How I Used Instagram To Grow My Business

Hey, guys. And welcome to another episode of the Girl Means Business podcast. I'm super excited you're here and so grateful that you are tuning into this episode. One thing I want to say really quick before we get started is, guys. Thank you so much for everyone that has subscribed, that is listening and has left me a review. If you have not left a review for the podcast, I would love for you to take just a second. Just hit pause really fast. Go to i-Tunes. Even if you don't listen to this on the i-Tunes app, just head over to i-Tunes. I will link to it in the show notes for today and leave me a quick review, letting me know what you think about the show. Not only does it help me get great feedback on what you're liking and what you want to see more of. It also allows other listeners to know what they're missing out on when they come across this podcast in their podcast app. So if you could take just a few seconds to do that, it would completely make my day. All right, guys. So if you've been listening, then you know that for twenty twenty one of my goals with this podcast is to start doing more episode series. That means that we're gonna be talking about topics in a group of episodes so that we're sort of staying on topic within each episode covering different aspects of that topic for the month of January. Our topic was healthy habits. We looked into goal setting, being personally healthy, looking at how you are living your daily life and what you wear and how you plan out your year ahead of time. All those things that lead to healthy habits in your life and your business. This month, I want to dive into the crazy, exciting roller coaster ride that is social media. We're going to be talking about Instagram and Facebook, two platforms I'm sure that you are widely familiar with. But we're also going to dive into two new platforms that they're not really new, but two platforms that you may not be utilizing as much in your business. That can be a huge help. And those are LinkedIn and Pinterest. So I'm super excited about this series we have coming up on the podcast, OK? So to dive into today's episode, we are going to look at Instagram now on the show. I have had Instagram experts and social media experts come in and talk about the best practices for using Instagram in your business. What I want to do today is really break down how I am using Instagram in my business today. So with all of the great tips and tricks, obviously with anything you learn about in business, you have to figure out what works for you. There is such a mass amount of information out there on social media that it could feel really overwhelming and it could be really easy to fall into a trap of, well, none of this works for me. So I want to really look today at what I have implemented in my business when it comes to my Instagram strategies so that you can see what I'm doing on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. That has helped me to grow my following and grow my business with new clients. So let's jump into today's topic of Instagram. So before we start looking at what I'm doing now in my Instagram account, I want to go back to the beginning and talk a little bit about some of the misconceptions I had about Instagram when I first started using it. So similar to Facebook or really even having a Web site up there. When I started using Instagram, I fell in to sort of this idea that if I build it, they will come. And I thought, OK, if I put it out there and I've got it on the Instagram account and I'm updating it from time to time, people are going to see it. They're going to love it. They're going to follow me. They're going to message me. They're going to want to work with me. And unfortunately, that's just not how social media works. And so I had to really dive in and learn what I could do to get my images out there so that people were seeing them. What I had to do to get people to want to follow me, what I had to do to get people interested enough to send me a message and request more information to work with me. So I sort of took it. And those simple steps, you know, one was, how can I get people to pay attention to what I'm posting? How can I get them to pay attention enough to follow me with step 2? And step 3 was how do I take them from following me and admiring from a distance to actually damning me getting into my inbox and starting to work with me. So that's kind of been my overarching three step process that I go through every time I think about my Instagram account.

 

But I say all this to say that when you are looking at Instagram as a marketing tool, I want you to really evaluate how much energy and time you're willing to put into your Instagram account, because I see a lot of business owners a. All that are that have an account you're posting from time to time or maybe your posting every day. But it's not getting you followers. It's not creating business for you. It's just one more thing to check off of your checklist. I know this time of year is when I get a lot of people coming to me asking for coaching sessions and mentor sessions. And the feedback I hear from a lot of people is that they just don't think social media works for them or I'm not willing to pay for ads. And so what's the point?

 

It's not really going to work for me. And I don't think that that's necessarily the right mindset to have. Because, yes, social media requires work, but you don't have to pay to play. Now, obviously, that can help. And we'll talk about paid ads and other episodes. But I really do think that there is organic natural engagement to be had on platforms such as Instagram. And so I just wanted to kind of preface this entire episode with the idea that if you have the mindset of if I build it, they will come and you're just randomly, sporadically putting stuff on your Instagram, hoping it will get you business, then it's not going to work for you. But if you're willing to put in the work, if you're willing to follow the things we're going to talk about in this episode and things we've talked about in previous episodes, it definitely can work for you.

 

It's like going to the gym. I think I've used this analogy before, but it makes sense in my head is that if I show up to the gym and all I do is walk into the gym and stand there and maybe like hop on a machine for a minute and then hop off, I'm not going to see results. But if I'm going to the gym and I'm showing up every day and I'm consistently putting in the work and I'm on the treadmill, I'm going to classes, I'm lifting weights, I'm going to see results, but I have to get involved. It's you can say I went to the gym. You can say you posted on Facebook or Instagram. But if you're not actually doing the things that get the results, then you might as well not be there at all. So in preparation for this episode, I really took a long time to think about what have I done that has gotten me the most results from my Instagram account.

 

And I came up with five things. So we're going to walk through those five things now. So the first one is consistency. And I'm sure you've heard this a million different times in a million different ways on a million different platforms. But guys, you have to show up consistently. Again, it's like going back to that gym analogy. If you go once every six months, you're not going to get the results. But if you're showing up every day or even better yet, twice a day, you're going to get results faster than you would if you don't show up.

 

Hardly at all. So on Instagram, because things move so quickly on Instagram and people are constantly posting and constantly scrolling.

 

You have to post on a regular basis. And I like to say once a day, that's my goal personally within my business is once a day. Occasionally I will post twice a day, especially if it's something that I can spread out. You know, one the morning, one in the evening. But either way, I want to show up every single day. Now, obviously, there are times when I fail at this. There are times when things get crazy and busy and I forget to schedule my content or I forget to post as I go. And that's fine. But ninety five percent of the time, I have something to post on a daily basis. And I noticed that the reason this helps is because it gets my content seen more often. The more often I post, the more my engagement goes up, the more people are starting to see what I'm doing. And the more they're interacting with what I have to say. Any social media platform is kind of like going to a networking event. So I recently joined a new networking event in my area and I went for the first time the other day and I knew a handful of people when I had some conversations. You know, here and there, not a whole lot to say because I didn't really know anybody there. But the more often I go to these events, the more people I'm going to meet, the more people I'm going to recognize, the more they're gonna recognize me when I show up. It's the same thing with Instagram. If you're only posting every once in a while that people are going to forget about you. There you go. Oh, that's right. She I forgot about her. I haven't seen anything from her in a while. But if you're there every time, if you're there every day, they're going to start to remember you more often because they're seeing you more often. And I know I can hear so they all say now, but the algorithm this and the algorithm that guys. I honestly could care less about the algorithm. And I know that maybe an unpopular idea. I don't stress about the algorithm because I know that if I'm consistently doing the five things I'm going to walk you through today, I'm. Going to see results. Whatever the algorithm does or doesn't do, and the number one thing on that is I'm being consistent. I'm showing up at the same time, the same place every day I was at the same time. But you get the point. So I you have to be able to be reliable. You have to let your followers know, hey, I'm going to shop for you every day. So come back here and see what I have to say tomorrow. And I guarantee you, if you're posting quality content, which we're gonna get to in a minute, they're going to want to come back and see what you have to say tomorrow. Now, I say the same thing about posting to your your page, your feed as I do your stories. Stories.

 

I'm not as consistent on. I don't post something every single day. There are a lot of people that do. I tend to post more organically on my stories, but I still try to show up consistently on stories. I still try to have three to four days a week where I have something in my Instagram stories that will hopefully kind of carry over to the next time I can post a day or two later. So again, I post consistently to my feed every single day and to my stories at least three to four times per week when possible. Now, number two is probably one of the biggest things I've made a change in and my Instagram account in the past couple of years that I've seen the biggest jump in engagement on. And that is the content of what I'm posting. So when I first started Instagram, it was here's a pretty photo. Here's a recent wedding I shot. Here's a beautiful senior in a field somewhere.

 

There was no meat to any of it. It was just, hey, look at me. And this is what I see a lot of people doing that drives me nuts. First of all, I cannot stand it when people post a photo to Instagram and don't have a caption like, I need something more than just that pretty photo. I need some context. I need a story to go. I need something. I don't want a pretty little emoji. I want you to use your words. And I think that that's so important. One thing I like to do is I like to go on to Instagram and look at it with an eye of what's catching my attention. What is making me double tap? It's not the pretty photo, necessarily. It's the content that goes with it. If you have something good to say, I'm more likely to stop and read. And Instagram takes note of that when you're posting content. I want you to post content. People want to read because as people as someone is scrolling through their Instagram feed, they see your photo come up. And it's a great photo. And all you've put is like a little emoji or one or two word phrase. They're not going to stop for very long because there's nothing for them to do there.

 

But if you have written a well-thought out, meaningful informational post, that's going to give them some a reason to stop and take a few seconds to read through what you wrote. That's telling Instagram, hey, people, keep stopping their scroll on this. So obviously this is important. So we're going to bump it up to where more people see it.

 

That's the ultimate goal with Instagram is you want your post to be one of the first things that comes up when someone opens their Instagram feed. And the easiest way to do that is to let Instagram know that people are spending time on your content. People are going to spend time on your content. If you don't give them something to spend time on. Now, I'm not saying you have to write an entire monologue or a novel on every post, but I do think that if it's informational, it's interesting, it's funny, it's exciting, it's whatever, people are going to stop. So what I like to do is as I'm scrolling through Instagram, I mentally take note of what are the posts that are getting the most attention from me. For me, it's the ones that are humorous because I love like funny means as funny stories.

 

It's anything that tells a really powerful story.

 

This doesn't mean that it's like some sappy story about a tragedy in your life, but it's a story that catches my attention, even if it's something as simple as I took my kid to the grocery store. And here's this really funny thing that happened or we went on vacation. Here's this. Or at my last session, this is something crazy that happened, guys. Stories are the way that we communicate and we have communicated in our society for thousands of years. People are drawn to stories. So if you can involve that in your captions, people are going to stop there, scroll and they're going to want to read what you have to say. Also, if you have informational content, something that is going to give them something they can walk away from and go, wow, like I really took something from that that I can now apply in my own life. It could be related to your business. It could be related to your ideal client. It could be something just in general. You know, for my Instagram feed with my wedding photography, I post a lot of tips for brides that are planning a wedding. You know, I talk about what to pack in your wedding day bag for the venue. What details you should have ready when your photographer shows up, you know, what should you do now that you're engaged? What's the next step? Was the first thing you should do. These are things that are helping my ideal client with a problem they currently have. Now, in between some of those posts, I'm posting little anecdotes, stories or I'm talking about like the why behind what I do or why it's important to print your photos, things like that.

 

Very rarely will you see me post something that doesn't have content attached. If I did, I would probably say that I haven't posted a photo without a caption in a really long time. I let you know that I can go back and find one because I realize that you have to have something that you people are going to stop and read. Now when you're creating your content. One thing I like to do, obviously I plan out my content ahead of time. So this goes into the consistency and the content piece. So I use later dot com and I plan out my content usually two to three weeks in advance. I don't like to go a whole lot further because I like to be timely and sort of relevant to what's happening right now. But two to three weeks in advance, I plan out something for every single day. I start with my images. Then I go back and I start creating content to go with those images. Sometimes the content matches the image perfectly.

 

So example is if I post a photo of a detail shot with an invitation and what bridal shoes and a veil and some rings, then I might talk about why those details are important to have or the fact that, you know a lot a lot of brides think to bring their invitation on their wedding day. So make sure you put it in your bag so you don't forget it. So you have that captured in your photos forever.

 

But there might be other times where the photo is just something I put in there as a place holder to stop the scroll. Maybe it's a really pretty photo. And so I want people to stop. But I also want them to read what the content is. Even though the content isn't directly related to the photo. So an example of this could be, you know, I have a photo that I've shared where it's a bride and she's holding a Starbucks cup in the Starbucks cup, says bride on it for her name. And even though, like my caption does really have to do with coffee or Starbucks or anything, it's just something about the wedding day. That photo was just a place holder to grab your attention so that you read the content. So when I'm planning out my week, I plan out the images, I plan out the content. And usually the thing I focus on the most is that very first sentence. You know, think about when you're sending an email, your subject line is what you really have to spend your time on because that's going to grab people's attention and get them to open that email. The same thing with that first line in your Instagram caption, because when you're scrolling through Facebook or through Instagram, you usually only see the first sentence. And so it needs to be something that's going to grab people's attention. u.s.a.'s I'll start with things like, hey, I have a. Question for you, or I'll say, have you ever thought about this? You know, things that are like making people go, oh, well, what is she asking?

 

Or I'll say, oh, my gosh, the craziest thing happened the other day.

 

Those are the things that make you go. Well, now I want to know what she has to say. But if I'm just putting some fluffy quote about how great love is and how great weddings are and this and that, then it's not as likely to grab people's attention because it's not intriguing. So you have to come up with something that's going to grab people's attention. All right. So I want to pause for a second.

 

Just give you a chance to breathe and soak it all in, because even though we're only through the first two points here, these are the two things that really I think are blocks for a lot of people. And you may be listeners thinking, OK, well, I realize I need to post consistently and I know that I need to have good captions. The problem is doing all of that. It's it's a lot of work and I get that.

 

But if you really believe that social media is something that can benefit your business, which I believe in, I do believe that a lot of my business comes from social media. And an example of this is I was at a bridal show just this past weekend and I spoke to a lot of brides that came by the table. And I would say majority of them had their phone out.

 

You know, they were taking pictures of different things around the wedding show.

 

And almost all of them asked me what my Instagram name was or they would look me up on Instagram. And I didn't say anything to them about Instagram. I didn't have a sign on my table saying, follow me on Instagram. I didn't have anything that said, hey, check me out on Instagram. It's not on my business card. It wasn't on the postcard I was handing out. But that's where they were going. In their mind. The first thing they thought was, I'm going to go to Instagram, because if you again, this is my art, my target audience. This is my ideal client. This is why I invest a lot of my time on Instagram. And I know that you're thinking, well, I don't serve brides, I don't serve millennials or whatever, guys. It doesn't matter if you are serving, especially a female audience. Instagram is probably one of the first places they're going to go. I know that's what I do. A lot of the vendors I met at that bridal show. The first thing I did was go look them up on Instagram. So I know that this is a beneficial platform. I have seen it work when I get inquiries from clients, whether it's for a boudoir, branding sessions and mentor sessions, weddings. I would say probably 40 to 50 percent of them say they found me through Instagram. It can be huge for your business if you put in the work. So my whole point is to get off my soapbox here is, guys, you have to be willing to do the work. It's one thing to say, I want my business to grow. I want my business to succeed. But if you're not willing to do the things that you need to do to make that happen, then you're just going to be frustrated over and over again. And to go back to my gym analogy, I've said every year for the past several years since I had my kids, I want to lose weight, but I'm not doing the work I need to do to make that happen. I'm not going to the gym consistently. I'm not making the healthy choices. And I realized that's on me. I have made that decision in my life. So it's the same thing within your business. You know what you need to do to make it work in your business. You just have to do it. So you can't say it's not working for me.

 

If you aren't doing the things that you know will make it work. I'm not going to sit here and say, well, I'm just not able to lose weight. It's just not going to work for me. Well, it's not going to work for me because I'm not giving my rear end in the gym every day. I'm not making healthy choices. I'm going through Chick-Fil-A instead of coming home and eating a healthy salad that's on me. So if you're sitting there telling yourself Instagram is not working for me, that I want you to ask yourself, are you posting consistently and are you posting quality content that's going to make people want to follow you?

 

Those are the two first key things that without those two things, nothing else, we're gonna talk about matters. So when I give you a quick example of a mentor client that I have worked with in the past couple of years, and she's a great photographer, her work is stunning. She will post on Instagram sporadically. I think. There's no consistency to it. The work that she post, the photos are gorgeous. They are scroll stopping photos, but then she doesn't put the content with it. So she'll say things like she's a newborn, five photographers.

 

So she'll post this gorgeous photo of a newborn, you know, image and she'll say something like, what a dream baby to work with. And that's it. Okay. Well, that doesn't give anybody a reason to stop and go. I want to see more from this person. The photo was beautiful, but that's not enough.

 

I need more. I need the meat. I need the content. So I keep telling her I'm like, you've got to post more content as a newborn photographer and as someone who photographs babies and children, you have a plethora of content that you can share. You can talk about what it's like to plan a newborn session. You can talk to my expecting moms about what they need to prepare for before the baby comes. What to pack in your hospital bag, what you need in your nursery. What to expect from your newborn session when you should book a newborn session. You know, then talk about the fact that you offer, you know, collections that include milestones. What are the milestones? Why are these important? Talk about the value of having art in your nursery or an album of your baby, how quickly they grow. Because I'm literally sitting here coming up with these off the top of my head and I've just listed about 12 things that could be two weeks worth of content. It's that simple. You just have to be willing to put in the work to make it happen. And I guarantee you, if you do those things, they'll see you'll start to see results. Because if I'm looking at that newborn photo and I'm an expecting mom, I'm thinking, oh, that's really beautiful. Keep going. But if I come across that same exact photo with a piece of content that's giving me tips on what to expect from a newborn session or why I need to book a newborn session, or when I should book that newborn session in my pregnancy, I'm going to stop and go, oh, that's really good information. I had no idea that I should book my newborn session that far in advance or oh, I should really think about adding a maternity session to because that's a great idea. And if I can do both in one package, that's a really awesome. So those are the things that are going to make somebody go from being just an observer of your your Instagram feed to a follower of your Instagram feed.

 

So I want to hit one more sort of block that I see a lot of people have when it comes to creating content for their Instagram feed. And that is I don't know what to say. And I can already hear some of you yelling at your radio or talking to yourself saying, yes. Kendra, that's all great. But I don't know what to say or I'm not a great writer. OK, guys, inside secret here. I hate writing. I hate it. I'm not good at it. That's why I do a podcast, because I can talk all day long. But if I have to put it on paper, I'm not great at it. And I don't always love the end result of what's on my feed.

 

But I live by the motto of done is better than perfect. It's better for me to have something out there, even if it has a typo, even if it's not the most eloquently written thing. It's better to be out there than to not have it at all. So here are some of the tips for how I come up with my content. So let's just start with weddings, since that's the main focus of my photography business is weddings. A lot of times what I'll do. Number one is I will go to Pinterest and I will search for what are some of the things that brides are looking for on Pinterest. What topics are they interested in? Are they interested in things like cute ways to ask your bridesmaid to be part of the wedding? Are they looking for DIY tips, ways to have a wedding on a budget? Are they looking for creative wedding themes? Are they looking at things like unplugged weddings and first looks? Those are all things that I will put into a Pinterest board or onto my notebook where I have ideas or I put them into a sauna where I have everything organized. Guys, I even use the notes app on my phone anywhere that you have a place where you keep track of a running list of topic ideas for content. So let's take, for example, the idea of the first look at a wedding. You know, this is a thing that some brides love it. Some brides hate it. There's a lot of things I could say about doing a first look. I could write an entire blog post about the pros and cons of a first look. Now, obviously, I'm an Instagram post. I don't want to write a huge novel. I want to keep it to just a couple little bullet points, a couple paragraphs, something short and sweet that's going to grab their attention, give them information, and then make them want to come back for more. So what I can do is I can either take just one little piece of it and turn it into a content for my Instagram feed, or I can take a larger piece of content and break it into two or three post. So maybe once a week for three weeks, I have a post that I do about doing a first look. And I talk about maybe on the first post why it's a great idea from the perspective of the couple. And then the second time I post about it, I talk about maybe the reasons for not doing a first look. And then maybe on the third post I talk about from a photographer perspective why it's a good idea because X, Y and Z. So now one idea, maybe one blog post I read on Pinterest has given me three pieces of content for my Instagram feed. Now, one thing about content that you haven't heard me say is I have not said once anything about selling on Instagram. One of the things that drives me nuts is when there is someone I follow on Instagram who I don't follow for very long, I can tell you that much.

 

And every single post is by this book, this download, this sign up. Now you're going to miss out. Do this now it gets really old really fast. So my rule of thumb is I only try to post one post on Instagram every two weeks. That is selling. Now, let me kind of give my little caveat here when I say one post about selling. That means one post where I literally say, now's the best time to book your wedding. Call me or send me a message or let's chat more about your wedding day. Here's my Web site. That doesn't mean I'm not sending people to my Web site on a regular basis. I'm just doing it through other content. So once or twice a week, I'm going to send people to a blog post. So going back to the idea of the first look, I have a blog post that I have written on my Web site about doing a first look. And there I can take some of the content from that blog post, turn it into an Instagram post and then say, hey, you want to know more about doing a first look at your wedding day? Click the link in my bio and it will take you to the full article about the pros and cons. Doing a first look. So I'm getting people off Instagram to my Web site where hopefully they'll find more information and go down the rabbit hole of all my content there and then send me an inquiry. So I am selling in some way that way, but it is not a direct sell. It's here. Let me give you a little more information. It's hey, go download my free wedding planning guide. It's hey, you just got engaged. I've got this really awesome resource that tells you exactly what to do now that you're engaged. Why don't you go grab it? It's free. It's in my bio. Those are the things I'm doing to sort of sell without really selling. And guys, those things work like crazy because people want things for free. And so if they feel like that they are getting something from you that is helpful, beneficial, free, whatever, they're going to go do it. But if you're sitting there saying, hey, go to my Web site and thought the forum and less chat more about working together, they're probably not very likely to do that unless they are specifically looking and ready to purchase. In that moment.

 

So you have to be strategic and how you're selling yourself on Instagram because people are tired of sales pitches. So you have to tweak your message on Instagram so that you're not coming across as a salesperson. You are coming across as the person who's going to help them solve a problem that they have. So if you own an online clothing boutique, I don't want you saying every time, go shop this look here. I want you giving tips on how to style the shirt that you have in your photo for different ways and then saying, hey, if you want to see some of these inaction, go to my Web site or hey, I've got this really great style guide. Go download it. Or if you want to see the newest fall collection, here's where you can go look. But saying things like shop this, look or buy this. Now, those are words that people have become very desensitized to and they don't like them. So finding ways to make it works that you're not constantly asking them for something. It goes back to that episode I talked about, where it's my entire marketing plan. My entire marketing rule is give, give, give, give, then ask.

 

So for Instagram, it's give, give, give for two weeks and then ask, give, give, give for two weeks and then ask. But in those two weeks, I am sending them back to other places and other resources I have available on my Web site so that I'm taking them off Instagram. They're feeling more connected to me and then they want to know more about what I have to offer. All right. So in case you couldn't tell, I find content and consistency to be the top two things that I do in my Instagram feed that has been the most impactful for my business. Those two things alone will skyrocket your engagement and your following. I think you will start to notice a huge increase in what return on investment you're getting into the time you're putting on Instagram, even if you just do those two things, post consistently and give quality content that people are going to want to come back for more. All right. So we still have three more things to get to when it comes to what I've done on Instagram that is going to help boost your engagement. And number three is hashtags.

 

So hashtags are sort of this mysterious part of Instagram that I see so many people asking about. And while I don't have the end all be all answer on hashtags, I can definitely tell you what I've done that has worked for me. So number one is I post hashtags on every single post. I personally prefer to put the hashtags in the first comment instead of in the actual post.

 

This for me is just more of a visual thing.

 

I don't think it matters either way. I've done it both ways and it kind of gets the same result either way. I prefer to put it in the comment just because if someone is reading through my content, I don't want the hashtags to be part of the content they're reading. I want the content to stand alone and then the hashtags I can put in the comments so that either they get buried in there if other people are commenting and they're not as visible, because I want the hashtags to sort of be the invisible content behind everything else. What drives traffic to that post? But I don't want it to be the central part of the post. So that's just my personal preference. Some people when you're scheduling if you're using a scheduling app like I use later, sibley's, HootSuite buffer, all those things that likeable will put the hashtags in the caption just because it's easier and you don't have to go in and add them in later. Total personal preference, in my opinion.

 

Now what hashtags I use, I use hashtags that are specific to each post. So there's two ways that I find those hashtags. One is I tend to have sort of a log of ones that I use consistently depending on the subject. So, for example, if I post a photo of a bride in her wedding dress with a flower bouquet in front of the venue, then I'm going to make sure that I am using hashtags that match that photo. So I might use hashtags for the venue.

 

So if it's, for example, a venue I use nearby is called the Milestone Mansion. So I would do hashtag milestone mansion, hashtag v milestone moon mansion. And then I'm going to hashtag maybe the dress. If it's from a bridal boutique here locally. And I know that because I ask all my brides where they find their dress, then I would hashtag that dress shop if I know the florist or the type of flowers, or I could even just put hashtag, bridal bouquet, hashtag wedding flowers, hashtag a wedding inspiration. These are all things that I'm just automatically thinking of as I'm looking at the photo. I also am going to be keeping in mind what are my brides looking for? So I like to hashtag places and items. So for example, the venue. So if I'm photographing this bride in front of the milestone mansion and I hashtag them also mansion and side note, I'm going to use the location tag in my post. You know, where at the top of your post it has your Instagram handle and the below it. You'll see people it'll have like a location of where the photo was taken or where they're at. Use that location spot and put that location as wherever you're at. So I would put that we were at the milestone mansion that I'm also going to tag them in the post and I'm going to add a hashtag milestone mansion. Now, the reason I would do those things is because brides are going to look for that. My ideal client is going to look for that, because if they're looking for a venue and they're interested in a venue that I've shot at before and they search that hashtag or they search that location, I want my photo to come up. So the whole purpose of hashtags is you want. When somebody goes into Instagram and they do a search. If they're searching for wedding bouquets, then you want your photos to come up because that hashtag is now linked to your post.

 

So let's talk about the outside of weddings. So let's say that you are a hair and makeup artist and you're doing. Hair and makeup for prom. And there are several schools in your area that are having prom coming up, so you're going to post a photo from maybe a prom. Girl, you did the year before. And you're going to talk about prom, hair and makeup. You're not going to be CELSI but you're going to talk about the importance of getting your hair and makeup done or why a certain, you know, airbrush makeup will last throughout the night when you're dancing with all your friends. This and that. And then in the hashtags.

 

I want you to hashtag all the local high schools where your clients to be coming from. I want you to hashtag Prom 2020. I want you to hashtag prom, makeup, prom, hairstyles. All those things are the things that your ideal client are going to be looking for. Now, one of the key kind of cool feature with Instagram that I like is that you can actually follow hashtags. So for me, I follow the hashtags for several of the local bridal boutiques in my area because I want to see if a bride has been dress shopping and she puts hashtag bridal boutique Lewisville, then I know she's been there. Obviously, she's a bride getting married. I will kind of go and look and see if she's had engagement photos done. And then I want to engage with her, which will kind of dive into it a little bit. Step five, I'm getting ahead of myself, but hashtag to be super, super useful. So I know a lot of people who post and they're posting great photos and they're posting good content, but they don't understand the hashtag part of it. And they leave that out and they're missing out on a really big opportunity for getting more eyes on your content, because if you're able to find hashtags that a lot of people are searching for, then you are going to be more easily found. Now, the fine line between hashtags that are super popular versus the really obscure ones, when I'm looking at hashtags, I'm looking for tags that are not too generic. So I'm not going to say hashtag love or hashtag engaged or hashtag. She's you know, I said yes. I mean, that when I might use. But those have a ton of engagement. Those are not engagement. Those have a ton of people using them. So your content is going to get really lost in the mix. Now, the opposite side of that is if you're using a hashtag that is super obscure. So if you're saying something like hashtag brides standing in a field with a bouquet of flowers. Well, I doubt that's being searched for a whole lot.

 

So that's too specific. So you want to find the ones that are somewhere in the middle. And the way that I do that is I will just spend time on Instagram. So when I'll open up an Instagram account and I'll go to a little magnifying glass at the bottom where there's the search bar and I'll start searching for some of the hashtags that I want to use. So right now, I have my phone open and I'm I do a search for the hashtag engaged. And I'm just going to see how many people are using that tag. So it has twelve point nine million post. Now, to me, that's a lot. So the the fact that I'm going to use that one shows me that it's very unlikely that someone's going to search for hashtag engaged and find my post. So I'm going to go for maybe just engaged. So hashtag just engage has only seven hundred and thirty three thousand posts. That is a far smaller reach. So that is one that's a lot more likely for me to get found using. So again, this is just trial and error. You know, I don't think there's any really simple way for me to say here's the hashtags you need to be using that are going to be perfect for your business, that are going to always get you seen. I really wish it worked that way. I really wish I could jump on this podcast. OK, guys, here are the 15 hashtags that you need to be using in your business right now.

 

But unfortunately, that's just not how it works. So you have to put in the work to really figure out which ones are working for you and which ones are most relevant to your ideal client finding you.

 

And we're going to talk in just a second, a little bit about how to know what's working for you and what's not. So in summary, with hashtags, you want to post them, whatever's convenient for you, if you want to do it in the caption, if you want to do it in the comment, that's totally your preference. Visually, I put it in the comments. But again, that's up to you. And then I think the rule is no more than 30, but I tend to stick around like 15 to 17 ish. Just because I don't want to have too many. And then you want to make sure your hashtags are relevant to your photo.

 

So if you're posting a photo of a really cute dress, then you don't need to do hashtag wedding inspiration because it's not a wedding dress. So. Make sure that you're staying relevant to the photos that you are posting because Instagram will will crackdown that and they will notice when you're hashtagging the most random stuff just to get your stuff seen. So be specific to your content.

 

OK, number four is know your stats. So I am not a huge numbers person. I'm not big on spreadsheets and stats and all that kind of stuff. But I really like my Instagram stats. And why I like them is because it allows me to see what people are engaging with and what they're liking the most. So to find your information, you go to your profile and the top right corner, you see the three little lines. You tap on that and you go to Insight's Carlos like a little bar graph. When you click on that, it's gonna give you your content activity and audience. So start with content. So content. It's only give me the stories in the post that I have done in the past week. And which ones have. Have seen the most engagement. I was going to give me the them in the order of the most engagements, at least engagement. And then you can click see all and you can go back as far as a year or two years. I think you can just do it by you know, you can go back as far as two years. So that's really helpful, too. So you can go back for the, you know, six months to a year and go, OK. What types of content? We're getting the most interaction. Was it things that are funny and lighthearted where they the more serious ones. Were they talking about content for my business? Was it talking about my personal stuff? What images were getting the most of your attention and likes? Was it ones right?

 

I asked people to do something and so that can be really helpful so that when you're planning out your content, you can say, oh, I realized in the past year, one of the most popular posts I've had was one where I had specifically asked for people to leave me a comment, answering a question I asked in my caption. And so now that gives me the information that, oh, I need to start asking them to do something more often, to leave a comment or tell me their favorite, whatever. So ones that encourage interaction have always had a higher engagement on my cousin, on my Instagram insights. So I need to utilize that. Another thing that's really helpful is your activity. So you can go and you can see what days of the week are people more engaged. So for me, Sunday is my least engaging day. Now, granted, I don't usually post on Sundays. I only post during the week unless I have something special going on the weekends. But I can tell that Wednesday and Thursday are my busiest days. Those are when I'm getting the most interaction on those two days. So I want to make sure my content on those two days is really, really good. And then the other days I want to up that engagement so I can be adding more interactive or adding some of that content that I know is beneficial to my clients. It also will tell you like the time of day that people are viewing and all that kind of stuff. And then, of course, your audience that just kind of tells you like how many of unfollowed you are followed you where they're located, their age, range, gender, all that kind of stuff. But there's one more insight that I want to talk about. This one is when you click on an actual post that you have done. So I'm currently looking at my Instagram feed and I see here that I have a post. My last post I did was a before and after of a bride and groom. I did their engagement session. And then you swipe to the right or left, whatever you swipe and you get to see their wedding photo right below the image as a little thing that says view insights. When I click on that, it's going to give me the information for that specific post. So it's going to tell me how many people liked it, how people commented, shared and saved. Then if you kind of swipe up a little bit, it's going to tell me how many people visited my profile based on this photo. So I'm looking at this photo. I did not ask people to visit my profile.

 

I did not say, hey, go check out the link in the bio for anything. But 12 people just from looking at this photo went to my profile.

 

So I want to make sure I say this again so that you understand the importance of this. The actual caption only said engagement session versus wedding day swipe over to see the wedding day version of this engagement shoot. And it had an arrow. I was not asking them to do anything. I didn't ask them to go to my link. I didn't ask them to go to my web site. But just because the people were engaged with the content, I had 15 profile visits. That means 15 people from this post went and checked out my entire profile and then seven of them. Took action, which means they actually went to my link and clicked on the link. So again, I wasn't selling anything. I wasn't promoting anything. I was just sharing invaluable information and still got people interacting. So then the next thing I like is if you scroll down a little further, it tells you your reach and your impressions. But what I really like even more is it breaks it down further and it's gonna tell you where these viewers were coming from. This is key. So it's going to tell me they're either coming from home, which I take it to mean that they're coming from like their scroll through their feed. It's either coming from other which means it could be coming from somewhere outside. Maybe it's from a story or whatever it might be. And then this is the really cool one. It tells you from hashtags. So it's telling me that forty five people found this post because of a hashtag I used in that post. Guys, that's huge. That tells me that the hashtags I used on that post are working. The hashtags I used on that post are driving people to that page. And I can go back and look at other posts that I've done and I can click on The View and sites and I can see are they coming from their home page? They're hashtags. Are they coming from the profile? That to me, guys, is super valuable because I can now see from post to post what's working and what's not. And it gets me really excited. I seriously geek out over the stuff when I can pull it up. And it says they came to me from a hashtag because that means all the work I've put into my hashtags is working.

 

So those are really, really beneficial. And so I think that knowing your insights and really understanding what's working and what's not is a huge benefit that you have over a lot of people who aren't doing that. So between the fact that I've now been consistent with my post, I'm adding really valuable content. I'm using relevant hashtags and I now know my insights. I know what's working and I can see which posts and content are getting the most interaction that is driving my consistency, that is driving my content and it's helping me reuse hashtags I know that are working. And the last thing, number five, is to engage. You have to be social. On social media and especially on Instagram, in my opinion. And again, I say that because I use Instagram basically as my number one go to.

 

But you cannot post in Ghost. You have to interact and engage. So if someone leaves a comment on your post, make sure you go and comment back. You never say thank you, even if it's just to tell them you appreciate them stopping by and leaving a comment that not only lets them know, hey, this person actually is reading what I have to say. It validates them. It thanks them for taking the time to comment. They're going to be more likely to comment again and then engaging on other people's com content, because if you want people to engage with your content, you have to be willing to spend time engaging with theirs. So there's two ways that I do this. One is just by engaging with people that I follow because I want to follow them. So friends that I follow. Other photographers, other business owners. Anybody in my newsfeed. If something comes across and I like it and I feel like it's worth commenting on, I take a second to comment, even if it's just something simple, even if it's just me saying I loved this post. Thank you so much. Or oh my gosh, congratulations. That's exciting news. Whatever their content is, make sure it's something that is authentic. Make sure I think it has to. Didn't have to be. But they say three words, more than three words. Kind of lets Instagram know that it's not a bot. And so leaving comments, if you're just.

 

Everything is. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Then it's gonna seem like you're being spammy. But if you're going in and saying things like, thank you so much. I really appreciate this. Oh, my gosh, this was such a great post. Aw, that's a beautiful photo. What? That's amazing. That kind of comment is going to be really, really beneficial. And then I want you to make sure that you are engaging with people that are not your followers. So what that means is I want you to find people that are your ideal clients and I want you to engage with their content. Now, this is me year to follow them. I don't follow all the people I engage with. It just means that I want you to be stretching outside of your circle of people on Instagram to engage with other people. So at example, one of the hashtags I follow an Instagram, like I said before, is for a local bridal boutique.

 

So if so, I see that a bride has. Posted that she bought her. She found her perfect dress. She said yes to the dress at this bridal boutique. I'm going to go to her page. If she posted on her Instagram stories that, you know, a picture of her holding a little, I said, yes, the dress sign. I'm going to comment. I must say. Hey, congratulations. That's so exciting. It's the best dress shop. Your dress is gonna be amazing. That's it. I didn't sell anything to her. I didn't ask her for anything. She'll know just from the name of my Instagram account that I'm a photographer. And if she wants to research more, she can. Sometimes I will go into their feed and I will like and comment on some of their photos. I a little crazy. It go super far back in the archives. But if they're recently engaged, they probably have a photo of their ring or a photo of the actual engagement. And I will like and comment on that.

 

And then occasionally I will even go as far as to send them a direct message. Now, in the direct message, though, I'm very clear on the fact that I'm not going to sell them anything. I'm not saying, hey, I see your recent engage. You're looking for a photographer. Let's go have coffee sometime and chat like winky face. No, I'm not gonna do that. That's that's cheesy. But what I will do is I'll go in and say, hey, I just saw that you found your dream dress at X, Y, Z boutique. That is my absolute favorite boutique. I love all the ladies that work there. I'm sure your dress is stunning, by the way. I had this really awesome guide for planning a stress free wedding. I know wedding planning can be a little overwhelming. So I just thought you might like it. Here's a link. You can go download it and a lot of times they'll write back. Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much. That's really sweet of you. Sometimes I don't hear anything and that's fine. Guys, I've actually booked brides off of that strategy.

 

And it's not me being cheesy. It's not me being salesmen. It's me authentically reaching out to someone and saying, hey, I know that you're in the middle of this really crazy time. Let me give you something that's gonna help you. And then just by doing that, a lot of times they're like, oh, my gosh, that's so great, because I can see on their posts where they posted a photo of them being engaged, getting engaged that seven other photographers, three planners and four florists have all comment and saying, congratulations, if you need help with your wedding, let me know. You know, and I don't want to be that person. So I take it to a different level and I say, you know what? Whether you choose to hire me or not, here is a resource for you. I realize that you have a lot on your plate right now because planning a wedding is stressful and you have no idea where to start or what to do. Let me give you something that's going to help you. And you know, they take it and they run with it or they ignore it completely. But either way, I have at least kind of reached out now. Again, I don't do this with every single person. But how it can apply to you is if you have ideal clients, let's say, for example, that you are a health A-minus coach.

 

And so you're following hashtags that have to do with health and fitness. And you see somebody who is beginning of the year New Year's resolutions, they're posting about the fact that they are, you know, starting to their New Year's resolutions to lose weight this year, to get healthy, to eat clean, to go Kito, whatever it might be. And you can reach out to them and you can say, hey, I saw that you're on this new health journey. I think that's amazing. This is a resource that's helped me or I've created this resource. Here's a free little guide to help kind of jumpstart your your New Year's resolution. Let me know if you have any questions. And that's it. You're not saying, hey, come join my team and sign up. Hey, come by this product for me. You're just saying I see that you have a problem. I have something that can help you with your problem. Let me provide it to you. And now you have become a resource to them. So I don't think there's anything wrong with doing that on Instagram. Obviously, I'm not doing it 20 times a day because Instagram will block you if you do that. But I'm doing it very organically. If I come across somebody, I will send them a message or I will like their photos. But I'm not sitting down for an hour a day actively seeking them out. If I'm sitting in a car line to pick up my daughter and I have 10 minutes to scroll through Instagram, I'll do it. If I'm sitting in the lobby of the dentist's office for five minutes waiting for to go back in, my teeth cleaned. I will do it. But again, it's just one extra way that Instagram is helping me connect with other people. All right. So let me go back through my five. Number one is consistency. Posting on a regular basis, if that means every day, it might mean three times a week, whatever that is for you that you are capable of doing. Just make sure you show up. Think about it like as if you. Have a standing appointment with every follower on your Instagram feed that you are going to be there, how guilty will you feel if you don't show up for that coffee appointment? If you don't show up for that dinner date? So that is your agreement with your followers that you're going to show up consistently. Number two is content. You want to provide content. That is interesting, that's engaging, that's valuable, that's informative. You want to give them content that makes them want to come back again. Think about the content that you are consuming on social media. What is it that you are stopping your school for? What are things that are worthy of your time and attention and apply that into your content? Number three is hashtags. Make sure you're using relevant hashtags that match the content you are posting and then follow hashtags that your ideal client might be using so that you can find other ideal clients and start engaging with them. Number four is know your stats, go in and view your insights. Figure out, are you people coming to you because of hashtags? Are they finding you a different way? What content are most people engaging with? That way, you know what content is the most valuable to your ideal client and you can use that to create more content that is similar to that. And then number five is engage. Be social on social media. Make sure that you are liking other people's content, that you are commenting authentically, that you are connecting with other people that are your ideal client and reaching out to them and sharing something that will help them with a problem they are having. You are the guide that is helping solve their problem. It's not about your business. It's about you helping somebody else solve a problem that they have. So those are my five tips, as are the five things that I have done in my business, in my personal Instagram account that have helped me to see a huge amount of growth in the past couple of years. And guys, I am getting consistently people messaging me on Instagram, asking questions of my business. I have other vendors emailing me for the wedding industry, asking to collaborate. I have people finding me on my Instagram account and then going to my website and messaging me for inquiries to work with me. This is something I'm getting on a regular basis. So I know that these things are working. I've seen them work for other people that I have mentors and coached Islam as well. And so again, like I said, the beginning of this episode, guys, these have worked for me. I feel confident they can work for you. But you have to put in the work, just like go into that gym. It doesn't count if you walk in the door and then turn and walk back out. You have to actually get on the treadmill and start running. You have to actually do the work you put in the work and you get to reap the benefits.

 

All right, guys, that's our episode for today. That helps us kick off our series on social media. I'm super excited for all the things that are coming up the next couple weeks, so make sure you hit that subscribe button so you don't mess with. Episode goes live. Hi, guys. I will see you back here next week. Same time, same place. If you love today's episode, don't forget to click the subscribe button. So you never miss when a new episode goes live, then head over to ITINs and leave a quick review to let other people know just how much you loved it. Thanks, ladies. See you next week.

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