This post is all about Instagram. If you have no interest, I understand. Feel free to click off the page. If you're leaving me, you might as well go somewhere fun. Check out this post of boudoir photos featuring one of my fellow bloggers, Shannon. Doesn't she look so sexy?
For those who are still in the room and want to talk Instagram, thank you! I'll be sharing a few tips that I have been using for all of twelve hours (because I'm a bozo).
Instagram Gives Me Heartburn
Success on Instagram has eluded me for two years. I have posted exactly 475 pretty photos. I hashtag. I comment. I respond to comments. Yet my follower total never budges. It feels like the worst kind of exercise regimen. Lots of work yet flabby folds of flesh still flop over my waistband. UGH! I chalked up the lack of success to an overcrowded platform and a dearth of people in my age group.
Then on Monday this week, Anthropologie included one of my Instagram posts (photo above) on their blog. Here is the feature.
Within hours, I had loads of new followers, three sales in the shop, and most important of all, new subscribers to the blog. The whole experience illustrates the potential of Instagram, if you can harness it.
So, what exactly made this post different? I had no clue. Until recently.
FOUR INSTAGRAM TIPS
In the last few weeks, I've learned new strategies from a variety of fabulous sources including a power session with Julie Stoian, a superb podcast in Instagramming from the Fresh Rag Show (listen at the bottom of the post), and a really fun Skillshare class with Andrew Knapp.
Synthesizing what I've learned, I can see now why my posts underperform and why the Anthropologie post broke that pattern. Let me break it down a little.
WATCH HASHTAGS AROUND INSTAGRAM AND LEARN
I used to skip hashtags. Then I used the wrong hashtags like #vintagelife #vintageinstagrammers #smallbiz. These are hashtags that vintage sellers use. For me, it has not been effective to try and attract vintage sellers. Or even vintage buyers.
What I want are blog readers. I want to attract subscribers to The Bubble Joy. (In case you didn't know, I love my shop but it is secondary to this blog. Besides, I've learned that most of my customers are Bubble Joy readers first.)
That's why the Anthropologie post worked. I used their hashtag, #makealeap, that corresponded to their February Leap Year series. It is a hashtag about stories. The people following that hashtag want stories, so #makealeap fits me perfectly. (Thank you to my future daughter-in-law, Jane, a savvy marketer, who alerted me to the hashtag. She's a 'keeper'!)
KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
According to my Google Analytics, my audience is mostly women, mostly 45-54, with a large subgroup 25-34. In the words of Julie Stoian, they are looking for posts that entertain and inspire. They enjoy the way I make old things look pretty. Perhaps I make them think twice about their old things. And as a bonus, perhaps I make them giggle.
So hitting them over the head with sales pitches is not effective. I need to hit them over the head with pretty pics, ideas, and humor. And speaking of pretty pics...
BEAUTIFUL PICS AREN'T ENOUGH
I never got very descriptive on Instagram before because I didn't think the Instagram community wanted words. But on the Anthropologie post, I wrote a little ditty that complemented the photo. I wrote it in my voice. It hit home. Here it is:
After raising four sons, I set sail on a journey of self-discovery. The seas can be pretty choppy but I've got my ballast water in the form of kids and husband backing me up. In selling instant pop-up collections of vintage and antiques, something unexpected happened. I enjoy finding old things but I love writing about them even more. So now it's time to set my compass to a new course.
In the future, I'll try to spend more time on words. It is so hard on Instagram's tiny screen. So I'm going to write my captions in an email to myself where I can edit and check for spelling, then copy and paste them over.
DON'T BE SHY! ENGAGE WITH OTHERS
Sharon Fain of Academy of Handmade gained thousands of followers by consistently liking others' photos and leaving interesting comments. She started conversations. I hope to follow her example. I'll report back and let you know if it's effective.
In closing, here is my Instagram. Follow me! But first, let's chuckle at my very first post (below). Notice not one hashtag and not one single 'like'. It sure isn't the fault of the subject because Meeko the Cat is adorable. (I have a collection in the shop inspired by Meeko. Read about it here. He is such a character!)
Here's that podcast I mentioned. Really informative!
I'm here, every Friday, rain or shine, at the ready to provide you with a chuckle, a wry smile, or an utterly fascinating insight into human nature. Subscribe below and join the hundreds of happy subscribers. (Yes, hundreds! I can't believe it!)