I love Instagram. Fact. I can easily get lost in the sea of beautiful visuals of crafts, flowers, interiors, holidays and koalas – yes, there are koalas. But my goodness it can be like a rabbit warren to get lost in and suddenly lose track of an hour before you know it. Whilst that might be great to break up the monotony of the commute to work, waiting to pick your children up from after school club, or lazing in bed on a weekend morning, it’s not great to waste time if you are using Instagram for your creative small business.
Instagram is the fastest growing social platform with over 300 million brands and consumers in its user base. For us small business owners and bloggers, Instagram is the perfect way to share your story and interact with your audience but, it is good to learn some tips on how to use it in a better way. I love using Instagram for Butterfly Crafts and here are my top tips for using Instagram as a small business:
- Post Regularly – With feeds changing very quickly, especially if you follow lots of people, it is important to post regularly, at least once a day ideally, so that your audience know to expect photos from you. It can be useful to keep a consistency in the time of your posts if you do only post once a day, for example you might make a post in the morning to catch your ‘morning’ audience, or at lunch time to capture lunch time browsers. Worried that you don’t always have something to post on your Instagram feed? It’s great to try and keep a back up of photos ready to share for days like this. I have a folder on my phone for just this, it contains some close ups of craft materials or snippets from blog posts so I can promote them, behind the scenes photos are great to keep as back up.
- Post Great Photos – Please don’t get all anxious and worry if your photos are good enough. I’ve been there and done that and worn out the t-shirt. But, Instagram is such a visual tool you need to have the best photos possible to share with your audience. In the first instance don’t post photos that are blurred or out of focus. Sometimes a small detail of something is better than the whole, crop images and edit them, a simple app I use on my iphone is PicTapGo but there are loads of apps out there for editing. Along with posting great photos, think about what you are actually posting in the first place. If your Instagram feed is a reflection on your business, does your audience really need to see what you made for dinner last night? I was guilty of this in the early days of me using Instagram for Butterfly Crafts but I now have a personal account where I can share my baking and holidays and mess of a garden as much as I like.
- Post a Consistent Style – Yes it’s important to use great photos but its also important to post with a consistent style. If you think of Instagram as your business portfolio, what words would you use to describe your brand? Quirky? Fun? Colourful? Minimalist? Does the picture you are about to post reflect your brand, does it help to tell your story? What’s even better is if you can post pictures using your brand colours. The best person I know at this is photographer and Queen of Makelight Emily Quinton.
- Engage with your audience – Don’t just post and run and hide under a rock until the next time you want to share a photo. Instagram is a social network after all and its great for engaging and building up a relationship with your audience. At the very least respond to comments you receive on your posts, but, also like and comment on photos of people you follow and grow the number of people you follow each week by searching out new Instagrammers. Look for people who share your style or your interests and also those who might be your ideal customer. You can search using the search tool but also click through to people who comment on photos you like. Spend five or ten minutes a day engaging as best as you can and you will see it pay off.
- Hashtags! – The use of hashtags can divide people in opinions but basically if you want to use Instagram for business you need to get comfortable with that little # symbol. When you post a photo and add a # it will post your photo into the grid of images under that particular tag, you need to post the tags fairly quickly as those first few seconds after posting a photo with a hashtag are the most important at bringing in potential new followers or audience, after that, your photo is lost in the sea of images under a certain hashtag. One top tip is to keep a note in your photo with a block of the hashtags you use so you can copy and post as soon as possible – I have separate blocks based on subject area eg planners and stationery, crafts, small business etc.
- Use the clickable link – Any links you post in your photo posts are not clickable so its really important to make use of that one clickable link in your profile. At least have it clickable to your blog or website, but the great thing about that link is its easy to edit to something new. Written a blog post and sharing images from it? Change the link to the post post url, either post it directly or create a bit.ly link to track clicks, or if you are promoting a product change it to that. Help direct your audience to exactly where you want them!
If you use Instagram and have more tips to share I’d love you to leave a comment below, but also come and say hello over on my Butterfly Crafts Instagram feed – there is much paper crafting, crafts, haberdashery and stationery with a few other bits thrown in for good measure. You can fine me on Instagram under @butterflycrafts_uk or just click through here