I’ve always been a fan of Instagram—the visual design, ability to share multiple photos and quotes in a seamless grid, simplicity of scrolling, ‘instant’ stories feature, and highlights to keep your special moments in a different place—there’s just so much! When it comes to using Instagram as a marketing tool, though, it’s about more than just a ‘pretty’ feed.
If you’re planning to use Instagram to grow your online influence, share your products and services, market your business, or grow your client base, you’ll want to get the most out of the social media site. That means tapping into user-friendly apps and taking note of simple tips that will help you pre-plan posts, test your audience, and share more in a small space.
I’m an avid Instagram user with multiple accounts and several total re-designs. Through the process, I’ve learned a lot (and made quite a few silly mistakes). Here are some of the biggest lessons and tips I’ve learned; hopefully they help you make the most of your Instagram page.
1. Create a brand/theme.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, there’s so much value in creating a unique brand for yourself. This doesn’t have to be difficult or dramatic; it can be as simple as creating a format in which you’ll post, a color that will be the ‘focus’ throughout your page, or the order in which you’ll share content.
When I first started on Instagram, I was all over the place with colors and designs. It was messy and it was ineffective. About a year later, I rebranded with a photo-quote-quote alternating design. Although I eventually pulled away from this because it felt too rigid for my personality, it was a visually engaging way to keep my platform uniform and organized (which was my goal at the time).
To find what works for you, you’ll have to experiment. But the most important thing is that you create a sense of branding so that your posts and page can start to scream ‘you’ to your audience.
2. Plan your feed (within reason).
You’ve probably seen a million social media ads about services and apps that can help you plan your feed. While this is amazing, I do want to make a point—regardless of your planning strategy, you still want to be authentic.
It’s important that even if you plan the colors or photos in your feed (which you should, at times, for consistency’s sake) you’re still staying true to you and your voice. When you’re inauthentic, people can see through that!
Use apps like Planoly or Preview to help you visually see and adjust your feed to your liking. Then you can go in and add captions that really speak to you within your set scheme/theme to make sure you’re being real and not just sharing to be ‘on brand.’
3. Take advantage of scheduler services.
If you want to make the most of your Instagram page, you’ll want to spend less time posting and more time scheduling. Nothing wastes time like having to manually post, or worse, having to remember to post at certain times. To take away the struggle, use sites like Buffer or Later to help you set your feed.
Buffer is a favorite, but Later is a service that’s actually even more suitable for Instagram. There is a way, within the app, to visualize your page before posting (great, especially if you have a set theme or don’t use pre-planning apps already.)
4. Make a standout bio.
There are four things you need to do with your Instagram bio right now (if you haven’t yet):
1. Be succinct. No long-winded descriptions of every single thing you do. No strange quotes that don’t actually relate to your career, goods, or services. And no collection of hashtags. Instead, be succinct. Talk about who you are/what you do, and maybe add one (or two max!) hashtags to categorize your content.
2. Use keywords. Along with the succinct bio and targeted hashtags, be sure to include a keyword or two that is relevant to your content area. Think about what people will be searching and what you want to be searched for—this will direct what keywords you place and how you use them within your bio sentence/space.
3. Make it you. Small bios tend to get dry. If and when possible, add a bit of your personality to the bio. Whether that’s an emoji, logo, quote, symbol, phrase, etc. try to share with your followers what really makes you, you.
4. Use all the space. This goes without saying, but use all the space within the bio area! Some people do this by spacing out their lines, using only phrases or words for their occupation, or putting their credentials/categories in list format.
5. Stir genuine and natural audience engagement.
If you’re using Instagram to market yourself/your business, think about how you can (naturally) call your audience to action. Can you create a question they need to respond to in the comments? Encourage them to tag a friend? Run a giveaway? These are all natural ways to get people to genuinely. This will also boost your followers, too, especially when you have people tagging other accounts.
6. Find workarounds for longer-form content.
If you know there’s a lot you want to say but are running out of space, or if you want to share longer pieces on the page without totally breaking up your train of thought there are two ways:
1. Continue your captions in the comments section. This is easy, and it gets people to engage with your content more. Since they’re already heading to the comments sections to read the remainder of the piece, they’re more likely to read and respond to other comments, as well as leave their own.
2. Use the slider feature. You can either a) start with a picture and have people slide over to written content (giving you the caption space for whatever your heart desires!) or b) start with text and continue it over through the slider feature. This is a simple way to get the most content onto your Instagram and allow people to spend more time viewing your posts, and thus engaging longer/more.
7. Stack your links to share more about you!
Instagram only allows one bio link, but this doesn’t have to limit you! Instead, use a service like Linktr.ee (with free or paid plans!) to include multiple links in one place.
You can also create a landing page that links out to some of your top content, too, if you’d rather self-host than use a service.
PS: Follow me on Instagram for more ideas!