How To Use Instagram

Instagram is easily the most used platform for influencers. So how can you use it to help share your content and grow your audience? That is what this post is all about.

Before we jump into the specifics, I recommend you read the Facebook post first. Mainly, creating a Facebook Page, because you will need one in order to take the best advantage of Instagram and it’s business account option. In order to even have a business account for Instagram, you have to connect it to a Facebook page. I also recommend reading my Intro to Social Advertising to help when I discuss Instagrams advertising process.

Also, when it comes to complaining about algorithms, Instagram takes the cake. It seems pretty annoying and hard to figure out. But the main thing you should know is, there is absolutely no way to “hack the algorithm”. People will try to sell you, literally make you pay for a course or similar, this idea that you can “hack the algorithm” and do better on the platform. News flash: that is impossible. The platform has advanced, and with Facebook being in control and making the software itself better, there are no loopholes, workarounds, or hacks. And the algorithm is not out to get you.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to improve your posts to better reach and engage your followers, but these things are not app breaking nonsense of hacking. And I’ll be sharing these tips to you today, without some BS sales pitch.

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Instagram Business

Let’s chat more about what an Instagram Business account is. Business accounts have access to more features, including insights on your posts, branded content options, quick replies for DMs, and more. Also, it is free, and I do suggest using a business account for your blog. You do need to connect your Instagram account to a Facebook Page in order to really access all of the benefits of the business features.

When you initially sign up for Instagram, the default is a personal account. You can switch to a business account in your setting really easily and Instagram guides you through it.

Much like with the Facebook post, this rest of this post will be divided into sections of promotion, engagement, and advertising.

Promotion

With Instagram, you have a few ways of promoting your content and ultimately it’s up to you what you use in your strategy. I’ll briefly cover each and how to use them to benefit you and your blog.

Types of Content

First is your usual photo post. This is probably the most common post on Instagram. And with the addition of carousels, where you can put 10 photos in one post, you have more options with how to share photos. I personally only use photo posts because it makes the most sense for my content.

Second is video posts. Video is always powerful and ideal when it makes sense. However, video in this format can only be 60 seconds max, so for long-form video, it won’t work. But video catches people’s attention well, and depending on your content, can work well.

Stories are another useful option for promoting your content. You have a lot of interaction opportunities with stories, from polls to questions to quizzes, you can interact with your audience well. Keep in mind that most users watch stories without sound, so definitely utilize text when using stories.

 

IGTV is one of the latest additions to Instagram’s content options. It is great for longer video with sound. I personally don’t have a lot of IGTV experience, so if this interests you, I recommend doing your research.

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IGTV Example from Tastemade

So what is the best content type? All of them. Diversifying your content on the platform is a great way to help you grow your Instagram following and thus getting your content in front of more eyes. Instagram themselves recommend content diversity for success on the platform.

More about Linking 

Ultimately, when you want to promote something specific, the post should point towards people going to the “link in my bio”. This is a phrase you’ll see all of the time because for most of us the only place you can put any kind of link is the one in your bio on your profile. So that link will need to lead them to where you want them to go.

The easy option is just a link to your blog’s homepage, which does work fine. But it will be ultimately more beneficial for you if they go somewhere a little more specific. I used to update the link in my bio every time I posted something promotional to exactly what I was promoting, whether it was a new blog post or to me Steam Curator page. This is a good option because your followers will go to where you they want to go and ultimately where you want them to.

I now use, in an essence, a linktree. Linktree itself is a specific brand of this concept. Mine is specifically Linkinbio, via Later. I have it because I pay for a plan with Later, and it ultimately creates a mock profile of my Instagram posts and attaches links to specific posts. It is convenient when you are posting new promotional posts regularly and scheduling all of those posts in advance.

You do not have to pay for a linktree. Most people recommend making your own on your website, which is definitely doable and has its perks. Since I get mine with a plan I would pay for regardless, I won’t create my own. But if you want a linktree for free, make it yourself. Here is a post about making your own on your blog. 

Don’t forget the hashtags

I’d argue that hashtags matter the most on Instagram and are the most useful on Instagram more than any other platform. It is also a debated part of the platform for what is the best way to handle hashtags.

Despite what you may have heard, Instagram does not treat a post different based on its number of hashtags. Whether your caption has 3 hashtags of 40, the algorithm does not treat one better than the other. However, posts with hashtags do perform better and you should definitely be using them.

Not sure which hashtags to use? Definitely do your research into what other bloggers use, especially within your niche. Aiming for midsized hashtags are a good idea because very large ones like #motivation are flooded with new content and you will get drowned out fast and super small ones like #motivationquotesfrommyfriendsteve will get seen by no one except maybe your friend Steve. There are also apps that you can use suggest hashtags to use based on the information you give, which can be very useful. I have used Leetags in the past and it was handy.

So where should you place your hashtags? You may see people putting them in the caption, in the caption but spaced down super far, and even in the first comment. Which is better? Ultimately, Instagram does not care. However, your followers might and probably do. I personally space them away from the caption using periods so they are not affecting the caption and hidden below the fold. I don’t put it in a comment, mainly because I schedule all of my posts and can’t schedule a comment. It’s a personal choice in the end.

When and how often should you post

First, we’ll talk about when. Since Instagram is not in chronological order, it doesn’t matter. Posts have a feed lifespan of 2-3 days, so from when you initially post, that post can show up in feed for 2-3 days. So celebrate the fact you can post whenever works for you!

If you want to schedule your posts like I do, find a time that works for you. For my new blog post posts, I have them scheduled for 10am PST because that is when it goes live. For other posts, like sharing my Patreon or Humble Partner status, I default to noon for simplicity. Basically, find a consistent time that works for you to schedule to.

Much like with writing blog posts, being consistent on posting to Instagram is also helpful. This should be easy if you post new posts consistently, you will already post to Instagram about those posts consistently.

How often you should post in a day depends on your personal goal for the platform. If growing your Instagram and getting your posts seen by more people if your goal, posting multiple times a day is good. If you want singular posts to get more attention, posting less often is better. Since my goal is to get people to go read my blog post, I want that individual post to get more attention so I only post once a day. When I ran the social media for a large non-profit, I’d refer to it as breathing room and letting posts have the time they need to get the most out of them.

Engagement

On Instagram, engaging with others is a great thing to do. And don’t just do it because it is beneficial for you, but because you get to interact with a community. Return the favor to those who support you, and you will reap the benefits of growth. Meaningful comments will do a lot for you, and everyone can tell when you just comment under the guise of wanting attention.

Much like with using Facebook, saying what engagement you want on your post is a great idea for Instagram. Ask a question in your caption, tell people to ask you questions, have people use emojis to vote for something. Telling people what you want does work, as long as you make it worthwhile for them.

Your engagement metrics are a great indicator of the content your followers enjoy. Most people just blame the algorithm for failing posts, when that really isn’t the case. So whether people are liking or commenting on your post is really more about if people like your content or not. Instagram is ultimately going to give people more of what they enjoy, so if your followers are engaging with your content they will see it in their feeds.

Advertising

If you are brand new to any advertising, I highly recommend you check out my Intro to Social Advertising post while you go through this section to give you more information and explanation.

Creating ads on Instagram is similar to doing it on Facebook in many ways. You can actually use the Facebook Ads Manager to make Instagram ads if you want to streamline the process.

You can make ads in the Instagram app too, which is what I will cover here so you can see the difference. Specifically, in the app, you boost a post versus through the ads manager you can create a post from scratch to only be the ad.

Here is the process for making an ad in the app, with a slideshow of how it looks as well.

  1. First, you will choose the post to promote. This is similar to boosted posts on Facebook because you take a post that already exists on your profile and promote it with advertising.
  2. Then it is your ad information. This is where you specify the URL the ad will go to and what you want the button to say.
  3. You then choose your target audience. You can either create your own or let Instagram automate it for you.
  4. Finally, you decide your budget and duration.

 

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Instagram have info available for all of these steps you can read while making your ad, which you should do if you get confused or want to learn more.

Is advertising on Instagram worth it? It really depends on what you are advertising. For myself, I wouldn’t advertise on Instagram because my content isn’t necessarily the most desired content on the platform. Certain niches will get much better traction and use of the platform and ads than geek blogs, truthfully.

And thats it for my Instagram Guide for bloggers! If you are wanting to learn even more, I recommend this post by Niki Camacho. She recently shared insights she learned from Instagram reps and it is an awesome post.