Welcome to the life of every business owner out there in the last year using social media. We’ve all gone partially insane because we can’t seem to wrap our minds around Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm.
You see, we all know its for a good cause but we’d really like to hear what that cause actually is before we all lose our minds entirely. Welcome, your insanity with social media is welcome here. HA!
Before I dive in, let me preface this by stating one thing: I am by no means a social media expert. I’m a business owner who is trying her own hand at Instagram and sharing feedback on what worked.
A few months ago, I got really sick of complaining about social media and started implementing new tests and practices to make a difference. I shared a few of the experiments I had been running on Instagram alone and my inbox was FLOODED with ideas, responses, and general THANK YOUS for actually trying to find a new way of doing things.
I don’t believe in complaining, friend. I believe in picking yourself up from the bootstraps and making it work. I believe in finding new solutions to the most irritating situations in our lives and businesses and for me, social media is one of them.
Hear me on this: you don’t have to be stressed out with social media. Here’s why:
In 2018, you can actually make more money with 1,000 followers than 300,000 followers. It sounds insane, but its actually so true. And if I’m being honest, I can have 10 likes per photo and still wake up to 5-10 inquiries in my inbox most mornings. Don’t be fooled by the numbers game!
So I knew I needed to make a change with either how I was managing social media or how I let social media manage me, and this is what I found: it isn’t about the numbers.
You see, Instagram was put here to allow us to share the most intimate of moments with those around us in this world. What was meant to be a platform for sharing unabashedly became this beast of a marketing machine where everyone stresses over the number of likes, comments, and followers.
And while we’re over there stressing about it, someone else is living their lives freely posting what inspires them and being able to fulfill their business without the stress of the numbers.
And that, my friend, is me after these experiments.
If you’ve been following me for a while, I’m sure you’ve seen a shift. I went from pristine white-based images and only images of my work to sharing inspirational posts and a lot more photos of myself in general. My followers have never come to me because I’m a designer, they come to me because I’m real & raw. Working with me has always come as a by-product once people have gotten to know me and understood the passion I have for my business.
Because that is how they connect with me. They understand my passion and know it’ll translate in to how I help them build their businesses. My passion is equivalent to theirs and my Instagram account shares that.
I got fed up with stressing. I was fed up with worrying and overdoing it with the numbers game and decided to try new things, even if it meant losing followers.
So friend, strap in. Lets dive into what did and what did not work for me. As I try new things, I’ll be writing new posts to add to these experiments.
WHAT DID NOT WORK:
the hashtag sticker
Weird, right? I began posting new stories randomly through the day and adding the hashtag sticker to try and see if it would help my impressions rate. Hint: it did not. Over a series of three weeks, I tested out different times of the day and different times of the week, with different styles of images, different categories (i.e.: home, design, inspiration, etc) and utilized the most popular relevant hashtags related to each. Not one thing happened. Nothing.
geotagging my feed images & stories didn’t make a drastic difference
I’ve always been one to geotag my images in my feed because everyone has always been so serious about how we HAVE to do it. I’ve geotagged my images everywhere from Maui to New Orleans and even Los Angeles and not one person from those areas has ever noticed. Now, if there was a huge event like Jazz Fest – sure, I’d geotag and I’m sure people who were interested would see it. But on a day to day basis, tell me how many of you actually search for posts in your nearby area? The only situation I can see this working out in would be for local businesses to target me.
tagging myself in photos
I heard this Instagram rumor that it was CRUCIAL we tag ourselves in photos and sometimes, I think people sit around and think “what Insta-hack can I come up with today to send everyone into a spiral and make myself look like a genius?” Well, I’m here to tell you tagging yourself does not make a massive difference. Apparently, its supposed to trick Instagram into thinking you’re more popular than you are, thus sharing your post a little higher than normal. No, all lies and jokes. And they aren’t funny.
tagging others in photos
This is something I’ve always done because I love for others to share my content when it resonates with them. But, it hasn’t always worked as others think its supposed to. I tag others who may find my content interesting and would love to share it with their followers – not in hopes that Instagram will push their followers my way. Theres a big rumor that tagging other accounts will make those account’s followers find you. Don’t fall for it. I even tested this by tagging random accounts and a few test accounts of my own and vice versa.
WHAT DID WORK:
YES YES YES YES ALL THE YES. YESSSSS. I’ll never go back! Since hashtag stickers never worked for me, I began testing out a few unique ways to add them to my stories. I began by adding one hashtag in the text format (for example, typing out #instagram versus using the sticker for a hashtag) and my impressions skyrocketed. Then, I started testing out multiple hashtags in different variations.
Here is what works for me:
Type one hashtag in a text area (see below). Then, click elsewhere and create a new text area and type your second hashtag. Typing them all into one text area did nothing for me – it was almost as if Instagram counted that as one large hashtag. So far, having three to four hashtags works wonders. My instagram story views went from around 700 to over 4,000 most days.
My advice is to utilize popular hashtags in a relevant niche to whatever your image is of or what your story is about. Don’t post a photo of your shoes and use a home hashtag.
Although we’re limited to thirty hashtags, I found that using less of them actually helped me expand my audience faster. I began utilizing new hashtags that had between 50,000-300,000 users. I didn’t notice whether adding them in the comments or the actual caption helped, so I continued to add them into the caption and adding a lot of spaces so it fell a lot lower in my caption and didn’t distract from it. I’ve been testing the use of 5 hashtags, 15 hashtags, and 30 hashtags and I’ll say I feel 10-15 provide the best results for me.
sharing my face more
Since I’m a brand and web designer, I’ve always felt I needed to share my work and work-related images but the truth is, those images don’t tell my full story nor do they provide great results when its comes to building engagement. I decided to start taking more photos of myself when I had a moment, foregoing professional imagery. Whether I was leaving to take my son to school or I had just finishing getting ready for the day, I’d ask my husband to snap a few photos of me. That way, I had a ton on my hand that I could use when I needed to.
But, I began sharing my face a lot more in an effort to allow my audience to get to know me without just seeing what I do 24/7. Overall, disregarding the last week or so, my engagement had skyrocketed. When I have Instagram stories that aren’t perfected, the responses are overwhelming. Overall, I think you absolutely need to be showing your face more and the image doesn’t have to be perfect AT ALL.
Tip: Download the Lightroom app & purchase some presets for a quick edit when you’re on the go! 99% of my images are from my phone and I use premade Lightroom filters to ensure they’re all in sync with my feed.
more instagram stories
Instagram stories provide the highest results for me thus far! There, I’m able to share my story, my daily life, my latest launches, tips for designers and business owners – literally anything. Stories provide us the opportunity to share things we wouldn’t normally share on our feed. They allow us a platform to shed perfection and not worry about the editing & the captions. As I stated before, using 3-4 hashtags written in the text format work wonders.
This is your weekly challenge: get your face behind the camera on instagram stories and MAKE. IT. HAPPEN. Share your daily workout, the behind the scenes in your office, your favorite Starbucks order..anything, just share it. And then, tag me in it @kaitlinfontenot so I can cheer you on and share!
Like I said before, I’m no social media expert. I’m just a busy mother & entrepreneur who doesn’t have the mental capacity to stress over numbers. I know, since speaking with so many of you, you feel the same as I do. I’d love to hear what works for you! As I continue to experiment, I’ll be sharing my feedback here on the blog & in my stories @kaitlinfontenot.