Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Instagram Tips For Small Businesses & Creators

Hey guys! Long time no blog. Life has been crazy busy lately, and I kinda love it.

I've decided to get back in to it, and I've been getting questions from local businesses & other creators lately, so I figured I'd write a blog about it!

This isn't what I usually write about, but I want to start sharing some practical photography and business advice with you guys!

First things first: The Instagram Feed.

Your instagram feed is super important for growth. It doesn't need to be perfect, but if it's all over the place, and doesn't make sense, users are less likely to follow you. When a new user comes to your page, you want it to POP.

There are a few ways you can keep your feed looking cohesive and high quality. 

My #1 tip for this is investing in a good camera OR a good iPhone. 

Obviously if you're a photographer, you should already have a good camera, and an iPhone isn't going to cut it. But if your a baker, florist, etc, and iPhone could be just fine. For these types of businesses, you just need something that will produce a good quality image.

Once you've got some high quality photos to work with - find an editing style. 

There's a few ways you can do this. My favourite way is my Lightroom preset. You can find mine here! Basically, you want to have consistent tones in your photos. This is way more visually pleasing when you go to someone's page. There's thousands of Lightroom presets on Etsy, all different styles, and super cheap! When you purchase, you'll receive a link to download the preset, it's usually an image. There will be instructions in the email on how to use it, so I'll leave that to whoever you purchase from. And of course, if you purchase from me, feel free to shoot me a message with any questions.

Another way to do this is VSCO! if you search "VSCO themes" in Pinterest, you'll come up with a TON of different presets you can use. These ones are all free! I created a board with some of my favorites!  These work a little differently - they tell you how to create the edit. Basically, you go through each setting in the photo on VSCO and alter it the way the theme you choose tells you. After that, you can select the photo, click "copy edits" and apply it to as many photos as you want! 

After you've got that down - get yourself a feed planning app. My favourite right now is the Plann app.

The goal here is to break up your content - what I mean by 
that, is to make sure that what you're posting flows. If you post two photos of the same thing in a row, it doesn't always look the best. When you break up your content, it looks better on your feed. You can see some below examples to get an idea! The first image has 2 sunset photos in a row, 2 quotes in a row, etc. The second spaces similar photos out nicely.

Now that you've got your content down - let's talk posting & algorithm.
When you post your photo, you want to use all of Instagram's features. Include your location!
Use hashtags! You CAN use up to 30, but I don't recommend it. The more you use, the more spammy you look to Instagram. This can cause them to shadow ban your image. This means that no one searching those hashtags will see your image. I recommend using 5-7 relevant hashtags - 2 larger ones with 1-2 million posts, and the rest smaller ones with 50-500k. This way you are using some popular ones, and some smaller ones where your content won't get lost in a sea of other posts.

ALWAYS change up your hashtags. Keep a list of 30 hashtags you'll use on a regular basis, and keep track of which ones you used last. I wouldn't recommend using the same ones in the same week even. Instagram flags repeated hashtags as spammy behaviour, and could be why you aren't getting seen.

Another important thing is to make sure you aren't using banned hashtags. I included an example of what Instagram might show you if you search a banned hashtag. Some of these are permanently banned, because they encourage behaviour against IG's guidelines, (pornographic content, but you could have guessed not to use tags related to that.) and some get temporarily banned when someone uses it on an image that is against there guidelines. I just recommend searching the ones you plan on using before you post.

Another way you might get yourself shadow banned is following to unfollow. Just don't do it. Instagram has no tolerance for 3rd party apps that allow you to do this anymore, and you could lose your account permanently. And they WILL shadow ban you if they don't permanently ban you. In addition, don't do any spammy behaviours such as liking thousands of images an hour, etc. Engage authentically with the community, but don't go overboard. I recommend no more than 20-30 likes an hour and 5-10 comments per hour.

Once you've posted, engage with your followers. Go through your feed, like images, comment, etc. Reply to ALL the comments you receive, and the faster you reply the better. The first hour your image is live determines how many people Instagram is going to show your image too. AND, they count your replies as engagement, so it only helps you!

The most important thing to remember about Instagram, is that they encourage community. They want to see you supporting others. A great way to keep your engagement up is by regularly being supportive of others. I LOVE to share local businesses! Not only because they regularly engage with me, but because it means so much to them. Share them in your stories, tag them, comment on their posts, etc. If you aren't on Instagram to build a community, then you shouldn't be on Instagram.

That's all for today guys. Hope you guys learned something new! And of course I'm always here to answer any questions you have.
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