I absolutely love Instagram, it's the first place I check into every morning and the last thing at browse through in the evening. I almost never leave without feeling inspired which is pretty impressive for a social media platform. Recently I've been asked how to use it by several of my clients so today I'm sharing with you my beginners guide to getting set up and involved in the wonderful world of Instagram...
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a mobile-based app which allows you to share photos and short videos. It's an almost entirely visual social media platform which is what makes it's content so inspiring.
Instagram is also now owned by Facebook and although it was only launched in October 2010 it already has over 200 million active monthly users, with 70% of them logging in at least once a day!
Why use Instagram?
For personal use...
What Instagram gives you over the other social media platforms is a real-time, behind-the-scenes insight into the lives of the people you follow, showing you the world through their eyes. You can't help but feel more connected, plus the community on the platform is much more active and enthusiastic so you'll discover new content daily which is inspiring, creative and motivating.
Of course it also allows you to share snapshots of your daily life with friends, family and fans. The in-built filters that you can apply to your photo's will instantly make them look so much better too!
For your business or blog...
Although we're still learning about how to use it for business (given the platform is still fairly young) the early adopters are finding huge opportunities to get ahead of their competition. Instagram is also the simplest and easiest social media platform to use so it's definitely one to consider.
It requires much less work than the other social media platforms as just posting one photo every 24 hours is great (compared to the recommend 5-10 tweets a day or 2 Facebook updates daily), plus you can sync it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts to make sharing images regularly much quicker.
The real benefit of using Instagram though is that it gives your audience (i.e. potential customers) a deeper, more human insight into your business, therefore building up their trust and interest. It's best used to showcase your products in aspirational, 'real-life' setting that demonstrate your brand personality.
You'll also see increased engagement on Instagram so expect considerably more likes and comments than on Facebook and twitter, so it's a great way of getting the conversations started with your ideal clients!
How to set up an account on Instagram
1. Download the Instagram app on your iphone or android phone.
2. Choose a username that people associate with you e.g. your own name or brand name.
3. Don't make your profile private - this is effectively putting up a 'closed' sign on your business front door!
4. Use a good profile picture of yourself (or your logo) and make sure you include a link to your website. In the description summarise what your business or blog is about + why you're worth following in a few short sentences.
5. Upload at least 3 photo's to get your Instagram feed started and starting experimenting with their filters on your photo's.
6. Follow at least 20 people by searching for your friends, industry leaders, competitors, best customers, etc
What to post on Instagram and when?
As mentioned above you really only need to post one photo every 24 hours, of course you can share more than that but my main tip would be to consider how each photo fits in with your overall, curated Instagram feed. New viewers will see your photo's as a collection when they visit your profile so try to develop a consistent style (using filters can help with this).
When to post will depend on your audience so I would recommend not worrying about this too much to start with, get posting daily and then check into Iconosquare to view your Instagram stats and analytics. Once it has around a month's worth of content to look back over it can tell you when the best times to post are, which photo's your followers have enjoyed the most and who your most engaged followers are.
In terms of what to post on Instagram, it's time to get creative! Start by sharing behind-the-scenes pics of your office, creative process, products or events you're at if you're using it for business, but don't forget to share insights into your personal life too, everyone loves to see the places you visit, your pets, family, what you're enjoying or your home!
You can check out my Instagram feed HERE to see the kinds of things I share everyday.
How to increase your followers on Instagram
1. Add descriptions alongside your Instagram photo's that include relevant hashtags. To find the most popular hashtags to use try hashtagify and search for your keywords. Unlike Twitter, the more hashtags the better really so aim for around 10 if you can!
2. Start, join in and share conversations by tagging people (using the @ symbol and their username) in the comments of photo's you like.
3. Join in with Instagram challenges or communities, this is usually as simple as just posting a relevant photo, tagging the person who runs the challenge and using a specified hashtag. A couple of my favourites are #capturingcolour, #savouringhappiness and my own (obviously!) which is #workingfromhomeclub... if you search for these on Instagram you'll see all the pictures of people who are taking part!
4. Engage with other peoples content by liking, commenting and re-gramming it (taking a screen shot on your phone and then sharing it but don't forget to tagg the original poster). The poster of the photo will see notifications that you've interacted with their post so if they see your name pop up a few times they're more likely to come and check out your profile!
4. Add a link to Instagram on your website or blog using a "follow icon" or linked widget to encourage people to check out your profile.
5. Follow other people and if they have your target audience, follow some of their followers too! Here are my top 10 favourite Instagrammers to follow to get you started.
6. Use Iconosquare to see what's working and optimise your Instagram feed. You'll naturally learn and develop overtime but your monthly stats are interesting to keep an eye on!
I hope you've found this post useful, if you have any other questions that I've not addressed here then please do leave them in the comments below and I'll share as many tips as I can!
PS. You might also want to check out THIS about how to be a social media whizz!