GUEST POST: A beginner’s guide to Instagram by Vicki Cockerill

  My name is Vicki and just over three years ago my eldest son was born with an undiagnosed heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He went on to have a successful surgery at 6 months old, and I turned to blogging and social media to process the traumatic experience we had been through.    I organically built up the successful blog  confessionsofanicumum@blogspot.com  in hope to share, raise awareness and help others going through the same thing. I have gone to blog for The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Mummy and Little Me, Rude Wines and Blasting News UK.    I became a specialist in social media outreach and have had guidance from some of the leading experts in the field. I have completed courses, studied trends, patterns and metrics and I know what works.

My name is Vicki and just over three years ago my eldest son was born with an undiagnosed heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He went on to have a successful surgery at 6 months old, and I turned to blogging and social media to process the traumatic experience we had been through.

I organically built up the successful blog confessionsofanicumum@blogspot.com in hope to share, raise awareness and help others going through the same thing. I have gone to blog for The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Mummy and Little Me, Rude Wines and Blasting News UK.

I became a specialist in social media outreach and have had guidance from some of the leading experts in the field. I have completed courses, studied trends, patterns and metrics and I know what works.

Whether you use it for business or pleasure there is no denying the influence Instagram has in our everyday lives. Over 500 million of us are posting over 95 million times each day on the platform. We are snapping pics of us in bed, uploading our breakfasts and our parenting fails.

But, unsure where to start? How to use it for your blog or small business? Worried that you cannot keep up with the ‘power players’ of the gram’?

Instagram is one of the most influential elements of social media marketing today. In the blink of an eye you can easily set up a profile, promote and sell your products, generate new leads and open yourselves to a wider audience you would have not been able to before to become a more established personality or brand.

Don’t know your # from your boomerang? Wondering why you see so many people taking photos of their breakfasts, and who the hell is Mother Pukka?

Then this beginners guide to Instagram is just for you.

1.     Setting Up.

Setting up a profile on Instagram is straightforward but there is one thing to bear in mind while you are doing this.

What are your goals from setting this account up? Is it for business or pleasure? To connect with others, or to sell your products? Is this to grow your presence on social media or upload baby spam each day?

Once you have in mind WHY you are setting an account up (to stalk Andy from C Beebies) then you have a clear and focused goal in mind you can tailor how and what you are doing on it.

(Bear in mind if it is for business then it is likely to be open to a wide audience, so you might not want to post personal photos of the family on it. If it is personal, then you can lock down the privacy settings if you want to use the platform to upload some personal pics.)

2.     What’s your niche?

This follows on from above and is mainly aimed at those using their profiles for business rather than pleasure.

If you have your own bespoke handmade baby soap company then your niche is likely to be baby toiletries/ eco/ parent related.

If you have a travel blog then your likely going to be talking about travel, holidays, locations.

For an audience to view you as a credible authority on your subject/ sector then the content that you produce for your Instagram feed should be relevant.

To have a beauty blogger suddenly, begin to review garden furniture would make you question why is that there?

Keep it simple, keep it relevant.

When you post about your specialist subject you will find that the passion will come through via your content and people will begin to view you as the go to, for that specific subject.

3.     Post frequently.

It can be tricky, but it is important to keep your feed fresh and updated with new photos and content. When you came across a profile for a clothing company that hadn’t posted in over a month with no explanation you would begin to doubt their credibility and reliability.

Sit down for an hour or so each week and plan the content that you can post.

There are some great scheduling tools such as Buffer which means you do not need to find time each day to post which can become tiresome and you will still have new posts going up.

Don’t post just for the sake of it, if you truly have nothing relevant to post then don’t. It sounds contradictory to the above advice but there is nothing worse that uploading some random post just, so you have ticked off posting for that day it could become confusing for the audience.

Keep your relevant subjects in mind and you will find you won’t have too much trouble finding ideas.

Social media now gives us an insight into the lives and brands of the companies we buy from, use your business profile to show your audience and customers WHO you are and HOW/WHY/ WHAT you do what you do! (that’s a whole weeks’ worth of content ideas for free!) You can also use your stories as another way to get your content seen.

4.     Don’t get hung up on the numbers.

It can be hard when you are first starting out on Instagram to view the number of likes and comments you receive on each post as validation. That when you hit a certain number of followers ‘you’ve made it’. You compare yourselves to those with 100k+ and think you cannot compete that you are not good enough. There is a common misconception that the number of followers you have dictates your success.

It does not.

The number of likes, comments and followers is not an indication of your self-worth or how good/ bad your business it.

You need to instead focus on the quality of your audience.

If you are a business, you need to look after and nurture the relationships with your audience and they are likely going to be the ones who go on to purchase something from you.

Do not fall for the vanity metrics, paying for followers, or comments or using autobots (which is now a thing of the past!) do not follow for the sake of following and then suddenly unfollow someone.

Take your time, find your target audience and slowly build it up. Interact with then, like their posts, comment if they have taken the time to engage with you, engage back I think people do forget why it is called social media, after all.

5.     Enjoy it.

To begin with don’t think too much about it other than a promotional tool for your brand/ blog/business and a way to connect to others.

Over time you will begin to see what is working and what isn’t, and you can tailor and tweak your content as you go.

You can begin to experiment with the dreaded # (think of them as search tools and ways for people to find you! Come up with a couple that you use on every post and then experiment with the rest!).

Have fun posting and engaging with others and see it as a community networking platform.

There can be a lot of nastiness on Instagram especially aimed as those who do have a lot of followers, do paid ads etc (we will save that for another post!) but just begin to use it as a way or promoting who you are, what you do and why you are doing it!

Now, you have some of the basics mastered you will be uploading your brunch pics in no time!

#instacoffeeclub

“I am here to use my creative thinking, outreach connections, blog writing and passion for social media to teach you how you run your own accounts effectively.”  Vicki Cockerill, Social Media Outreach Specialist"