We live in a rapidly changing, fast-paced society where we are seeing new trends rise every day. Trends that we were not used to before are now shaping the way we interact with others. Instead of googling where to go for breakfast, what dress to wear to a party or what makeup and skincare products to use more and more people are relying on social media. In fact, 74% of consumers use social media to make decisions, in particular Instagram. So how can you use this to enhance your business or blog?
Before we get into it, these tips that I’ve popped together are the ones I have used to grow my following and what has helped me so I hope they work for you too!
We, as a society, have access to more than ever before. The world is literally at our finger tips and the internet allows people to find what they want quickly and effectively through one little search. Apps are the new found gateway to accessing consumers and eight out of ten people use mobile social media daily. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.
Facebook has 1.79 billion active monthly users, while this is a massive amount and Facebook is still the most popular social media, apps launched a few years ago such as Instagram have higher interaction rates and stronger growth with more than 95 million pictures being posted per day.
The graph above clearly illustrates the incredible interaction rates Instagram has in comparison to the three other largest social media sites being Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The average interactions for Instagram, while they declined, are impressive. Over 90% of the 600 million Instagram users are under the age of 35 with 68% of the users being female. Of this 90%, 53% of them are between 18 and 29.
Instagram is a fantastic way to get your brand/blog out there. It is user friendly and has a beautiful interface. People are hugely visual so there is a higher likelihood of capturing attention with a gorgeous picture rather than a tweet or Facebook status that contains words. Using relevant hashtags on Instagram is also a great way to find people with similar interests, but also have people find you. So how do you grow a strong Instagram following?
An Instagram following can take years to cultivate, however if done effectively, the process can be quick and relatively painless.
The importance of your caption
Captions are one of the most important parts of Instagram. While the picture tells a story, the caption helps explain it.
Captions can either gain you followers or lose them depending on your wording. Creating interactive captions often increase your interaction rate, however it is essential you reply to the comments on these posts otherwise you will see your followers stop commenting as they may feel their efforts are going unnoticed. Captions with questions and suggestive words often go a long way. Below are some examples:
- Who wants to see ……………………….?
- What do you want to know about ……………………….?
- Have you ever seen …………………..?
- What is ……………….?
Ensure you are only asking open ended questions and are always replying to the answers. While this may be time consuming it can go a long way in helping validate your followers and keep them loyal, you are not the only business/blog out there so you need to be the one who resonates with your followers thus keeping them. It also increases your interaction rate and your positioning in the Instagram algorithm.
It’s important when posting a photograph to Instagram to ensure that you are using relevant hashtags so that like minded people can follow you. Hashtags are a great way to increase your interaction and the reach of your posts. You also need to make sure that you use relevant hashtags and that they seamlessly integrate with your caption.
Hashtags are your best friend and you should be using them that way. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post so make sure you are using them all and ensure they are relevant to you. Make sure your account is on public so that new people can find you, once they have you then can convert them to followers. It also helps to ‘like’ posts from the hashtags as the person whose post you liked will often come back and return the favour.
Bringing the Caption and Hashtags Together
Let’s pretend you are about to post this flatlay on Instagram with the focus being on the skincare products. *Picture via Peplum and Prosecco.
An example caption could be:
Let’s talk about night time skincare! My mum always told me I need a product that works while I sleep which is why I use #AdvancedNightRepair! What is your go-to skincare brand? #skincare #nighttimeroutine
And then immediately after posting you’d hit comments and post the tags –
#eg #example #this #that #random (and so on)
Connecting your cation to your hashtags immediately after posting moves the post to the top of that tag and is therefore likely to increase the interaction. Make sure you use relevant hashtags and the maximum amount (30) to get your photo noticed. If you have used hashtags in the caption make sure you reduce the amount in the comments. For example in the caption above there are three hashtags so only 27 would be used in the comment.
In order to increase interaction, make sure you’re commenting on other accounts pictures, replying to every comment and ensuring the you’re asking questions in your captions as those are the photos that will receive high engagement. While this can be taxing at times, interacting with your followers not only encourages them to keep interacting with you but it increases the exposure your photo will get on your followers’ timeline due to the Instagram algorithms.
Calculating Your Interaction Rate
Calculating your interaction rate is relatively easy. To calculate a broad rate simply add up your likes and comments on the last nine pictures. Divide this by 9 and then divide your answer by your follower amount and multiply it by 100. For example if we add up Peplum and Prosecco’s last nine photos the total amount of likes and comments is 11,623 if we divide this by 9 we get an average of 1,291.44. The blog has 42,400 followers so we divide 1,291.44 by that and get 0.0314. Multiply that by 100 and Peplum and Prosecco’s interaction rate is sitting at 3.14%. OR you can head over to Phlanx, pop your username in and it’ll do it for you! This is also a great for businesses to check if their bloggers have a genuine following.
When to post your pictures and how often
How often should you post to Instagram? That is the million dollar question that no one has quite found the correct answer to yet. Some say once a day others say as often as you like so I figured out a way to determine that sweet spot and it all comes down to you!
In my opinion it is incredibly important to post regularly on Instagram in order to maintain a good following and to ensure that your followers don’t forget about you! However, not everyone thinks this. I generally post once a day to Peplum and Prosecco as I have found that this works works best. So how on earth do you find our what works best?
Be proactive about experimenting and testing the best times for your account. Does posting at 5pm work better than 10am, do you get more interaction on a Tuesday, is it better to post relaxed images on the weekend or during the week? You need to experiment and find the ‘prime posting time’ that gains you the most interaction. There is an fantastic app I used called ‘Prime’ that amazing when it comes to finding your prime time to post.
Don’t forget to be mindful that you don’t overdo it otherwise you will find people get frustrated with your images clogging up their feed. My recommendation is that you don’t post more than two images a day. In order to make sure you’re amassing followers you need to be posting every day or so as posting weekly doesn’t work well with the current algorithm.
With so many other factors going into posting such as hashtags, interaction and captions, there may not be one singular ‘best practice’ for Instagram posts so have a play around and see what works best for you and your followers.
Content, content, content
Instagram is such a visual based platform that your content needs to be what people want to see otherwise you’ll find yourself losing followers, low interaction or just not getting followers at all. So how do you create content people want to see while staying true to your brand? Lets have a look…
Honestly curating a perfect Instagram feed can be hard, especially if you are the one creating all the content. So how do you create content that people want to see? I’ve popped together 8 easy tips for you so that you can be on your way to a killer Instagram feed.
You need to create a conversation. You need to communicate through your image whether it is a subtle message or a visually compelling story. Think about what you are trying to sell in your image and focus on that. If its a product try include it in a beautiful flatlay or show it on a person. Don’t forget to centre the caption and hashtags around the image!
Don’t forget to think about the why and how. Why you took the image and how it will help your brand/blog. Asking yourself these questions helps improve your content a well as your photography as it define the tone and composition of the image.
Use a camera YOU are comfortable with. It’s no good using the best camera if you have no idea how to use it. A lot of great photos are shot on phone’s these days and some bloggers like little old me shoot exclusively on iPhones.
Don’t be afraid to use the editing options on apps like Colourtone, Snapseed and Instagram. The idea that only unfiltered and unedited images are real is outdated. Sometimes an image may need to be a bit warmer or cooler, lighter or darker to match your feed so embrace the tools and use them to your advantage.
ALWAYS use the grid lines. They are there for a reason and allow your photo to be balanced.
Be consistent! Find your style and stick to it.
Keep it real. If you love a product, be honest and if you hate it, be honest! If you want to your feed to be full of real moments you need to be patient and wait for them to happen. Find an interesting place and sit for a while, let events unfold and then take the picture when people have forgotten you’re there.
Believe in what you’re showing and convey a message. When you are inspired by a message or product it is evident in the photos.
I have been told so many times to sell this guide, but I would rather just put it out there for anyone needing some help so I hope this guide has helped out in some way!