I recently partnered with my friends at Sprout Social for an Instagram 101 webinar called 10 Ways to Create Picture Perfect Posts on Instagram. I’ve created a summary of the webinar with all the links so that you can try my tips to help improve your own Instagram. The webinar is on demand here.
Jammed packed with actionable tips, this article will help you get a better grasp on Instagram and provide tips to help you start getting glam on Instagram.
I’m going to share:
- How to create an Instagram strategy
- Using hashtags on Instagram
- Social media shortcuts – creating a workflow for your Instagram posts
- Easy-to-use apps to edit photos
Here’s the webinar presentation that I created on Slide Share.
The first step in a successful Instagram strategy is figuring out your goal for your social media presence on Instagram.
Start with a goal. What do you hope to gain by using Instagram? Do you want to create a visual portfolio of your work? Give customers a behind the scenes peek at what you do? Or maybe show a more personal side? Without a clear goal, you won’t be able to plan your posts.
- Why are you investing your time on Instagram?
- Who are the people that you want to reach?
- What are your goals for your content? Visibility? Blog traffic? Sales of your product or service?
Create a persona for your ideal Instagram audience. Make a list of who you think will buy your product, service, and be interested in focus your content for this group of people. You can use your blog demographics, Facebook insights, Google analytics, etc. There’s a lot of information to use to create your solid plan.
#2 Develop a story
Create a targeted niche for your Instagram presence. This allows people to know what to expect by following you and if they should follow you.
Tell a visual story of your brand using these techniques:
- Cohesive style of images or graphics
- Branded images
- Same color palette
Create separate accounts if you have more than one niche. My friend Sue Zimmerman has six accounts to cover her different business focuses. She’s increasing her business because customers of her store and clients for her social media consulting find her with hashtags.
A note of caution – only open accounts that you have time to manage well and that you have a plan for maintenance.
I’ve been hesitant to create separate niche accounts but I’ll soon be launching an Instagram account for My.BookClub. My Book Club has it’s own branding, logo, and topic but I wanted to make sure that I had everything in place before I publicly opened it. I’ll build out the profile with content before I start sharing it. If you want to see what I have so far, this is my work-in-progess: My.BookClub Instagram account.
#3 Snap pics
Of course you’re going to need photos for your Instagram posts. Make sure when you’re taking photos that you take lots more than you think you’ll need. It seems like you’re overshooting but when you go back and look, you may have only taken two or three photos. You can always delete the photos that you don’t like later.
Think like an editor! Create a stockpile of photos that you can use to design posts for over time. If you’re taking photos at a cafe of your friends look around for other interesting shoots like the bookshelves, collections of eclectic coffee cups, or the hipster baristas.
I took all the photos used in this post and the presentation on a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina on a street art tour several years ago. You never know what future projects you’ll have so take lots of great photos and you’ll thank yourself later.
Shooting your images in 1:1 ratio or square helps you to get the composition of the photo correct. You can change the settings on your phone and many cameras to shoot square images. Give it a shot. (pun intended)
#4 Edit and crop
Editing and cropping can make or break your photos. Nailing down your style for Instagram can take some time but once you find what works for you, stick with it.
These are a few of my favorite apps:
“Photo editing made fun, fast, and easy. Touch your way to better-looking iPhone pictures using slide bar adjustments, or let automatic one-touch fixes do it for you.”
“Perfect your photos in a snap with the new Snapseed 2.0. This app brings to your mobile device the power and control of professional photo editing software, previously only available on the desktop. Now with the tap of a finger you can retouch, adjust perspective, re-edit, and more.”
“Over is the app for adding text and artwork to your photos. Designed with mobile creatives in mind, Over features standard and custom-made fonts and well-crafted artwork combined with a sleek design, easy-to-use functionality, and immediate sharing ability.”
“Create amazing text layouts that would normally take minutes – or even hours in Photoshop – with just a tap.”
#5 Filter it
Filtering can help to create a cohesive, stylized brand for your photos. If you find or create a filter you love in Canva, save the filter code to reuse in your projects. Here’s a quick video on how to do that:
Or you can choose no filters and use the #nofilter hashtag. Be honest when you post because savvy Instagrammers will know!
Instagram has a wonderful set of built in filters for you to use. I recommend shooting your photos outside of Instagram so they save to your camera roll and then bringing them into to filter.
Power tip: you can rearrange your filters by dragging them in the app so put your faves on the left hand side for easy access. This will help you be consistent with your filter and find them easily.
“Afterlight is the perfect image editing app for quick and straight forward editing. Our simple design, paired with powerful and snappy tools, will give you the look you want in seconds.”
#6 Style it
Think theme and groups! Very successful Instagrammers think in terms of the grid. The grid is the top six photos that show on your Instagram profile. Michelle Phan’s Instagram is a thing of beauty as she color-styles her grid by project and sticks to a color theme.
There are apps that you can use to create big tiled images on Instagram that take up six grids.
Instagram created Layout which is an app that you can use to create collages for Instagram or other social networks. To create a Layout:
When you open Layout, you can tap All to see every photo on your phone, Faces to to see only the photos with people’s faces or Recents to see up to 30 of your most recently used photos. To create a layout:
- Scroll through your photos and tap up to 9 photos you want to include. You’ll see a on the photos you’ve chosen.
- Once you’ve selected all of the photos you want, tap the layout you like best from the top of the screen.
- Tap any of the images in the layout to edit that image. When you’re finished editing tapSave and choose whether to share your layout or to save it to your camera roll.
#7 Hashtag it
Consider hashtags the glue that holds social conversations and ideas together.
Clicking on a hashtag can provide a wealth of information and a sea of potential connections. Here’s a few ways that hashtags can be used:
- Real-time interaction with friends, fans, and influencers
- Reenforce your area of expertise
- Connect with other people interested in the same topic
- Create a social media campaign
- Brand awareness
- Catch the trends – daily, weekly, or holiday
- Find valuable UGC (user generated content)
- Rock out live events such as conferences
- Build out a social contest
Create a hashtag strategy. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. Post a few in the original post and add more in the comments. Use industry specific hashtags and create your own if you have a fun brand. If you have a special hashtag, make sure you share it in your profile for visibility. You can find popular hashtags on websites and load apps that can help you.
Prepare for success. Save your hashtags to Evernote so that you can access them on any device. Create groups of hashtags for different topics such as creativity, travel, and inspiration. It’s also helpful when you’re at an event.
Use only relevant hashtags. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use popular hashtags that have nothing at all to do with your content. It’s extremely spammy and Instagrammers will unfollow in a snap. My friend Sue uses this post to illustrate her point about how to use hashtags the right way.
Tools to help with hashtags:
#8 Post with purpose
Don’t just post to post on Instagram or anywhere for that matter. Instagrammers are quick to unfollow and don’t have patience for crummy content. Spread your posts out to give them time to breathe and post with purpose!
Does your post do one or more of the following?
What unique value are you adding to social space? Give people a reason to follow you by adding value with your content.
Instagram is THE place where brands are getting the more engagement with their social media content. A recent study Forrester found “that top brands’ Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%. That means Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.”
Asking questions is a great way to invite conversations with people that follow you. A few types that you can try:
- True or false
- Ask for people’s favorite something in a certain topic
- This or that
- Did you know?
#10 Build your tribe
Building your tribe is easy to do on Instagram using hashtags in your niche. Search on Instagram or use Iconosquare to find people that are using the same hashtags and discover new conversations to join. This search for #socialmediatips shows there are over 15,000 posts in the hashtag and also shows six related hashtags that you can investigate.
From Sprout Social’s blog, “Just as you monitor branded hashtags, you can identify popular hashtags in your industry to monitor for engagement and use in your own posts. Join new conversations related to your brand by searching results for the hashtags you use, then examining hashtags used by people sharing similar content.”
Follow interesting people in your niche when you find them and engage with their posts when you follow them. To grow your tribe, follow 20 to 30 new people every day. This will help add great content to your home stream when you’re scrolling through.
Here’s the workflow that I use for Instagram to use graphics and images that I create on my laptop to get the to my phone or iPad to post on Instagram.
I use Trello for my Instagram and Facebook Mentions post optimization. This way I can add the text that I want from my desktop and not worry about posting from my iPhone and not being able to see the full post while I’m adding text. You can try Trello here – it’s free and easy to use. I like it because it works seamlessly in the cloud moving my information on my desktop to my phone or tablet. It’s made posting longer posts much for efficient for me.
In Trello, you create different boards for project and each board can be filled with lists and you add cards to the lists. It’s super organized. (more about it here)
This is what my Trello Instagram WorkFlow board looks like:
I start by creating my image or graphic, then I add it to a card in Trello. Once I add the image, I can add the text for my Instagram post in a comment. These save to my Trello board and I can go to my phone to post. You can plan ahead and create your Instagram content in a batch and then share them when the fit into your editorial calendar.
This is what my Instagram post card looks like in Trello. You can add a checklist to your cards for super organization. You can also work with a team on Trello so they can add images or texts to Trello that can be shared.
I hope that you enjoyed this breakdown on how to post on Instagram. With a little creativity and work, you can create a super targeting-niche Instagram account and grow your brand with solid engagement. I look forward to engaging with you on Instagram!
Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear how you post on Instagram too!