Hey guys! This How to Start a Blog post is going to be super informative for all of you and I am so excited about it… let me explain! I have wanted to write a post on social media for a while now, but recently had the awesome idea to include other bloggers in it, also. So, me and three of my blogging girlfriends teamed up to bring you a four part series, all on social media for blogging. We each have a platform to write about, and all of the posts will be linked at the end of this post for your convenience… be sure to check them all out! Let’s get started!
Instagram for Blogging
Before anything else, I want to bring up a point I think is really important to consider when using social media for blogging. Unlike your website, you don’t own any social media platforms (you only have an account with them)… so I think it’s very important to remember not to put all of your eggs in one basket (or, e’hm, social media) because if for some odd reason that social media platform disappears, so will all of your hard work. Your blog should always be where you put in the most work, but with that said, social media is a great tool to really further your reach and grow your blog! So, what should you know about Instagram? What is the most important thing to consider when using Instagram to market and promote your blog? What about growing your Instagram following and engagement? Well, in my opinion, there are many ways to use Instagram, but some ways are more effective than others when it comes to growing engagement, following, and readership on both your blog and your Instagram account. Let’s review:
Best Practices for Growing Instagram Engagement and Following which in Return will Grow your Blog Engagement
- USE HASHTAGS. If you’re new to blogging, this may be a new idea for you. There is a stigma around using “too many” hashtags on Instagram amongst non-bloggers. However, if you’re not new to blogging, you know how a helpful a good hashtag can be! By good, I mean a hashtag that isn’t over saturated and is being used/seen by your ideal audience or partners. To find the best hashtags for your niche, do a simple Google or Pinterest search! Or head to a blogger’s Instagram page (who is in the same niche you are) and check out the hashtags they use. Be sure the hashtag isn’t too saturated by clicking it. You’ll see how many people have used that hashtag. The less people, the better. If the hashtag is being used constantly by what seems like everyone, you’re image will just get lost in the mix and be less likely seen (which is the whole point of a hashtag). How many hashtags should you be using? Well, Instagram only allows you to use 30 max. I would recommend using 30 or close to 3o! A lot of bloggers like to hide their hashtags in the first comment of their post, so when other’s comment it gets pushed away and doesn’t show. Some like to add them to the caption. It’s all personal preference. One more thing to note is, hashtags used on your image by people other than you, will not work. For example, if someone comments “#fashion” on one of your photos, your image won’t be categorized under the hashtag “#fashion”. Only you will be able to post active hashtags on your images!
- BE GENUINE. Being genuine is huge for growing a loyal following! Definitely stay true to yourself. Be personable, funny, take a stance, have opinions, tell stories! If there is one thing I learned from Julie Solomon (she’s rad, go check her out!) it’s that being an actual human, and not a walking talking billboard, is key! She always says, “No one introduces themselves saying, ‘Hi I’m ___ and this bracelet is only $25, you can totally LiketoKow.it and it comes in 5 colors!'”. So, don’t overwhelm your Instagram account with that type of convo! People thrive off of relationships, it’s in our nature. We like relatable people, we’re attracted to people with the same thoughts, ideas, and aspirations. Being personable and yourself makes you unique, and it helps to attract and rappel (another piece of great advice I have learned from Julie) which is super important when trying to grow your following in a totally authentic way. You’ll attract like-minded fans and rappel people who may not think you are their cup of tea (but that’s okay!).
- BE CONSISTENT. Consistency is so important in all aspects of blogging. I like to explain it in these terms: you wouldn’t watch a TV show that might come on when you expect it to, right? The same goes for blogging. Why would someone follow you if you might post this week/ month but might not? Think of your favorite blogger on Instagram and how much you love seeing what they’re up to that day or what they have planned and how bummed you’d be if they disappeared for a month and then popped back up whenever they felt like it. It’d be confusing and most likely you’d lose interest. If posting everyday isn’t your thing, that’s fine! But I would recommend posting at least once a week. Personally, I try to post once a day on Instagram.
- STAY RELATIVE. If you are a fashion blogger, don’t be posting photos of your cat or your car (or something else that’s totally random). I’m not saying every single photo has to be fashion related, but most of them should be. People are following you because they like what you’re sharing and what your brand represents, so remember that each time you post! Before posting a photo think, if you were following your account for the reasons you hope your followers are following your account, would you want to engage in the photo you’re thinking of posting? Would it interest you? Would it inspire you or spark your interest? If the answer is no, it’s probably best to leave it off of your page. Define your audience and target them! (check the end of the post for your free downloadable to help you define your ideal audience)
- STAY ON BRAND. Similar to #4, staying on brand means to keep your images, captions, tone, vibe, all similar. If you’re brand is bright, fun, easy going, you might want to stick with bright images. Or, if your brand is chic, mysterious, and edgy, your photos may be darker, monotone, or have more noise. It’s really all up to you, but I would recommend keeping your Instagram theme similar to your blog’s theme. Whatever you do, keep your overall theme on Instagram similar, use the same edit on each photo, make your images intentional and use an app like UNUM to plan out your posts and “try them out” on the grid before committing to them. I like to edit my photos all pretty similarly (I just use the same Instagram filter eat time but I just downloaded VSCO again and have been playing around with those filters) and keep similar style photos away from each other (a full boy shot will be surrounded by text, flat lays, or a portrait style photo rather than another full body shot). It can get tricky, honestly, but practice makes perfect!
- POST AT THE “RIGHT” TIME. If your Instagram is set up to be a business account, you will be able to check your analytics to know when your audience is most engaged. But, if you don’t have a business account on Instagram, you can use apps to do so. Again, I use UNUM (love this app!) and it gives me the analytics I need. Posting when your audience is online will obviously put your content in front of more people’s eyes and therefore could make for a better engagement rate.
- PLAN YOUR CONTENT. There are a lot of apps that help you lay out and plan your content for Instagram. Some of the most popular include, Planoly, UNUM, & Mosaico. I have only tried UNUM but it gets the job done and I love it! They all essentially do the same thing- let you plan your Instagram grid so nothing clashes, sticks out like a sore thumb, or isn’t on brand. You can even schedule your pictures to post at certain times… making your life a bit easier! I have just started using UNUM this month but as you can tell, I’m already hooked!
- TAG THE BRANDS IN YOUR PHOTOS. If you’re wearing a certain brand or sharing a brand’s product, why not let them know?! It tags your photo to their account and also lets them know you are a fan (which could even lead to future collabs). ALSO, you can even tag accounts that could possibly share your content, like a society you’re a member of or a larger account that shares content similar to yours. For example, I’m a member of The Blog Societies and Style Collective, so I try to tag them whenever I can or if my photo is of my outfit, I try to tag larger accounts like OOTD Magazine.
- PROMOTE YOUR INSTAGRAM. Have a Twitter? Facebook? Add your Instagram link or handle to those profiles. Add your handle anywhere you possibly can! A business card, car magnet, sticker, email signature… the possibilities are endless! This is a simple, no effort way to grow your Instagram.
- ENGAGE TO BE ENGAGED WITH. This is probably the best and most authentic way to grow your following. Find like-minded people or possible fans on Instagram and engage with their content. By this I don’t mean follow them and then unfollow them when they follow you… but, like their photos and leave authentic, genuine comments! People love compliments, they also love when they feel as if someone has genuinely taken interest in them and what they have to say. So, don’t comment “pretty” or “neat” or some random emoji… leave comments that make sense! Something like, “oh my gosh, I absolutely love your shoes and the way you’ve paired them with that dress… so pretty!” or “Your dog is the cutest, I am such a dog person! We’d get along great!” The comment is like your first impression, so make it count! You want them to remember it when they visit your account. Your comment + your awesome content will likely lead to them following you! Although you can find accounts to engage with within the Instagram app, there are programs that make it much easier and more effective for you, too. I was recently listening to Julie Solomon’s new podcast series, and one of her guests, Puno, mentioned a platform she created called PeopleMap that makes it SUPER easy to find accounts you should be engaging with. Long story short, you can “analyze” accounts you think are similar to your own. After that, you have access to their top likers and commenters, etc. which you could engage with straight from PeopleMap. You can also check out the accounts that have liked each individual photo on the person’s account. PeopleMap tells you exactly who you’ve engaged with and counts how many accounts you’ve commented on within the hour (recommended 60 comments per hour for the highest follow back rate) and also lets you put IG accounts into lists (which you can customize or leave the default lists [analyzed, competitors, influencers, partners]). It makes it super easy to organize people to possibly refer to in the future for collabs, inspiration, etc. Check out the podcast here for way more info on PeopleMap and why it’s so great for Influencers!
- INCLUDE A CALL TO ACTION. By far one of the most important tips I am going to share with you in this post is to add a call to action (especially when using the app for blog engagement)! You can’t just expect people to read your mind and know what you want them to do. They need influence! Although some of your followers will be loyal enough and so in-tune with what you share that they won’t need a call to action to hit your links or shop your looks… many followers won’t be. It’s your job to tell them exactly what you want them to do! A call to action is something like, “Go check out the post, link’s in bio!” or “Hit think link to shop now!”. A good call to action will get your audience to follow your lead and get them to land where you want them to (essential your blog!). A call to action is usually a sentence but it can also be hashtag. For example, #LinkInBio is a great hashtag/ call to action that lets people know the link to find whatever you’re sharing is in your bio for them to easily find and click.
Growing your Instagram not only can lead to more blog engagement, but it can also lead to more collaboration opportunities. You probably have caught on by now that social media marketing is the new big thing, and brands are catching on. But, while you may think the bigger your following the better chance you have to work with brands… you’re wrong (kind of). What’s even bigger than having a large following is having a large engagement rate. That means, the more of your followers that actually engage (like and comment) with your content, the better. So, brands are beginning to rather work with ten “micro bloggers” rather than one massive blogger. It’s more effective for them because more people will actually engage with the ad on these “micro bloggers” profiles and therefore their money is more well spent. Don’t be discouraged by not having a HUGE following. Rather, work on growing a following that is loyal to you and what you share. I was on @heykenziee’s Instagram profile the other day when she shared a tidbit of inspiration she had heard from another blogger she follows. It was, entrepreneurials are like drivers driving an empty road at night. They know where they want to be and they can envision it, but they can only see what’s right in front of them (like the headlights would allow on the car). Baby steps are a-okay. Always set small goals for yourself and check them off as you make your way to your ultimate goal! This is true for not only Instagram, but all aspects of your blogging journey. Keep your headlights bright and your destination clear! 😉
Looking to learn more about the other social media platforms you can utilize to grow your blog? Check out the ladies below and hear what they have to say!