1. Find your people – reach out!
Instagram is huge. Like, so big. But the wonderful thing about it is, you don’t have to follow anyone you don’t want to. Not into celebrities, or makeup tutorials? No problem! You are into yarn, and crafting? Perfect! There are so many great accounts to follow within your sphere of interest, that you’ll never be short of new and engaging content presented to you in the form of beautiful little squares.
So first things first. Find your people. Start by following 1 or 2 that you already know, and build from there. If you’ve been in the Instagram game for a while now, don’t stop trying to find new and interesting accounts. I like to head over to a friends account, and see who they are following to meet new people. It’s a great way to find good accounts that you might not have stumbled across organically. And, if for some reason, you feel you have too many people crammed into your feed, go back through your ‘following’ list, and unfollow people who are no longer inspiring you, or that you just aren’t interested in anymore. Keep your feed fresh.
Now that you’ve found your people, (and this is SO important) you need to interact with them. While hitting the ‘like’ button (the little heart if you will) is very nice, it is always nicer to leave a meaningful comment on a post that you enjoy.
And this works two-fold. It’s great for the account you’re gracing with your comment, but it’s also helping your community engagement as well! It’s a win-win, really. The more you interact with Instagram, the more Instagram gives you back. So sprinkle those likes around like confetti, and take the time to leave a meaningful comment (more than 3 words to avoid being flagged as a bot) on the accounts you really enjoy that day. You’ll notice that Instagramers will begin to recognize your name, and look forward to interacting with you in return.
3. Use Your Stories.
Instagram introduced their Stories Feature to combat the Snapchat platform, and I have to say, I personally love it. I’m already on Instagram a billion times a day, so it’s easy for me to pop into my stories and leave a quick post about my day. And that’s all it is really. It’s a temporary post, that will show your followers what you have going on, and then disappear from your feed entirely. Show who you’re with, go live and say hello, and give a few behind the scenes shots of what you’re working on currently. The stories is an uncurrated version of your feed, it doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to be engaging and fun!
4. Hashtags are EVERYTHING.
Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags. You need to use all 30 of them. Here’s why. Each of those hashtags pops you into a ‘Google-esque’ search page on instagram, where other users can view your post without following you. You want to use your hashtags to appear on those topic pages, so that interested parties can see and find you! Change up your 30 hashtags often (again, to avoid being labeled as a bot)and to reach a wider range of people. Not sure which hashtags to use? Start with the basics! What is literally in your photo right now? Crochet? Perfect. Let’s start there. #crochet. Now, go to that hashtag, and look at the suggested hashtags that Instagram so generously pops into the top bar for you. Click on a few of those, use the ones you like, and go on a hashtag adventure, finding new hashtags by clicking through. Make a few working lists of 30 hashtags, and save them to your notepad on your phone to copy and paste into your posts when you need to. I personally have a hashtag list for ‘flatlays’, ‘magic posts’, and a few others that I rotate around.
5. …But so is photography!
With all of these lovely tips combined, you’re ready to post your photo and engage with your community. Wonderful! But let’s talk about your actual photo. Did you use natural light, or was it taken at night in your livingroom before you went to bed last night? If the answer is the latter, you need to take that photo again, next to a window, or in a well lit room, or even outside! Lighting is extremely important in getting a great photo. That’s my biggest photography tip for you for this post. Use good, natural lighting. It changes everything.
6. Don’t edit a post after posting. DON’T. (Seriously, don’t.)
You’ve posted your beautiful well-lit photo of your current Wip, you love every hashtag you’ve used, but wait…did you just write ‘Croquet’ instead of ‘crochet’? You better hit the edit button and take care of that before anyone thinks you’re playing a lawn sport today instead of crocheting, right? No. Please don’t. Resist. Here’s why. When you post, Instagram is putting you into their algorithm. They are tracking how much engagement your post is getting within the first hour of posting, and they are sending your post out into the Instagram community based on it’s performance. If you hit the ‘edit’ button, you are resetting your stats, and unless it’s so important that you can get to it within the first 5 minutes of posting and change it so you don’t take a big hit, it’s not important enough to reset your stats. So just buckle up for people to tell you that you spelled something wrong, (because chances are, they will) and just laugh it off. You could always edit it a few days later when it doesn’t really matter anymore.
7. Find your OWN voice.
Instagram can be so inspiring. You see such lovely posts all day long, and they are just so swoon worthy, you’d love to have a feed like that. And that’s okay! It’s great to draw inspiration from the art around you, that’s the wonderful thing about art! But a problem arises when your posts no longer draw inspiration, but are just plain copies of something you’ve already seen. That’s not very fair, and others will notice (I promise you, they will). So while you may like someone else’s posts, be sure to put your own unique spin on them, and if you think they still might be a bit close, just tag the account you drew inspiration from, and let them ,know that this post was inspired by them, and that you’re a fan. A little acknowledgement can create bridges, and good faith between yourself, and your community. Maybe the account you were inspired by has a special hashtag that they use to encourage posts inspired by the ones they create. For example @bookishbronte has a hashtag called #booksforclothes, in which she encourages her followers to replace clothing items with book pages. Use those if they are listed on the account of the person you admire.
8. Be a real person.
By ‘be a real person’ here’s what I mean. You are awesome, and unique. You and I are not exactly the same. I use self-deprecating humor in my everyday life, and am slightly sassy. You might not do or be those things. When you write your post for the day, use your personality and write like you are speaking with a friend. I often write my posts as if I were talking to my friends Amber @divinedebris, or Rohn from @rohnstrong – and that really helps me to write like a real person. If you are a maker that sells your finished items, your patterns, your supplies, etc, don’t sell with every breath you take. If you have a promotion you need to get out there, how would you present it to your friends? Not like a robot, right? No, not that.
9. Use the Business Profile – not the personal account – if you are serious about Instagram.
The personal account is great, but the Business Account has so much more to offer. Keep in mind, that you DO need a Facebook Business Page to make the switch. If you haven’t made the switch because you heard rumors about a business profile generating less engagement etc, that is all hogwash. It’s just not true. Rest assured the only grief that a Business Profile will bring you is the amount of time you spend checking your wonderful insights that become available once you switch. Want to know which age group follows you the most? Want to know if your post hit the ‘Explore’ page? The Business Profile tells you all of this, and so much more. It’s easy to get lost in the statistics. On top of that, it allows you to add an email contact, etc. So just do it. Don’t walk, run to the Business Profile, and link it to your Facebook Business Page.
10. ‘EXPLORE’ – what is it, and why do I want it so bad?
The Explore page is ‘the place to be’ for an Instagrammer. It’s that little magnifying glass icon that you find at the bottom of your account. When you click it, Instagram will provide you with a whole page filled with things they think you will like. Just you, specifically, based on things you have liked in the past, and who you follow. It’s pretty magical. And now that we think of it, we never see our own post here, right? That’s because Instagram doesn’t think you want to see your own post, you can see that any old time. They’re showing you others. BUT, other people MAY be seeing yours. And clicking it, and liking it, and commenting on it, and hopefully following your account because your post was that great. You want to be on the Explore page. But how do you know if you got there, and how can you help make it happen? The only way you can tell if you hit the Explore page, is by checking your post insights on your Business Profile. And if you see the word ‘Explore’ there, trust me, it’s a great feeling. To help your post reach that destination, follow the steps listed above, and set yourself up to reach higher on the Instagram Algorithm. Keeping all of these things in mind will help your post reach your community, and the more your community interacts with your post, the higher your chances are of hitting Explore.
I can’t wait to see all of your lovely posts in my own Instagram Feed. You can find me at @coco.crochet.lee – Please reach out if you have any more questions! Happy making ❤