How to Make Instagram Work Harder for Your Business
Instagram is the King, Queen & Magic-Machine of social media. It's a platform that allows for micro-blogging, direct conversation with your audience, numerous ways for your audience to see the behind the scenes AND it can be the biggest asset your business has... all for free.
For my own business(es) (see: Zie Darling AND It's Paper Dear), it's my number one way to get new clients and make sales. And the best part? I have UNDER 10k followers on both accounts and I've been making a large portion of my income from Instagram since pretty early on. So it's not like you have to have 358,295 followers to "make it" on Instagram.
Ok, so if having hundreds of thousands of followers isn't how you make Instagram work harder for your business. then what is? Glad you asked ;)
CREATING YOUR OWN "STOCK PHOTOS":
If you've read my post on why traditional stock photos can straight up ruin your brand, then you might be thinking "well, what the hell, Zie?" But hang tight. There is a huge difference in using free or even paid stock photos that dozens of other brands are also using vs. creating your own stock photos that you can reuse for any purpose.
For Instagram especially, I like having 10-15 photos that I can pull up at anytime to use to promote my coaching services or my ebooks. Or I'll pull them up if I have something important to say but haven't the time to create a new photo for it. So if you scroll through my photos from the last year, you may see a handful of them posted multiple times, for various reasons.
This works for three reasons:
1. These photos are YOURS. They help solidify your brand & help people know that when they are quickly scrolling through their feed that they need to slow down and give that post a read. Because it's YOURS and because they know that you share valuable content.
2. These photos can provide recognition for the kind of information you're going to be talking about. So for instance, if I post this photo people know that I'm opening up my free Instagram coaching questions or that I'm offering free coaching calls for a limited time. I'll be honest, this photo doesn't get many "likes" but damn does it get a lot of engagement in the form of comments, private messages and clicks to my website. Which, even when I'm offering those free things, usually brings in quite a bit of sales as well. I'm totally ok sharing a photo that gets less likes and more clicks, ya know?
3. They give you something to share if you're either in a creative rut OR if you're too swamped to take photos right that minute.
How to make this work for you:
1. Set aside some time this week to figure out what kinds of images work best for your brand. For me, my most loved photos are ones of my bath and ones of my desk (and desk related things). So when I always try and make sure to take those kinds of pics when I'm doing my photo shoots. But I also like to take photos around topics I know I want to talk about. So something to do with self care, etc.
2. Then set aside some time (can totally be in the same day / block of time as the last point) to actually take the photos. For me, I write a list of the images I want to shoot, gather the props needed for all the different photos and then set up my table next to a window in my apartment.
NOTE: You DO NOT need a fancy camera for this, nor do you need to hire a photographer (if you're not already one!). By all means, if you want to, do both, but it's not needed. I take 99% of all my photos from my iPhone and I take them myself. (If you want to know more about my process and how to do all of this for yourself, check out my ebook.)
USER GENERATED CONTENT:
I created a couple hashtags that my audience can use: #DarlingSelfLove, #DarlingDesks and #DarlingInstaBabes. None of them are widely used, nor have 50,000+ uses. But that's totally ok. Why? Because the uses they do get are pretty much perfect and are used by people who actually give a damn. Which is so, so powerful.
So now, when I want to share a pretty desk photo but my desk is HELLA MESSY, I'll scroll through the #DarlingDesks tag and pick one of those to share.
This is rad for a few reasons:
1. My really engaged audience has created images with the understanding (and hope) that I'll repost those photos. And while I don't have a 10k+ audience, I do have a different audience than they do. So hopefully when I share their pic, you're seeing them for the first time and fall in love and go hang out with them! And for real, who doesn't like to see that the photo they took is getting lots of love and a pat on the back?
2. They have literally created content for you. It's sooooo easy to repost their pic (with proper credits!!!!) and go on your way. This means not only do you have more and more of your audience pumped up to use your hashtags, but it also means that your feed looks a little more diverse and isn't the same photos over and over and over. ;)
3. When you're inviting them to use a hashtag that revolves around a product / service you have, you're essentially getting them to help you market that product / service for free, simply because they love you and what you do THAT much. Which is really rad, ya know?
How can you make this work for you?
1. Figure out what people get most excited about that you share. For me, that was desk stuff, self care stuff and Instagram related tips, etc. So those are the things I wanted to invite my audience to share with me. I also invite them to use #DarlingInstaBabes, which can help promote my ebook and coaching services.
2. Play around and figure out what a good tag would be that's not already taken. This one is sometimes hard for me simply because now there are quite a few "Darlings" out there. (Especially the beautiful Darling Magazine!) so this means I have to make sure that #Darling____ isn't already taken. Or I have to tweak it so that it's easier to see what the tag actually says.
3. Invite your audience to use the tag(s)! I regularly post on Instagram "show me your desk for a chance to be featured with the tag #DarlingDesks" (or something like that), but I also share it in blog posts like this and in any emails or ebooks I write that have a similar theme. (Like in my Instagram eBook, I invite you to use #DarlingInstaBabes so I can see what you're creating!)
INSTAGRAM LANDING PAGES:
I personally am not using this one right now only because I broke this page on my website and need to fix it but haven't yet because I'm a goober. BUT when used properly, having a specific page on your website for Instagram clicks can be a really powerful tool. What do I mean?
Basically, it used to be kinda hard to track Instagram clicks to your website. So that's why a lot of brands originally started having a short link (think Bit.ly) specifically used ONLY on Instagram, so that you could see just how many people were coming over from Instagram vs. any where else on the web.
Now, though, it's easier to track (especially if you have a Instagram Business Profile). But the idea of that link is still really effective. Just instead, make it an entire page on your website.
On mine, I (normally) have a "new here" link, my three most recent blog posts, two products or services I sell the most of and a place to sign up for my newsletter. That's it.
But this is really cool for a couple reasons:
1. You can have the same link in your Instagram bio always & never have to worry that people aren't seeing what they WANT to see when they click it. So if they just read one of your Instagram captions about your latest blog post, they can click over and find that blog post, etc.
2. Having all of that on one page makes it really easy for them to navigate the things you REALLY want them to see, especially from their phone. Because if you make it hard for them to bounce between blog posts, newsletter signups and your services / shop stuff, they won't do it. It's that simple.
So what do you need to do?
1. Figure out what's most important for YOU and YOUR BRAND. What do you want them to see first? Your recent blog posts or your top three blog posts? Your products and services? Or your newsletter? Got a youtube channel you really want me to see? Pop that there.
2. Literally just do it. I'm on Squarespace, so it's really easy for me to create new pages on my website. But if it's a little more challenging for you, maybe contact your web designer and have them build it for you. Whichever route you need to go, just do it. This is SUCH an amazing tool if you let it be. (Talking to myself here, too.)
A REALLY POWERFUL + EFFECTIVE BIO:
This may seem kind of like a "duh" for some people, but the last time I did a free quick Instagram coaching over on Instagram, I was kind of surprised by how many people aren't utilizing their bio to work harder for them.
So here's a quick formula that I use for my accounts but also with my students and coaching clients:
Under the "name" part: I recommend putting your brand name and something short that goes with what you do. So I have "Zie Darling | #DarlingSelfLove" because I want people to know one of the hashtags I'm promoting but also make it easier for them to see what I do if they see me in a list and not my actual feed, if that makes sense.
In the actual bio
the why: Tell me why I need to follow your account. What will you be sharing & what kinds of things will I get out of it? I have "Daily inspiration for selfcare and for growing your biz + brand into something YOU love" but you could do something like "Wanderlust for the creative souls" or whatever. You can get literal here or a little more whimsical.
the what: What do you want me to do? What's your call to action? I update this part ALLL the time. So sometimes this will be "check out the latest blog post" or it might be "see how to make Instagram ready for you" or "snag your Instagram Coaching for 20% off!" or whatever. You just gotta be clear in what you want me to do when I land on your feed.
the link: see the last section for what kind of link I recommend here, but if you don't have that page, then just make sure you're constantly updating that link to be relevant to your latest caption post. So if your most recent Instagram post was promoting your latest blog post, GIVE THEM THAT LINK. ;)
NOTE: Obviously there are other ways to do this, and I do recommend playing around and seeing what works best for you. For me, I found that being clear and obvious about my WHY has led to more a engaged audience and more website clicks. But you may want to be more abstract. Whatevs. Once you know the rules, you can break the rules, right? ;)
LOW TICKET ITEM TO SELL:
This one took me way too long to figure out, I'll admit. If you sell products or services that are over $100, I highly, highly recommend you create one that's on the lower-price-point-end. Why? Because when you're trying to sell something that's over $100, people tend to need more time and exposure to make sure that they really do want to invest that much money in something.
This DOES NOT mean you can't promote a high-ticket item / service!!! It just means that if you have a smaller product or service that you can also promote on there, people are far more likely to do a "quick buy" from Instagram.
How this works:
1. I have a Instagram Coaching service that's a bit more than $100, currently. I do continue to talk about it or promote it on Instagram, but since it's a bit more of an investment, I'm mainly promoting it in a "click here for more info" kind of way OR in a more "look what I'm currently working on" kind of way. Because the more the investment, the more time people are going to need to see if they need that service or product.
2. On the flip side, if you have a printable item or a short ebook, etc. that's like $20ish, you can easily sell that in the length of an Instagram caption. So in turn, you're using Instagram's format to sell MORE of that little thing, meaning more $$$ for you, in the end.
What I recommend:
1. Don't have a service or product that's under $50? Make one. These are small things, folks. 10 page ebooks, printable worksheets, quick 15 minute one on one calls with you, etc. Whatever your THING is, make a baby-sized version that's still really helpful and promote the ISH outta it on Instagram.
2. Already have one? PROMOTE THE ISH OUTTA IT ON INSTAGRAM. So, so, so often I have Instagram Coaching clients ask me why they're just not selling and why Instagram is letting them down. And like 9/10 end up being because the last time they promoted their product or service (if ever) was three months ago. PROMOTE YOUR ISH, babe. (Don't feel comfortable with that or don't know how to go about it? Lemme help.)
And there you go. Instagram can be the most powerful tool in your tool box if you let it work harder for you! If there's something on this list (or even if it's all of it!) that you're not currently utilizing, I highly recommend implementing these steps. If that all seems a little terrifying at once, pick one thing and go from there. Just make sure you keep track of what you did and how it does for you, then when you feel like you've got the hang of that, add another element and tweak as needed.
But you've totally got this babe, I promise.
Got a tip you think works great for you? Share it either in the comments below or join the conversation on Instagram!
Want even more Instagram tips, tricks and step by step help? I've got an eBook with your name ALL over it.