Instagram, Why we love Instagram and 7 tips to grow your followers
Let's talk Instagram! It is by far our fave social platform here at Doodlemoo (perhaps I spend a little too much time on it!) and it seems it's here to stay at least for the moment. I came to it a bit late (I only joined a few years ago) as it was already changing and I so wished I had found it earlier. Instagram started out as a photo/creative sharing platform and now seems to be a favourite for brands to market and it is the fastest growing social platform. Recently facebook took it over which can be seen as both a good and bad thing. Facebook has made it move faster but also has changed the algorithm, which means it shows you more of what you (supposedly) want to see based on who you follow and your interests. 'In the Instagram algorithm, engagement is one of the major considerations (perhaps the top consideration) when determining how many people to show a post to.'
Why we love Instagram and seven tips that can help you grow your followingThe more engagement a post has, the more people will see it in their feed. It also now shows posts that are a few days old, a positive in my mind as this ensures you don’t miss anything if you haven’t been on it for a few days. IG (as it is known) is a really useful tool if you make the most of it! For visual people and brands Instagram is one the best place to show off your creative work, as it is all about the images. The platform is super easy to use and has great features such as stories - a short film capability (that only lasts 24hours) and IGTV for longer videos. IG has been so good for Doodlemoo's visibility and for establishing my brand. It also stands as my portfolio that is really easy to access; in most of the events I have been to the first thing people ask is “what is your Instagram?” So it is really important to have a good presence but luckily it’s an ideal platform to put your message across as a person, blogger or brand. One of the best things for me about Instagram is how many like-minded people you can find, it really is the perfect place to find other small independent brands and makers who put a lot of effort and passion into their products. Generally in my experience people are very supportive and kind on Instagram. I have grown a great network of amazing makers and designers (which is so important when working on my own) and through this I have found out about markets, events and opportunities that would've been hard to discover otherwise. We share beautiful customer photos (on our main feed and stories), things we are interested in, events and generally try to be social here. Another important aspect for us is the ability to test our new designs by asking our audience directly for their opinions. This is invaluable for informing what we make and we constantly want to get a better understanding of what people like. All this resource is for free, all you have to do is tap into it! I must say at times I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. It can be a quite disheartening as you look around and it seems everyone else is rapidly going up in thousands of followers while you are struggling to into three figures; others may be getting tons of comments and engagement while the tumbleweed blows through your feed while their ideas and approach doesn’t appear much different to yours. Starting out it felt like nobody was listening or that not many people were interested. I didn’t tell any friends or family I had started an account, I just really wanted to find my own way and connect with people that were truly interested in our designs. At the time of writing I have just hit 6k followers, something that felt unreachable not long ago. There was a time when 1000 followers was all I was aiming for but what I have found is that as you grow you keep moving your goals and those success bars just go higher. Obviously it is not just about the numbers of followers you have, but it does mean a lot to know that so many people are there with us and interested in what we do. The most important thing to remember is that it is the quality of followers you have and levels of engagement you get rather than the just the numbers.
In this 9 squares of my feed I am showing my prints (our main products) customer photos with my products, joyful moment, events, decor ideas and colour inspo. Which pretty much sums what we post in a regular basis. Probably 3/4 of these have a call to action or sales related post.Our brand has evolved from those days and I’ve slowly grown, so don’t be put off! Just keep trying your best. I don't believe there's any set rules and although it’s good to follow a few tips to make things easier, what works for some people might not work for others so the 1st thing I’d say is to find your own voice and style and share your best images on a regular basis, showing up regularly is a must (at least every other day). Again It can be hard but it is best not to fall into those eternal comparisons. There will always be someone with more followers than you and so if you take it lightly, have fun and see inspiration in others rather than the negatives this is an amazing platform that can really be turned to your advantage.
So that’s why we love Instagram and here are seven tips we have found that will help you to grow your following:
TIP 1. YOUR BIOHaving good bio under your name or business name is essential as it is the initial thing people see and your first chance to make an impression. People want to know very quickly what you are about and if they can identify with what you show and say. So it doesn't hurt to add a bit of humour in there or something that you are into as it will help that new follower to quickly make their minds up. This has to be backed up by your feed and the first 9 squares should reiterate visually what you are about and what they should expect to see. Make sure you have your links to website. Using LINKTREE is great as it allows you to add as many links as you want compared to only one from Instagram.
Doodlemoo Instagram Bio. The description of what you are about with your email and link to your website.
TIP 2. EXPRESS YOUR STYLEWhat are you trying to get across through your images and your captions? Generally when you land on someone’s Instagram’s page (feed) you get an immediate feel for what they are about and their style whether it's modern, bright, colourful or melancholic. What do you want people to feel and experience through your images? Try and think from the perspective of the person looking at your feed. As far as captions are concerned, you may not need one if your image says everything you want to express, but a few good words can really enhance an image. An amazing post can be really powerful and is likely to get re-shared which can in turn lead to more people knowing you and finding your brand.
Instagram post featuring a beautiful cafe I visited. It gives colour inspiration and a feel for what we love.
TIP 3. FEED COMPOSITIONMost IG advice impresses the importance of a consistent and well composed feed. This means the style of the images, the colours and the flow as you scroll through it. There are some great apps that can help you plan and preview before you post like Planoly, Later, UnUm (I use Planoly and UnUm they’re both free). These allow you to plan what you post on your feed, move images around and even write the captions before hand (I prefer to be a bit more spontaneous with my captions and write them on the day but some people find it better to think and write before).
TIP 4. BE SOCIALThe point of Instagram is connection and socialising. Start following and looking for like minded accounts, connect and make useful, honest comments. It's a bit like going to a party and chatting to different people, some will be curious and some won't but that's ok. Spending a bit of time on Instagram and checking other accounts you love can be useful as long as it is not making you feel any negative thoughts or stopping you from working! ha! too much scrolling can be tiring and leave you with not much! It does take a bit of time to find your way too.
TIP 5. ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCEAs I said before engangement is key. A great way to socialise on Instagram is to engage your followers by liking or replying to their comments to your posts. If people make the effort to check out your posts and comment on them, it's cool to continue the conversation. And it helps the algorithm in that the more engagement the more your post is likely to be shown to more of your audience. Asking sincere questions is a great way to get conversations going, get to know your audience. Think what value am I giving my audience with my post. You don't have to ask questions in every post and again there are no rules but generally people like to be involved, answer and be part of your life/brand. Don't just showcase, entice people to be part of something!
In this post I'm showing my gallery wall, announcing a new print and also talking about what we are up to. This one got quite a few comments and likes.
TIP 6. USE HASHTAGSIdeally you want to get into the top 9 grids of a hashgtag to be seen. Hashtags are a bit like the SEO of Instagram and are importnat to use at least as you grow. To be found on Instagram make the best use of all the hashtags you can (30 allowed), finding niche ones that are relevant to your photo and field. If you do a search in hashtags you will see the images that are relevant to you and where you would like to be featured. So instead of #homedecor which will have millions of photos you want something more niche like #howyouhome or #styleithappy which are hashtags that interior bloggers use. Also joining in with hashtag challenges can be a great way to be discovered. You can also follow hashtags that way you can find accounts relevant to you too.
TIP 7. USE STORIES and IGTVUse the Stories feature (which is relatively new) I looove stories because you can engage with people in a different way than on your feed enabling your audience to become part of your life and because everyone is looking for things that inspire them or things they can get identified with, so I sometimes talk about what I’m working on, share a bit of my daily life, events that I attend and ask questions to get input and feedback. The great thing about the stories is that they get deleted in 24 hours so you don't need to be so precious with them. I still recommend making a bit of an effort with what you're sharing, beautiful looking stories are also a joy to watch. If you are making long videos you can use CUTSTORY app to cut a video into segments of 15 mins to add to your Stories (or any other app) or use IGTV for longer videos (this is more like a YOUTUBE within Instagram). You can save your favourite Stories as highlights which show at the top of your feed and you can change and edit at any time. IGTV is the newest feature on Instagram and I feel not everyone has taken to it. I think it’s great for making more permanent videos relevant to your message. Other tips are collaborate with others, feature someone else in your feed. Use Geo tags, this means the location as you can also be found if anyone is searching for that particular area, great if you've been to an event or travelling. Post at your best times - look at your stats to see when you get the most engagement and post at those times, usually this would be morning and evenings. Host contests or competitions with other bloggers, brands, influencers. Do not let comparison or competition get you down, my advice would be think what can I do that is different? Show your personality. You are unique and will do things in your own way. It can be tricky to develop this and it’s something I’m still working on. I once heard that going against the norm and being a bit controversial can also help you get noticed! If you are a business and don’t have a lot of marketing budget reaching out to influencers is a great way to get mentions and get discovered by their audiences. Make sure it is people that have your vibe, go with your style, and can really highlight your product. One more tip, spend some time looking at accounts you love, seeing what they do, how they chat and interact. It can be useful for getting ideas from people who have been there a lot longer than you. Recommnded apps: Photo editing: VSCO, SNAPSEED , ACOLORSTORY | Planning: PLANOLY, LATER, UNUM | Video 15 sec: CutStory. App for easy IGTV videos VIDEOSHOP How do you find Instagram? and what are your experiences with it? We would love to know! Share in the comments bellow. I hope this article has been useful, leave us a comment or any questions you have. I you would like to know more or have a one to one session let me know at email@example.com. I am also a graphic designer at firstname.lastname@example.org and can help with graphics for your content, content ideas or developing your Instagram style. You can follow our journey here @doodle_moo @lorostudio
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