Instagram is proving a huge challenge for lots of people and small businesses at the moment. It often feels like a war with the algorithm. If you’re frantically searching for blogs like this one, webinars or tutorials, let us give you some answers! We may even get a bit controversial…
The problem with Instagram…
The annoying thing is, when you work hard all day to make your products and photograph them, only to find they bomb in an Instagram post, it is so freakin’ annoying! We feel your pain.
Instagram have introduced a way to hide ‘likes’ so that you can’t see how many ‘likes’ are on a post – sometimes this is useful if you find yourself constantly worrying about a post’s performance. However, Instagram remains one of the most useful tools to market your business, so you need to know what works and what you’re wasting your time with.
Here at Pedddle we have a private Members-only Instagram account, where we’ve set up ‘hubs’ – group chats for our members. We use DMs (Direct Messages) to work with our stallholder community and support one another, especially when our posts bomb and times are tough. It’s so important to stick together on this and we all need to share ideas and support our fellow makers accounts – and you’ll receive support in return. Sounds like something you might be interested in? Click to see what else our Members get.
We wanted to take a closer look at why some accounts perform so well, taking inspiration from small businesses that do a great job. We don’t want to copy, but taking inspiration from others is always useful. Below we’ve listed some accounts both big and small, that are great at interacting with their audience and customers.
Please note: All comments made are our own opinions about these accounts and Instagram grids only, as of November 2021. They are all positive, but it is subjective and there are so many great accounts to choose from. The trick is to find accounts that inspire you and are akin to your business, and see what works well for them.
4 ways to grow your Instagram
1. Engage & Interact
We see the terms ‘engagement’ and ‘interaction’ popping up a lot. Instagram wants you to up your engagement game – it’s called ‘social media’ for a reason, they want you to be social!
Interaction is key to growing your socials. Like and comment on others’ posts, watch their stories, perhaps give them a follow, and they’ll do the same for you in return.
These are two very different accounts but both do an amazing job. Question is, do you know your audience and do you give them what they want?
Instagram’s algorithm notices people who’s posts get instant engagement once they post, and shows them to more people who could follow you.
The more you can get your audience to interact with you, share posts, reply to your stories and so on, the better.
Don’t forget about the power of Stories! Think polls, question stickers, etc – give people something to respond to and engage with to up your interaction.
2. Mix up your content
You don’t have to constantly post about your work and products. This can be exhausting. Your audience want to see what your entire business is about; that means getting to know the maker behind the products too.
Think about the how, what, where and why of your business – check out this blog for more ideas.
Mix up your content type too; a mixture of one image, carousels, video content, boomerangs – Instagram gives us endless options. Video content is being especially pushed right now.
Try a challenge
Many makers give prompts to inspire content, such as the fantastic #MarchMeetTheMaker challenge by Joanne Hawker. Click here to find out more about it.
Accounts that mix up content well
These accounts post great images, but it’s not always product-based. However, they are still great images and make their grids look fantastic and cohesive, with high quality pictures that have a common colour theme or style:
Darwin & Gray – Stacey posts mostly about her work but occasionally she uses other pictures that are beautiful and perhaps thought provoking, or she uses a quote.
Indie Roller – Leona is a creative business leader. She has a definite theme on her grid – using lots of colour and ‘keeping it real’ in a positive way. She doesn’t always shout about what she does, but she lets people into snippets of her life too – the bits she is happy for others to see. This is important to note, as she lets people in in a controlled manner. It’s ok to share your bad days, but also be wary of over sharing – remember it’s still a professional business account. We don’t need to see images of your last meal or get deep into your family history on your Instagram grid – save that for a personal account if you want to post it. Remember that quality content is important on this image-based platform.
Lauren Aston Designs – Laura’s account is mostly about herself creating fun images and this enables people to connect with her brand on a deeper level.
Let people get to know ‘you’, whether that’s your face or your humour, and be true to it. Stick to it, as this is what forms your ‘brand’ – and that is what your audience will connect with. People want to find their tribe, and follow accounts they identify with.
3. Be authentic
We’re going to be slightly controversial here – ‘authenticity’ is NOT the single most important thing! It’s a BIG thing, for sure, but it’s not the only factor in your business.
Hopefully, when you post, you are being authentic to yourself and saying things that are true to the person you are. However, the things that your audience keep coming back for are QUALITY and CONSISTENCY. There – we said it.
People come back time and time again to see the person they love to follow. The fun, the humour, behind-the-scenes, the images, the designs. What actually makes people continue to follow your account is consistency.
Think about it. There are some people you follow – but why? Are you asking yourself how authentic they are being? Are they giving opinions on every single thing? Do they always show behind-the-scenes struggles? Do you care?
No! It does help you to connect to them of course, but you go back to see these people as you know what you will find or look forward to what they will do next. You identify with their business ethos – however truly authentic that is. Don’t forget, you don’t often know many of the people that you follow on Instagram personally – you’re following a version of the consistency and branding that they are conveying.
Whatever your reasons for following a certain business, as soon as they start to sway from that thing or start producing bad quality content or change somehow and lose their consistency, it challenges your strength of connection with that business. Even if they are being ‘authentic’ at the time.
By all means, give your opinions on topics if that feels authentic to you and your brand, but do not feel you need to expose yourself to the entire world on social media – only show what you want people to see.
It happens to the best of us at some point – we can venture off our well-trodden path to try a new thing, a new style or product, to see if it is something ‘our audience’ are into – but watch carefully when you do this, as consistency is key. Your followers need to know it is you, and has your stamp on it.
4. Get serious with analytics
How often do you check your Insights on Instagram? Do you know the average age of your audience? Which area most of your audience is from? Check out the Insights tab and you might be surprised!
You can use Insights to your advantage – take a look at which posts performed best, got most likes and comments, and see which day of the week and what times are working best for you, and make sure you’re posting content at that time / day. You could even look at which posts performed best and re-create them, or tweak them slightly so that they don’t seem like re-cycled content. 9 times out of 10, images of people work best – people love seeing pictures of people, and they want to see the face behind the business!
Take a look for yourself – click the menu bar at the top right of the Instagram app, click ‘Insights’ and explore.
All of what we’ve mentioned above applies to your Instagram grid only – Stories are a whole different ball game! Never mind Reels, IGTV and so on…