The Beginner's Guide to Crushing It on Instagram: Part Two

Note: this is a very long and very informational guide to Instagram, so we have broken it up into two separate blog posts. Click here for part one.

the beginners guide to crushing it on instagram

In The Beginner’s Guide to Crushing It on Instagram: Part One, we covered the process of setting up and optimizing your Instagram account. In Part Two, we will be covering posting on Instagram - what to post, when to post, how often to post, and posts vs. stories.


posting on instagram for beginners

Posting on Instagram

Now that your profile is optimized, it time to start posting! If you have not created and optimized your Instagram profile, check out part one of The Beginner's Guide to Crushing It on Instagram here.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • What to Post

  • When to Post

  • How Often to Post

  • Posts vs. Stories

What to post

This is a tough topic for a blog post because what you post is completely dependent on your account. There are a few categories that almost all business accounts should post, those are:

  • Product/Service Showcase

  • Behind the Scenes

  • Educational

  • Introduction/Background

  • Quotes

what to post on instagram for beginners instacrush society

One of the biggest keys to growing a loyal following on Instagram is to provide your audience with something. We already established that there are over one hundred million Instagram accounts, so why should someone follow YOURS?

Also, be sure that you’re posting high-quality photos. This does not mean that you can’t use your phone, but be sure you’re taking photos in good lighting and that you’re editing your photos if need be (have you seen our Lightroom Presets?!). One thing we see ALL. THE. TIME. is people not having success on Instagram and complaining about the algorithm or something, but when we take a look at their profile it’s full of low-quality photos (dark, blurry, etc.).

I know I keep talking about the amount of users on Instagram, but it is so so important. According to WordStream, 95 million Instagram posts are posted each day. Users are consuming tons of content, low quality photos are going to be scrolled past so quickly.

PRODUCT/SERVICE SHOWCASE

This one probably goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. Showcase your products or services! Just make sure you’re not too pushy or salesy with your posts. Instead, show the benefits of your products/services. Play off your audience’s emotions - what will your followers gain by purchasing your product or by working with you? Maybe you could tell a story about a happy customer or share a testimonial.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Make your followers feel like they know you/your brand. The more you open up to your followers, the more they’ll feel connected with you. Show your workspace or your creation process. Give your followers a personal look into your business!

EDUCATIONAL

Teach your followers something! If you’re an organic dog food brand, post an infographic about the benefits of feeding your dog grain-free food. Or post a cute dog to capture the attention of your audience, then provide some information in the caption. Not only will this teach your followers something new, it’ll also position you as a leader in your niche and will potentially sell some dog food as well.

INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND

Tell your story. Introduce yourself, your business, your team members, etc. Provide your audience with some background info - why’d you start your business? How’d you get to where you are today?

I like to do an introduction every month or two. Your newer followers may not have seen your older posts, so it’s always good to do periodic re-introductions. This also gives you an opportunity to learn more about your audience - encourage them to introduce themselves in the post’s comments!

QUOTES

No matter your niche, quotes always do well on Instagram. Just make sure it’s not too long of a quote - that should go in your caption. Share a short post that can be read while someone is scrolling through their feed. Make it a relatable quote - this will encourage comments or even better, it’ll have your followers tagging their friends or sharing it on their own feed.

When posting quotes, it’s always best to have your name or logo somewhere on the image. That way, if it’s shared by another account, people will be exposed to your business even if the account that shared it did not give you credit in the caption.

When to post

Instagram used to show posts in chronological order. When that was the case, the timing of posts was crucial to keep your post from getting lost amongst all of the other posts on your followers’ feeds. But now the algorithm focuses on showing users the posts that they think you want to see rather than the posts in order of when they were posted (we’ll go deeper into this later).

Basically, there’s no magical time of day that’s best for posting. With a new account, you’ll want to test out different times - post a few times in the morning, a few times in the afternoon, a few times in the evening. Post at least one post each day of the week. Once you’ve done all of that, you can check out your statistics and see if there’s a time that gets more engagement than others.

Instagram analytics will show you what times your followers are most active. But when you’re starting out, the stats won’t be very beneficial. Once you have a significant following (500+) you can use your analytics to see when your followers spend the most time on Instagram. But just because your followers are active does not mean they’re for sure going to see your post, so don’t put too much concern into the timing of your posts.

How often to post

When you start your account and want to maximize your reach and exposure, the more you post, the better. But, we always encourage quality over quantity. So you’re better off posting 4 amazing posts a week than posting average posts 2x/day. This is going to be dependent on how much time you’re able to dedicate to content creation and posting. Figure out what you have time for and go from there.

Consistency is more important than frequency, so whether you’re posting a few times a day or a few times a week, just try to remain consistent!

Posts vs. Stories

Instagram has three main places to post: on your feed, in your stories, and on IGTV.

We have a full guide to IGTV which you can read here, so we’re not going to go too deep into that in this post. We’re going to focus on posts and stories - what the difference is and what to post on each.

INSTAGRAM POSTS

Instagram posts are the posts that appear on your Instagram feed. They are made up of a photo and an optional caption, and they are permanently on your feed unless you delete or archive them.

Posts should be intentional. Your followers can like, comment, share, and save your posts, and you want to encourage as much of this engagement as possible.

To increase the potential reach of your post, we suggest adding a location to your post (this means your post will be seen by anyone who views posts from that specific location), especially if location is relevant to your business. It’s not necessary, and location won’t always be relevant to your post (like for text posts or graphics), but it is good to do when possible because it’s extra potential exposure, which is always good!

We also suggest tagging relevant accounts on your posts, this way your post will come up if someone’s viewing the posts that those accounts have been tagged in. It also makes it more likely that the accounts you tagged in your post will engage with your account, which let’s Instagram know that your account is similar or associated with theirs. For example, lots of female bloggers and business owners tag Girlcrush Collective in their posts, and we try to at least like every post that we are tagged in.

Captions are very important. Your caption style is up to you - some accounts post long, blog-like captions on their posts and some post short sentences. Personally, we post a combination of both. Test them out and see what feels right for you and your brand!

The algorithm really puts a lot of emphasis on engagement. The more engagement your post receives, the more likely it’ll be seen by other accounts, whether it’s by making it on the explore page or making it to the top posts on specific hashtags. When writing your caption, you want to encourage users to comment. You should aim to include a call to action in as many of your captions as possible. Some good call to actions include:

  • Asking your followers a question

  • Telling your followers to tag a friend

When it comes to comments, you should try to respond to as many as possible. Your response will also count as engagement and it will help create a deeper connection with your audience. Bonus points if you can get a whole conversation going in your comments!

INSTAGRAM STORIES

Instagram stories are vertical photos or videos that are visible for 24-hours. If you have a story on your account, there will be a red/orange circle around your profile photo. They’re not necessarily as important or crucial to your account’s success as posts on your feed, but they are an extra way to connect with your audience - and they can be a lot of fun!

Stories are much more casual than posts on your feed - you do not need to spend as much time and energy planning them. Instagram stories have really become a world of their own over the past few years. There’s so much more that you can do with them now than just sharing a photo or video; it seems like they’re adding new Instagram story features every time I’m on Instagram!

Instagram story features:

  • Tag accounts, locations, and hashtags

  • Add link

  • Share polls

  • Ask questions

  • Use a countdown sticker

  • Share live videos

  • Add gifs and stickers

Tagging accounts, locations, and hashtags

Stories are less likely to reach accounts that are not already following you. However, you can tag other accounts, locations, and hashtags in your stories. If you tag another account, they will be notified in their direct messages and will have the ability to reshare it onto their own stories. If you tag a location or hashtag, it’ll be visible if someone is viewing that location or hashtag.

Adding links to your Instagram stories

The ability to add links to your Instagram stories is one of the very best features of Instagram stories, as you cannot post clickable links in your post captions and you can only post one link in your bio. But this amazing feature is not so easy to come by - you have to have a business or creator profile AND at least 10,000 followers. Once you have the swipe-up feature, you can add a link to your story and your viewers can swipe up to view the link.

Share polls

You can create a poll in your Instagram stories and your followers can select an answer. Once they’ve answered, they’ll see the percentage of users that have agreed or disagreed with them. You can ask any question and provide your followers with two answer choices. There are tons of ways to use this feature, such as to get opinions from your followers or just for fun. You’ll be able to see who responded to your poll and which answer they selected.

Ask Questions

Similar to the polls feature, you can add a question box to your stories. But instead of selecting one of two preset answers, your followers can type out their response. You’ll be able to see all responses to your question and you have the option to share responses on your story.

instagram story question stickers

Use a Countdown Sticker

Have an event coming up? Or maybe a 24-hour sale? You can let your followers know how much time is left by adding a custom countdown sticker to your story.

Share Live Videos

Live videos are a really cool feature of Instagram stories. You can choose to “go live” in your story and your followers can watch in real-time. They’ll be able to comment on your live video so you can engage instantly. Once you end your live video, it’ll remain visible for 24-hours, just like a regular Instagram story. You can even go live with another account - it’ll split the screen and you can talk with each other while your audience watches and comments!

Add GIFs and Stickers

Infuse some of your fun personality into your stories with the huge collection of GIFs and stickers. You can even create your own GIFs - learn more at https://giphy.com/.

For our favorite strategies for getting your audience to engage with your Instagram stories, check out this post. We also have 4 free Instagram story templates that you can use on your own stories - download them here.


instacrush society instagram tips for beginners

We would LOVE to have you join the InstaCrush Society!

We have both free and paid memberships so you can choose the plan that is right for you! Our members receive our best tips, tricks, strategies, and resources for massive Instagram success every single month. If you’re serious about growing your Instagram, InstaCrush was made for you! Plus, all members (both free and paid) get to join the private InstaCrush Facebook Group where you can connect with us and the other members!



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The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society

The Beginner's Guide to Crushing It on Instagram: Part One

Note: this is a very long and very informational guide to Instagram, so we have broken it up into two separate blog posts. Click here for part two.

the beginner's guide to crushing it on instagram by instacrush society girlcrush collective

Instagram. It started as a simple photo sharing app and evolved into a massive cultural phenomenon. It’s a place for sharing photos with friends, for businesses to market their products or services, for customer service, for networking, for sharing recipes, for making friends, and for so much more.

When I created my Instagram account back in the summer of 2011, it was a very basic app. I took some artsy photos and edited them with cheesy filters and borders. I would get so excited if I got 11 likes because that’s when it would switch from a list of usernames to “11 likes”.

The platform has evolved exponentially since I first downloaded the app. Especially when it was sold to Facebook (for 1 billion dollars). If you’re new to Instagram in 2019, I’d imagine that it feels very overwhelming. Maybe you’ve had a personal account for a while but now you’re ready to learn how to use it for your business - there is a big learning curve there!

Here at InstaCrush, we’re Insta-obsessed. We want you to love Instagram as much as we do and we want to make it as simple for you as possible. This blog post is a compilation of everything you need to know if you’re starting an Instagram account today, especially if you’re using it for your blog or business.

instagram for beginners creating your profile

creating your instagram profile

First thing’s first, you need to create your account. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to set up your profile. One mistake we see is people starting to follow and interact with other accounts before optimizing their own. You want everyone who looks at your profile to know who you are, what you do, and what they can expect from your account.

Creating a Business Profile

instagram business profile perks

Why do you want a business profile? Business profiles provide you with tons of features that are not available with personal Instagram profiles, such as:

  • Instagram Analytics

  • Contact Buttons

  • Industry Info

  • Swipe Up Links in Stories

  • Advertise & Promote Posts

If you’re creating your Instagram account for a blog or business, you’ll want either a business account or a creator account. To do this, you’ll need a Facebook Page. For us, we created our Girlcrush Collective Facebook page prior to our Instagram so we could easily connect them. And if you have no intention of using your Facebook page, that’s totally fine. You just need to create one to connect to your Instagram.

Business Profile vs. Creator Profile

Creator profiles are new in 2019. Instagram has become a huge platform for influencers and content creators and this new profile option is meant for them. Influencers (Instagrammers with large followings who have “influence”) are almost replacing traditional Instagram ads. Brands pay influencers to promote their product or service to their followings and it’s been a very effective marketing tactic.

With a creator profile, influencers are able to better collaborate with brands by letting Instagram know if they’re partnering with a business for a specific post. This allows both the influencer and the brand to see the post’s statistics.

Creator profiles also have a more simplified messaging platform that helps filter direct messages and have better control of their messages. They also allow followers to make purchases directly from their posts, a feature that used to only be available to product-based businesses.

So which should you choose? That’s up to you. You can start with a business profile and switch over to a creator profile at any point if you feel that would be a better fit. When you start out, it does not matter too much, as long as it’s not a personal profile.

Switching from a personal profile to a business profile

If you created your account as a personal profile, no worries. You can switch to a business profile very easily. All you have to do is go to your settings and scroll down to “Switch to Business Profile. This will prompt you to connect to your Facebook page. Then just fill out your business contact details and you’re all set!

Your Username

Your username is also often referred to as your handle. It can be changed at any point in time, so don’t stress too much. But you want your username to be memorable and straight to the point. Avoid using numbers at all cost - this is fine for a personal profile, but it looks unprofessional and potentially scammy if your account is for your business.

There are over 100 million Instagram accounts as of June 2019, according to Statistica. This obviously makes it hard to get your desired Instagram username, but there are always ways around it.

For example, when we created our Instagram account for Girlcrush Collective, @girlcrushcollective was already taken. As was @girlcrushco. So instead of doing something like @girlcrushco123, we added a period - @girlcrush.collective. This keeps the username clean and memorable without looking unprofessional.

Consider adding a period (.) or an underscore (_)  in your username if your desired name is already taken. You can also reach out to the existing account by sending them a DM and asking if they’d consider letting you have the username. We don’t recommend this if it’s an active Instagram account, but if the account has only a few posts or hasn’t posted in over a year, it’s worth a try!

Your Name

Your name is different than your username. It’s visible only in your profile or when someone is viewing a list of users. It’s the bold name under your profile photo. It is searchable, so you should jam-pack it with keywords. Your username is searchable too, so it’s not necessary for you to put your business name in your name if it’s already in your username, but that’s totally up to you.

For example, if you’re an organic pet food brand, you should say that. Your name should not be cutesy as that will not benefit you. Platy around with your name, see what keywords you can fit there - you only have 30 characters. Basically, think about what your ideal audience will be searching and include that somewhere in your name or username.

Your Instagram Bio

People with personal Instagram accounts usually do not take their bio very seriously. But as a business, it’s your first shot at connecting with your potential audience. Your bio should explain what your business is, what you do, what your followers can expect from you, and a call to action. The tricky part here is that you have to do all of this in just 150 characters, so make every word count!

Your bio is not searchable, meaning that if someone searches for “grain free dog food”, your profile will not show up just because those words are in your bio. However, you can include hashtags in your bio. So you could say “Premium Dog Food #GrainFree” for potential exposure to users searching that hashtag.

If you’re not sure what you should include in your bio, use this formula:

anatomy and formula for the perfect instagram bio

This ensures that anyone viewing your profile will know what they need to know, and it will encourage them to either visit your site, download your freebie, or join your email list (depending on what you use your link for).

Note: formatting your bio is tricky. Instagram does not allow you to put line breaks in your bio when editing it from your profile. We suggest writing and formatting your bio in the notes app on your phone, then copy and paste it into your profile.

Your Profile Picture

This one is tricky. What you should use as your profile photo is going to be different for everyone. You definitely want to use either a close up photo of your face or your business’s logo. The main thing is to make your account easily recognizable.

If you have a business that is mainly service-based and personal, a photo of your face is best. It makes your account more personal and will help your audience connect with you. If you do not personally represent your company, your logo is the way to go.

One thing we see too often: logos that are too complex or too small to be seen in your little profile photo. For example, on the Girlcrush Collective Instagram, we used just the girl part of our logo. If we used the full Girlcrush Collective logo with the text and the girl, no one would be able to see it or read it. Plus, our name is already all over our profile, it doesn’t need to be in our profile picture. Consider the size of your logo when choosing a profile picture - maybe you want to just use a smaller asset from your brand.

This guide’s not over! Click here to read The Beginner’s Guide to Crushing it on Instagram: Part Two


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The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society
The Beginner's Guide to Instagram by InstaCrush Society