exposure, it’s also great for tracking the spread of the competition.
Importantly, don’t make your hashtags too long or complicated! They can get misspelled and therefore lost, and if they’re too hard to remember, your followers can just give up and not bother.
Instagram has a few fairly basic, sensible guidelines for running comps as well, so do read them.
I must confess I haven’t explored this on Instgram as yet, but I most certainly will in the not too distant future! And here’s why.
At SociallySorted, founder Donna Moritz interviewed a number of people who have made huge gains in their businesses through using social media. LOTS of them said that video and moving images were particularly great, because of their ability to grab attention. The people she spoke to included travel bloggers, chocolate makers, and a zoo. Truly! The short snippet of a brand new baby hippo is a winner.
Instagram allows you up to 15 seconds of video – which doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is more than enough to get your message across if you have a mesmerising image and/or use a bit of smart editing. You don’t always have to make new material either – some suggested repurposing some of your old YouTube footage, because your YouTube watchers are not necessarily the same folk as on your Instagram. (Of course, take that one step further, and share your YouTube footage straight to Facebook too!)
If you haven’t got any old YouTubes hanging around (I’m putting my hand up here), what can you take a video of? Same as for your photos of course – show off some of your process! A video of your beautiful workspace! People LOVE seeing behind the scenes. Another fantastic idea is to demo one of your products, or answer some FAQs. (If you’re feeling up to it, when you share your workspace you can even stick yourself in front of the camera and say hi! Your customers will love connecting to a real person.)
Video on Instagram has a couple of great features too. You can scroll through your video on IG and choose a still from the video to be the cover photo, in order to make it more enticing to viewers. If your video is more than 15 seconds long, you can choose which segment to show, and you can also also add any of Instagram’s filters to convey a particular mood.
Another advantage is that it integrates with Facebook (because FB owns IG) so that it plays in-line and people don’t have to click out of Facey to watch.
ALSO in the moving picture category is Flipagram. This allows you to combine a number of images into a flipbook-style slide sequence, and this is great for lots of situations. For instance, you can use it to create a short portfolio of your work. Or, when you’ve got a large number of images from an event (a market, a conference, etc), rather than annoy your followers with a million posts all at once, stick them all into a Flipagram and then do a single post.
SCHEDULING AND STATISTICS
When you’re really stuck for time, and/or you just want to get super-organised with your social media, you can schedule all your posts up on Latergramme, and even better you can use it to organise and schedule multiple Instagram accounts if you have them!
Iconosquare is my all-time fave Instagram managing tool. It works on your desktop, so it’s super easy to see your last hour or two of feed, and super super easy to like and comment, so you can engage with the people you follow quite quickly. Better still, it has a fantastic array of statistics for you to explore, showing you what are the best times for you to post, your most popular posts, your growth rate, who’s unfollowed you (this is fab because you can have a think about WHY they’ve unfollowed you and whether you need to lift your game), and heaps more. Best of all, it’s free. (*Although they do have plans to split some of the services off to premium users only later in the year, so get onto them now.)
Lastly, here’s a couple of great infographics on other ways of engaging your followers –
* Quicksprout – How to increase your Instagram engagement This has some great tips on the types of images that get the most likes and shares, and has lots of great tips for hashtags too.
* Fast Company – how the most successful brands dominate Instagram – some excellent ways to use Instagram, including showing off customers using your products, and some great statistics on why Instagram is better for business than some other platforms.
* TWMG – A fab infographic on how to create an optimal feed .
SPAM ( 🙁 and other nasties)
Keep Instagram nice for everyone!
OK, that’s it for this three part post. Hope it’s helped you make your Instagram experience just that bit more beautiful! As always, if you’ve got any questions about anything, just let me know in the comments below, and I WILL find you an answer!
And you can connect with me on Instagram over at @tractorgirlmakes. See you there 😀 😀 😀