Let’s just start by saying I hate taking pictures.
I’ve never been the person who is like, “wait, we have to take a picture” during every occasion.
I also don’t think I’m photogenic.
Andddd, I like to keep my private life private.
Even though I’m crazy active on Instagram, you’ll never see me post the intimate parts of my life.
Howeverrrr… I LOVE me some Instagram.
Compared to any other platform, Instagram is simple, focused and created to connect people.
Now before you skip past all of this to the tips, I want you to remember something super important…
Your following doesn’t matter if your audience isn’t engaged.
That means they should look forward to hearing from you, respond to your posts and be excited to see what you’re up to.
You should become their new addiction.
Just remember, this isn’t a magic pill where you’re going to scroll through this blog post and your following is going to magically start skyrocketing.
Consistency is a big part of it so if you hate Instagram, don’t use it…
Pick the platform you actually like and spend your time there.
Edit Your Profile
First things first, no matter what you do, if your profile and feed are a hot mess, people will click away faster than you can say ‘selfie’.
When someone taps on over to your page, they should be able to tell within 3 seconds what you’re about.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what my Instagram looks like:
All of these little hacks make the difference between someone scrolling past my name and someone going, “oh, who’s she?”
Oh, and I feel like this should go without saying but I’m going to say it anyways…
If you’re planning to use your Instagram for business and to grow your account, your account needs to be public.
Let’s break these down:
Use a photo of yourself, not your logo.
Think about it this way… We get 5,000 sales messages a day so why would someone want to sign up to get more commercials? They don’t.
That’s why people want to connect with people, not businesses.
Ahem, even if your target audience is businesses,
BUSINESSES DON’T SCROLL THROUGH INSTAGRAM… PEOPLE DO!
(I didn’t mean to yell at you but I had to make my point!)
They want to know you, so use your own photo.
Make sure your picture is a headshot instead of a full body shot.
Headshots are easier to recognize while full body shots are hard to see your face so you’re losing the connection right away.
This my friend, is valuable real estate (no pun intended).
If you use Instagram stories and have looked at who’s watched your stories, I’m willing to bet you’re most drawn to the people whose names have context attached to it.
Mine is “Alexa | Real Estate + Goals” so they automatically know what I talk about when they see my name come up.
Just a tip, be specific.
Don’t just say “Empowerment” or “Growth”, say “Business Coach”.
Don’t say “I lift heavy shit”, say “Vegan Fitness”.
Attach it to something concrete so they know what to expect and are compelled to click over to your account.
Plus, you’re more likely to show up in search results.
If you don’t know what to use, use the search feature in Instagram to see what tags are the most popular and start there and then narrow down to your own little niche.
Here’s where MOST people go wrong.
Your bio should reinforce your name descriptor by telling them why THEY should follow you.
The key to getting social media to work for you is to focus on how you make people feel.
If you control their feelings, you can control their actions.
It sounds manipulative but it’s not… It’s just leveraging psychology by focusing on what THEY want.
What should they expect to see or learn by hitting the follow button on your page?
Focus on being clear over being clever and stay away from distractions.
If your bio talks about EVERYTHING that you’re into, you’ll lose them.
Your bio, name and the captions on your posts should all serve the same purpose with zero distractions.
Instead of “doggy mom, married to @hubbysname and super into fitness. Oh, and I do ___ for a living”, your bio should be focused on the type of people you want to attract.
A quick way to do this is, “I help ____ by ___”.
As an extra bonus, tell them where you’re from because the people who are from near you will automatically feel more connected to you because of the commonality and you’ll give more context to your posts.
You might see linktr.ee links everywhere and there’s a good reason for it…
If you have a few action items you want them to do, use it.
HOWEVER, do not just send them to your home page and social media accounts because that’s a waste of a link.
Every link should give them an action item like downloading a freebie in exchange for their email, searching properties, booking an appointment, etc.
If you only have ONE page that’s an action item, even better… Use that one link.
If you have two or more that are ACTIONABLE, that’s when you use linktr.ee.
Whatever you do, don’t just add a bunch of crap in there because you want them to click or you’ll lose them.
This is the only link you can have on Instagram, so be strategic and make sure that you take away every possible distraction.
I loveeeeee me some Instagram highlights.
Story highlights are the best way to showcase your “evergreen” content (the content that never goes out of style).
Let’s say for example, you’re a professional organizer…
You might have a story highlight called “DIY” which is a bunch of little blurbs about how they can organize their own space.
Then, you might have other highlights called “Before and After”, “Kitchens”, “Offices”, “Kids Rooms”, etc.
Taking it a step further, you can do “FAQ” highlights, one about how you got into the business and another about your favorite type of organizing bins and containers.
By showing off content like this, you’re further solidifying your expertise in your new followers mind.
Remember, you want to become their new addiction, so give ’em something to binge on.
When they follow you, they’re looking to get to know you better, so take advantage of it.
Use Beautiful Imagery That Matches A Theme
Play along with me for a second…
When you see the room on the left, what do you think of it?
Feels like something you’d probably see at your grandparents house, right?
What about the room on the right?
It feels different, doesn’t it?
It’s the same room but you get a totally different vibe.
That, my friend, is exactly why your Instagram has to have a theme.
A theme will catch their attention and get them to click follow… The actual content and captions will get them to like and respond.
Here’s what my Instagram looked like before I implemented a theme:
You can probably tell that I sell real estate, but you’ll probably go “meh, she’s just another annoying realtor” and this is just her personal page.
Here’s my Instagram now:
You can still tell that I sell real estate, but there’s a different “mood” to it.
It’s strategic even though it’s not just real estate… There’s some stuff about our local area and you get to know me a little too.
It looks more refined.
It took me a longggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg time to figure out how to pull a theme together (and if you scroll back through my feed, you’ll see the evolution). By no means am I an expert at this but I’ve
gotten wayyyy better.
So, I’m going to give you a couple of quick tips that have made it a million times easier for me:
Choose your colors
The first step to having an Instagram theme is to start off by choosing your colors.
Pick two colors and a base like black or white.
I chose neutrals (browns) with turquoise and I use black as a base color.
You might choose to do the complete opposite and go for something super, crazy bright.
Here’s a perfect example of that:
This is Latasha Peterson whose an entrepreneur and blog coach whose branding is all super bright colors:
The colors and vibe of the pictures should match your branding.
Get in the habit of taking more, better pictures
I told you in the beginning that I’m not naturally a picture-y person.
I don’t like taking pictures but I was committed to having a good looking Instagram because I knew how much income potential there was here.
Every picture doesn’t need to be a selfie or of just you.
Take detail shots up close and take full picture scenery shots.
Whatever you do, take lots of pictures… and for the love of God, please wipe off your camera before you take the picture and tap the screen so it focuses on the thing you’re trying to focus on.
As you’re taking pictures, keep lighting in mind.
Don’t take pictures with your back to the sun (or better lighting than the lighting you’re standing in) or the picture will wash out… Face the lighting and you’ll be amazed how quickly the picture quality changes.
Focus on one thing in the picture.
Your feed will look way less cluttered with the less stuff you have in your pictures, so choose a focus element in the picture and leave space around the image to give your pictures a buffer in Instagram.
As a general rule of thumb, try to limit it to 20% or less of stock photos and 80% original content.
At this point, I don’t really use stock images anymore because I’m so picky about the pictures I post.
Editing and Planning
Lastly, this is the hard part when you first start out but I PROMISE it does get easier.
I used to get SO frustrated while I was trying to put my feed together that I’d literally walk away from my computer and never get back to it.
Just keep in mind that you WILL get better and any effort you put into it now will look better than what you’re probably already doing.
It’s a process.
To edit and plan your images, go download my two favorite Instagram apps…