Would you believe that as of September 2017, Instagram had reached 800 million monthly active users? This staggering figure was up from 600 million in December 2016. It’s safe to say this photo and video-sharing app is one of the most popular social networks in the world – and savvy entrepreneurs are seizing it as an opportunity to grow their businesses and their brands.
Instagram is an invaluable tool for experts and people seeking experts. It’s an ideal place to gain and maintain visibility, share your thought leadership and give your audience a unique insight into your world. It’s a wonderful communication tool, yet I find it’s one of the most underutilised by experts.
So, in this blog, I will share with you my top 12 Instagram tips you as an expert need so you can use it to its full potential.
THINK OF INSTAGRAM AS A SEARCH ENGINE
It’s easy to forget that Instagram is, in fact, a search engine. You need to make it as easy as possible for your audience and ideal clients to find you through relevant content.
One of the ways people find content and people on Instagram is to search for hashtags. Essentially, a hashtag is a keyword with a # in front – for example, #womeninbusiness.
Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post. The norm is to simply add hashtags at the end of your post. For maximum exposure and impact, use hashtags that are most relevant to your message – not necessarily the ones that are most popular.
For example, let’s say you are an expert in finance. You post an image of yourself presenting at an investment seminar, but you use the hashtag #dogsofinstagram – because you think pictures of dogs on Instagram are popular. Sure, this may drive more people to your post, but they won’t like it or engage with it – and they certainly won’t follow you – because it’s not what they’re looking for.
Use hashtags that are unique to your business, such as your business name (#johnsmithfinance) or tagline (#kickyourfinancialgoals). Some other ideas for hashtags include location hashtags (#brisbane), fun hashtags (#momoney) and campaign hashtags (#earnmorebootcamp).
I also recommend using hashtags that emphasise your mode of delivery – for example, #professionalspeaker, #executivecoach, #businessmentor, #leadershipworkshops, #socialmediatraining. It’s important to be specific with these hashtags. Simply saying #speaker is too general and you won’t get a targeted search result.
LOOK AT YOUR CONTENT SEQUENCE
When you look at your profile page, beneath your name and bio are your tiles. These are square images of all the photos and videos you have posted on Instagram.
The sequence of your tiles can be powerful. Some users have beautiful tiling that is colour coordinated with a strong theme running through it. You want your tiling to be appealing so people will want to click on your content. My advice is to sequence your tiling like this:
- Post a video
- Post a photo with content in the caption
- Post a quote
- Post another photo with content in the caption
- Start the sequence again.
The point is to mix up your content. Make sure your face is in most of your tiles, and don’t be afraid to use quotes and mantras from your books in your images.
USE INSTAGRAM STORIES
Instagram has a neat feature called Stories. It sits at the top of your feed and is the best way to guarantee you’re one of the first people users see when they open Instagram each day.
Stories allow you to share multiple photos and videos that appear together in a slideshow. The beauty of it is they disappear after 24 hours, so it’s a fun way to give your audience a snapshot of your day.
Stories are different from your usual Instagram posts. They are designed to be in-the-moment, behind-the-scenes glimpses of your world. They are not intended to be carefully crafted. It’s that “on the run” quality that engages people and helps them relate to you.
ENGAGE WITH OTHER EXPERTS
Simply posting on Instagram will not guarantee you growth and exposure. You need to engage with other posts and profiles. Remember, it’s called social media for a reason!
Follow the pages of your ideal clients and the people you want to work with. For example, people in government, female business owners or corporate leaders. Visit their profiles and start liking and commenting on their posts. They, in turn, will follow you and the relationship will build organically.
I recommend you follow social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice. Vaynerchuk says to grow your Instagram community, you need to engage with 90 Instagram posts a day. These posts should be relevant to your industry, brand or business. Even if you aim for 30 to 50 posts, this strategy will ramp up your traction. As your presence grows, you’ll have more opportunity to grow your practice, receive greater validation and gain the attention of conference organisers who are looking to book an expert like you.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR FOLLOWERS
If someone comments on your post, don’t leave them hanging. Respond to them and acknowledge them. They’ve put the effort in to engage with you, so you need to put in the effort with them.
A simple thank you is often sufficient. If they’re the type of person you’d like to connect with, go to their profile and follow them. You never know what opportunities could follow.
Reposting is a form of content curation. You strengthen your positioning when you share the thoughts of experts whose message aligns with yours. It also saves you time and energy trying to create your own content all the time.
I often hear people vent frustration about not being able to repost on Instagram. In fact, you can – but you need to install an app to do so. I recommend the app Repost for Instagram, which you can find in the App Store or Google Play.
WATCH YOUR IMAGE SIZE
Instagram images are square. If you use images that are rectangular, they may not appear correctly in people’s feeds. Ensure your graphic designer understands this if you are getting images created so they have maximum impact.
You can also post multiple images within the same post. The maximum number of images you can upload in a single post is 10, and it’s a great option if you’re sharing an event with lots of things happening.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF LENGTHY CONTENT
You can put a lot of detail in your Instagram posts. You may be surprised to know you can use up to 2,200 characters. Bear in mind, however, that only the first three lines of a caption will be displayed in people’s feeds. If it is longer than three lines, users will need to click on More to view the rest.
You’ll find that many people enjoy reading longer posts, so don’t be afraid to mix up the length of your content. You can even add content and hashtags in the comments area to increase engagement.
If you want something to go viral, tagging is a great way to do it. Tagging means identifying someone in a post. If you post an image or video you think someone might be interested in, or if they are in the photo, you can tag them using their profile name. This person is then likely to share your post, which then gets shared by others. Before you know it, your post could be seen by thousands of users around the world!
MIND THE FORMATTING
Formatting content is difficult within the Instagram app. You can’t create paragraphs when you type directly into the caption of your post. To make your content look interesting, you need to type your content in the notepad on your smartphone or computer, then copy and paste it into the caption on Instagram.
I recommend using emoticons to break up content and improve readability. If your caption is one big block of text, it is difficult to read. Keep things interesting by adding emoticons and using different spacing in your formatting.
INCLUDE A CALL TO ACTION
What do you want your audience to do once they’ve finished reading your post? Remember to include a call to action. There’s no point highlighting people’s problems if you don’t let them know how they can work with you.
Your call to action depends on your message and what you’re selling, but I recommend including a link at the end of your post. For example, “Book your 15-minute chat with me now,” “To book me at your next event, visit …,” “Sign up to my event here,” or “Purchase your copy of my latest book here.” Make it as easy as possible for people to buy from you. Say that your link is in your Bio and put the link in your Bio.
REMEMBER TO DISCONNECT
Instagram can connect with other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. But the problem is because the content isn’t native to those platforms, it won’t be prioritised by their algorithms. This means not as many people will see your post.
Furthermore, if you post an image on Instagram and share it on Twitter, all Twitter will do is provide a link for people to go to Instagram to look at it there. That’s why it’s important to tailor your content to the platform you’re posting on. A scheduling tool, such as Hootsuite or Buffer, is helpful for scheduling content between platforms. You could also consider hiring a virtual assistant who can do this for you.
Now you’ve read my top 12 tips, I hope you can see the immense value of Instagram. Once you implement these tips, you’ll ramp up your visibility, strengthen your positioning, supercharge your business growth and connect with wonderful clients who want to work with you and who you want to work with, too.
How do you use Instagram to grow your brand and engage with your audience? I would love to know.
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Jane Anderson is a communications expert, speaker and the author of 4 books including “EXPERT to INFLUENCER: 12 Key Skills to Attract New Clients, Increase Sales and Leverage your Personal Brand to Become an Industry Leader.” With over 20 years experience helping people step into their personal power, she is obsessed about creating human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.