Instagram for bloggers

Instagram Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

By Blazenka Harvey

When I first started on Instagram in 2013 there was no manual, or set of guidelines on how to post, what to post and when to post. (Well, if there was, I certainly didn't read them as I was having too much fun posting content)! They also had 500 million fewer users in 2013 than in 2017 ... crazy, huh!

However, if you want friends (not enemies) and real business prospects on Instagram, there are some written, and unwritten rules, we can follow. It’s what we would call basic Instagram etiquette.

Don't:
If you are going to use someone else's image, please ask them for permission or at the very least, be sure to tag the person / brand so that they know you are using their shot. Don't claim it as your own. Instagram even promote's this point in their Community Guidelines: "Share only photos and videos that you’ve taken or have the right to share." Besides it being illegal, it's just polite to ask someone to use his or her image.

Be careful with using third-party apps too unless you have permission from the user to repost their images. These apps make it easy to violate the Instagram Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, as well as infringe the copyright of another user.

Don't:
Don’t fake your comments. You've probably heard about various apps that people use to automate their comments. There are many downsides to this. One, it's very easy to put yourself into a socially awkward situation. I've read numerous posts on social media where the comment does not match the image, and sometimes it can even be offensive. For example, someone may be posting about his / her sad news and the automated comment was “That’s totally awesome!” Um, not cool.

The second downside is that using these automated Instagram bots to comment or follow goes against Instagram's Terms of Service. So there's a good chance you could get your account suspended. If you are a business, it's not worth the risk.

Do:
Do leave genuine comments. If you want to increase engagement, tell people why you like their shot, respond to their question, or ask a question yourself.

Don't:
Don't use the follow/unfollow method to build your brand. This is probably the most contentious of the lot as there are many who use this method, and at the same time, many who abhor this method.

If you're not familiar with the follow/unfollow method, it basically involves following people on Instagram and then unfollowing them a couple of days later if they haven't followed you back. You do this in the hope that the person won't notice that they have been unfollowed.

I am not an advocate of this tactic for growing an audience and I believe that genuine engagement will pay off far greater dividends than purely focusing on growing an audience that may or may not be interested in your brand.

Do:
Do visit hashtags that your target audience uses and then view the posts that come up under that hashtag. For example, if you are an Etsy shop owner, your target audience may like to peruse hashtags like "handmade" or "pursuepretty”. Go to those tags and spend a few minutes scrolling through liking and/or commenting on images. 

Don't:
Don't post numerous shots in one go. It's one of the easiest ways to get an unfollow – it’s kind of like spamming people’s feeds. People don't like to be bombarded by shots.

Do:
Do post consistently and spread out your posts. If you are posting a few shots per day then space these out so that your followers do not get bombarded. If you post once a day then try once you have worked out your optimal time, post at this same time every day. That way your audience can look forward to your post at that time.

Hopefully, with these basic tips on Instagram etiquette you can grow your account in an effective and genuine way.

Blazenka Harvey is the founder of Mama Bear Communications, which specialises in Instagram Marketing + Stock Photography for personal and business brands. Blazenka’s aim is to educate and nurture other bloggers, creative entrepreneurs and small business owners with all the tips and tricks of growing your brand on Instagram. She has a wealth of marketing experience with over 13 years in the retail marketing space, plus a huge passion in photography. If you want to receive FREE stock photography each month and have access to her Resource Library head over to her blog and subscribe to the mailing list. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

The 5 Steps To An Instagram Strategy That (Really) Works

Instagram Strategy

By Sofia Garcês

Of all the social media platforms out there Instagram is by far my favourite. I love everything about it from the interface to the amazing images shared to the interaction with other content creators. If you love Instagram as much as me then you now that growing in a consistent and authentic way can at times seem tricky if not completely impossible.

So today I’m sharing with you my 5 strategies to growing your Instagram in a way that is authentic to your and your brand. There’s plenty of tools that will promise you fast growth by I much prefer that you grow with substance.

Here are my 5 strategies for Instagram:

1. Show Up Consistently
I’ll be the first to admit that this is my biggest weakness, showing up and posting on your feed daily can be hard but whenever I actually do this and stay consistent the results are easy to see.

Try to post at least once per day and don’t forget to ask your audience questions for more interaction. If you can post 2 or even 3 times a day, more is always better and you’ll see results almost immediately.

2. Use Hashtags and Then Use some More
Now you can be posting every single day but no one will find you unless you use hashtags the right way. Hashtags exist in every social media platform but for me Instagram is the King and Queen of hashtags.

Create a solid list of about 15 hashtags that represent who you are, what you do and your target audience and add them to every single one of your posts. This will make you easy to find for the people who are looking for you!

3. Engage with the Community
Commenting and liking other people’s posts takes time and I know that you could be doing something infinitely more exciting but please do this at least for 10 min every day.

Be a real person and engage with other people. Like and reply to comments on your posts but also go out and comment on other people’s content this is how relationships are created. And isn’t that why we got on social in the first place?

Instagram Strategies

4. Share your Day to Day using Stories
I love Stories! The stickers the markers and everything about them! Don’t let them intimidate you, there’s no need to overthink the content you share here just share what you’re working on or something funny that you found while you were going about your day. Most of all have fun!

5. Search is your Friend
My final trick to engage and have fun on Instagram is using search to find people you want to talk about. Search for your audience using tags and keywords and engage with them! Comment on their posts, like their photos and all that good stuff.

Instagram can be a lot of fun so if all these tips seem like to much to take on then just be a human being and have fun! After all there’s no point in doing this if you’re not having fun!

Sofia Garcês is a Marketing Strategist from Portugal that helps you find clarity and focus in your online marketing by developing a comprehensive strategy around your marketing so that you know exactly what you need to do to reach your business and marketing goals and connect to your dream clients. Want to learn more visit her site at: www.sofiagarces.com

Instagram for Business

By Stephanie Joanne

With over 300 million users and growing, like it or not, Instagram is one of the most powerful tools to get your messages in front of your target audience.

It is safe to say that virtually every business both products based and service based is on Instagram, but not many are using the platform to its full potential.

Instagram can not only increase your brands visibility but it can also serve as a conduit for your current clientele to network and feel a part of something, which can have incredible impact on your customers’ retention.

Here is how best to use Instagram for your fitness business:

1) Profile

As a business your profile image should be your business logo and the information in the bio should state clearly what you do and where you are located. It should also have your phone number and website. If you are your business and you are selling services, your profile picture should be a picture of you and your description should clearly state what it is that you offer.

2) Content

The purpose is to promote your business and showcase the energy your business offers to potential prospects. Followers will land on your Instagram account for one of two reasons.

First, the visit to be entertained and second to be informed.

With this in mind, be sure to provide an equal amount of each type of post for your audience. Also include your calls to action (which is covered in number 4) and promotion, but this should not exceed the amount of free value added entertainment. 

3) Do not ignore Hashtags

Put yourself in the mindset of your ideal clientele and consider which hashtags they are likely adding to their posts. 

For example, blog society makes great use of the hashtags #dreambig #blogger and #entrepreneur. This way, when others are searching for these particular hashtags, the @blogsociety profile will show up.

When we think about the logic behind this, it makes sense. People love to connect with others whom have like-minded interests. Hashtags are very effective to populate such an audience for you in literally seconds!

4) Calls to Action

It is not likely that you will see your engagement improve unless you specifically ask your following to take a specific action. Always leave each post with a question or a call to action. Examples could be “tell us what your favorite post workout meal is by commenting below” or “click the link in our bio for you free 3 day pass."

Stephanie Joanne is a serial entrepreneur. Her passion for peak performance is realised as a renowned Personal Branding Expert and Business Consultant. Stephanie’s portfolio includes guiding several companies with collaborative initiatives. She has built a global presence through her robust social media platforms and offline media presence. Her entrepreneurial leadership approach speaks to a wide range of individual including students, aspiring entrepreneur, lost leaders as well as established brands. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 

Photo Credit: Picjumbo

How To Win Friends And Influence People Using Instagram

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By Oly Shamrik

Your blog is blossoming into a beautiful website with original content and your personality shows through. You keep up with your own blogging rhythm and pay proper attention to promoting your blog on established social media channels. Your main goal is to build a strong flow of traffic to your blog and making your signature style recognizable among gazillion of other Instagram can be a great tool to help you reach your blogging goals. Consider your Instagram account as an online business card of your blog and learn how to benefit from the Instagram experience with these 10 important tips.

You put a lot of effort into sharpening your writing skills because you want your blog visitors to read your article from the first word to the last one, right? So when it comes to the visual language, there’s no big difference. Imagine the little squares of your Instagram feed as a whole picture, that is what usually a person who visits your Instagram profile for the first time can see and make this very short (but very important for you) decision if to scroll down. So you’d want this whole picture to state clearly who is behind the scenes and what your way of seeing the 

1. Let your style speak for you. Consistent visual style is the key to your instagram community success. Let’s say your blog is all about minimalistic black and white designs, in this case spontaneous pops of crazy colors in your Instagram feed could confuse your potential audience. Stick to the style of your blog and try to develop your main color scheme through all of your Instagram posts, give it some time and people will start recognizing your images without even looking at your profile name.

2. Don’t turn into human spam. Lattes, sunsets and selfies are very tempting, but try to limit them on your Instagram feed and show more of your work - crafts, personal projects, styling, whatever your blog is about. Think twice before uploading to your Instagram something you wouldn’t write about on your blog. 

3. It’s a SOCIAL network. So go for it, socialize. Bring up a discussion, reply on the comments, leave thoughtful comments on other’s images - the same way you treat comments and engagement with your readers on your own blog. Be nice and approachable, and you’ll see the results - both in number of virtual followers and in new real-life friends and connections (trust me on this, I met my husband on Instagram).

4. Timing is everything. Just the way you’ve learnt what is the best time for uploading a new post on your blog with the help of Google Analytics (or any other system you prefer), you should learn what is the “prime time” for your Instagram activity. Spend some time learning the behaviour of your followers on Iconosquare, you’ll know the geo-location of your audience, what is the best time for uploading new images based on your statistics and other important parameters that will help your grow your blog’s 

5. Crystal clear. You can not allow yourself to upload grainy, unfocused photography to your blog,right? So treat your Instagram feed the same way! Especially when the quality of your smartphone camera together with a good photo edit app is more than enough to create clear, sharp and eye-catching images. I personally love to use VSCO camera app, and find new built-in Instagram adjustments very useful for quick image fixes.

6. Make a system. Again, consistency is the power. Now, when you know your audience behaviour, develop a regime of systematically uploaded images 2-3 times a day. This will help you stay engaged with your followers 24/7. Prepare images in advance and benefit from the easy-to-go Instagram micro-blogging platform. When it takes you 2-3 hours to write a quality blog post, Instagram post will take no longer than 3 mins for you to upload. So use this gem of a social media tool to stay active and productive without day 

7. Personal approach. It doesn’t matter if you have a separate Instagram account for your blog only, or you keep the balance between professional and personal at one place (as I do), make your followers feel the existence of a real person (YOU!) behind the fine styled images of your Instagram feed. Sound like a person, show your pretty face from time to time, create a friendly community atmosphere, encourage your audience engagement by kind and heartfelt replies.

8. Keep your standards high. Don’t bother yourself with follow for follow, like for like and other sort of cheap tricks. Value real people, who socialize, bring meaning to the community and inspire you. Instagram can be your chance to build a long-lasting relationships and a wide followers base, so don’t screw it up for those fake followers who won’t stay for more than a couple of days with you.

9. Watch yourself with hashtags. The power of hashtags that suppose to bring you thousand of new followers overnight is definitely overrated, but using relevant hashtags can certainly bring you results. Research what are the most popular hashtags in your niche, bloggers communities and micro-networks of Instagram, that run by fashion brands, magazines or maybe your local enthusiasts. My personal advice is to limit the hashtags you use in your caption up to 3-4 the most relevant ones, nobody wants to see the long blue lines of tags appearing in their feed. You can always experiment with different hashtags in the comments section later without annoying your followers.

10.Learn to be a better Instagrammer. Keep yourself open-minded, listen to what your followers got to say and learn to benefit from their feedback. The right analyse of tapped hearts on your images can lead to limitless inspiration for the new ideas for both your blog and your Instagram grid.

Oly Shamrik is the creative behind TLV Birdie Blog and you can visit her at TLV Birdie Instagram 

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