Back in 2009 when I started my business, I relied heavily on social media to get the word out about who I was and what I had to offer as a Holistic Nutritionist. Even today, I still rely heavily on it and very rarely do we invest in paid advertising because I truly believe in growing organically.
It takes time though and doesn't happen overnight but that's how you cultivate community, foster authentic relationships and help people instill trust within you and your brand. At least that's what I've found to be true :)
Of all of the social platforms out there though, Instagram continues to be my favourite! I love sharing through photos and showing you snippets of the behind-the-scenes of my life through Instagram Posts and Instagram Stories which consist of either food, nature, my hubs or my daughter Vienna! I think it's because of my love for it and the time I've taken to learn the ins and outs of it that it's resulted in being my primary, biggest and most successful social media platform of them all!
If you are a current or aspiring wellness entrepreneur, knowing the following 5 Do's and Don'ts of Instagram that I'm about to share are absolutely essential if you want to start growing your business, partnering with brands and cultivating an authentic community on Instagram.
5 Do’s of Instagram For Business
1. do Tag brands in your photos and captions (when relevant)
When it comes to establishing partnerships with brands, relationship building is key! Tagging brands in your photo or caption is a great starting point to that because now you're putting your name on their radar. Over time, if you continue to do that, they'll see that you genuinely love the brand or product and be more inclined to partner or collaborate with you! That's not to say it's a numbers game and if you post "X" amount of times about them, they'll want to work with you. It's still important to be authentic, for both yourself and the brand, since that's what will ultimately captivate your audience.
If you plan on tagging a brand, tag them in the actual photo, in your caption or in your Instagram Story, whether you're actively working with them or not! If you fear coming off as spammy, understand that when you truly believe in something, it will not come off as spammy. People will see your authenticity and will actually appreciate your recommendation.
2. do Use hashtags strategically
You may already know that hashtags work by organizing and categorizing photo and video content. If you're already active on Instagram, you may also know that people either love them or hate them. The secret is to hashtag strategically.
It's not just a matter of cramming in the maximum amount of hashtags you can have for the sake of having them there, but instead, prioritizing well thought-out, targeted hashtags to get them in front of as many people as possible (preferably your target audience)!
There's no perfect amount of hashtags to use, as long as they are relevant. Some say to use 5-10, others say go for the full 30. Do what feels best for you!
I tend to hit around the 15-word count for hashtags in most posts.
Keep an eye on your insights to see how your posts perform when you use more or less hashtags.
If you plan on using a branded hashtag (note: for instance a branded hashtag for me would be like #joyoushealth or #joyousdetox), I would recommend following that hashtag so if anyone uses it, you can engage with them which makes for a great community building tool.
Don't forget, you can use hashtags in your Instagram Stories and in your bio now too!
Whether you put your hashtags in your actual post caption or in the comments, it doesn't really matter. As soon as you post, the Instagram Algorithm is in effect immediately, so if you put your hashtags in the comments, make sure you do so quickly. Otherwise, you can space it out in your caption by separating it with dots or emojis to give it a cleaner, easy-to-read aesthetic. You can also use something that I use quite often called LATER for instagram. It is excellent for formatting posts so you don't have to use dots.
3. do Post beautiful high-quality photos
Unfortunately, Instagram is the exact opposite of the "don't judge a book by its cover" saying but that's because Instagram is an image-based platform.
What you post on Instagram is either going to reel people in or drive people away.
The quality of your photos are a huge determinant of this, so if you can use a DSLR or a nice camera when shooting, it's to your benefit! If you don't have a camera, using your phone totally works too. Many times people are shocked to find out that some of my photos on Instagram are from my phone but lots of them are from our good camera too :)
The secret to using your phone is good, natural lighting (preferably by a window). I can't stress this enough! It's why we have a whole section in Module 7 in the Joyous Health Business program to teach you the key essentials of creating beautiful images!
Gone are the days where you can get by with the filters provided to you by Instagram. There are a few apps you can use to enhance your video, but I would advise against editing your photos too much.
Having some sort of aesthetic to your feed is important too. You have to remember that someone that is stumbling on your feed for the first time is basing their decision to follow you on the first few images they see, as well as what's reflected in your Instagram bio so you've got to make every image and word count!
I don't stress about this too much, but I make a point to keep my feed bright, light, colourful and joyous! Those are all of the things I hope for someone to feel when they hop on my feed. Whether that's the impression you get or not, well you tell me! :)
4. do Use Instagram Stories to promote a new post
The Instagram Algorithm is always changing as evidenced by the fact that you're posts maybe used to get 200 likes and now 50 likes seems like a lot. It's a hard reality at times when you put a lot of effort into your posts to make them meaningful and impactful, but I also remind myself not to get caught up in the numbers game.
With that said, it's estimated that only 10% of your followers see your posts but using Instagram Stories can help to increase that. If you've noticed people using cute GIFs to announce a new post on Instagram, that would be why! It's said that Instagram Stories has over 300 million daily users, nearly 2X the amount of Snapchat, which has shown to be an effective strategy for reaching those outside of your immediate following.
I also just personally love Instagram Stories to share the behind-the-scenes aspect of my life, especially on a platform where we share our highlight reels and everything looks hunky-dory 24/7. Showing the real life side of things, like a recipe fail, a cranky toddler or working on a Sunday afternoon when everyone is out enjoying the day (not complaining, just stating the facts!) can really help to build a more intimate connection with your community and help them to instill trust within you.
5. do post your Instagram Posts when your audience is most active
Instagram gives priority to posts that receive the most likes and comments, but if your community isn't very active at the time you're posting, you likely won't receive the likes and comments until much later, which Instagram's Algorithm will perceive as "this post isn't entirely interesting to this person's audience".
Unless of course, you're trying to build a community in a different timezone.
Right now I'm in Europe and I'm posting based on this time zone because I don't want to be posting at 2am in the morning (which is ideal time for me to posted based on my feed having the most traffic at 8pm EST). I have noticed I've gotten more followers in this area (Austria) - yay! That being said, when I return home, I will also return back to posting on EST. There are of course apps that will auto-post for you like LATER, but I like to have the control of posting when I choose.
If you have an Business account on Instagram (which I suggest you get if you're an aspiring or current entrepreneur), you can access insights that will tell you when your audience is most active on your main profile page. Under the "Audience" tab, you will be able to see what days and what hours your audience is most active so you can plan to post around that time. If you have a global audience, be sure to keep various time zones in mind!
5 DON’Ts of Instagram For Business
1. Don’t post in real time (UNLESS YOU HAVE A KILLER PHOTO & THE TIME TO PUT TOGETHER A THOUGHTFUL CAPTION)
Look, I totally get it. Your dinner tastes amazing and you just want the world to know right then and there in that moment, but unfortunately, that deliciousness doesn't get conveyed in a blurry, dark, poorly lit photo. You're better off setting some aside and shooting it the next in bright, natural lighting.
Posting in real time also causes people to rush through the whole posting process, including your caption and hashtags. It's better to take your time putting your post together to ensure you're setting it up for success, especially if you're trying to maintain a certain aesthetic in your feed.
Not to mention, posting in real time takes us away from the present moment. We all know how long it can take to put together an Instagram post sometimes and we also know how annoying it can be when you're with someone and they're on their phone 24/7. If you want to post a photo that you took during lunch with a friend or while traveling, take the photo and then put your phone down. You can prepare it and post it later :). I even do this for instagram stories all the time. I was at the Swarovski Museum in Austria on the weekend. You may have noticed I did lots of instagram stories, but I posted all of these in the car ride back, not while we were there.
2. Don’t Follow and Unfollow to grow your community
I wish I could say this community growth tactic got left behind in 2015, but unfortunately, it's still sticking around. The problem with the Follow/Unfollower growth tactic is that you end up attracting people that don't even align with your target audience, which means, when it comes to sharing your new product or service offering on Instagram, you won't have your ideal customers to sell to.
The Follow/Unfollow tactic also comes off as being a bit cheesy and slimy – the exact opposite of what you want to do when building relationships online. I've never followed this tactic from day one on any of my social platforms.
My best advice is to work on community growth gradually and be patient. Try not to get too caught up in the numbers game and take the time to build authentic, resilient relationships. When you do that, you are cultivating the strength and resilience of your entire community and brand (a SUPER important topic we cover in the Joyous Health Business program!).
Your community members are your brand ambassadors and cheerleaders who will support you and help your business grow after all – cherish them, value them and take the time to earn their trust.
Also I think it goes without saying, but please, please, please don't buy your followers! This can actually work against you because if you have a lot of followers but are getting little engagement on posts, Instagram's Algorithm will perceive this as a post that isn't particularly interesting to your audience and won't show it to many people.
3. Don’t tag a person or a brand in a photo just to get a like (unless relevant)
Certain accounts have started to use this "strategy" of tagging people or brands in their photo with the intent of potentially increasing the amount of likes or comments they will get on their post, knowing that it will notify the tagged accounts that they have just been tagged in a photo.
The problem with this is that people are abusing it and tagging accounts or brands that don't even have anything to do with the photo. I see this on my own feed, all the time. For the account on the receiving end of this, it can be quite annoying and comes off as a slimy tactic, knowing they are just doing it to get a like or a comment. If you want to keep your followers, please don't do this!
4. Don’t include links in the caption of your post
It's a sad reality that Instagram doesn't allow clickable links in the caption of your post, but it is a reality nonetheless, which is why putting a link in your caption is next to being pointless. In the odd scenario, if you are using a customizable link or a simplified URL like www.joyousbusiness.com, including the link in your caption isn't the worst. But again, we have to remember that since they aren't actually clickable, they really serve no purpose.
A good way to work around this is to include the link in your bio where clickable links are permitted and driving people to a blog post, shop page or a sales page from there. All you have to do is include a call-to-action (CTA) in your caption that tells people to visit the link in your bio.
I recomend using a service like Linktree which allows you to include several links from one link, meaning that someone can click the link in my bio and be directed to a page that has a link to my new blog post, a sale in my shop or something I'm promoting.
5. Don’t post once in a blue moon
In order to stay top of mind, you need to be posting on a consistent basis and not just when you feel inspired or motivated to do so. The way Instagram works is that it rewards the people and accounts that use their platform more. If you are posting on a consistent basis, Instagram's Algorithm will prioritize your posts and show them to more people.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, every day that you procrastinate posting on social media channels, the more you have to lose!
The number of times you should be posting per day is up for debate and is really dependent on the type of business, however it's said that for the most part, Instagram accounts that posted more than once a day saw a decrease in engagement.
Remember that the lifespan of an Instagram post is much longer too. Before the Instagram Algorithm was introduced, the half life of an Instagram post was approximately 72 minutes. That means, in 72 minutes, you would receive half of your total potential engagement. But now with the Instagram Algorithm, the lifespan of a post is much longer which is why you might see someone's post they published 3 days ago.
I would recommend experimenting with your account and using your analytics to see what performs best. You may even want to ask your followers through Instagram Stories, after all, they are the ones you are catering to.
I hope you found these tips helpful and it helps you take your instagram business to the next level. If you want to learn business building strategie and usable tips, you'll really love everything we teach you in the Joyous Health Business program, because we cover this and so much more in much greater depth. I hope to see you October 8th, 2018 in our next program.
If you see this on or before August 8th, be sure to take advantage of our 3-month payment plan option that allows you to sign up for the minimal fee of $233 today, plus two other monthly installments!
Have a wonderful week! See you over on instagram :)