Updated: Jan 28, 2019
Everyone wants an Instagram that's buzzing with notifications, gaining new followers everyday and driving a strong, engaged community.
You can't get that by just having an Instagram account.
A post now and then will no longer help you grow and you'll end up watching other blogs and competitor brands rack up more followers, traffic and brand loyalty than you.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Doesn't matter if you are an Instagram newbie- these easy tips & hacks that I've shared in the Guide to Instagram Series will not only help you create an engaging account but also help you ace your IG game and make you stand apart from the crowd.
So what's Instagram anyway?
Instagram is a photo & video sharing social medium with a highly engaged community.
From expressing yourself to representing your blog and brand visually - your Instagram profile is now considered as the new home-page for your business.
People are increasingly turning to check out your Instagram account BEFORE they check out your website!
Let’s start at the drawing board - if you haven’t created an account yet or even if you have, but it feels scattered and directionless, follow the below points & steps for your Instagram strategy.
Step 1- Choose Your Niche
You can't post content that is relevant to everyone. What is that old saying?
The second you market it to everybody, your'e reaching nobody.
You will also end up looking confused to your community which is a BIG turn-off.
So, instead, to find and grow your own, highly engaged tribe, it is essential that you narrow down specific topics you want to post about so in time it there is a symmetry in your pictures or content.
Your followers will start to WAIT for your next post once they know what you are blogging about and won't spring up something random on their feed.
If you already have a website, brand or blog, you will choose topics that you write about already.
If not, there are so MANY topics you can choose from -food, fitness, fashion, travel, lifestyle, beauty, books, your poems, art, even your personal brand- the list is endless.
Either make sure that you know a lot of about your topic or that you are keen to learn more about it.
Eagerness to teach and learn more about the world is a great magnet. Your passion decides the vibe of your blog
You can also choose to curate a feed, i.e, repost popular user content around a certain topic like how @classicalshit @pubity do it.
So before we go ahead- what is your niche going to be? Write this down for clarity - it is essential.
Step 2-Choose Your Target Audience
Now that you've chosen your niche, it is important you define the type of people you want to reach out to on Instagram.
This decision will help you choose relevant hashtags and decide more easily what content you should post.
Don't know how to narrow it down? Write down your ideal follower's demographics:
Who is your Ideal follower? (Write down Instagram profiles you would LOVE to have as a follower)
For eg, for my personal blog @thecuriousjalebi, I would write my target audience as:
17-30 years of age, female, staying in metropolitan cities in India, in college or working, witty and informed with an interest in grooming themselves well, have curly hair, are liberal, etc.
This in turn will influence the way I write and the things I choose to write about, for example quick hairstyles for curly hair when you have to rush to work early morning or tips for the lazy college curly girl. You get what I mean?
Another example- if you decide your audience is for the working woman who is struggling to be healthy, perhaps you will
Share easy breakfast recipes
Video tutorials of exercises they can do at home or at their desk
How to pack healthy office lunches
Write your target audience down, it really helps to remind you how to write your content, the tone and style and more.
Step 3- What is Your Objective
You know what you want to post about and who you want to reach through them but what will it achieve?
What do you want Instagram to do for you?
Is it to:
Drive traffic to your blog?
Get paid to post?
Establish your authority on a subject & drive discussion?
Share your creative work?
To get customer testimonials?
Be clear with your goals as this too decides your content strategy. If I wanted more testimonials, perhaps I could incentivise my followers by asking them to tag me with their results and they can get featured on my account as a prize.
If you want to increase sales, maybe you post video tutorials of how your product works and the results. I hope you're following so far!
Step 4- Choose Handle Name
With so many people on Instagram already, you need to make sure your handle is unique and available. If you already have a website or blog, secure an account with that name IMMEDIATELY, even if you won't post as soon.
If you are creating an entirely new account, make sure the handle name is the name of your blog/website and is short and pronounceable. It shouldn't look like @jane_1192 or @BeEtTips_1992, that's just not nice & no one will remember.
I'll show you how to tweak this in the bio section of the article below.
Step 5- Put Up a Profile Picture
There is instantly more engagement with an account if the profile picture has a face in it.
Make sure your profile picture is clear, happy and isn't too zoomed in.
If you are a brand, choose your logo (make sure it is the same across all social mediums).
Do NOT leave the profile picture empty if your goal is to grow your account - that just screams ‘I am a bot, I don't post consistently’ and is just bad IG etiquette.
Step 6 -Write a bio
First impressions do matter. Your bio is your first introduction to new followers.
It needs to in a few seconds help people understand
who you are
what you have to offer if they follow you
what type of content they will see from you
why they will regret not following you
and what action they should take next
So how do you do this? By writing a clean, simple bio.
A bio consists of a Headline, Body, a CTA and a link (study the pictures above). You need to optimise them to get the full advantage. Take a look at each section in detail below.
Headline - Name+ Searchable Keyword What you write in the the headline space is searchable! Which means you should use keywords associated with your niche that people might type out on the search bar. For eg- Pallavi | Instagram Tips
Body + CTA + Link Below your headline is where the meat of the body is. Use your notes app or Facebook status section to write out the copy for the body and the paste it on Instagram to make it look clean. Use emoticons to start a new line. But what will you put in the bio? Who you are. What you offer. Where you're from. And maybe a way for people to contact you. A CTA or Call-To-Action which helps navigate users to the next step, for eg, you might want them to check out your blog, subscribe to Youtube or visit your newest article. And lastly add a link you want them to land on to look up more about you. For eg- 🔸 Make up Artist (Who you are) 👊 Video Tutorials for brown women across #MUAIrene (What You offer) 🌏📍 Mumbai, India (Where you're from) 💌 firstname.lastname@example.org (Contact) 👇 See my rate card for my services / Sign up for my newsletter (CTA) www.abc.com (Link) Remember, Instagram is visual. You have to make sure any large sections of texts is carefully arranged so the user can skim quickly and decide instantly if they should follow you. Another recent update allows you to add hashtags to your bio, which is great for when you want to introduce or increase views on a brand hashtag.
Step 7- Change to Business Account
Now that your bio is ready, let's move on to the next important step, i.e - getting access to special features like Contact/Call/Email me, ability to run ads and discover analytics for your account.
To do this, you need to convert your account into a business one. This will connect your Instagram page to your existing Facebook page or create a local business page if you don't have a page yet.
Simply tap Settings (Cog wheel), scroll down until you see Sign up for a business profile or Switch to a business profile & complete the process.
You now have a fully functional business account on Instagram.
After you're done with these basics, your account is ready. Not only does it look authentic and credible it also has all the basic information filled efficiently to attract new followers and impress your customers.
Next, you need to create relevant, high-quality, engaging content and work on a content strategy. Read the next post in the Ultimate Guide to Instagram for my tips on that!