I’ve been at the Instagram for a while, and posting confidently for only about half that time, so when I say I get you, girl, I promise I get you. Instagram can be one of the easiest and most fun tools for small business owners, but it can also be the biggest stress headache.
You have no idea what to post on Instagram, so you end up either not posting at all or posting a picture for the sake of posting a picture and it totally flops. You see people using hashtags but don’t even know where they found them, what they do, or where to put them in your post.
Your feed is all over the place and you feel like your photos will never be good enough, no matter how many filters you apply. You can’t seem to grow your followers, or you can, but it seems like a painful trickle. Worse yet, you’re stuck in follower limbo, remaining at the same number for what seems like eons.
You feel like you’re posting great content but not getting the kind of engagement you want, or you have tons of engagement but no actual customers. The entire idea of Instagram stresses you out, which stresses you out even more because all those other boss babes make it look so easy.
Sound familiar? That was me in a nutshell for almost two years, and it was so draining that I’m amazed I managed to get anything on Instagram at all. I read every blog post, listened to every podcast, sat through every webinar, and even purchased hundreds of dollars in courses to get to the point where I even felt like I wasn’t a total failure every time I hit that “share” button. Even then, it took years of experimenting on my own to get into an Instagram groove since so much advice was for service based businesses. As a maker, and solopreneur in general, that’s a hella lot of time that could’ve been spent doing literally anything else.
Today, Instagram is one of my favorite aspects of my business, and I’ll happily talk anyone’s ear off about how amazing Instagram is and all the easy tweaks people can make to love it too. I love helping other bosses have their “A-HA!” moments and helping them jump over all that information overload to get right to the good stuff. While my real jam is going over your account one on one (because let’s face it, don’t we all take in globs of information and then immediately think, “But how does that actually work for ME?!”), I’ve found that I keep telling people the same things over and over again, so here five reasons your Instagram isn’t working the way you want it to (and how you can fix them):
- You look like a robot. This is one of those things that I see ALL the time, and it always confuses me. You want to look as professional as possible, right? So you use your kick ass logo as your profile picture, because it’s your brand, not you, and get into “we” mode in your description. If you’re really a big giant We, that’s awesome, and you should probably be hiring a social media team rather than reading my blog post, but you do you. For the rest of us, one of the things that makes our businesses so appealing is that it’s a You and a Me behind the screen. Include your beautiful, shining face in that profile. Add your name into your bio. Make it clear that you’re a business, but also a person, not a box store.
- Your bio is confusing as hell. This one usually ties directly with #1 (because isn’t it weird when logos are fans of coffee or proud Christians or mamas to two littles?), but even once you add your photo and name this territory can get pretty dicey. Instagram doesn’t give you a lot of wiggle room in your bio, so you’ve got to be mindful of how you use that precious real estate. Basically, it boils down to this: what is your business, what can followers expect from your feed, and how can they contact/shop/visit you? If you have room for more, awesome! But how people can shop with you trumps your hobbies, even if they sound cool.
- They come for your product and end up with pictures of cats and tacos. Let’s assume for a second that you’re a hashtag pro. Someone is scrolling through #flashesofdelight and sees your beautiful, handmade necklace in a fun and colorful flat lay. She clicks over to your account because she’s totally gaga for that necklace, and the first pictures she sees are: said necklace, a few mismatched quotes, what you and your husband ate at date night, your cat lounging in the kitchen, and another one your necklaces. Chances are she’s going to back out of there as fast as possible because she wanted more crazy beautiful jewelry, not a new friend to cyber stalk. We’re told over and over again to be “authentic” (which I’ve got another blog post coming on, because I honestly hate this word) but then we don’t actually know what that means, so we end up with date nights and cat pictures. Next time, style one of your necklaces for date night and gush about your hubby and new fave restaurant in the caption, or let the cat into the office and have a fun “behind the scenes” type of shot. Always, always, always tie your photos into your business and brand since that’s what’s going to capture people’s attention. Use your captions as a way to open up and get real.
- You have the wrong followers. One of the most frustrating things we can deal with on Instagram is having a large number of followers but very few that turn into actual customers. While it’s nice to have people love and appreciate your work, it’s much nicer when they show that through dolla dolla bills rather than little hearts. This one can be pretty loaded, but what it boils down to is getting real about who your target market is and engaging with those people rather than just focusing on building your number. Look through hashtags that you think your customers would also use and engage with those photos. FYI, emojis and “cool!” don’t count as engagement – literally. Not only do they look super spammy, they’re also not counted in Instagram’s algorithm if they’re under 3 words.
- People don’t know what to do. Cue one of my biggest pet peeves – seeing a great photo with a fun caption and being left with the “well, what now?” feeling. It feels “salesy,” so most small biz owners avoid it, but a call to action makes the difference between those little hearts and those dolla dolla bills I talked about in #4. It might seem obvious to you because you already know in your mind what you want people to do, but you need to explicitly tell your followers or they’ll just scroll right by. Time and time again I see things like “link in bio” or “available in the shop,” but no actual actionable step for me to take. It only seems pushy and salesy to you because you’re all up in this all day long. Chances are that your followers will only see your post once a day, and it takes something like seven points of contact before they’re likely to follow through. Seven! That means that throwing something out into the world once and then running back into your non-call-to-action comfort zone gets you zero sales.
P.S. If this has got you going "HECK YES! That's so me!" then jump right into a one on one consult with yours truly and let's get real about what's going on with your Instagram account. Click here to learn more.