Whether you’re a small business, artist, public figure, blogger, influencer etc. nowadays, we all have one thing in common: social media. Social media has not only become a huge part of our personal lives but it’s now an extremely valuable marketing tool that could make or break your personal brand. But growing a quality following no easy feat! There’s more to a strong online presence than pretty pictures or clever captions. There are algorithms, community guidelines, and a ton of competition so unfortunately the odds are stacked against you. There are, however, a few things you can do to be sure you’re staying on top of it and putting your best post forward!
First, lets focus on your content. You want to post pictures with bright vivid colors that pop and catch the attention of your scrolling followers. You never want to post pictures with words on them (memes, flyers, etc.) because the algorithm prefers pictures of faces. Other pictures get much less traffic. It’s important to post things that are interesting and on brand. Your followers follow you for YOU so even when you switch it up a bit, remember who you are. That being said, you don’t want your content to get stale so be sure to take pictures with various backgrounds and poses and try not to post pictures that are too similar.
Obviously it’s best to use a DSLR camera to take photos, but smart phones are so advanced now, with proper lighting an iPhone or Android will do! Lighting is everything. You want to be sure you pictures are well lit, bright and clear. You can find light kits and ring lights on Amazon for less than $200 but if you’re tight on cash or don’t have lights handy, natural daylight will do. When taking pictures in natural light, be careful of shadows and over exposure. You will need to edit your photos to put the final professional touches on them but avoid instagram and snapchat filters. Instead, try apps like VSCO or LightRoom. I use the free version of VSCO for all of my original photos! When writing your captions keep in mind who your audience is. Captions can be long, thoughtful paragraphs or a short and sweet quote or lyric. Experiment with different kinds of captions and see what your followers respond to best. Whatever you write, be sure you’re staying true to your voice and authentic to who you are!
It’s extremely important to know what your brand is. What is your niche? What are your goals for your social media account and what do you offer to your followers? These can be really tough questions to answer but the best way to nail down your niche is by asking yourself “why should people follow me? Why would I follow someone like me?”. Once you find your niche you can begin to cultivate your brand and target your desired audience. You want to eventually find that perfect balance between giving the people what they want and just being yourself.
Now let’s talk numbers! There’s no way to truly know when the best time to post is. You want to post 3-7 times a week and at times when your followers are most active online. If you haven’t already, switch your instagram settings over to a business account so you can view your stats and figure out when your followers are most active. However, this isn’t fool proof and you’ll have to find the best time to post through trial and error. Keep in mind that these optimal days and times will change because peoples internet habits change and so does the algorithm. Speaking of the algorithm, it’s not your friend. Those little social media robots run a tight ship! To play nice with the robots be sure to engage with other accounts as much as possible with not only likes but also comments containing more than four words. This is what you need on your posts too! To encourage your followers to comment something longer than “Cute!” try asking a question in your caption. The more you engage back and forth the more the algorithm will love you. It’s also helpful to utilize new features on instagram like IGTV, polls, question box, quizzes etc. Instagram favors accounts that use these features and they are a great way to engage your followers!
Hashtags can be a great way to target your audience! Instagram allows you to post up to 30 hashtags and you should post as many as possible. You want to pick very specific hashtags and avoid the most popular ones. For example, you might want to avoid #ootd and instead use #ootd curvy. You can also tag up to 20 accounts in your photo. Tag the places where you got your outfit, pages that feature accounts like yours, relevant organizations, and public figures with a similar brand. It can also be super beneficial to collaborate with similar accounts! You could do a “shout-out for shout-out” with another account were you would post a picture from each others pages. You can get super creative with it! The other day I saw a collab with four fashion bloggers (one of which is my good friend Shannon Grace! )where they each styled the same skirt different and then shared each others pics in their insta stories. I thought that was brilliant because it showcased their talent as fashion bloggers and reached three times the number of followers!
Something that is kind of scary is the risk of losing all of this hard work and awesome content you’ve meticulously curated. Unfortunately all of the social media platforms we hold so near and dear reserve the right to delete us without warning! It happened to me recently and It was awful! I was about to hit 20K and *poof* my page vanished into thin air with no explanation. I learned a lot from that experience but the most valuable takeaway is always have a back up page ! A back up page is just a second account you manage in case your main account gets deleted. You can tell all of your followers to also follow you there and even if you don’t post on your back up page often, you won’t have totally start from scratch in the event you lose your main page.
There’s really so much more to the brave new world of social media, I couldn’t possibly fit it all into one blog post! I have been getting a lot of questions about targeting your audience and securing brand partnerships so I plan on doing separate blog post for both! If you have specific questions or need guidance building your brand and social media following I am now offering Skype sessions for a flat rate of $75! We can talk as long as you need and I will help you in any way I can! Shoot me an email or a DM if you want to chat more about working together!