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The 10 Most Important Instagram Tips for Beginners

Are you new to Instagram or social media management? Or have you been at it a little while but still feel unsure? Here are my top 10 tips for creating and managing a professional-looking and successful Instagram account:

1. Choose a username that is both intuitive and easily recognizable as this optimizes the chances of people hitting 'follow'. Don’t use your address (yes, I've actually seen this) or some other, lesser-known detail as your username because people will struggle to search for or tag you. For example, lets imagine a book store called Lotus Books... it would make sense to select @lotusbooks or something close as a username. People who know of the bookstore will be able to easily find the Instagram account when they search the business name, and anyone who sees the account pop up on IG will immediately be able to guess what the account represents. In contrast, if the store owner was to select @lotusbibliophiles or @91MainSt, they would likely attract fewer followers.

2. First impressions are very important, especially on social media, so it's important to make sure that your profile picture looks as professional as possible. For this reason, and in the interests of ensuring your account is as recognisable as possible, I recommend using your logo or some branding element as your profile picture. If your brand *is* you, use a professional photo of you (preferably a headshot).

3. When it comes time to start posting, you will need to make your content as high-quality and engaging as possible to encourage your audience to keep following you, and to like, comment, share, or save. I will write a more in-depth description of what makes content high-quality in another blog, but for now, here are a few pointers:

  • Stick to your brand colours.

  • Use high-resolution images.

  • Write clearly, using as little jargon as possible (and define any jargon that you do use).

  • Write concisely; you don't need to fill all 2200 characters

  • Include a call to action.

  • Include a range of hashtags that describe your topic, your niche, and then add a couple of branded hashtags.

  • And lastly, don't forget to proofread before scheduling/posting!

4. Respond to comments and messages in a timely manner. This doesn’t mean you need to be glued to a device so that you can respond within 2 minutes, but try to respond within 24 hours. Setting up automated responses will help you immensely so I highly recommend looking into this feature!

5. Remove and discourage offensive comments to keep Instagram a pleasant and safe place for your community. This also shows your values in action which, for some people, could be the difference between them becoming a client/customer, and not.

6. Update your settings to allow mentions and tags… and encourage other users to tag you (e.g. include your username on your business cards or in your email signature).

7. Interact with others! Be social and show genuine interest by commenting on others' posts and stories, and replying to comments on your own posts.

8. Set up a few story highlights to easily show off important details or your portfolio, products, or services.

I recommend setting up at least two highlights and no more than six. If you're not sure what topics to base your highlights on, here are a few that will work for almost any account:

  • About you (or your business/organisation)

  • Tips or 'how-to'

  • Behind the scenes

  • Services/products or price lists

  • FAQs

  • Inspiration or motivation (e.g. #MondayMotivation quotes)

  • Customer feedback/reviews

  • Your policies related to Covid-19 (e.g. vaccinations and mask-wearing)

9. Check in on your insights. I'll be writing more on this topic later but in the meantime, the key insights you should be looking at are your reach, your engagement (and engagement rate), and the times at which your audience are most active.

10. Plan ahead! Planning will save you time and stress, and it will give you a chance to make sure you're covering a full range of topics, and evenly. For my three-step plan for efficiently creating content, check out this blog post.

Did you find these tips helpful? I invite you to follow me on Instagram or Facebook for more.

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