Let’s be honest, Instagram is a completely different place than it was six years ago when I started posting my artwork on the platform.
First of all, there were fewer users, but there was also way fewer people using the app for business and posting their creative work. It may be hard to remember, but it’s the truth! No, I wouldn’t scroll through my feed and see one perfectly styled photo and sales pitch after another, it was mostly just photos of dogs, shoes and random sitings. Since then, the app itself has transformed, users have begun to use it as a tool to reach more people, grow a community and generate business.
As an entrepreneur, Instagram has been completely life-changing for me. So many people ask me if I actually generate business from the app, and the answer is a firm YES. When I first started posting my artwork six years ago, it was how I gained exposure. I had no reputation, I was still working my corporate day job, and I used the platform to introduce my art to vendors in the wedding industry. Because I started out just doing pointed pen calligraphy for wedding jobs, I would comment EVERY DAY on wedding blog accounts, wedding photographers, etc. just so they’d see my name over and over again and eventually click! Along with that, I used a slew of hashtags that brought my post to people who maybe would’ve never seen it!
Nowadays Instagram is an even bigger beast. There’s an Algorithm that’s constantly changing, hashtags don’t work the same way they did back then, and it’s harder to get noticed with alllllll the pretty, curated accounts landing in one person’s feed. BUT! I’ve learned a few things over the years that have helped me CRACK the Instagram code and I’m ready to bring them to YOU!
Because I’m all about helping YOU, below I have 5 of my secrets that will help you CRACK the Instagram code. You ready?
Call. To. Action.
Call to action or CTA is a tried and true marketing term that is used to help generate clicks, sales and ENGAGEMENT. Whether you’re wanting to gain more followers, generate more business, or just develop a community, engagement should be your main focus. This is how the more people are able to see your post in their feed, what gets certain posts to hit the explore page, etc. and one of the main ways I drive engagement on my posts and stories is through using call to action. So, next time you go to post, ask your followers a QUESTION, get their opinion on something. People are wayyyy more likely to actually comment if they’re told to do so.
Example: In this post, I asked the highly polarizing question on Christmas music and when to start playing it. Most people have an opinion on this, so it made for a lot of activity in the comments section, boosting my post on the algorithm, and since I posted this video three weeks ago, I’ve gained over 2,600 new followers!
Tell Your Story
As a brand, it can be SO hard to not look at someone else’s feed and covet their engagement, or how they go about writing captions, how they appear in stories, etc. but the thing is, people want to get to know YOU. If you’re using a tone of voice that doesn’t come naturally to you because it works for someone else, GUESS WHAT?! You’re not only going to attract followers and customers who aren’t in line with who you truly are, but you won’t be able to fully engage and use the platform to its full potential! People are already scrolling through their feeds seeing sales pitch after new product…followers are longing for connection. Relate to them. Tell your story of how you got started, what your office looks like, how you spilled coffee on your shirt or didn’t make it to that meeting on time. This makes you real, it makes you relatable and therefore, your followers can engage because they have something in common!
Tip: If you aren’t already, start showing up in your stories! Let your followers see your face, hear your voice…I know it’s scary, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I promise! And this allows for your community to get to know you, making them more likely to engage with your platform!
It used to be that copy and pasting the same round of 20+ hashtags in your caption worked and spread your post like wildfire, but, like I mentioned earlier, Instagram is constantly changing and that quick and easy way of gaining a few followers or likes on your post just don’t work anymore. Here’s why: Instagram wants their platform to be a place where people learn, where accounts are used to cultivate community and inspiration. Long gone are the quick and easy ways to gain followers – they’re banning certain hashtags that accounts were using in ways that weren’t beneficial to the community, and flagging accounts that seem to be buying followers, etc. You know why? It’s too easy! Anyone can do this, and it doesn’t lead to what they want: ENGAGEMENT. Engagement means that their users are on their platform for longer, commenting, getting to know the people behind accounts, etc., so use your platform intentionally! This lines up directly with your hashtags! Hashtags definitely still work and reach people on the explore page, etc., but you have to be way more intentional these days with them. Use hashtags that apply to your caption and post. Not just a bunch of the most popular hashtags. The algorithm can pick that up and boost your post if they think it will do well in terms of engagement or not, so it really is important!
Tip: Hashtags are like keywords. Think about who you want to reach, and what they might be typing in to search for your post!
Now, after reading these tips, they may seem so obvious, but these are HUGE parts to cracking the Instagram code. Of course, just like anything, practicing these strategies won’t give you overnight success, so my one piece of advice for you is CONSISTENCY. Show up consistently in your feed and dedicate your time on the platform to these strategies and the strategies I cover in my Instagram guide and I guarantee you’ll see results!
And this is just the beginning. Over the past six years I’ve grown my account from my mom and husband, to over 175K followers and growing 1K new followers a week. And these aren’t just numbers. These are highly engaged and dedicated people who are a part of a community helping to generate more sales and opportunities for my business.