Instagram can be a little bit of a mystery sometimes right?! Why do some posts get so much engagement and others totally flop? We often put it down to that pesky algorithm and it surely has an effect. But, there are things you can do yourself to ensure you are making the most of the platform and in turn, grow your audience and even make money from your posts.
Back in April, stylist, photographer and Instagrammer Nancy Straughan hosted a Creative Session for us covering many aspects of improving your Instagram game – from how to find your style, what hashtags to use, how to approach brands you’d like to work with and how to network successfully via Instagram. This online workshop is bursting with wonderful advice from the lovely Nancy, and she has kindly shared five of her top tips below to give you a little taster. If you are interested in taking the full workshop it is still available as a replay for just £45, so do pop to the Creative Sessions page to find it and many other useful small business workshops.
TIP 1: SHARE THINGS THAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT
It is much easier to talk about the things you love and are passionate about than to force posts about things you think you should share. You might see someone get lots of engagement and followers for their images of flowers, but if your passion is books not flowers, then share great photos of books and your thoughts about them, your passion will shine through and gradually ‘your people’ will find you. Get inspired by others, but don’t copy. Find your own passion.
TIP 2: FIND YOUR OWN PERSONAL STYLE
Similarly, it can be easy to look at other people’s work and assume that you should do the same, but it is much better to discover your own personal style and then stick to it. For example, Nancy is a big fan of warm colours; she loves autumn & being cosy at home, so she brings autumnal, warm elements into her photography creating a strong aesthetic for all of her images. You may love the dark, moody look, or perhaps you love bright images with pops of bold colour. Work out what you love visually and what you are trying to say, particularly if you are promoting your brand through your Instagram. Additionally, if you talk to camera via Stories or IGTV, consider your style in terms of tone and approach – is it calm and friendly, lively and jokey? Nancy’s top tip is to write down around ten words describing how you want your followers to feel when they see a post from you – those descriptive words will help guide your style.
TIP 3: CREATE SHAREABLE CONTENT
Have a think about your content from the point of view of your followers (and potential followers). For example, Nancy tends to share lots of DIY ideas. These kinds of posts get lots of engagement as they are useful and practical and something other people can try. They may also share and pin these images which will lead new people to your account and help to boost your following. Again, think about how you want to come across and keep this consistent – being yourself is usually the best option – and people will enjoy sharing your content.
TIP 4: BE SOCIABLE
Not everyone enjoys this, but do try to show your face on your feed from time to time. It helps people to connect with you if they can put a face to the name (or the Instagram handle!) Then make sure, as well as posting your own content, that you also interact with other people’s regularly. So, perhaps 5-10 minutes either side of posting your image, engage with others – like, comment, share and message – to show your support. More so than likes, leaving comments and talking to others via DM really helps to build those connections and relationships. Instagram like to see this too and favours posts with lots of comments and engagement. Embrace the idea of forming friendships online.
TIP 5: TRIAL LOTS OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF POSTS
Don’t be afraid to try out a variety of different posts to see what response you get to them. For example, this could be inspirational quotes, beautifully styled still life shots, photographs of your family life, recipes, design ideas, etc. Then recreate what has been the most popular for you. Look out for patterns in your engagement and use this data to lead you. For example, if you get lots of shares and comments on a post about eco-friendly swaps for the home, then consider creating some more similar content.
So why not give a few of these tips a go? If you need a bit more guidance on how to move your Instagram forward, then take a look at Nancy’s Creative Session here: HOW TO GROW AND MONETISE YOUR INSTAGRAM, along with lots of other online workshops for small business owners.
All photography: Nancy Straughan