Instagram: you either love it or feel like you’re constantly fighting it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get the sensation that I’ll always be lost in the vast network that is Instagram. However, as I’ve been growing and learning more about Instagram, I’ve learned that it doesn’t always have to be that way! Instead of Instagram being a stressful situation, it can go back to being the fun social setting that it’s supposed to be! One of the easiest ways to help relieve the stress of Instagram is to have a Instagram strategy. But what is an Instagram strategy and, more importantly, how do you make one?
Here to talk about the topic of Instagram Strategy is Toni from the blog tlyarncrafts.com. You might know her for her stylish designs, yarn and coffee photos, and her positive attitude that’s so inspiring to others. Toni is one of the reasons that I got back into crochet after I saw some of her gorgeous designs, and instantly wanted to make them. I’ve loved following along with her, and her successful Instagram account has inspired me to get to the point she’s at as well. When she agreed to come on my video podcast, I couldn’t have been more thrilled!
Our maker topic this week is how to create an effective Instagram strategy for you business. What is an Instagram strategy you might ask? An Instagram strategy is a plan that you create to reach your goals on Instagram. Some goals you might have could be:
- Growth: Increasing your following on Instagram to reach a certain amount of followers.
- Engagement: From likes to comments, engagement measures the interaction you have with you followers.
- Growth outside of Instagram: if you’re running a handmade business, you might be using Instagram as a marketing tool to help promote your business in order to have your followers go to your other platforms. That could range anywhere from having people visit your Etsy store, Ravelry account, Facebook, blog, or website.
Toni’s strategy centers on the third goal type, that of growing your business outside of Instagram. She uses her Instagram account as a funnel to her pattern store, blog, and website. I try to do the same thing by creating content on my Instagram that promotes my other channels, along with creating a community with my followers. The next question you might ask is how do you use your Instagram to reach these goals?
Click the photo below to download my FREE Instagram Planner Printable to help you plan your content!
Steps for Creating your strategy
- Create Consistency: You might hear the word consistency thrown around a lot when it comes to Instagram, but what is it referring to? Consistency has to do with using the same things repeatedly on your Instagram account. From having photos that share the same overall look, captions that have a similar message, or what time you post each day, you can easily adapt your strategy to do this. In order to have consistency you can:
- Use the same filter on all of your photos so that your grid looks like it fits the same theme.
- Have similar content in your feed. Toni has yarn, coffee, her cats, and her designs in her feed consistently. That doesn’t mean that you have to do the same things, or that you need to constantly stage your photos. Toni loves posting things that she likes, and by doing that her photos look like they all fit together. She also uses a certain color palette in her business so that things have a natural transition.
- Post on the same days around similar times – Instagram is a sucker for consistency and the app loves when you post on the same days at the same times. Toni posts on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. She gives herself the weekends and a day in the middle of the week off, and then posts on the same times during the week. Through a lot of trial and error she’s been able to find what times during those days that she’s found work best for her engagement with her audience. In your business Instagram analytics you get to see what times your audiences interacts with your account the most. Mine is between 12pm-12:40pm. You can experiment with posting your posts at different times in order to see when you get the most engagement from them. It’s ok if you don’t get the best response right away! You’ll figure out what works for you in time, and soon you’ll be able to get your optimum engagement!
- Plan around seasons: When creating products or designs in your handmade business, plan around what season you’ll be posting the content in. Toni has her designs planned all the way through September so that she knows what she’ll focus on each season. If you want to create a wearable design for spring or summer then focus on light and airy designs that are made with lightweight yarns. Beach coverups, dresses, tank tops, shirts, shawls, and baby all do great in the spring and summer. Whereas if you’re in fall and winter you’ll want to have thick and chunky designs meant to keep your audience warm. Sweaters, hats, scarves, cardigans, and blankets are perfect fall and winter items.
- Create an experience for your audience: Instagram is first and foremost a social network that helps us connect to people that we’d never have the chance to meet in our normal lives. It’s a platform for us to share what we make, our lives, and create a community with our followers. When you’re creating content, create something that provides a sense of connection to your audience, and draws their interest so that they want to keep coming back. That could be posting a photo of what you’re working on with a cup of coffee, a picture of yourself modeling what you’ve made, or a picture that helps convey what’s going on in your life. This helps create a sense of friendship with your followers, where you can develop genuine relationships with them. When people feel like we’re their best friend then we create trust with them, which makes it feel like instead of buying something from us they’re supporting us.
- Use your caption to create interest: Captions give us the chance to express ourselves and connect our lives to our photos and content that we’re creating. It’s your chance to express something about your business, share a story, or ask questions to build a relationship with your audience. Toni’s captions maintain a consistent formula that she’s seen provide her with some success. Her formula is:
- Begin with something short like a phrase or a funny anedote
- In the middle have a series of info that can range from details about a pattern, when a design is coming out, a story, or any other things she wants to convey to her audience.
- End with a call to action that invites your audience to do something such as “You can find this pattern (or item) for sale in my Etsy store” or “Head to my blog through the link in my bio.” This gives your audience an extra chance to interact with your content beyond just liking it.
- Utilize hashtags to connect to the audience your reaching out to: Instagram hashtags are the best way to get your content out there! You are allowed to use 30 hashtags in your captions, and Toni recommends to use all of them. That way you have the most chances for getting your content to the largest audience. What type of hashtags should you use though? Toni tries to use about half niche specific hashtags that relate to her audience (crocheters) and half aesthetic related hashtags that express the feel of the photo. She’s found this balance has helped her have the most effectiveness with her content. Research hashtags that relate to your niche and craft to help you know what specific hashtags your audience follows. When you research them you can go on different makers’ accounts that you love and see what hashtags they tend to use. This has helped me a lot in finding hashtags that I want to use with my photos! To keep track of all of the ones you want to use, you can keep a note in your phone that contains the hashtags you like, so that you never lose track of them.
- Create a bio that captures attention: Your bio is the first place that new audience members can get to know you and your business, so you want to draft your bio around who you’re wanting to attract. Tell them what they can see on your account (like ‘coffee, crochet, and cats’), where you live, a link of where to find you on other platforms, and a few small things about yourself. The simpler the better! Even use emojis to help break up your text and make it more inviting. Your bio doesn’t have to be super complicated, because sometimes the easier it is to read the easier it is to connect.
As some final thoughts to conclude these tips, just remember that everyone’s Instagram experience is different. Just because one person succeeded with one strategy doesn’t mean that it will work for you, and that’s ok! With a little hard work and experimentation, you can find that strategy that will make your Instagram soar. Don’t focus on fighting the algorithm because you don’t own it, and can’t call Instagram to find out what are the best things to do. Keep tweaking and experimenting, and soon it will all click. You’ve got this maker!
For more amazing tips like these and beautiful patterns from Toni, visit her on her website www.tlyarncrafts.com, and on Instagram @tlyarncrafts!