Improving your Instagram Performance: Part 3

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Hopefully the first few tips from the previous posts have been helpful and you have seen an increase in engagement and overall performance. Each time I post on Instagram following the tips I’m sharing with you, I receive a new notification that my most recent post is doing 95% better than the first!

Let me ask you a question? Do you share stories on your Instagram? I know stories sounds scary, at least for me it did. I am super self conscious about by face because I struggle with acne, I laugh really loud and I can talk a lot so just the thought of doing stories scares me. But I can’t let it and neither should you, and here is why.


Leveraging

Stories & DM


Instagram Stories are like the behind the scenes of your business. Using this feature allows you to post things that may not necessarily make the cut as far as picture quality goes for your feed but you still want to share. Think of stories as an exclusive feed for your most dedicated followers!

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Commenting on a feed publicly can be intimidating, what if I spell something wrong or say something just plain old weird, will I be IG trolled? These are just two things that I get weighed down by before commenting and I am not alone. You have shy followers just like myself who want to engage but aren’t sure that they have the platform to do so. In stories, when a user comments, it goes to your inbox and reduces the fear. Not only is this a good way to encourage engagement and grow authentic followers but it is also a good way to do a little market research.

Not to long ago, the lifetime of an IG story was 24 hours but now you can save each one of your stories to relevant highlights that are stored on your page unless you delete them. No matter which way you look at it, it’s a good thing. If a story you've created is doing well, you can save it. If it is showing little engagement, you can delete it or let it die after 24 hours. If you haven’t done so yet, make sure that your account is set to business so you can see your stats.

Creating highlights isn’t too hard to do.

First you want to choose your categories. You can begin with one and increase your categories from there if it is a task that seems daunting to you currently. Start by picking out things that are important to you, maybe brands that you are an ambassador for or even personal things to make your base more inclusive. As of now, I have 5 categories of highlights on my profile and I post within each one based on relevancy— Project cake, Student Work, BLK, Faves and Stock Photos.

Because I’m a branding stickler, after I picked my categories, I took some stock photos on over to canva so I could create artwork that was cohesive to my brand to use as the cover . If you aren’t tech savvy ( I’m not either) don’t let this program scare you, it is really easy to use. You can snag fabulous stock pictures in the BLK merch shop for free or even Unsplash. Don’t forget Creative Market with 6 free downloads a week!

The interface is pretty easy to navigate by just dragging and dropping. You can also crop images and use them on your website, or other platforms.

I think my favorite thing about stories is that it’s a smaller less intimidating feature for me to test out what my followers really like. On my main Instagram page, it is pretty clear that a majority of my followers prefer pictures of cakes but the majority of my IG story viewers really like my stock photos. Even though I share a variety of pictures through stories, I feel safe to promote my stock photos through that feature.

Special features

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The IG story is no longer seen as a perk but a useful slice of real estate for you to reach more ideal clients. Now with special features, you can create stories that go further and are overall, more effective.

Get your feet wet by adding a bit of text or a GIF to a picture that you are sharing via story. I’ve found both to be fun and a non invasive way to show a bit of my personality. Don’t forget mentions or hashtags but don’t be spammy about it. Are you suing a special product to make your cake? Tag the supplier and they may share your story expanding your reach! Make sure any mentions you add are relevant to what you are sharing.

Sharing a location can be intimidating, at least it is for me, however I’ve seen a higher reach when I do so. Sometimes users are indecisive and start looking for things in the area, sort of like yelp. If you have used a location tag in your post and/ or story, you have a higher chance of turning up on a search.

Last but not least, add polls and questions to your stories and see what your followers really think! I’ve found this to be really fun because I can share their answers, chat back with them and even see what they don’t like. My feelings don’t get hurt when I get negative feedback, on the contrary, I’m happy when people have the courage to honestly share thoughts about my work to help me improve.


Feedback

Slide in the DM


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If you have “ DO NOT DM “ on your Insta profile, now is the time to take it off. I get it, you don’t want people messaging you all of the time asking you for pricing or lowballing you so you just do away with it by telling them to head straight to your website or Facebook page. Problem is, unless you have convinced your viewer that you have something really great to offer through your visual approach or character development through captions, they aren’t going to leave Instagram. In fact, you have a higher chance of turning them off because you seem unreachable. Instead, use your direct messages to build authentic relationships.


Fearless & Fun

Engagement


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When you get a new follower, shoot them a personal thank you message, they will really appreciate it. Try writing up a few variations and storing them on your phone to copy and paste them to avoid feelings of overwhelm. I like to make mention of the free stock photos for bakers that I offer on my website, this way they are more inclined to head over there rather than it just seeing a mention in my profile header. If you have something that you are wanting to promote, in a thank you message is the perfect place for a call to action without pressure.

When you are sharing stories, replies from your viewers go to your DM, don’t leave them hanging, engage with a thank you, a bit of encouragement or even ask them a question. DM is a way to show special treatment, really and your true supporters will appreciate it.

Finally, Direct messaging is a great way to let your loyalest followers in on special deets and discounts in your business- FIRST. Take note of the people who engage with your account frequently and authentically support you, send them a thank you discount message if they are local, they will patronize you because you’ve shown appreciation. If you have an online course or downloadable material, offer an early bird price.

People like to be known, in fact, they need to be known. In this mega digital era, behind the scenes, through stories and DM, you will find some of your most loyal of fans will engage with you there. Don’t be afraid to get to know other people and brands, play around and try new things, you may be surprised what opening up your DM does for your buisiness!

Next Steps:

To wrap up the series, lets talk engagement. Instagram isn’t about the vanity likes and the K, it’s about authentic engagement.

Have more questions? Leave a comment below.

Don’t forget to check out the previous posts in this series and stop by the BLK MERCH SHOP to pick up over 400 categorized hashtags just for bakers