Last term Creative Shift were joined by Untapped Digital to talk us through how they started out as a social media agency and to share some top tips on using Instagram.
Instagram is a powerful tool for every creative, so we’ve rounded up the key points of the session…
Founder Corrie Jones talked us through the steps in her career, starting with landing a full time position in social media for a well-known University, all the way through to founding Untapped.
Corrie told us that her first professional position in social media came through a stroke of luck. Straight after graduating, she worked at the same University that she studied at and a few months in, the Social Media Coordinator left. Corrie had some social media experience through working in a marketing role for the charity and fundraising society at Uni, so she took the opportunity to put her skills to practice in a professional role. Corrie’s creativity made her valuable in the role: she initiated innovative ideas to engage with visitors, such as creating Instagrammable cupcakes with images of University buildings on the icing which could be found (and snapped) on campus! It wasn’t long before Corrie took the leap from working comfortably in a full time job, plus freelancing at weekends and evenings to quitting her job to freelance full time.
Like many freelancers, Corrie said that the first few months were incredibly tough getting to grips with accounting, invoicing and everything it takes to run a successful business. She noted that freelancing can be lonely and it’s difficult to relate to people who have a 9 to 5 job, so making connections with other freelancers is important.
She started to build up her reputation by offering free talks in reputable places. Once she had a few clients under her belt, Corrie decided to rebrand as Untapped digital so that she could separate the business from her own personal brand. Rebranding as Untapped allowed Corrie to take her branding further, charge more for projects and outsource to other freelancers.
A simple exercise in personal branding
Image is important for any career, so Corrie led an interesting exercise in personal branding which you can do too!
- Think about 5 words that describe how you want potential employers, clients or collaborators to see you and write them down.
- Now ask somebody to take a look at your most used (or most findable) social media profile and write down the 5 words that they think would describe you from seeing your social media, without meeting you.
- Do your words match? If not it’s time to do a social media cleanse and consider what image and impression you’re conveying.
So why use Instagram for your personal branding?
Firstly, Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users. It’s the fastest growing channel and it receives the most engagement from users.
How do you build your Instagram strategy?
Corrie’s advice is to “start with your why.” AKA Define why you want to use Instagram.
Here’s some examples of reasons why you might use it:
* To Increase brand awareness
* Build rapport with your target audience
* Showcase your brand’s culture and content
* Capture data (e.g. email addresses)
* Bring new customers to your brand
* Sell more products, services, event tickets etc
If you’re starting small you might want to pinpoint just one or two of these as your goals. When your channel’s following and engagement starts to grow, you’ll be able to achieve more and add new objectives.
It takes a while for someone to warm up to a business on Instagram. It’s rare that a person would buy from your brand after seeing just one social media post. That’s why posting consistently and showing up for your audience is key.
Optimising your profile and bio
- Make sure your profile picture is a professional looking photo of yourself or your logo if you’re a company.
- When writing your bio, consider what you want to be known for. Ask yourself, could a 5 year old understand this?
- Think about what link you want to include in your bio (e.g. website? Newsletter sign up? Recent video?) and include a clear call to action to push people towards it. You could even give away some freebies to encourage clicks.
- Instagram highlights give an insight into your stories which may be more adhoc, whilst your feed may be more planned and curated content.
Following on from that, what do we mean by the word content?
We hear this word being thrown around constantly but how many of us know what content actually is?
Content conveys to potential and existing customers who your brand is, what you stand for, why they should care and how you can help them.
Any caption, photo, video, story, IGTV you post is content.
Creating Content that your audience will love
The key to creating good content on social media is to make people feel something.
With any piece of content you post on Instagram, ask yourself these three questions:
* Is it thumb-stopping?
* Is it relatable to my audience?
* Is it shareable?
See which content your audience is responding to best - post more of that and less of what isn’t working.
80/20 rule of content
A common mistake on social media is being constantly in promotion mode, including calls to actions in every single post trying to encourage your audience to take an action such as sign up, buy or book.
What you should really be doing is creating 80% of content which interacts, educates, inspires, entertains or connects with your audience. Save 20% of your content for promotion and you’ll see much better results, and fewer unfollows.
Instagram users have said that the number 1 reason for unfollowing someone is constant bombardment with promotional content.
Create a customer persona
Think about who your audience are or what sort of audience you want to attract. Create a persona of them, including who they are, what they like or any details you think are important.
Going on from this, think about what sort of language they’ll respond to and develop a ‘tone of voice’ for your brand. Depending on you and your brand, you might choose to communicate in a friendly and informal tone or prefer to sound more formal and professional.
Keeping your customer persona and tone of voice in mind when posting will help you to consistently create engaging content.
Planning your content
When discussing what we found hardest about using Instagram, one of the biggest problems emerged as simply not knowing what to post.
The key to ensuring that only 20% of your content is purely promotional is planning ahead and breaking your content up into different ‘categories.’ Posting different categories of content will give you ideas for posts and to make sure that your content isn’t repetitive or monotonous.
Think about 5-7 different categories that will give customers a better insight into what your brand/business or freelance practice does.
As a creative, categories could be things like:
- Behind the scenes content/process images.
- User generated content (something that somebody else has posted about you which you can repost.)
- Interesting/helpful article relating to your freelance practice or brand message.
- The inspiration behind your work such as images of where you’ve been. Just make sure not to use anyone else’s photos without checking copyright first.
- Throwbacks (if you’ve been running your account for the last few years.)
- Event promotions.
- Posts about people you’ve met.
These are just examples, so think about content categories that are unique to you and your audience! You can also save some time slots for anything spontaneous or unexpected to post about.
There are loads of content planning tools online such as Later, to help you schedule content in advance and preview what your feed is going to look like.
Corrie showed us some examples of how well known influencers plan their content so that it looks aesthetically pleasing. Influencers will often bulk-create content and schedule it way in advance, so that they can make the most well curated feed.
Many Instagram scheduling tools come with a preview function so that you can see how your content is going to look in advance and move it around.
Growing your audience
Corrie’s rule of thumb for growing your audience is ‘give the same level of engagement that you expect.’ Always respond to comments and messages and search for other user’s content to comment and engage with through using hashtags.
Think about what your target audience will be searching for and which hashtags they’re looking at. Make sure not to repeat the same hashtags for every post as Instagram will spot this and mark you as spam! Switch up the hashtags you’re using every few posts.
When thinking about hashtags to use, be sure to search for micro hashtags (e.g 50,000 posts compared to 100 million posts) as your content will be more likely to be seen.
Over 50% of Instagram users head straight to Instagram Stories when they get on to the app (therefore not scrolling down through the feed…)
They’re a brilliant opportunity to stay front of mind with your audience, showcase the behind-the-scenes story of your business, and offer strong calls to action that convert your audience.
Stories are discoverable - you can geotag and use hashtags to be discovered by users who don’t follow you.
Decide on your Instagram Stories branding - keep to the same colour palette and font style on each of your stories. Don’t get carried away and post too frequently, more than 10-15 stories a day and your audience will drop off.
Keep it fun! GIFs, videos, boomerangs, superzoom, colour, polls, questions, stickers, emojis… play and see what works.
Instagram has loads of other features you can look into using like IGTV and Instagram Live.
Changing your Instagram from a personal account to a business one will give you access to Instagram Analytics.
You’ll be able to measure your engagements (likes, comments, shares), followers, Story views, times your audience is online, and audience demographics.
To build your strategy, plan what exactly you want to measure, how often you’ll monitor it and when you’ll share that with your wider team (if you’re working with others.)
Thanks so much to Corrie and Untapped Digital for sharing your wisdom!