Welcome to the first post of my Instagram 101 Series to help you all get to know Instagram better, marketing tips and tricks, grow your follower count and more.
As my previous post stated, I received quite a few responses to my survey on what YOUR needs are when it comes to Instagram Help. The one that had the most interest, would be the first to publish in the series. You all selected…. Branding & Marketing! I will be covering the remainder 9 topics so please come back or “subscribe” to my blog on the right hand column! There is a lot more to learn than just Branding & Marketing!
So… here we go!
Ask yourselves these questions before reading further:
- What do I want to convey to my ideal follower?
- What does my current branding look like? Do I have a specific color or theme or saying?
- How much time can I dedicate to Instagram solely?
- What are some Instagram handles that I like?
- What kind of pictures feel good to me when I look at them? Dark and moody? Light and airy?
- What kind of pictures do I think my idea follower likes?
- What do I want to achieve with Instagram? Make friends? Earn money? Drive traffic to my blog or website?
Each one reading this series will have a different “ideal follower” it is up to you to find out WHO your ideal follower is and WHAT they like in order to begin to even THINK about your own feed.
The fact is, successful Instagram feeds have a big commonality… and that’s THEME. And the theme must be appealing to your ideal follower. As Huffpost put it (and while you’re there feel free to read this helpful post as I will cover just about everything in it in depth):
Really successful Instagram accounts tend to stick to a theme: a designer who posts behind-the-scenes peeks into the fashion industry; a food artist who does amazing things with rice and string beans; a world traveler with a flurry of snapshots from Paris, Portugal and Peru; a crafty celeb obsessive; and, of course, an abundance of adorable puppies and kittens.
So first, you must find your theme… Is it a “thing”? Is it an animal? Is it Dark & Moody? Light & Airy? A pop of your brand color in each image? Unique composition/angle/viewpoint? How do you want your follower to FEEL when they scroll through your feed?
For my Mama Bloggers here’s an example of a great feed… @_caseyleighwiegand How do you FEEL when you scroll through? Does she have a theme?
Or how about @AMerryMishap. How do you feel when you scroll through her feed?
They key is not copying what someone specifically does. It’s about finding out what your niche is and focusing on a particular theme that is common throughout your feed already that you can elaborate on. This also means that there are some pictures that just won’t make the cut.
Hey Brianne, when do I post on Instagram? What if the image doesn’t fit into my brand/theme?
Go back to the initial questions above. Who is your ideal follower? Is it a stay at home mom? Is it a working mom? Is it a blogger? Is it a bride? Is it someone who wants to get healthy? Is it someone who attends church regularly? You have to know who you are marketing in order to answer those questions. If it is a Mom, when is her down time? Naps? When the kids go to bed? More than likely that is when you will have the most activity on your Instagram. More than likely it’s not at breakfast, lunch or dinner time because more than likely that Mama has her hands tied (and rightfully so!) What about those that are fitness minded? When do you work out? First thing in the morning and evening? Probably so… And when is fitness on your mind? When you are working out… When are people more likely to look for an inspiring quote to get them motivated to go to the gym? This is the mindset you need to have when you plan on posting your images.
I love Iconosquare when it also comes to this topic. Iconosquare is a free website that has a whole bunch of statistics to help you grow on Instagram. For instance it has these figures that show when you post and when you have the most interaction. It would be ideal for me, for example, to post in the early morning (right when I get up) and late evening (when I’m heading to bed) at the beginning of the week and toward the evening during the weekend. Of course this is only based on habit. So if you change your habits, consistency etc., this chart will change. It is good to touch base with this monthly to scope things out and see if there has been any changes overall.
So what if you aren’t sure if you should post a specific picture. You should always be asking, does this fit into my brand? Does this make my current followers want to unfollow? Is it annoying? Is it drama? Does it fit into my overall feel of my feed so when a prospective new follower skims my feed, will this image fit in or jump out? Does it match my theme?
There are certain tips… especially for us Mama bloggers. If you are entering into a contest, giveaway or posting something that is irrelevant to your following, choose the times when there is minimal impact, i.e. late at night when nobody is awake. THEN, once you have completed the reason for having that post, DELETE IT. Which leads me to my next tip…
- Go through your feed daily. Delete any rambunctious images that don’t blend with your brand or what you want your followers to feel when they are skimming your feed. (See a common thread here?) You do not want your feed to look BUSY or with a done of poor quality images. Treat your Instagram feed as if it is your resume.
[tweetthis url=”http://wp.me/p3jNx6-rz”]”Treat your Instagram feed as if it is your resume.” Instagram 101 via @SentimentalMama[/tweetthis]
What about… How many times should I be posting throughout the day? Do I post back to back? Or sprinkle throughout the day?
So based on your Iconosquare, that will give you a great idea on how frequent you should be posting. As a golden rule to begin with, I recommend 3 times. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and the early evening until you get a good feel for your followers activity. I do not recommend cluster posts. The way I look at it is, as a follower myself, when I see cluster posts (multiple posts at once) it fills my feed. Especially if it is a shop. So if say you sell t-shirts and you want to show off your 10 t-shirts in your Etsy shop, I don’t recommend posting 10 or even 5 of those… in a cluster. Maybe 2 at once? Sprinkle them throughout your ideal times based on your following.
You also have to consider, that some people who are pretty “with it” when it comes to Instagram, they may have notifications turned on for you. So each time you post, their phone is getting notified each and every image.
Here is an example from my BFF FaithAnne cluster posting. I have my notifications turned on for her and this is what I saw this evening. She tested out an app that posted 6 pictures in sequence. Feel free to check out her Instagram to see what I am talking about on the Instagram side and thanks for allowing me to use this as an example FaithAnne. xoxo
So that is potentially what your followers can see if you cluster post. Just remember that the next time you are debating on posting like this. But there is one time that I do cluster post…
Allow me to be a liar for a minute 🙂 So there is one instance that I do post back to back. It is in the event that the image I am about to post is irrelevant to my followers (as stated above, entering into a brand rep search, giveaway or a picture that I will be deleting later on). I make sure I am not posting at a peak time and I post the irrelevant picture FIRST, then top it off with a more appealing and brand specific image directly after. To me that is my way of saying to my followers, “don’t unfollow me because I posted this irrelevant picture! Here is something pretty or cute to look at! See I’m still the same person you hit follow for!” And then again, I do not recommend this as a consistent habit nor do I recommend it during peak hours!
A little Q&A action that I think you might be asking yourself…
How do I know what my followers want to see?
That will take some time and some effort on your part to pay attention. You will have to go back in your feed and make mental notes… “okay so the light and airy images get 200 likes whereas my dark and moody, which isn’t my branding, only gets 35.” “The product I sell gets more likes on models vs the product laying on a white background.” Take those notes into consideration and then monitor your posting times. Are you posting the same time for the “lower liked” image? Maybe changing your times would help you out.
Okay, thanks Brianne that all sounds great. But what about having two separate Instagram accounts? One personal and one business?
If you can keep your personal within the same theme of your business keep it all together in one account. However, you will be limited on what you can post. Are you okay with that? You have to be extremely selective on your posts to insure that they fit within your THEME and your brand. Your feed is your resume… Do you want your prospective followers/clients to see what you ate this morning? If that is a no, then you have the choice of not posting or getting yourself a personal and private account. And if it is a yes, then make sure the image is a good quality picture (will dive into that in the future blog posts in this series), that it fits within your THEME and you are posting at the ideal time.
Questions? Comment below!