Social media can be a powerful marketing tool for any business and better yet, aside from your time, it's free so everyone can afford it. I'm a huge supporter of using Facebook and Instagram to help promote my business but as with everything when putting yourself out into the world, it's really important that you represent yourself well.
I've been asked quite a lot lately about how to tackle Instagram so I put together a few bullet points with the things I try to bare in mind as a general overview of the platform and how I feel it works best for me -
- What are you trying to say? what are you selling, promoting or expressing in that one image?
- Brand ethos, following the above point, does whatever you're saying in this one post fit with your whole ethos and brand values of your business? It really ought to as ultimately this is a platform for your business to help raise awareness and promote your fine work.
- Pick a theme and go with it, if you're business is a bit moody and atmospheric then you can use loads of fabulous dark wood backgrounds. Light and bright is probably the most common and that's because it works really well. Whatever you go for, follow it through on the whole feed and it'll work well cohesively.
- Photography is key, obviously. Check the clarity and composition of your images, make sure each one is great or at least tells the story you want it to.
- Have a mooch around, I spend ages looking at other people images and considering why they're successful then building my own images and ideas on that. Do they work because of the colours, composition, description, layout, textures, lines etc etc.
- Say 'Hello' Just like with other platforms, interaction is key. Chat to other people, if someone posts a picture you like, tell them. Just like in the real world, It's about being friendly.
- Keep It Regular, however many time you decide to post a week is up to you (I try for every day to keep up engagement and add new content) but make sure you keep it regular and try to stick to it.
- Afterlight is a great app that I love to use for all my photo editing, its about 80p and totally worth it. When you're trying to create a cohesive feed it’s best to find a limited number of filters that work best for you and then use them all the time to keep a consistency in your photos. There's plenty of other Apps available like VSCOM and ColorStory so have a play around!
- Tell a story! Great advice that I was given by an expert and it makes total sense doesn't it? Your feed is all about your business and the story behind that, the challenges you face, and a glimpse behind the scenes. Instagram challenges like the previous #MarchMeetTheMaker help generate ideas and also give you a real sense of community.
- Don't be pushy but be clear, it’s more about the lifestyle than the hard sell, it’s less ‘this is my product, buy it’ and more about showcasing the fabulous life you lead making, enjoying and generally surrounded by all these products. If someone looks at your feel, they need to know instantly what you do.
- The deal with Personal pictures; I use my business account purely for business and not to share 'what I did at the weekend’. If it makes sense to your brand image/story and looks good then sure, share an occasional snippet - sometimes I share a picture of me at an event or a shot of the dog or my breakfast if it's particularly photogenic and relevant to what i'm talking about that day, but if it’s just like ‘here’s my sister at a BBQ’ it doesn’t really fit in - I know that’s a bit brutal and of course you don’t have to listen to me but if you are purely using it for business purposes then the other stuff is great for your personal account instead.
- Hashtags help build your audience to begin with. They are basically search words and are how people find your images. Just tag anything that’s relevant to the image and things you think people might search to find an image like that (what keywords would they type into the google search bar?) . You can always search a hashtag on instagram and see which other ones it suggests. i.e. if I search #knitting then it may suggest #knit #knittersofinstagram etc. I always do mine in a separate comment after the post because I think it looks neater.
- Words matter, whatever you're trying to say with your image, help it along with the description. It's important to really demonstrate what you're brands all about in words swell as with each beautiful image.
- Final point to remember, IG is all about selling a lifestyle. No-ones life is really that great or that pretty so don't beat yourself up if you don't gather fruit from the hedgerows for your family breakfast each weekend, just because someone else does (apparently). It's a wonderful platform for sharing beautiful styling and products and to be honest it's a great marketing tool if like me, you're trying to sell that too. But don't take it too seriously! I certainly don't wake up smiling every morning but hopefully according to my IG feed you'd never know it ;)
That really is an overview of how I consider IG to work best for me and the thought process behind posting an image. In the next month or so I will share the goings on behind taking the photos themselves. I hope it helps!