Over the past several weeks I’ve been talking a lot about Instagram and how you can get more out of the platform. I talked about how to create a great first impression, encouraging your audience to actually click over to your website, and last week I officially launched the brand new Instagram templates in the shop.
But there’s one thing that I often found myself asking in the past when it comes to Instagram (and really all social media platforms), and that is simple: what are the top things I need to do every week to keep momentum going – to get visible and continue to grow my business – on this platform?
Although I’m not a social media strategist, I’ve come up with four things that I think we should all be doing every single week to help us accomplish our goals, and I’m going to share those with you today!
1 | Post to Instagram Stories
I know the original feed on Instagram is still alive and well, but over the past year I’ve noticed so many people transition their strategies to being primarily focused on Instagram stories. Why? Because that’s where everyone is hanging out. As of January 2019, Instagram themselves shared that 500+ million people are using stories in one way or another every single day. Considering there’s 1+ billion accounts on the platform, that means it’s safe to guess that (at least) 50% of your audience is viewing stories, so why not put an emphasis there throughout the week?
The one caveat I do want to say here, though, is that the algorithm still applies to stories. So if your audience isn’t engaging with the posts in the feed, they may not engage or take action on your stories, especially if they’re following a lot of people. So if you’ve had a sort of stagnant account, this is your chance to work on posting regularly to just show up and get yourself in front of your audience again.
What are some things you can post on stories?
I’m glad you asked! As a viewer myself, one of my favorite things to see is behind the scenes and personal peeks into the lives of people that I’m following. It’s so much fun to follow along while someone’s working on a new product or client project. I also think it’s neat to see what a typical day looks like for other people.
However, you shouldn’t only post personal and behind the scenes stuff. If roughly half of your audience is viewing your stories, this is a great place to also share about your work. Promote your latest project. Share a tip from your latest piece of content. Show off your latest product launch. Just make sure that you’re balancing this promotional content out with everything else.
2 | Respond to comments + DMs
Want to know how you beat the algorithm? I have the secret… it’s engagement. If you want Instagram to prioritize your content and show it to more people, then you want to get your followers engaged with your account. That not only means getting them to leave a comment or send a message, but also actually taking the time yourself to respond to people.
This type of engagement tells Instagram to prioritize your content, and it encourages more people to join in on the conversation. People naturally want to be clued in to what everyone is talking about and they also want to share their thoughts and opinions. I mean, they launched the new chat feature for a reason, right?
Engagement on your account also helps you build relationships with your audience, which is incredibly important if you ever want to book projects or make sales through your account. It shows your followers that you actually care about them and want to connect. It builds trust. Over time the more you connect with someone the more likely they’re going to be to buy from / work with you when they’re ready to invest their money!
3 | Connect with other business owners
Just as it’s important to connect with your followers, it’s also important to connect with other business owners on Instagram. You’re likely already doing this, especially if you follow your friends, but it’s always great to expand your network and get to know people beyond your inner circle.
Start by simply sending DMs and leaving comments on posts of the people you’re already following. If you’re anything like me, you might have found yourself following people that you don’t interact with much and now you just don’t really remember much about them. You should unfollow them if you don’t jive well with them and their content, but if you want to connect then take the time to start actually building a relationship. Respond to their Instagram stories beyond just participating in a poll here and there. Leave a comment on their latest post.
But how can you use Instagram to meet new people?
Aside from connecting with people already on your radar, I love going outside of the people I already follow and engaging with other accounts. You can do this in a few ways. First, the explore page is great! This is because Instagram is populating that page with content similar to what you already like to see and engage with. So it’s worth taking some time to check it out and see who’s popping up there.
You can also use those handy little hashtags that we all like to use on our posts to meet new people. Check out a hashtag that you use frequently and respond to some of the comments on the posts under that. Look at profiles and follow new people. You can also follow hashtags as a great way to continue to stay engaged with new people and start to build relationships.
The last thing I want to say here is that it doesn’t take long to engage with other people. So if you’re reading this tip and thinking “I just don’t have the time for that!!” consider spending just a couple of minutes per day engaging with other people. Use time that you’re already looking on Instagram so that it’s extra productive for your business.
4 | Plan your content for the following week
Last but not least, if you’re not a long term planner, then it’s a great idea to sit down once a week and plan out what you’re going to post over the next week. This is especially important if you struggle with consistency and find yourself having to create posts at the last minute.
I’ve been doing this for several months now as a way to show up more consistently, and I can tell you without a doubt that my engagement and my followers are both up from when I was barely managing to show up every week.
I know everyone has their favorite tool for this, and I’ve tried lots of them. My favorite, and the one I always come back to, is Planoly. I love how easy it is to upload my content, move things around, and get it scheduled. They make it easy to save your hashtags, which helps me remember to change them up on my posts. I also love that they keep track of analytics for a long time. I can go all the way back to this time last year in my account to see what I was posting and what kind of engagement those posts were getting. That’s amazing!
I will say the one thing that I want to try over the next couple of weeks and months is planning out my stories a little bit. This obviously should be a place where you post things a little more on the fly, but I sometimes forget to post anything until it’s too late.
Growing your Instagram account may seem impossible at times, but when you consistently show up and connect with other people you’ll see that growth you want.
So, here’s my challenge to you – head on over to Instagram and send me a DM with one thing that you’ll be adding to your to do list based on my tips above!