I’m working on a book where one of my main characters is an ‘Influencer,’ she makes a load of money from social media, she vlogs, blogs and is an Instagram boss and my research has led me to all kinds of places.
‘But this is a post about Instagram pictures!’ I hear you shout, ‘What’s that got to do with your book?’
Because this week, I behaved as if I were that character in the book I’m working on. As if I made my income from social media, as if I was an ‘influencer,’ and the results were pretty amazing.
I’ve been on Instagram for a while. Sometimes I hate the little app, but mostly I love it.
If you’ve read any of my other posts about it, you can see that I get quite a lot from it, but my account is only small. As I write this, I’m just shy of three thousand followers. My Instagram pictures on average get around two hundred likes and on a good day, about twenty comments.
The thing is, I’m not an Instagram expert, I know what you need to do if you want to grow your account, but much as I wanted to, I could never really do much of the common advice. I enjoy photographing too many aspects of my life.
I live in the Lake District, and sometimes the scenery is just too pretty not to share. Or other times, I like to mess about on Photoshop, learn a new technique and manipulate the image. So, you see, consistency is never something that I did naturally.
The photo above is a screenshot of my account this time last year. My gallery is not that pleasing. There is no consistent theme, no chequerboard of light and dark images and no continuity. You glance at that and you are literally getting a mix of everything.
Below is a screenshot of my insights for one of those images.
The only thing of any importance in this is the reach. As in, how many people who weren’t already following you saw this image.
Here you can see it’s 41% Not bad, but nothing to shout about. I got a handful of profile visits and zero followers. No one clicked on my website, but I’m a bit crap at including a call to action, although four people saved my image and I got seven comments.
Now look at the screenshot below.
Below is a screenshot of a post I did this week, making a few simple changes.
My reach shot up to 95% Over twenty-three thousand accounts saw this image. Twenty-three thousand.
One hundred and five people saved it, I got thirty-six new followers and more people liked this post than I have ever, ever had. Naturally, I thought this was a fluke. A one off. So I did it again and…..
Massive reach compared to normal, rise in followers and huge number of likes. Now if I were an Influencer, these are the kinds of results that brands are interested in. (Still need to tell people about my website, though.)
I applied to a company just recently who put Instagrammers with brands and pay them to post up stuff (all in the name of research of course) and was politely told that in order to be considered, I needed a minimum of three thousand followers, over fifty comments on each post and a large reach. I also had to send screenshots of my Insights, just like I’ve done here.
So what did I do to supercharge my Instagram pictures?
SORT OUT THE GRID
This is the first piece of advice that everyone gives that I generally ignored, but it’s what new followers see if they visit your account, and it’s obviously how Instagram categorises you.
I’m a writer, I’m doing the social media thing because I enjoy it, to research my current work in progress and to build up a connection with my readers. So I focused on that and only that. I started posting Instagram pictures ONLY TO DO WITH BOOKS AND WRITING. And it was hard! So hard to keep focus.
Harder than I realised, but the results paid off. And what’s more, it didn’t take much.
Before my Instagram pictures started going bonkers, I did four posts to do with books. And, as I’m being completely honest, I don’t think my photos are that much better now than this time last year in the screenshot at the top of this post. They were just on brand.
Here’s a screenshot of my grid as it is today:
You see that image of the glittery lamp? That was my last ‘unfocused’ post. The next four were all on the same theme, so it really didn’t take a lot for Instagram to put me in a little box and know what to do with me.
I think this is the most important thing I did.
I used hashtags that were only about; you guessed it, BOOKS AND WRITING. Normally, I like to throw in a few whimsy hashtags, a few outdoor ones, because I like following them, but I kept focused and used my bookish hashtags. (If you want a list of them, sign up to my newsletter!)
And if you have a look at my insights from above, you’ll see that a large majority of reach came from hashtags. I could actually do another whole post about this and where I found them, what order I put them in, etc. etc. but for now, let’s just say I did a bit of research and picked some select hashtags.
DON’T POST WITH A PLANNER
I use Mosaico. It’s a little app that lets you see your grid before you post, put in your caption and then your hashtags and makes it easier to post and it’s totally within Instagram’s guidelines. They’ve said apps like this are okay to use, but. But, for these posts I didn’t use it.
I went straight to Instagram and did it on the app, directly. I also put my hashtags in the first comment, rather than the caption.
I have no idea if this made any difference, but I’m just telling you everything I did. I kind of thought, ‘would an influencer mess up her caption with a bunch of thirty hashtags?’ No she would not, she would want her post to look clean and neat’ and so that’s what I did.
I always do this, but not quite in the right way it seemed.
So here’s how I engaged for these posts, I replied to every comment as they came in, immediately. I liked every comment. I went to the hashtags I had included in my post and commented on people I did not follow over there.
I went to the people who’d commented on my post, and left a comment on theirs.
Previously, I’d been commenting on the people in my feed, the people I’m following and nothing else. Doing the above felt a lot more like networking and I did it for about a half hour or so. Not a long amount of time, as I’ve got kids! A book to write! A job to do! I really don’t have the time to be on the app as much as I should if I were a proper influencer like my main character, so I might have even got better results if I’d had more time.
VIDEOS ARE A BIT RUBBISH
Which is a shame, because I love doing little animations, but they really don’t perform anywhere near as well.
Used to be that if I did a video, it would get up on the explore page and be one of my best performing posts. Now, not so much. They still get to the explore page but the last video I did, my last post in fact, the reach was about 70% and it got around three hundred likes. I’ll keep doing them, because I love them, but they won’t be my best performers.
And that’s it so far.
There are a few other things I did, but this post is becoming sooooooo long I’d better stop here. Maybe do another one? Like a part two? And well done if you’re still reading!
Let me know in the comments if you want to hear more of this type of stuff, as my research is ongoing and I’m on Instagram here.