Business

Instagram 101 – Intro To Instagram

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Why You Should Have An Instagram Account

It’s no secret that social media is a great way to stay connected to a variety of communities.  A platform like Instagram allows you to have a visual presence in the online world, and engage with other like-minded people.  You can meet new friends, share ideas and learn new techniques, showcase your projects, and even sew along together.  I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve added to my ‘must make’ list thanks to Instagram!

For small business owners, Instagram is fantastic to build your brand network.  You can connect and engage with potential customers, showcase your products, and many small businesses even use Instagram as their primary selling platform.  In a time where branding is key, Instagram provides an opportunity for people to connect and see who you are as a company.

A note about public vs. private Instagram accounts: if your account is public, anyone can follow and engage with your content.  Some people prefer to keep their account set to ‘private’ to prevent strangers from viewing their content.  If you are posting personal information that you’d rather keep to friends-and-family-only, consider opening a second account for public posts instead.  All you need is a second email address, and then you can easily switch back and forth between accounts!

I’m not going to sugar-coat it.  True, genuine Instagram reach can take a few months to develop.  If you’re wanting to use Instagram to build your small business brand, start as soon as you know your brand name.  Heck, start BEFORE you know your brand name, and make finding the name part of your content!  But start as early as possible, so that when you’re finally ready to unleash your business.. you already have a following.

Putting Together Your Profile 

What does your Instagram profile say about you?  First impressions are everything – what you say in your bio (and what your profile feed looks like) will inspire potential followers to either click ‘Follow’… or move on to other accounts.

When choosing a username, choose one that reflects your brand and personality.  Many Instagrammers have been following a trend of using their real name as a username, since people tend to prefer authenticity in an online world.  You can change your username and profile information any time, but remember that your username is how people identify you… so changing it too often may lead to confusion.

Next, tailor your bio text to your target audience.  Identify who you are, what it is you want to accomplish… and then tell people about it! Are you passionate about life coaching? “Helping people achieve their goals in a one-on-one format.”  Are you an antiques nerd? “Follow along while I scour the country for some great finds!” I’m running out of examples, so I hope you get the idea.

Keep it short and concise – you only get 150 characters to get your point across, and people will probably only read about 2/3 of them.  Consider using emoji’s to save space, but keep them relevant and easy to understand.

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A quick glance at my Insta profile will tell you all about me. 

Looking at my profile: 
– My username is a reflection of my brand name, and what my account is about.
– My profile is short and concise, and includes a Call To Action (‘Follow me…’)
– I’ve included my location demographic, since it’s a large part of my narrative throughout my captions.
– Quick, one-word descriptions of my hobbies that may be a focus of my posts.  These descriptors also inspire like-minded people to connect.
– My pronouns (she/her)*
– My website is linked so people can access it.  (Eventually I’ll have enough content to make a ‘Link in Bio’ worth it)
– My Top 9 photos are bright and engaging.  We’ll talk more about photos next week!
– I need to charge my phone.

Also, my profile picture is clear, easy to see (you don’t have to squint to figure out what it is) and reflects my brand.  Consider using a (good!) selfie, a photo of a project you’re proud of, or your brand’s logo.  This image will be all over Insta alongside your username, and can help other people recognize and remember you.

*A note on pronouns: you obviously don’t have to include them if you don’t want to.  I won’t launch into a lengthy discussion of the dire need for LGBTQ+ ally-ship on social media, but just know that by including pronouns, it helps normalize them across social media and lets people know that your account is a safe space.  Please consider adding them to your profile to show solidarity and support.

The Importance Of  Genuine Connection

My profile is not the gold standard.  In fact, it felt very strange putting it up as an example because I’m my own worst critic and every part of me is thinking that you’re sitting there going “Pfft.  Her profile isn’t all that great.” (If you are thinking that… why on earth are you still reading this?!)

Let me say this loud and clear: THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA IS THAT YOU BE YOURSELF.  

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If you don’t understand this reference, I don’t know if we can be friends… 

People see straight through fake and excessive self-promotion.  Don’t beg for followers or likes.  Don’t steal other peoples’ content and repost it as your own.  Don’t create an elaborate persona just because you think it’s what other people want.  Every one of those “strategies” will backfire, and won’t give you the result you’re looking for.  Even if they work for a while… followers and likes don’t lead to happiness.

Throughout all of this, be yourself and be true to who you are.  People will see that, and they’ll be attracted to it.  There are tips and tricks that can help you up your game, but ultimately the most important thing is that you are genuine and authentic in your self-expression.

Action leads to action, and you get out of it what you put into it!

(And can we appreciate the irony in me writing this while Instagram is currently experiencing an outage? 😂)

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