6 Tips to Improve Your Instagram Game

So, you’ve decided to dive head first into Instagram. Perhaps you just want to share your talent with the world or perhaps want to build out your business by generating awareness and increasing website traffic and revenue. But sharing posts of your beautiful artworks, photographs and products is only half the battle.

At this point you might be wondering, who the heck am I and why am I giving tips about Instagram. Well most of you probably aren’t aware, but by day I’m a marketing director that specializes in content creation and social media. I also specialize in making awesome gifs… of myself… but that’s for another day.

What may surprise you (because it surprises me) is that until very recently I didn’t apply my many years of marketing experience to my own brand. You might be wondering why, and the only logical answer I have is that when you spend 8-10 hours a day marketing for other brands you kind of want to call it quits when you get home.

It took me 3 years to realize that was ridiculous, and that if I am serious about building my art gallery I need to invest the time. So, I did and the difference it made was significant. Since March 1st  2017, the day I put my new Instagram strategy in play, I have quadrupled my website traffic, increased sales by 75% and went from 700 followers to over 8000.

So, how can you rev up your brand, increase your exposure and drive sales? Here are 6 tips to improve your Instagram game.  

1. Do your research

First things first, do your research. Instagram is a haven for great examples of social media marketing. Check out what successful people in your niche are doing. Look to see how often they’re posting and what kind of content appears to resonate with their audience. You can even take a look at your favourite brands and see how you can apply their creative ideas to your own social strategy.  

It’s also very important (VERY!) to spend time researching hashtags. Hashtags can make or break your account and shouldn’t be overlooked. Make a list of the most popular hashtags in your niche. You can use the Instagram “Tag” search to see how many posts use each hashtag.

For example, #abstractart has 5,055,358 posts, but #abstracts only has 129,777. Always use tags with more traction and avoid using obscure tags unless it is a tag you’ve created to identify your own content – i.e. #courtseniorart.

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2. Trial and error

Social tactics that work well for one person or brand might not work well for you. That’s just the mystery of social media marketing. It’s important to test different techniques to figure out what works best for you. For example:

- Post at different hours and on various days of the week. Keep a log of your results.

- Write long form and short form content

- Switch up your hashtags

- Mix up the content – post videos, photos, stories, boomerangs etc.

And don’t forget to make use of Instagram analytics to see when your audience is most engaged and what content is gaining the most traction.

 

3. Create Quality Content

When I talk about quality content, I mean content that is captivating, adds value to your audience and that is also aesthetically pleasing.

Captivating Content - content grabs the attention of your audience and generates interest. For example, always include a caption with your posts. Consider going above a simple emoji and tell a story or a joke (if you think you’re funny…), explain why you’re posting this particular photo or video and what it means to you. Showcase your personality. Also, try to mix up your content. If you always post photos, post a video or a story.

Value-added content – create content that provides value to your audience. If you’re building a brand, that must mean you’re good something. Maybe it’s painting, photography or making hilarious t-shirts. Whatever your niche is, use your expertise to share tips or inspiration. Pose thoughtful questions to generate feedback. Consider doing Instagram exclusive promotions or contests to give your audience a little something extra.

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Aesthetics – Given that Instagram is the number one platform for sharing photos and videos you should really go the extra mile to ensure you’re always creating polished, interesting and beautiful content. Pick a style that best represents your work, consider lighting, mood and angles. There are also many tools you can use to edit your work for better results like Photoshop, Afterlight and VSCO, just to name a few.

 

4. Keep it Consistent

You’ve decided to ramp up your social media strategy. You’ve started to post great content and engage with your audience, and then you pull a Houdini. You’ve disappeared off the Instagram earth and no one has seen you for 3 weeks. You come back to discover that you’ve lost a bunch of followers and now you have to start all over again. I see this time and time again.

The key to social media success is to keep your strategy consistent. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to post 5 times a day every day for the rest of your life, but it does mean that you need to remain active and come up with a schedule that you feel comfortable with, that you can commit to and that will get you the results you’re looking for.

 

5. Focus on the RIGHT metrics

One of the key pieces of advice I give every brand is to NOT get wrapped up in the number of followers you have OR to compare the number of followers you have to someone else. Everyone has this misconception that what defines social media success is the number of followers you have, but this is only partially true.

Followers do not equal engagement. If followers aren’t engaging with you i.e. liking, sharing, commenting, visiting your website or purchasing products, then what is the point? The end game should be to build relationships with your followers not to rack up the numbers.

And don’t get caught up comparing your number of followers with others. Have you ever seen an Instagrammer with 100K+ followers, and thought “what the hell, how did they do that?” Well take a closer look. Many times, you’ll notice they receive very minimal interaction on their posts and that’s because they haven’t done a successful job at engaging their audience or because they used a service (and there are many out there) that increases their Instagram following automatically. So, don’t get discouraged!

 

6. Give a little love

Audience engagement is crucial to success. This includes building relationships with the people you follow (and even people you don’t) as well as the ones who follow you.

Make sure you take the time to like and comment on other people’s posts. Show a little love for all the other awesome and creative souls on social media. A little engagement goes a long way and will help you build your followers and drive traffic to your account.

And be sure to show your appreciation for all of the people who engage with you. Without them, your brand wouldn’t exist. Like and respond to their comments, give shout outs and answer their DMs when appropriate.

 

Wrapping Up

The foundation of a solid Instagram game is time. You need to dedicate at least a couple of hours a week to doing research, trying out new techniques and creating engaging, high quality content. You’ll be surprised at how just a few tweaks to your strategy can generate the awesome results you’re looking for.