Instagram 101

Instagram. It can be a minefield of how often to post and what hashtags you should use.
In this blog post, we create a bit of an Instagram 101 around the more frequent questions we get asked.

For businesses, Instagram, unlike Facebook (in most cases nowadays), still offers great opportunities for organic growth and brand awareness.

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1.How often should I post?

Posting 1-2 times per day is key if you want to actively grow your account. The sweet spot for most accounts is about once per day.

However, consistency is the most important as it’s what the algorithm rewards. So if you feel you can only manage every other day, that’s fine, just make sure you try to stick to what you have planned. 

2. Do I need to do Stories too?

YES! The importance of Stories really can’t be stressed enough. It will get your brand noticed more readily and is a great way of showing different sides of your business. Maybe you want to show your customers a bit more behind the scenes stuff? Stories is a great place to do that. Plus it’s another opportunity to use hashtags and geotag your brand.


3. But shouldn’t I have loads more followers than accounts I follow?

We’ve heard this a number of times and yes, it’s great if you have thousands of followers and only follow a couple of hundred. But initially to get your brand out, you need to be out there liking other people’s posts and following them if they seem like they are going to be pushing great content that is of interest to you. 

So follow those accounts you want to and don’t clog up your feed with those accounts that don’t provide any value.


4. What about engaging with others?

There’s one word which is super important in the success of your Insta life and that is ‘engagement’! Instagram is a sociable community and works best when you are engaging with your followers, other accounts and discovering new people. Spending at least 20 minutes a day liking and commenting on other people’s content is so important.


5. Can I repost other people’s content?

Yes, most people are happy to have others post their content (and get their name out) as long you give them a heads up first or use their account handle in the repost tag. As most Instagram posts are original content, it’s only fair.


6. Help! Hashtags?

Hashtags are one of the most integral parts of Instagram. They are what you can use in the caption of your posts to get your content in front of the right audiences - and new audiences.

Instagram currently allows you to use up to 30 per post and although there is always a lot of debate about what the right number is to use, you have up to 30, so use what you feel you need to.

It’s important to use a variation of hashtags which cover ones relative to your brand (and you may develop your own brand specific ones, especially for campaigns), ones that are industry relative and ones that are product or image specific.

It’s also important to consider how broadly used your hashtags are. #love for example will have been used millions or maybe even billions of times on posts so your post will be emerged within all these posts and be less discoverable. #lovewinseverytime on the other hand, will have been used far, far less.

It’s super important to make sure you use hashtags that are widely and not so widely used.


7. What about scheduling tools? 

Scheduling tools - i.e. software that you can use to plan and automate your posts can be a godsend with Instagram. 

And Instagram specific scheduling tools are great because they usually have the capability of showing you a grid preview of the posts you are planning to publish. We love Later!

Instagram, because of it’s nature of displaying lots of visuals, naturally requires more effort aesthetically than other platforms so scheduling tools like we mention above can really help.

And on that note, a final word on content. Your Instagram content should be of a good quality. Poor quality images are just not going to cut it if you want to nail success.

8. How can I grow my followers?

Probably the number 1 question! And the answer is quite straight forward:

Post great content regularly, create daily Stories, engage lots with your followers and with other accounts, discover new accounts, make use of hashtags and consider post promotion to push your content in front of people you might not otherwise reach. 

Most importantly, we’d definitely advise against buying followers. They won’t be your fans and in some cases will just be fake accounts.

If you’d like help with your Instagram or have any further questions, get in touch. We’d love to help!

Social Media Strategy and the importance of objective setting

Social media is really important nowadays and it's crucially important for your business in today's society. But beginning on your social media journey as a business can be daunting and often confusing, there are so many platforms with so many options. It can be difficult to know where to start.

So, when thinking about building a social media strategy or creating a campaign, it’s best to start at the beginning and that means thinking about what your objective is. Most businesses will agree that they want to increase awareness of their brand and thus increase sales - and yes, that is pretty much the end game for everyone isn’t it? But it’s not quite as simple as that.

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Start-ups and those businesses that have neglected their social channels or simply haven’t known how to get started will mostly likely need to begin with the objective of Brand Awareness. They will want to build up a loyal and engaged following.

Increasing your brand awareness means getting your business name and product/service in front of as many people as possible, in an ‘on brand’, consistent manner across the most relevant social channels. Once this has started, your business can then concentrate on showing the audience what you offer and why they might want to buy from you as opposed to your competitors.       

Key metrics that will be measured during a brand awareness campaign or over the course of a strategy are things like follower numbers, reach and post engagement (so likes, comments and shares). These should all increase if you have a well thought out social media plan.

Businesses that have already got the word out successfully will be able to move onto the next objective of Building an Engaged Community.

This means interacting with your target customers and engaging them. They will be interested in what you are posting and will want to like and comment on your content. They may share your content with their followers. You will be having online conversations with them, answering questions, providing information and generally building trust and a good relationship. 

Engaged customers are customers that are listening to you and interested in what you are saying, and ultimately, are ready to buy from you. Perfect! 

Key metrics to measure would include the average engagement rate, engagement interactions and increases in follower numbers.

Driving Website Traffic is the third main objective that pretty much all businesses want. But it doesn’t usually happen without successfully achieving the preceding two stages mentioned above. Customers need encouragement and a reason to visit a business’s website; if they are fully engaged then they are likely to go ahead and visit the site where hopefully there will be a conversion.

Key metrics to measure in this case would be an increase in click throughs, increases in social shares (shares, RT’s etc.) and social media referral traffic. However, not all businesses work the same and this might not be possible.

So another objective that your business might find itself working towards is Email Sign-ups.

In the same way that a business’s target customers need to be aware of the brand and engaging with it’s content efforts before they potentially convert, so a business driving email sign-ups will need to have done the ground work with brand awareness and building engagement before they can expect people to start signing up to their products or services.

Being able to collect emails is valuable and presents another opportunity to be a step closer to a sale. However, a customer is not going to just sign up without knowing who you are, what you stand for and reasons for buying your product or service over your competitors.

The customer will also need to be incentivised to hand over their email address so you need to be in the right point in your journey to make this your objective and be really successful.

So as you can see, choosing the right objective to base your strategy or campaign on, is really important. It affects a number of elements in your planning, and essentially the outcome.

A professional social media manager will have the knowledge and experience to know which objective and goals your business should be setting and how to best achieve them.

Finding my new working life via Digital Mums

You know when you have a Sky Box Sets email in your Inbox asking “Where have you gone?”, things have changed. Thankfully for the better.

I did read somewhere pre-course that Netflix (or the like) might take a hit and actually, most non-essential stuff did. As a stay at home mum, I knew I’d go back to work at some point and so had sort of parked it all and if I’m honest, I’d mostly been ignoring the fact that one day soon, I’d need to find a job.

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Last Summer and just under 7 years after having my son and leaving my last job as a contracted Marketing Project Manager, I suddenly began feeling the need to address the situation. But how?!

My daughter was turning 2 and I felt at a bit of a loss at how I could turn all the knowledge and experience I had gained over the last 18 years into something. Something current, something exciting, something that worked. Which was half the problem; the chances that I was going to find a good, well paid job near where I lived and which allowed me to pick up my kids from school and work flexibly over the school holidays was becoming something similar to finding the holy grail. Did it even exist? How did people do it? I was perplexed…and fascinated all at once.

It turns out most of the time, the answer is ‘with difficulty’.

I was also lacking confidence. “I think I could do that…” was the thought process when looking for jobs. Deep down, I knew I could do it but my confidence had nose-dived and left me feeling, well, pretty unsure.

Then one Sunday when we were having lunch with friends, I was discussing with one of them the confidence issues of returning to work after a bit of a break — actually he was male and had been travelling for some time and then managing his portfolio of flats before he returned to the workplace — but nevertheless, we felt the same.

It was then he told me about a digital company that he’d read about in a paper that re-trains mums to be social media managers. I was intrigued and as soon as I got home I set about Googling it.

Sure enough, this company sounded to good to be true. They talked about all the issues that so hugely resonated with me.

I emailed Digital Mums very shortly after to discuss the courses on offer and it was a further few months before I decided to sign up, starting the course in January 2017.

At the start of the course, we were emailed all the relevant information about accessing the online learning platform and told the names of the other 4 mums that would form our ‘peer group’.

My group aptly named ‘Martha Lane Fox’ was a diverse and fun group of women varying in ages, job experience and family life stages — different but all, as I learnt, caring and supportive people. And it is these people that become your support and learning network in a way that you might not have realised is possible.

I found the course itself hugely enjoyable and immersed myself in all the vast learning that we received through each week’s lessons. Working with a real client — the ‘programme partner’ and being able to apply my learning in real time was great experience, if sometimes slightly stressful and in the beginning, just plain scary! However, I need not have worried too much, my programme partner who had a successful wedding planning business was great and to her credit, fully accommodated the requirements of the course.

My campaign for the business, which was executed across Facebook and Instagram and which aimed to increase brand awareness was a success and I can happily now say that I enjoy the world of insights and weekly reporting on data (believe me, I didn’t know this was possible either).

During the campaign, I even had a couple of short holidays booked so although it panicked me a little, it was a great way of testing #workthatworks .

And it did work. I can confirm sitting on a beach on a small Caribbean island is the perfect place to work.

If I was asked what the most challenging aspect was, I’d have to say time.Learning to do this social stuff within the realms of a young family is challenging but the course continued to give and over the last 7 months, I have learnt how to fit many more things into my time and life than ever before — and importantly, still enjoy it.

So now, a few days after having handed in my final assignment, I find myself entering a new world of exciting possibilities.

Already, there are a number of opportunities that have presented themselves and everywhere I seem to turn, someone wants to know ‘how can I get more followers?’ or ‘what platform should I be on?’…

And thanks to Digital Mums, I now have an answer for them.

My next steps are going to be getting to grips with the world of freelancing but the best bit? That will be doing it alongside all the fab mums that have completed the course too and are now part of the DM Collective, the community that Digital Mums are building as part of their mission to change the way we work in the 21st Century.