Get your party pants on because it is time for another dose of wisdom I like to call ‘What I have learnt’ and this post is all about the glorious little app called Instagram. I have split it into two parts because it is super long and I didn't want to send anyone to sleep, so you can catch part two next week! I am so so so far away from being any kind of Instagram genius but in a year I have built up, what I feel is, a honest following which is engaging and I also get a lot of my work and sales from it, so I thought I would share my insight into what I have learnt about using Instagram for your business.
HONESTY IS KEY
This isn't only one of my tips for Instagram but also in general small business running. I believe that it is really important that in all aspects of your business you are honest and true to yourself, your morals and ethics. On Instagram I write my captions like I speak using language that I would use if I was describing a picture to someone face to face. I feel like it is important when portraying yourself online that your viewer/customer gets a feeling of who you are, yes your work is speaking for itself but they aren’t only buying your product/service they are also buying into you being a part of their wedding/event/very important occasion and it is important that they have some connection with you as a person as well.
I have two Instagram accounts - I have my personal one which is basically full of baby and sausage dog spam, and then I have my business Oh Wonder account. I personally chose to keep them separate as I love posting pictures of my son and dog and know that potential clients probably don't want to see that all the time (although I don't god knows why, my son and dog are magnificient), whereas my friends do and they in turn probably don't want to be spammed with my calligraphy work. That is not to say that it isn't important to show personal parts of your life on your business profile as well. I like to do introduction posts every so often (especially when I reach a milestone of followers) and share snippets of life, for the very same reason I mentioned in my first point - your clients are buying into you and its important that they know who that is and know that there is a real person behind the computer screen. When picturing my ideal client she has similarities to me and in some ways is the person that I aspire to be (i.e. she's engaged) therefore by putting parts of myself and personality out there she may be attracted to similarities that we have and feel like she will have a stronger connection to me and therefore reach out to me to work on her project (and be best friends forever because she's a total babe).
INSTAGRAM IS NOT REAL LIFE
In this online world that we live in it is SO hard not to compare yourself to everyone that is not only in the same niche as you but also doing everything that you want/hope/wish to be doing (goddamn those skinny tanned super mum bitches dripping in designer handbags and sunglasses). The thing is that social media is not always a true representation of what is REALLY going on behind the scenes. A lot of the time outside the picture is a load of chaos and that real person probably has the same struggles that everyone else has. Yes as per my first point honesty is key and my images are honest in the sense that it is my work, and my captions are written with my personality and I don't hide my struggles (you wont have to scroll through far to find a whinge about me being overwhelmed) but when I am taking a picture of my desk - you don't need to see the pile of plates, mugs, stress binge eating wrappers and general sh*t storm that is my studio. Thats not pretty. A lot of people who have accounts for business plan and prep their content in advance so just because they have posted a million stunning photos this week doesn't mean that they aren’t sat in their PJs on the sofa with a toddler hanging off one arm trying to reply to emails and eat all the food in the world whilst whimpering at that exact moment (just like you are) so don’t feel bad about it. (NB: This does not mean that you have to or should plan your content, just than you can. I personally don’t because I can barely pull together a food plan for the week to help food shopping, let alone plan my Instagram content.)
I try to post once a day but I am not super regimented about it and if two exciting things happen in one day then I will post them both - however I find that generally my engagement is lower if I have multiple posts close together in one day. I also really believe that if you aren't feeling it then don't force yourself to post something that you don't love. Your Instagram - just like your business is an extension of you and if you don't love something then don't post just because you haven't got anything else to post that day. Just chill…and next time you have something you love then post then. Timing wise I tend to post late afternoon, early evening as most days (when I am mothering too) the afternoon is when I work so then I will post my picture as I am toddler wrestling at dinner time - multi tasking at its finest. There are analytics about when to post but honestly if I had a specific time I would just forget it or be late so I figure its better for my sanity not to bother.
COMMUNITY AND NETWORKING
If you have read any of my blogposts or Instagram posts then you will know how I feel about community. PRETTY DAMN STRONGLY. As always I strongly suggest finding your competitors and making really really good friends with them, because they are the people that will carry you through and have your back. Instagram is also the place where I network. Because I love the platform I can quite easily spend time on it falling down a hole clicking from profile to profile finding new suppliers that I want to make beautiful stationery babies with and I have reached out and met lots of people this way. So even if it feels a bit unusual for you to send strangers a messages on the internet (I mean why would you find that unusual?!) - just do it, it will pay off I promise and then you'll build a tribe of online pocket friends.
Engagement on Instagram is SO important. It is a SOCIAL media after all, it was meant for socialising and with all the algorithms in place you really get rewarded for it. I used to be a liker - everything that I saw that I liked, I liked, but never commented. Now I make sure that I comment on stuff that really interests me, it boosts the algorithm for those who's images I comment on but also I think it means that those people are more likely to follow and like your posts (if they genuinely like them of course) plus its nice to have someone tell you thats great, I love it or good job. Why would you not want to do that for someone else? I also make sure that I always reply to comments on my images, it again helps your algorithm and its polite. With the new heart and reply button there really is no excuse not too.
A comment pod is a little community of a maximum of 15 people that share their posts in a private message and then comment on posts to boost everyones algorithm. The pod has to be in your niche - for me either wedding suppliers, stationery or calligraphers - as those are the people who's engagement will boost your algorithm. The dream for all of us is to reach the top nine posts for our hashtags so we are found easily by people interested in the type of content that we post and having more engagement on your posts, especially by people that are in your niche, will get you there…so that is the point of the comment pods. Basically everyone giving each other a hand to boost each others profiles.
So folks that is it for part one of this mega post (seriously university me would be so jealous of the length of this post that I wrote with ease). I am really not an expert on the subject but I am happy and pleased at where my profile is and wanted to share my insight incase it can help anyone else. I will post part two next week which will look at hashtags, having a cohesive page, seeing your profile as an extension of your website, Instagram challenges annnnnd stories!
Ciao for now!
Disclaimer: I nearly called this post ‘Instagram and how I found my Instajam’…I just thought that you should know that.