From The BlogIt's Time to Join Instagram
The social network is still growing, even at 1 billion monthly users.
And, in our opinion, it’s one of the most intuitive and user friendly forms of social media. So if you’re looking to dip your toe into this world, Instagram is a good place to start. The benefits are staggering, and it’s a lot of fun once you get to know the ins and outs.
We’re dedicating this blog posts not to the benefits of Instagram (although we may write another post about that later), but to the basics of it. What’s it about, what are the rules, how to make an effective first impression, and how to navigate it.
With any luck, you’ll start to reap the rewards of Instagram and love it as much as we do!
Let’s Get Started
Setting up Your Profile
First, you need to sign up for an account. This is a pretty painless process, simply follow the steps. The one thing you want to watch out for is your username. You want this to be the name of your business, and match the usernames of your other social media profiles as closely as possible. If your username is already taken, you can add puntuation, like an underscore, or something along those lines. But only do this if necessary. Keep it simple as much as you can!
Next, you’re going to need an avatar (profile picture). This should be your logo, or a picture of yourself if your image is part of your brand. As the video above mentions, it should be 100x110 pixels. Please make sure it’s sized correctly – nothing says amateur like a fuzzy or improperly cropped photo.
You will also need to create a (very short) bio. This part of your profils is really important. It’s where you tell your audience what you do, and what you can do for them. And you’ve got a character limit. Think this one through carefully. What makes your business unique? What’s your experience? Why should people choose to follow you? What can you help them do? This article from Falcon is a great primer on how to write a catchy, effective bio that will encourage people to stick around.
Finally, there is also a spot to put your web address in your bio (or any other link you want). This is more important than you might think, because it’s pretty much the only place Instagram allows links (this is changing a bit in the Stories, but more on that later). You can’t put useable links in your captions, for example. (You may have come across some captions with the line “Link in the bio”. They literally mean the link they want you to click on is in their bio).
How Instagram Works
Unlike other social platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, on Instagram you MUST upload a photo. Traditionally, it’s a square photo, but in recent years, IG has expanded to allow different dimensions. Once you’ve selected a photo from you’re phone’s camera (click the + icon at the bottom of the app), you can then choose a filter for your photo. Each of the filters on IG has a different flavour or feel to it. For the overall look and branding of your profile, it’s smart to pick one or two filters, and then apply them to all your photos. Don’t be tempted to switch them up all the time.
Now you’ve selected the image you want, and the filters you’ll use, it’s time to think of a caption. Instagram allows you lots of leeway in terms of caption size, so feel free to use it! Obviously your caption should tie in with you’re photo somehow. Your caption should be just as on brand with the rest of your company, messaging and other social profiles. We will say however, IG has a very conversational tone to it overall, so don’t be afraid to relax a little with your writing. Try incorporating some humour if possible.
There’s tons of different content you could use on IG to showcase your business (in a lot of ways, it’s similar to the types of content you would post to Facebook). Think of doing things like “behind-the-scenes” shots, or showing off you pet. Maybe you have advice about the best way to arrange fall flowers if your a florist (share your knowledge! People love it!). Use some inspirational quotes to mix it up once in a while. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our blog on fresh content ideas.
While we’re on the caption topic, this is where you need to include hashtags. Hashtags are how content is grouped and made searchable by Instagram. You’re allowed to use up to thirty, and it means your content will be seen by people who don’t follow you (so they can discover your awesome feed! How cool!). Need a refresher on #hashtags? We’ve got you covered. You can also do some hashtag searching of your own, through the Discover page. Click on the little magnifying glass on the bottome of the screen. Then just search for different hashtags, topics, or people. Definitely start following other accounts as soon as possible. It’s fun, and it’s also a great way to see how others are using IG to their advantage. You’ll be addicted in no time, just like the rest of us.
This is just a very, very small fraction of the Instagram world. There is so much to discover on this platform, and we’ll be writing about it again soon!
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