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    The Pessimists Guide To Instagram

    Hey guys, if you're new to Instagram I strongly suggest you check out this blog before you continue reading.

    So you've read our last few blogs, got a thousand or so followers and you're feeling like an Instapro now. First of all, congratulations. Your first 1k is a huge milestone, you've made it into the first foothold. You've probably got the hang of it now and you'll cruise along until you hit around 5k. Where do you go from there? Probably into a deep dark abyss. Instagram can be heaps of fun in the beginning, but having almost reached 10,000 followers in 9 months, I want to share with you what I have learned.

    1. Everybody Is Famous

    This is probably my biggest observation since joining Instagram. Everyone on there is famous, or is hoping to be famous. Your customers might have massive followings. Bigger than yours. Your customers cat probably has more followers than you. Your audience is promoting to you just as much as you are to them.

    2. Followers

    Everyone wants to build a relevant community on Instagram, especially if you want to use the platform to sell your product/service. However, some people get so caught up in the quest for ‘genuine’ followers they find themselves plodding along forever with little growth and not much to show for their efforts. After a year on Instagram, they have less than 500 followers and they’re wondering if it’s really worth using at all. A targeted audience on Instagram is amazing but it’s very hard to pull off. You can search on locations and hashtags you think your customers are using and spend time liking on commenting on those posts in the hope they will notice you and follow you – but this is HARD WORK and it takes a huge amount of time (say 3 hours a day) which most small business owners just don’t have. I know this because I did it.

    In my opinion, there are two very simple ways to gain and retain followers and if you’re not doing them, you are missing out on growing your audience and making valuable social connections. These two methods are following and following back other New Zealand businesses. Even if they don’t buy from you, they might recommend you, or you might collaborate with them in the future. So essentially, if you’re not already established and/or famous; viral growth is very difficult and that’s just how it is.

    3. Using Apps

    There are a bunch of Instagram apps out there to help you become even more obsessed with your page. Crowdfire was my poison. It's really easy to get caught up in who is unfollowing you, my only advice is don't worry about it. People who unfollow either didn't like what your page is about or they were hoping you would follow them back. Refer back to Number 1 if you need reassurance.

    4. Top Posts

    Each hashtag has a feed called 'Top Posts'. These are the top 9 trending posts on that tag. If you can make the top 9 on a hugely popular hashtag with thousands or millions of posts then it can be the best exposure ever. The big question is how do you get in the Top Posts?

    Instagram themselves have written very little on Top Posts, but I did my research and the most popular schools of thought are that two main factors are involved. The first is the speed of engagement once your post goes out. This is part of the reason why putting your hashtags in the first comment ASAP is important as it counts as early engagement. The second factor is the Engagement RATE – so it relates to your number of followers. So it’s possible to see a post with 10 photo likes and one with 3000 both in Top Posts. The one with 10 likes might only have 20 followers, yet the one with 3000 could have a million. The other thing about Top Posts is they move fast and change often as new content gets posted.

    Or maybe you need to send naked photos to the Instagram crew or sacrifice a goat. If you figure Top Posts out please do let me know.

    5. Promoting

    You've got an awesome giveaway you want to promote on your instagram feed? Cool, go ahead and upload it and watch all of nobody caring. There is a small chance your giveaway might go viral, there's also a small chance I will win the lottery and never write another blog. Sometimes you'll have something really awesome to share and Instagram will be there waiting to let you know that it sucks. Sometimes the posts you think will do really well just flop, even giveaways (the exception to this is a well run Loop Giveaway – but even they can flop too if they’re not done right).

    6. Brand Reps/Ambassadors

    Beware the Instagram Models (refer back to Number 1). If you sell cool stuff then you'll no doubt get a message at some point from someone who would love to promote your brand if you just send them some free stuff. The good ones won't need to message you, they're too busy. Don't disregard Brand Reps entirely though, they are a power house on Instagram. You can read more about them here.

    7. Hashtags

    First of all - if you're not using hashtags you are doing Instagram wrong. You can read more about hashtags here. A lot of the most innocent, but popular hashtags you can think of are often filled with porn, perverts and bots. I recommend avoiding #tongue and #sock.

    8. Photos

    If your photos suck then don't bother uploading them. Instagram is the hub of vanity and beautiful things. Only the best pictures will catapult you anywhere when it comes to Instagram. From the scenery, to the food, to the cats, to the people everything is beautiful. It's a visual platform, so second rate pics just won't do. Memes don't belong here either, people don't really want to read. Reading is hard. The only exception is inspirational quotes. They love that kind of stuff.

    9. Making Sales

    People are on Instagram for spontaneity and pretty pictures, they don't really care where it comes from and they're definitely not on there to shop. If you want to make sales on Instagram you need to pitch it right and include a specific call to action telling people to click the link in your bio. By the way, saying ‘link in bio’ is a really lazy CTA – you can do better. Something you can try is changing your website link into a short link using goo.gl so you can track how many clicks you are getting from Instagram.

    And on top of all this, you will need awesome content and an active audience.

    There are some new and pretty cool apps you might like to check out that allow you sell direct from Instagram. We haven’t tried these yet so let us know in the comments if you have and if you’ve had any success with them.

    Inselly - create your own personal online shop in just a few minutes and few clicks using only a smartphone and the Instagram App. No registration and set-up required. Use the hashtag #inselly so users searching for buyable content can find you.

    Shopseen - allows you to turn your Instagram feed into a store without leaving Instagram. It's easy for your followers to go to the store and buy and there are no unnecessary redirects.

    Have2have.it - Put a Have2Have.It link in your profile which then takes your followers to a shoppable, curated page that has the same look and feel of your Instagram feed.

    Like2Buy - lets you create a clickable gallery of product images. You can add your Like2Buy link to your Instagram profile and when your followers click it they get taken to your Like2Buy storefront which is basically an image gallery of products that are available to purchase.

    Final Thoughts

    On the whole, I do love Instagram. There is simply nothing quite like it in terms of Social Media platforms and community. Instagram can be a great addition to your business if you have time to work on growing it so if you haven't commited to it yet there is no time like the present.

    If I've missed something out that you would like covered please let me know in the comments section below and I'll respond to you as soon as I finish photographing my lunch.