When building your brand on Instagram, bear in mind these 5 key points:
Target your audience: who is your demographic? Post content they can relate to and enjoy through your images, and connect with them through your captions. Be sure to respond to their comments and check out their accounts too!
Be consistent: if you're posting cheery colourful images, don't suddenly post a dimly lit photo of your half-eaten kebab on a Saturday night out. While your account will evolve over time, try to keep it on-brand and considered. Popular Instagram accounts usually have a distinct, cohesive look and feel, and people should recognise your brand aesthetic across all of your online profiles.
Tell your story: tell the authentic story of your brand through imagery and captions. What's happening behind the scenes? Post work-in-progress images, macro images to show detail, how your products look in different settings, your creative lifestyle, studio, customer appreciation pics, your muse (cat), etc.
Be organised: make a plan or keep a calendar of upcoming events and occasions that are relevant to your brand. Post about these, with the addition of any daily or weekly opportunities to post such as #caturday, #throwbackthursday, #mondaymotivation, etc.
Convert your brand account to an Instagram Business profile. This will enable you to add extra business information and contact details to your profile, plus have access to Instagram Insights (top right of your screen). Insights provide simple, useful data about your follower demographic, follower engagement, etc.
Additional points to consider:
- According to research from Buffer, the magic number of hashtags to use on Instagram for highest interactions is 11+.
- You can post hashtags in a comment on your own post immediately after your image uploads to make your post look neater and less spammy, though the longer it takes to post the comment, the lower down your image will appear in the hashtag lists (in order of recency). I recommend having lists of relevant hashtags saved in your phone to copy/paste in a comment immediately after uploading your image.
- Use a variety of different types of hashtags - be broad, and be niche.
- Research translations of popular hashtags to expand your audience to other countries, e.g. #blackandwhite #blancoynegro #noiretblanc.
- Look at the hashtags your peers are using for ideas.
- When clicking through a hashtag, note the 'related hashtag' suggestions at the top of your screen for more ideas.
- Look for local hashtags that are relevant to your posts e.g. #londonmakers, and add your city/area using the location feature.
- Post at optimal times. Discover popular days and times that your followers are most active by using Instagram Insights (with your free business profile). Bear in mind that Instagram's algorithm does not show images in chronological order anymore. The insights may reflect when your followers are online in general which can be useful!
- Use hashtags according to upcoming events and occasions if your posts are relevant, e.g. selling Valentine's cards.
- Use words that you use to describe your products elsewhere or to other people, such as the materials, methods, uses, the mood, etc.
- Avoid ugly filters. VSCO app has some lovely free image filters (when used effectively), but Instagram filters are usually best used in (extreme) moderation. Brightness, contrast, temperature, and fade are the good tools, but natural light is your best friend. If in doubt, leave it out!
- If you're promoting products/services in your posts, be sure to have a link to your shop/website in your bio. Don't make other people do the detective work. I have given up trying to find the online shops of some sellers I've wanted to buy from in the past. Don't lose those sales!
- Never ever ever (this is a bugbear of mine, can you tell?) EVER post a link to one of your Instagram photos on a Twitter post without an image. Tweets with an Instagram link receive 52% fewer retweets (according to Buffer).
I've listed hashtag suggestions from several creative categories for those needing a head start. Some of the hashtags cross over categories, so have a good rummage through the lists below and pick any that are useful to you. If you have any to add, please pop them in the comments so I can update my lists!