social media

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

The 7 Essential Tools For Leveling Up Your Blog

By Rachel Beaney

Whether you're new to blogging or you've been doing it for years, there's no denying the time and effort that goes into crafting a stellar post. But being a blogger these days is about more than writing a stellar post: whether you're distributing your content, jazzing it up with images or jumping into new mediums like podcasting, the world of blogging continues to evolve in exciting, sometimes unpredictable ways - and it's up to us to keep up with it.

For many of us, these new avenues are out of our comfort zone. If we're blogging for business, we don't have time to play with new tools, and for some of us all this tech stuff might be a bit much. But if you're looking to explore new ways to level up your blog, I've got a list of killer tools which save time, are easy to use, and make you look like a pro.

Here are my favourite tools for creating stunning and shareable blog posts, from concept to finished product:

Get your words down
For many of us, our focus is on our business. Blogging might be a form of content marketing to get our brand, values and skills out there in the world. So grammar isn't always our first thought. But as the old joke goes, "Let's eat, Grandma!" as opposed to "Let's eat Grandma!" - grammar matters. And it helps our business and brand look more professional.

For this, Grammarly is my BFF. Spellcheck will pick up regular typos, but if your word order is incorrect, or if you've repeated a word, Grammarly will be all over it. There's a free Chrome plugin for your browser for the basics, or you can pay for the advanced features. It works all over the web - whether you're creating a post in Wordpress, LinkedIn Pulse or drafting in regular old email.

Make it gorgeous
Canva is the darling of Australia's start-up scene - the graphic design tool that is drop-and-drag simple, but has the eye of a brilliant graphic designer at its core. Canva is amazing for creating all kinds of content. While it's most famous for pulling together gorgeous Instagram quotes, I use it on my blog every week, whether I'm creating a title image, a banner ad to cross-link between posts, or an infographic for a post. If you level up to a paid subscription, your business colour palettes and folds can be saved as a default. Love it!

Make it shareable
Did you know that SEO takes into account social links? So the more your community shares your content, the greater the SEO love. There are a few nifty tools out there to help you help your audience share your content.

Click-To-Tweet lets you pull a quote from your blog to highlight and embed it so that your reader can tweet that quote in one click. There's a straightforward wizard which means it's easy to use, and embeddable with a simple bit of code.

But not everyone is on Twitter. If fact, if you're a creative businesswoman, you're far more likely to be on Pinterest. If you're targeting other women on Pinterest, make sure your content is easily accessible to your fellow pinners.

One method you might consider is to take a quote from your blog, pop it in Canva, and jazz it up so that it's utterly Pinterest-able. Make it easy for your audience to share your content on their Pinterest boards so it's a new traffic generator for you.

Get Inspired
Looking for new content ideas for your blog? Use the data you've already got! Turn to the analytics of your social media channels to find out what your audience is passionate about, and turn that data into blog posts.

Look at the articles you've tweeted over the past month (even if they aren't yours!), export the analytics and see what content people have retweeted the most. From there, see if you can pivot on those ideas for new content.

I recommend cutting the data over different time frames to see which kinds of content engage people - you might see different kinds of content if you look over a week, a month or a year. What topics, headlines, themes or mediums are people sharing? Go bold and give them a go!

Schedule It
Using a social media scheduler like Hootsuite means that you can create content and schedule it over the course of the week without posting it to each of your social media channels each day. Hootsuite also has a rad bulk upload feature which makes it even easier to upload hundreds of posts at once.

If you have a lot of evergreen content, you might find a social scheduling tool like Buffer or Meet Edgar is more useful for you as they perpetually recycle your content over months, alleviating you of the burden of perpetually scheduling it yourself.

Cross it over
While cross posting to other sites can be controversial from an SEO perspective, it can be useful to cross-post to gain new audiences, especially if those sites are social media sites. With the shift in sites like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse having their own community and algorithms, posting your content there using the right keywords or hashtags might just expose you to new audiences.

If you're using Wordpress, there are a few nifty plugins which automatically cross-posts all your posts to Medium as you publish them.

Explore new territory
There's a time in every bloggers life where they might want to experiment with a new medium. It might be a one night stand, or the start of a new relationship. Either way, new mediums help you share your content in new ways, spice it up for your audience and give you a new outlet to sink your creative teeth into!

There are some amazing services out there to help you mix up your content. Wideo.com, for example, provides a cloud-based video editing option on a subscription basis, while Biteable lets you create cute animated videos which are incredibly flexible. Similar to Canva, you can choose templates – either animated or stock footage – and completely customise them.

You might even want to branch out and host an interview on Facebook Live (using an extension like BeLive.tv to add guests) and embed it in your blog, or recycle it (the mantra of every blogger!) and turn it into a podcast for easy listening (and embedding!) later on.

I hope I've given you some new tools to play with and inspired you to jazz up your blog - and if you've got recommendations for any others, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Rachel Beaney is a freelance social media specialist who writes over at rachelbeaney.com. A freelancer with extensive experience working on big brands like Microsoft and Samsung, she enjoys teaching businesses of all sizes how to level up their social media with strategy and killer content. You can catch her regularly posting about dogs on Twitter or Instagram @beaney.

The Bloggers Guide To Snapchat

Snapchat continues to be one of our fav social media apps and as more and more bloggers and brands jump on board it's high time you understand the ins and outs of how to use the app with ease. There are some cool hacks that you might not even be aware of that we wanted to showcase today and give you a quick 101 on ways that you can make your snaps even better, check out the tips below.

1. Change the colors of your font + drawings.
You can customize the colors you’re using when typing or drawing with the rainbow palette. When drawing, touch and hold on the rainbow palette and move it across the screen to find other colors to use. The same goes for text: just tap on the text you’ve written after you’ve made it bigger by touching the Text icon, and hold on the rainbow palette and move around the screen to find the color you want to use. 

2. Video chat
Not only can you text your friends on Snapchat, but if you and your friend have the chat opened a blue pulsating icon will show up on the screen. If you hold it, your front facing camera will show up, and if your friend wants to video chat too, they will eventually show up on the screen as well. 

3. Make your own color filter
Snapchat has a few color filters that make your photo look better, but if you’re looking to add a more vibrant or dreamy feel to your snap, tap the sticker icon at the top right, and choose from any emoji that is close to the color that you want your snap to have.Choose which emoji you want and make the emoji as big as you can making sure you focus a corner on the frame and zoom in as much as you can. Zoom in all the way and place the translucent part on your snap and ta-da!

4. Have multiple filters on your snap
If you want to add more to your filters than just having a location filter, you can. First, swipe to filter that changes the color of your snap. Hold on it and swipe to show the time or temperature. If you want to show it, hold on to the time or temperature while swiping to the left to put a location filter. The only downside is that if you want to take off one filter, you’re going to have to start all over and take off all the filters. 

5. Add multiple lines of text to your snap
On your notes app on your phone, have an empty note saved with a couple of empty lines that you can always copy and paste on to your snap. Copy about three lines onto your snap, and type away. You can always go more than three lines, but don’t put your followers through the pain of reading an essay in 10 seconds.

6. Zoom in on the details of your snap
If you have a knack for illustrating on your snaps and think of yourself as more as a Picasso type, using the zoom feature on your IOS phone is useful. Under Settings, go to General, and under Accessibility, turn on the Zoom feature under Vision. This will apply a magnifying class to your phone while you navigate it, but just turn it on for when you need to use it for Snapchat. This will help you with illustrating more detail to your snaps, making them a wonderful piece of art.

7. Make your own filter for your event
Holidays or big sponsored events aren't the only ones that can have a Snapchat filter. Make your event have its own Snapchat filter, starting at just $5. Just make your own filter design, submit it to Snapchat, add your own geofence, time that you want your filter live, and wait for Snapchat to give you the green light. To find out more information about creating your own Snapchat filter, click here
 

Snapchat-For-Bloggers

8. Show the date on your snap and change from Fahrenheit to Celsius
You don’t have to be stuck on just showing the time on you snaps. If you tap the time when you’re choosing a filter, it will turn into a date, and if you tap the temperature filter, you can change it from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

Now if you’re still new to Snapchat’s newest updates, you can now video call your friends (rather than waiting for them to show up on the same chat), send reaction GIFs of yourself, and use their new collection of stickers in their chat similar to Facebook Messenger. You can see the whole rundown here on Snapchat’s blog.

This post originally appeared on Create & Cultivate. Priscilla Castro is Create & Cultivate's Director of Social Media and Community in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she got her degree in Journalism from Cal State Long Beach, and pursued a career in marketing. She has worked with FILTER Magazine, LA Canvas, and was previously Editorial Director at BeautyCon. Follow her @kodeofkondukt

Behind The Blog Scene // Alisha Johns of LISH Creative

I'm excited to be back this week spotlighting one of my fav ladies on social media - Alisha Johns of LISH Creative! I've never been shy about sharing my love of Instagram and I've been lucky through this journey of running Blog Society to get to meet some pretty talented #girlbosses both online and off.

Alisha is one of those ladies.

She is a whip smart marketer and creates one of the most vibrant and colourful feeds out there. I just had to sit down with her to find out what really happens behind the scenes of her biz and how she's using social media to kick MAJOR goals. Enjoy... x Jac

Tell us a little bit about Lish Creative and your background?
LISH Creative is a social media agency for fashion, lifestyle & hospitality brands. My clients appreciate design, want to be inspired, and know the value of creative content for their businesses. After I graduated from Virginia Tech, I held various social media and creative roles at advertising agencies in Pittsburgh and always freelanced on the side. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I also knew that it was important to gain industry experience first. But when I started to get burnt out, and had to turn down great freelance projects because of my day-job, that’s when I knew it was time to take the leap.

What is your creative business manifesto?
Beautiful & smart content can change the face of your brand. It provides the ultimate first impression. It attracts & retains a community.

Without social media, and a platform like Instagram to create content to share with the world, I personally would not be where I am today. That’s why I am so passionate about helping others to achieve the same.

What fellow #girlboss inspires you at the moment?
I’m so inspired by Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY. She’s been able to work with some incredible big brands (like Starbucks and Coca-Cola…!) yet she always stays true to her brand and offers a unique spin. Her dedication to incredible original content is an ideal that I am always striving for in my business.

We adore your colourful instagram feed - what role does social media play in your business?
I started to get serious about Instagram after college, as a way to differentiate myself when applying to creative jobs in the advertising industry. Employers kept wanting to push me into Account Management roles and I was trying to find ways to break out of that box. Not only did my imagery catch the attention of my former employers, but it also helped me to discover my love for styling and creating visual content. As my community continued to grow, my work began getting picked up by media outlets and brands started asking me to style their products. That’s when it really hit me that there’s a business here. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but Instagram literally changed the course of my career - it has opened so many doors. And now, It is my primary source for new clients and networking.

My biggest biz moment/milestone was....
I secured my first retainer client while I was still working full-time. That was really a turning point for me and led to me submitting my two weeks notice! It’s crazy how one client can give you so much confidence.

My dream collaboration would be?
This is a tough one! There are so many colorful brands out there that I adore, but I would love to style a campaign for Jcrew.

Best piece of advice to all the budding entrepreneurs out there…
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Developing an online and social presence is essential for networking and for building your credibility. Start creating amazing content to share with the world and tell people about, everyone!

Behind the scenes of running Lish Creative looks like…
Props, props everywhere! I’ve become quite the collector of little odds and ends for styled shoots and they’ve made their way all over my studio space.There’s also a daily dose of avocado toast for lunch and netflix watching after 7pm.

My tip for handling fear, envy or comparison is…
When you’re feeling afraid, remind yourself of all of your wins and the incredible things that you’ve had to accomplish to make it to where you are right now at this very second. For me, fear comes with overwhelm and with looking too far ahead into the future.I have to take a step back, reflect, and focus on the present day.

This year I've been most excited about...
My new freedom from the 9-5 and the ability to travel more! That was huge motivator for me in deciding to take the leap. I’ll be able to spend more time in Los Angeles, in particular, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to!

Top Image: Tracy Mele