Instagram for the Creative Entrepreneur

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oh happy day, friends! I hope the sun is shining as beautifully where you are as it is here in middle Tennessee because it really does wonders for my mood! This winter has had me in a funk (I think it's because I've been separated from my pretty summer dresses for far too long) and I am so ready for warmer weather!

Anyway! In the past I've shared some tips for how to use Pinterest and Twitter so its enjoyable for not only you, but your followers as well! Today I want to talk about my (hands-down) favorite social media platform of the moment: Instagram. It is the most enjoyable for me to use personally and it is where I get the most interaction with Stephanie Creekmur customers and followers. I see a greater ROI (Return On Investment) with Instagram than I do with Facebook or Twitter which is great because as I said, it's the most enjoyable for me!

Below are a few tips and tricks to consider when running an IG account for your creative business.

KNOW WHAT STORY YOU'RE TELLING. What is the main purpose of your IG account? Are you using it to capture precious family moments? Is it your food or fashion diary? Is it a marketing tool for your business? If you answered yes to that last question than you need to be more intentional with what types of posts you make. What part of the story do you want your Instagram to tell? I use my account for sneak peeks and behind the scenes. I feel like that's where my most loyal followers are so I like to share the good stuff with them first. I also like to share little snippets of my personal life but in extreme moderation because while my followers do want to know who's behind the business, they are following my account because of the beautiful things we're creating. (Also, if you are using your account for business but you just happen to love gourmet cooking, your bio is a great place to let people in on what types of photos you'll be sharing. This could be an opportunity to make a connection point based on something entirely different than what you do daily.)

USE NATURAL LIGHT. As with any type of photo taking, natural light works best and the same goes for Instagram photos. If lighting conditions aren't ideal, there are a number of ways to spruce up your images and I'll share some of my favorites below.

BE CONSISTENT. There are many ways to communicate your brand message and Instagram is a great place to do that visually. Decide whether you're going to use borders on your photos (personally I prefer no borders) and which filters you like best and stick to those decisions. When someone scrolls through your feed you want them to see all of the beautiful things you are posting and to not be distracted by all the clutter. You want the photos to feel consistent throughout.

DON'T BOMBARD THE FEED. I get it. You have a lot of awesome things you want to share, but chances are your followers don't want to see 4 pictures from you in a row. Space out your posting so they are anxious for your next post instead of tuning you out. I try not to post more than three times a day and if I post that much, I share once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. I will say that I get the most interaction on my late night posts because like myself, that's when my audience is using the platform the most.

EASY ON THE HASHTAGS. Sometimes hashtags are a really useful way to get your posts seen by people interested in the same topic. For instance, I tag all of my hand lettered posts with #handlettering and I love exploring the tag to see what other people are creating. It's also a great way to group your own photos with a unique tag. Again, with my hand lettered posts I tag them with #scletters. Viewers can click on that tag and see all of my IG photos that involve my hand lettering. I highly suggest that if you own a business of any kind and are using the platform as a marketing tool, that you create a unique hashtag for your business. We tag every post that has to do with the shop with #StephanieCreekmur. We also encourage our customers to do the same when sharing their purchases on social media. It's a fun way to keep up with our products after they leave our studio! All that being said, don't go overboard. Tag with intention and make sure you're using hashtags that have purpose and will group like photos together like the examples stated above.

DON'T REPOST THE SAME PHOTOS OVER & OVER . Twitter has been described as a river and your posts are usually only seen by a small fraction each time, so it's a good idea to re-share your posts throughout the day. Instagram is similar but I think followers click over to a user's profile much more frequently than they do on Twitter. If you re-share your giveaway image 4 times in a row it will probably result in a few un-follows due to lack of interest. You can re-share the same information, but switch it up with a different photo to keep it interesting. (Also, this is definitely personal preference, but quit asking your followers to repost your images in order to win a giveaway. I know you think this will get you more exposure, but I just skip right over those types of posts. I pay as much attention to them as I pay attention to those horrible ads at the top of a blog. Try and be a little more creative when reaching out to your audience.)

GIVE FIRST, ASK LATER. What are you contributing to the relationship? This is a great question to continually ask yourself in all aspects of life, but especially when talking about your online presence. If you are constantly asking for a sale, your followers might start to tune you out and that is the last thing you want. Giving first doesn't have to mean a giveaway (actually that's really the last thing I'm talking about). How can you add value to the platform instead of more noise. Pay attention the the types of posts that really resonate with you as well as the posts that seem to get the most attention from your followers.

PHOTO EDITING APPS. Lastly, I wanted to share some of my favorite apps for editing my photos. I always like to try and get the best shot I can (lighting, angle, cropping, etc.) right off the bat, but sometimes the photos need a little lovin' and these are my go-to apps!
  • PicTapGo I almost always start here when editing my photos. I love that I can brighten the images and there are a lot of filters that have a more natural appearance compared to the selection on Instagram. You can crop and rotate your photos and import directly into IG for easy posting. You also have the option to create "recipes" which makes for quick and consistent photos.
  • VSCOcam This is the app I used before PicTapGo. It does many of the same things but I didn't like the filter options as much. I know a lot of people who love this editing app, so even though I don't really use it anymore it's another great option.
  • Frametastic This is what I use when I want to create a photo collage for IG. I love that I can control the width of the borders (I like no outside border and very thin inside borders) and they have the simple layouts I'm looking for. If you choose to use photo collages, keep the layouts simple. With multiple photos in the tiny IG square you don't need a crazy layout.
  • Whitagram Sometimes you just want to share a photo with landscape orientation and you can't fit everything into the IG square. This is where Whitagram steps in. It's simple and easy to use and import directly into IG.
  • Flipagram This is great if you have multiple photos you'd like to share at once - randomly or in a sequence - and it allows you to add music. I've used this app when showing stages of my hand lettering in my sketchbook (here) and a recap of my 2013 (here).
  • Waterlogue This is a recent obsession (that took over IG fairly quickly) and another way to add some interest to your photos. It takes your image and creates a watercolor painting. 
  • Cute CUT I just recently downloaded this app to help me speed up this video. I don't post a lot of videos on IG but I am excited to add a few more hand lettering action videos! 
  • InstaVM This is another new app and I used it to add music to the video above, which was fun!
Now, if only Instagram would allow clickable links within posts... :)

DO YOU HAVE ANY IG TIPS OR PET PEEVES TO ADD?

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4 comments

  1. I know right? Clickable link please!
    Great post!

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    1. Ugh! I know! Still waiting a year later! ;)

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  2. Thank you for these tips! I've just recently started using Instagram, and I would definitely like to showcase my business in a nice, non-obnoxious way:) Good guidelines.

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    1. I'm glad you found them helpful! I'm working on a follow up post because social media changes so much in a year!

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