5 Practical Tips To Leverage Instagram As A Creative Small Business
I don't know about you but Instagram has been one of the most challenging social media platforms to navigate as a creative small business owner and like most platforms, it's constantly evolving and changing. I find that just about the time I find a good rhythm and create a strategy that works for my business, Instagram changes it's algorithms and don't even get me started on things like 'shadowbanning'.
Well, you know what they say, you either have to beat 'em or join 'em. So as a creative small business owner you have to determine if Instagram is a good platform to focus your time or energy on. To know that you have to ask yourself if your target market is hanging out there and having conversations? If they are then it's worth the effort to work it into your social media marketing plan. If you determine that Instagram is not the best way to connect with potential customers or clients then you know you need to put your focus elsewhere.
In this post I am going to break down 5 practical tips from my own experience of working on Instagram the last 4 years and through what feels like a bazillion changes but before I dive into this I want to offer some encouragement. Any social media platform will take time. You aren't going to post to Instagram for a week and have thousands of new followers. It will take showing up daily even when you don't feel like it. It will require consistency even when you don't feel like you have an ounce of clue about what you are doing and you will have to keep showing up even when it feels like no one cares or is even listening.
Give yourself some grace while you are learning, everyone starts out a beginner. Even the accounts you drool over with 30K+ followers at one time started with that first post and 5 followers. Try to focus on having fun with the journey letting go of the outcome or you will drive yourself straight to the bottom of the pit of comparison.
So take a deep breath and focus on taking this one day at a time remembering that Martha Stewart did not build an empire in one day.
1. Your Bio
When someone lands on your Instagram account what are they going to see first? Your bio, right? It's that first impression when someone steps into your online shop. Take the time to create a bio that really showcases your personality. Instagram bios have a 150 character limit so make your words clear, powerful and compelling to convey what you do and the problem you solve. Be creative and use emojis if that fits your personality but stick to the few that best represent your brand. Too many emojis can look messy and be more distracting than helpful.
I love Lisa Leonard's bio. In just a few words you really understand a lot about who she is.
Ensure you have a good profile photo. If you are leading with your personal brand use a clear crisp fun photo of yourself or if you are leading with a business brand, a good clean logo or graphic is crucial.
You can have one clickable link in your profile so it's important to leverage it wisely. If you have multiple places you want to drive your Instagram traffic to you can use Linktree to do that. It's a pretty awesome tool.
2. Imagery Is Key
Instagram is a platform driven by photography and imagery so it's important to use photos that are cohesive and aligned with your brand. If you are an extrovert you can follow a lot of the training that is currently out there by Jasmine Starr and others where leading with you can be effective, just know the images will have to be very well done and creative.
If you are more introverted like I am don't fret. It doesn't mean Instagram is not for you, it just means you have to think outside the box and find a strategy that works for your business. For Socially Tailored Marketing I curate a lot of photos from other accounts. I don't have the time or the know-how to take professional shots so I borrow images from other accounts or sources like Pinterest BUT I want to stress the importance of always giving photo credit to the sources you are using. Don't be the person who tries to pass off someone else's work as your own.
If you love photography and can take your own photos that's awesome. Ensure that your Instagram feed has a theme to keep it consistent and cohesive. Think of your Instagram feed like a magazine. The photos should all work together and compliment one another. My Socially Tailored brand includes a lot of florals therefore I look for photos that compliment this theme to create a visually interesting feed.
This may take you some practice to get a theme down for your account and that's okay. Practice makes perfect when you strive for progress over perfection.
3. Tell A Story + Give Value
Instagram is no different than any other platform in how you use it will determine the kind of results you get. If you are going to show up and throw up something with little thought or you use every post to try to sell something you won't attract many followers so you have to not only thing about the image you are posting (will it work with the image you posted before it?) but you have to take the time to think about how you will use the image to give or share something of value.
Pair a how-to tip with your image or share a story that will lead to a conversation with your followers. Instagram has quickly become a very conversational platform so take the time to think about what and how you will share. Marketing requires intentionality.
Are you participating in Friday Introductions? It's a great way to connect with others and build community. Every Friday the #FridayIntroductions hashtag is trending and here are some tips to make the most of it:
1. Post a picture of yourself. I know if you are introverted this is hard to do, I get it. I cringe at the thought of taking a selfie much less posting one. I participate in Friday Introductions more from my personal account and Creative Momista blog but it's a fun way to connect with others.
2. Use #FridayIntroductions in your post so you will pull up in that hashtag feed.
3. Share a story about yourself, a fun fact, the why behind what you to do, etc. Focus on sharing something personal so your followers can learn more about you. The more they feel like they know you the more they will want to stick around.
4. Share, Don't Sell. This is an opportunity to share and connect with others without an agenda so if you want to make the most out of this let go of the need to try to sell anything or drive traffic to your website when participating in #FridayIntroductions.
5. Follow the #FridayIntroductions feed and connect with others. Take the time to follow accounts that really speak to you. Like and spend time leaving genuine comments on their posts.
6. Make this a part of your weekly social media plan, I promise the consistency will pay off.
5. Join An Instagram Pod
If you haven't heard of Instagram Pods don't worry, I had no clue about them until very recently but they have been around for a while to help boost engagement on posts so if you have ever wondered why it seems like some accounts that don't have a huge following always have a high number of likes and comments, they are probably part of a pod.
Where does the term pod come from? It's taken from a pod of dolphins, crazy right but they are very effective. It can be hard to find one, you can't just search for them like you can a Facebook group, you have to ask around and even then it can be hit or miss to connect with the right one. While I would personally like more engagement on my posts I don't want just anyone liking and commenting on my content. For me, it's always about quality over quantity.
If you are a creative faith-based business owner, you are welcome to join my Instagram pod to help improve your Instagram engagement if you are committed to being active and believe in giving to receive.
To join the Instagram Pod:
1. Follow my @SociallyTailoredMarketing Instagram account; and
2. Shoot me a DM letting me know that you would like to join
To wrap this post up you are probably wondering about whether to switch to a business account from a personal account if you haven't already. I get asked about this a lot and I still have mixed feelings about it so do your own research and do what is best for your business. If you want to measure your insights and run ads on Instagram then switching to a business profile is a given. If that is not in your plan at the moment, then leaving your account personal may be fine for now.
I hope you found these tips helpful in getting started with Instagram as a creative small business. There will be a learning curve with it like anything new. Give yourself permission to be okay with being a beginner knowing you will have it mastered in no time with patience and consistency.
Welcome! I am April Williams a freelance writer and Squarespace web designer working with creative small business owners. I am passionate about God, family, spoiling my Boxers and coffee...in that order. Here you will find practical tips for branding, marketing and social media so be sure to check out the blog for more free training and resources.