5 Quick Instagram Tips
Of the big three social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) we most enjoy Instagram. Instagram is perfect for showcasing the beauty of horse sports, and as you might expect, it's popular with the horsey crowd. We prefer instagram as it's not as cluttered as Facebook, it's growing, and it's not the cesspool of vitirolic nonsense that can be found on Twitter (Thanks, Donald).
Over the past couple of months, we've grown our Instagram following by over 500%. It wasn't easy, but so far it's proving to be a successful way of gaining brand exposure and has resulted in direct contact, we had a photographer in England contact us via social media just this morning!
So here's five quick and easy tips we've found to be successful:
Make sure you only use quality photos. If the photo is low resolution and pixilated it's going to stand out as someone scrolls through their feed, and not in a good way. Also, make sure the photo was well taken, the subject(s) should be straight and clear. There's several tools out there to improve your photos digitally and even a good old-fashioned filter will fix a lot of things.
It's OK to use other people's photos as long as you give them credit. We use a couple different royalty free photo sites for this as well. Twenty20 is one example. Do not take a photo from someone you follow and reuse it, especially if it's something they created originally. Our quote of the day has been "borrowed" on a number of occasions, which is flattering but it's nice to get the credit. we know who you are and we're following you too ;).
Social media of any type isn't a case of if you build it, they will come. You have to engage with people in order for them to find you. Unless you're a celebrity, it's going to be very, very hard to grow your account without engaging with others. Plus, it's just the right thing to do. Don't worry about following more people than you have followers, liking too many photos (within reason) and have fun. Comment on a photo you really like, share the photo with a friend or another brand, be engaging, it's not just a place to show off.
Captions can be tricky, with so much information coming at us from all angles, people often don't have time to read them all, especially if all your captions are essays. If you have something important you want to get across related to your photo, go for it. But don't make a habit of long drawn out captions, people will get bored of it. On that same note, if your caption is short, make it clear. People might misunderstand or not read the whole caption and get the wrong idea, especially if the important part of the message is hidden below the "more" button. When it comes to #Hashtags, keep the relevant, funny, catchy ones in your caption, if it's short. Otherwise, put the hashtags into the comments section. More on that...
Some people LOVE hashtags, but a lot of people don't quite understand how they work. Hashtags work as a way of collating posts/photos into a series based on the shared hashtag (#HorsesOfInstagram is one we use regularly for example). Unless the point is to be funny or ironic, don't #MakeUpALongHashtag that will never be used. Use hashtags that are relevent to your post and the audience you want to see the post. Event hashtags are great for this, #AikenTrials being one we used recently.
One trick we've been using successfully is putting the bulk of your hashtags into your first comment, it's a more effective way of gaining exposure with Instagram's algorithm and makes your caption look cleaner. You can use multiple hashtags (10-15 max) without cluttering your caption, they'll be more effective and less intrusive. If you post about the same things quite often, another easy trick is to keep a list of hashtags in your notes app on your phone that you can copy and paste, we have three different ones for types of photos we post regularly.
Consistency could have gone at the top of this list, it's super important. This is the hardest of these tips but it's absolutely curcial. There's a difference between being consistent and being intrusive. Don't over post, 2 or 3 posts on a regular day is enough. We try to have a quote of the day almost every day, one personal photo and often something that catches our eye. Try to space them out throughout the day, if you have a business account you can see when your followers are most active in the Insights section of the app. Morning, afternoon and evening is a pretty easy and well spaced way of posting.
Most of all, have fun. Gaining exposure and watching your follower count rise can be rewarding in itself, but don't get too wrapped up in it. Instagram can be a narcissist's dream or nightmare, don't take it too seriously, not every post will be a winner. Keep on keeping on with the above tips and you'll see steady progress.