10 Strategies to Improve Your Business Through Instagram

Social media has forever changed the way the world communicates. There are so many platforms to converse and so many wonderful opportunities to connect and build relationships.  I am here today to talk about my Top 10 Strategies to Improve Your Business Through Instagram. I feel at home on Instagram.  Instagram serves as a wonderful way for me to interact both personally and professionally.  Although it hasn't always been an easy balance, I have learned how to successfully balance the two.  By implementing the following strategies you too can balance your instagram and grow your business.

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The majority of my instagram friends have connected with me through my business.  So one would think that I should only post my professional business there.  However, my business related friends should see the personal side of me. And so should yours! This is why I am a firm believer in having a mixture of personal and business.  I believe that 80% of posts should be business and 20% should be personal.  Why mix personal?  Social media is a way to connect. It's human nature for us to care and concern for those we follow. I want my clients to understand the personal side of me; as it's a huge part of my business.

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I am not always the best at this.  A ton of considerations go into each post.  It is hard work and those that accomplish those perfectly balanced, so beautiful and artistic instagram feeds deserve a huge pat on the back.  Even though I am not perfect, I try my best and I know how beneficial and more attractive my feed would be if I followed this more closely.  Although I do not achieve this 100% of the time, I do achieve it often.  When making Instagram post, please carefully consider the following:

1. Colors

2. Lighting

3. Angle

4. Orientation (square/rectangle)

Each an every image you post should be consistent and alike in all categories.  I suggest aiming for a cluster of 6 six photos if you are new to this.  Why 6? When someone lands on your instagram from their phone, they will see your first 6 images.

Here are some the Instagrammer's I follow that have the most beautifully curated feeds.

@alexstrohl  -  @lovesarahschneider  -  @debrosse_nyc

Always remember that your posts are giving a glimpse into your world. You are creating a neat vantage point for your followers.

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"Consider social media to be a HAPPY MAIL DAY!  You should want to deliver happiness to the inbox of those with whom you are connected.  You should also want to receive happiness."

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I see it everyday.  People following others just to simply get a follow back.  It is not a genuine way to do things, and honestly it does not benefit anyone.  Be selective with those you follow.  Remember these are the people you are choosing to put in front of you every time you log onto Instagram.   My approach is simple.

  • I follow my bestest friends in my personal life.
  • I follow my friends in my professional life.  These are the people that I know personally.  I have met them and have become friends with them.  In most cases, I am truly inspired.
  • I follow businesses, both big and small, that inspire me personally and creatively.  This is where I get my motivation to perform better both personally and professionally.  The majority of these businesses are NOT closely related to photography.

I believe when you follow to many people/businesses, your feed becomes a clutter and time consuming.  Less is More. Quality over Quantity.  You should feel happy, inspired, and connected when you are on social media.

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Social media needs to be viewed as a funnel.  It should funnel your audience directly to your website or blog, whichever is the place that will connect your audience more closely to what you want them to see and learn.

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It is important for you to keep your target market in mind.  My target market is high school seniors and photographers.  When I post, I need to make sure I am considering what they want to see and hear.  If I am posting a sneak peek from a senior session I might include a description about the actual senior session.  I will talk about how much fun we had with the professional hair and makeup artist, and how she was with us for the entire session.  "Behind the Scenes" is something that is unique to my senior portrait sessions, and I want my target market to see this.  If you are new to instagram and are still building your audience that is ok.  Post with your target market in mind.  I suggest pretending you already have thousands of followers that fit that description. Post for them.  When you put other strategies into place, they will eventually find you! Which leads me to ...

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Having a handful of hashtags that are unique to you personally and professionally is very important.  I suggest jotting a few down on paper and then doing a search for each one of them.  If they are truly unique to you then they should not exist yet. Of course you obviously want to avoid the hashtags that can be misunderstood or linked to something inappropriate.  It's easy to use a hashtag with your name, because most of the time it is unique to you.  Even initials work great!  #mlhseniors  #mlhbiztips

I am a firm believer that too many hashtags are a problem.  It can become annoying for the reader.  I suggest choosing your top 3-4 hashtags to use directly in your post.  These are the hashtags you would want people to actively click on after viewing your post.  For example, my number one hashtag is #melissalynnhuntseniors.  If my followers click on this they will be taken to an "album" of my senior portrait posts.

The categories you would want to found under are the hashtags you should post as a comment.  For example, I would like to be found under #charlottencphotographer.  Why?  Because if someone is doing a hashtag search looking for a Charlotte NC Photographer, I would like to be present in their search.

Personally I have started using #mlhfamilyphotos.  This has been a great way to filter all of my personal posts into one category and it is a great way for my audience to go to that "album" of photos.

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Brand to brand love shows that you are confident in your own skin! Be genuine with your love. We can all smell a fake from a very short distance.

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Social media is a conversation.  If you are posting then you are inadvertently saying, "Hey, talk to me!" Remember, if you start the conversation be ready to continue it! Don't leave your posts unattended.  If people are commenting you should respond.  It's not only a the gracious thing to do, but it's further connecting you with your target audience and a potential client.

Consider posting things that flat out ask for engagement. Think about leading a post with, "Have you ever ..", "Do you think ..", "Do you feel the same way .." I love when I read posts and the poster says, "Am I the only one?"  If I have ever been in their shoes I am most definitely commenting and sharing my experience too.

Sharing quotes that inspire and start a conversation is a great idea.  It's an even better idea when the quote is directly from your thoughts or experiences.  And it's even better when you can design the picture featuring the quote that you will be posting.

Be sure to post regularly and Remember, out of sight - out of mind applies here.

improve-your-business-through-instagramHey you guys, the words are just as important as the picture. I most definitely consider the following when creating the text for a post:

  • sentence structure
  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • spacing
  • abbreviations

I definitely will put some of my personality in my text using shortened phrases or slang such as "Y'all." I also must say that I am not the best when it comes to writing.  I write the way I talk.  I am not a very proper person by any means. But the one thing I will not stand for is misspelled words.  That is unacceptable.

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Your instagram posts should be a carefully curated version of yourself.

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You should most definitely share tips that position you as the expert in your field.  After all, you are! This is very easy to do and such a great way to build your target audience.   Simply make a list of the things are very knowledgeable and good in.  If it's a topic that you could share about at length then consider this to be a good blog post topic.  If it is a quick tip or trick that could benefit your audience this could easily be a quick instagram post detailing the tip in the text.

For example if you are a photographer looking to connect with other photographers a quick tip/instagram post could be about how you use your reflector to front light your subjects in a backlit situation.  Simply post a picture of you using the reflector in the situation and describe in the post why you placed the reflector where you did.  Share your camera settings too!

If you are a photographer looking to connect with your ideal clientele a quick tip/instagram post could be about the perfect outfit for your portrait session.  Be specific to the season and post a picture of an outfit or outfits that you would want your ideal client to wear!  Hashtag the brands of clothing too!

We use social media as a way to learn and grow.  We are looking for anything and everything that can help us be better in our crafts and as people.  We crave knowledge!!

improve-your-business-through-instagramI truly believe that social media for your business should be a balance between planned and unplanned posts.  There is nothing better than posting live from wherever you are whether it be on location for your business or at the most adorable coffee shop eating the best pumpkin chocolate chip bread ever!  Connecting live is genuine and social media at it's best!  Most likely many of your unplanned posts will fall under the personal category. The planned posts are just as important. Remember we are wanting to grow our businesses and revenue.  This requires a well laid out plan. Planned posts could include:

  • Directing your followers to your blog posts
  • Behind the scenes
  • Announcements for upcoming business related activities/events : build anticipation and hype

Planning should involve the act of writing down or inputing the information onto your virtual planner.  I am a paper and pencil girl so I keep a paper calendar.  I use my blog calendar to also write down my social media calendar.  It's a great visual because I can also determine where I might need to create certain posts to break up a serious business tone.

When keeping a schedule it is also VERY IMPORTANT to know your ideal posting times.  This could take some time to track and narrow down.  It is safe to say that high traffic times are morning, noon, and night.  Easy, right?!  I do my best to post around 9:00am, 12:00pm, and 8:00pm.  I have also noticed that there is great traffic at 8:00 am (right before people start their workday) and 4:00 pm (just as people are getting off work or are trying to make it through that last hour of their workday).

I mentioned above that you should track your ideal posting times.  This involves knowing your audience.  My main audience is high school girls.  That means that 8:00pm is a great time for me to post.  This post will receive interaction from 8:00pm all the way through 11:00pm.  You MUST know your audience and the way they interact.  This is crucial to social media survival.

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If you are planning on having a post that contains quite a lengthly description.  I suggest typing this post out in an email. Send the email to yourself so that you can simply access the email from your phone, copy the text, and then paste it in the box on instagram.  Words from experience:  Triple check the words before posting. It's very easy for a word to get lost in the transition from copying to pasting!

improve-your-business-through-instagramGosh it is so easy to get caught up into how many followers you have.  I most certainly remember looking forward to each new 100 followers.  I would watch my social media outlets closely at the 99th mark just waiting to hit the next milestone.  While, I still think you should celebrate new followers, because after all those are potential clients.  I do think you should put more time and energy into the main purpose.  That is to drive sales and generate bookings.  Admist all of your fun instagram selfies you should be posting relevant business tips, advice, and showcasing your work.  Those posts have the sole purpose of bringing in more business.  Business success is measured by REVENUE not how many followers you have.

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If you're not ok with someone posting a full page article of your post on a world news blog then don't post it!  Consider everything you post an official company statement.

This post is part of the series: Social Media for Photographers

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