Standout Instagram Feeds
Do These Things Well
- They have a clear mission, philosophy and/or style
- Post quality content
- Post consistently
- Engage with others–start and
- Use hashtags to promote & build
or take part in communities
- Serve, don’t just promote
Tips and Resources for
Ways to Build Engagement on Instagram
DM – Direct Message
Do this with purpose, otherwise, it’s just spam. Just tap the tiny paper aeroplane in the top right corner of your home feed.
Don’t just message saying, “Hey I love your feed.”
Use it if you have something you can contribute to them or a win-win proposal to offer. Make the DM succinct and purposeful.
Comment in a Meaningful Way
“Nice Shot” doesn’t say anything meaningful to the person. “Beautiful – it reminds me of the lighting design on the show Peaky Blinders.” This is an actual comment I left on a famous photographer’s feed and she responded.
Regram or Repost
This is common practice in Twitter and Facebook, sharing or retweeting someone else’s post, but Instagram has not made this easy.
Why repost on Instagram?
If you find an image or info very relevant to your audience, you service both your audience, and the original poster by sharing it.
Reposting can be done by either, taking a screenshot on your phone of the image (normally resulting in lower quality) or by using a third-party app such as Later.com’s Search and Repost feature, or the mobile app Repost offered on both iOS and Android.
The tiny paper aeroplane icon next to the comment bubble, under the image is the “Send To” function. This let’s you send a post to one of your followers with a message.
Tagging someone in the comments on a post is a nice way to give recognition or to otherwise point out the work of someone you admire. For instance: “The colours in this image remind me of @toiledechine 's amazing indigo dyed pieces.”
Hashtags were started by a small group of Twitter users who were trying to identify their group at a tradeshow by placing the # symbol in front of the name. The practice was picked up by others and soon became a ubiquitous way to sort posts by topic or community, like an index for social media.
Every social media expert out there has an opinion about the “right” way to use hashtags. A common argument is how many hashtags are too many? Instagram allows up to 30.
Send a Message on a Story
Because Stories are a newer feature, sending a personal message on a story might get a message noticed more than other messages. But don’t get too excited, most celebrity pages don’t have this feature.
Link in Your Profile
Your profile allows one link. Be sure to use that link to give people an easy way to learn more about you and your business. Most people logically use the link for their website address, but you may want to have a special web page that you direct to just for Instagram followers.
If you write regularly on a blog or release articles, you can use a tool such as Link In Profile by Later.com. to direct followers to multiple links, not just one. Read more about “Link in Profile” in the Tools section.
There are too many tools available to list. I’ve chosen the following resources because they’re easy to use and have clearly defined features.
Later is a tool developed for Instagram users to schedule posts and collect data about their account. They also help manage a Twitter feed. Later offer a free version so it’s easy to test out and see if it suits your needs. However, many of their most useful features are for paid-only accounts.
Content will not post automatically, instead you’ll receive a reminder at the scheduled time and it will open in Instagram ready to post.
Hootsuite is a tool for multiple platforms, more recently, Instagram was added their service. If you already use Hootsuite for other social media platforms then it might be the tool for you. If you don’t, it’s not the easiest to navigate, and will take a little training to get up to speed using it.
Iconosquare offers scheduling and tracking features though there is no free version, to test it out you'll need the 14 day trial. It's known as a great tool for in-depth analysis of your account as well as general Instagram trends, such as hashtag popularity and competitor performance. So if you're serious about a deep-dive into Instagram as a marketing tool, Iconosquare might be the one for you.
ScheduGram allows you to post right from its app instead of giving you a prompt like the Later app does. This could be a huge benefit if you need to be able to set it and forget it.
Grum is another scheduler that allows you to set it and forget it. It’s very easy to use and if you pay for multiple accounts you can toggle between them without having to log in and out. This tool is very basic, beyond the scheduler there are very few features. But if an ultra simple, Instagram-only tool is what you’re after, it might be the one for you.
EDIT 2-5-2017: Instagram is cracking down on apps that allow direct posting, therefore use of apps like ScheduGram and Grum may cause your account to be temporarily banned.
PHOTO EDITING APPS
(Found in iTunes and Google Play)
SnapSeed (Free, iOS and Android)
This is by far the most complete and simplest editor I’ve found. It’s available for both iOS and Android phones. It’s always been a great editor but when Google acquired it the app improved it’s User Interface even further.
Camera+ (Free, with a paid Pro option, iOS only)
NOTE: There is no Android version, but Pro Shot or Camera FV-5 look like great alternative products for Android users.
Camera+ is a great app for extending the camera features of your humble mobile phone.
My favourite feature is the sliding exposure tool. This tool will help you quickly set the right exposure regardless of time of day or weather.
Here's an example. The photo below was taken while I was out walking at around 1pm. While the lighting was nice in the shade, my images were still overexposed using the built in iPhone camera app. I switched to Camera+, adjusted the exposure, then shot the photo again.
The difference, the white areas aren't over exposed and there's more overall depth helping draw the eye in.
A nice photo editor and filter app for those who want to get arty with their smartphone photography. It’s a favourite among serious photographers but the tools may feel a little foreign and take some getting used to.
A Color Story (American spelling)
Another photo editor and filter app. This app is for getting playful with colour in your images. If you're going for a bright and cheerful look, this could be a great app for you.
Later.com recently published a guide to using hashtags, it's a great primer for how to use hashtags on Instagram.
Social Media Examiner Website
I don’t love the juvenile design of the Social Media Examiner website, but the design doesn’t detract from its usefulness. It’s a good source for keeping up-to-date with the lightning fast changes in all things social media.
A variety of “experts” write for the site so you get a cross-section of information and opinions in common language, no need to be a techie. Social Media Examiner also offers info in various channels – blog posts, podcasts, webinars, and reports. In the “Browse Categories” search box type Instagram and a list of articles will pop up.
While “experts” pop up on every social media platform it can be tricky to know what advice to follow and often opinions are conflicting.
Observe what others in your industry are doing. Read conversations in the accounts of businesses who share your audience. Ask yourself what might your customer gain from visiting your feed that they wouldn’t get on another account.
It’s now inexpensive to take online courses for just about anything. Three affordable course providers are Udemy, Skillshare and Lynda.com – but keep in mind that Instagram changes so rapidly that any course older than a year may be of little value. If you find a course you like that’s older, be sure the instructor has added an update.
If you want to learn it, chances are someone’s made a tutorial video for it. Just click “Videos” after you perform a Google search. I typed in “Learn Instagram for business” and nearly 3,000,000 videos popped up.
People & Businesses Mentioned,
Follow Them and Learn
Ian Barnard @ianbarnard
Cathy Cullis @cathycullis
Swallows and Damsons Florist @swallowsanddamsons
Mark Bustos @markbustos
Katie Coston @illyriapottery
Pukka Herbs @pukkaherbs
Riverford Organic Farmers @riverford
Sole Survivor Shoe Repair @solesurvivorshop
Kiffanie Stahle @kiffaniestahle