Making Instagram Work for your Business

I have a complicated relationship with Instagram. I love editing photos and finding the perfect filter, but I have really struggled with creating a cohesive feed in the past. It’s a daily struggle to not post random photos of my dog (his name is Nash, he’s adorable and his photos should be shared with everyone) and the latest pretty cocktail I ordered on a weekend shopping trip.

But think about it – do people following Printable Wisdom on Instagram really want to see photos of my dog every three posts? No! Of course not! They follow Printable Wisdom to see lettering, behind the scenes posts, and (suprise!) things related to Printable Wisdom as a business. A personal post every once in awhile is absolutely necessary, but it needs to be planned in advance as part of your overall Instagram strategy.

What’s the solution then?

Structure! Going about Instagram with a plan in mind makes it so much easier to create a cohesive brand. Here are some tips for planning your Instagram feed that have really helped me avoid “spur of the moment” and off-brand posting.

Have a plan for what your overall visual identity should look like.

This is so important and something I struggled with for a long time. It can be difficult to post photo after photo and have them all work together. Different people have different strategies for this. Some options are:

  • Use the same photo filter(s) on each photo. My favorite filter app is A Color Story since they have hundreds of filters and allow you to create your own personal combination of filters.
  • Use similar colors in each photo, or re-use props every once in awhile. That adorable mug you have on  your desk? Bring it back a week later in the background of a photo.
  • Use a visual graphic element on each photo (like a border). This is the strategy that works best for me! I use a border on each of my photos to create some white space in my Instagram feed. I also try to use similar filters, but the border keeps everything looking clean and cohesive. The “A Beautiful Mess” app is great for adding borders.
  • Deploy stock photos strategically. There are tons of stock photographers who cater specifically to Instagram users. Find someone who’s style you love and sprinkle a few stock photos throughout your feed. Twigy Posts is one of my current fave photographers. Check out some of her gorgeous stock photo bundles below. That farmhouse bundle – swoon.

Write a list of at least ten categories of posts you’ll share.

This is one of the best tips I’ve learned from social media experts. If you have categories of posts, it makes it that much easier to brainstorm what the heck you’re supposed to post that day. Some example categories are below, but you’ll definitely want to tweak these for your business.

  • Repost a photo from someone you admire (with credit of course!)
  • A behind the scenes look
  • A work in progress
  • A custom order
  • Customer photos of your product / service
  • A new product
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Giveaway post
  • A post with a question – poll your followers!
  • A video tutorial post

Decide if you want a rotating theme.

I’ve seen some gorgeous social media feeds that focus on one theme for a month or so. Rachel Hollis did a great series for awhile where for an entire month she’d use one color predominantly in each photo (see below where she did red white and blue in July). This can be a little daunting! One option would be to alternate color photos with black and white photos. Hand letterers can rotate between color photos and quote images on a white background to create a fun grid pattern on their feed.

Decide (and stick to!) a posting schedule.

To create a posting schedule, you need to know when your followers are actually online! Instagram has Insights for business accounts, and I’ve also used Hootesuite to plan the best time to post – they have a great article about this on their website.

Next, you need to plan when you’re actually able to post on social media. Is this once a day? Two, three times a day? What will each post be about? Will they follow a pattern?

Plan your posts in advance.

This. If you do nothing else on the list, take this to heart. Plan your social media posts for the week all at once. This will ensure cohesiveness and will never leave you scratching your head wondering what to post. I try to do this each Sunday and it makes the week go by so much easier.

Other social media platforms such as Facebook have post scheduling built in, but Instagram requires a little workaround. I love the Later App for Instagram post scheduling – it’s totally free and always coming out with great updates. Their analytics are also top notch.

Plan your engagement with other peoples’ posts.

This is so important! The main point of social media… is to be social! As a general rule, you should reply to most if not all comments that people make on your posts. You should also make it a goal to comment on other posters’ photos. On the planning PDF below, I have a section for engagement goals. Decide how many comments you will make per day, and then check off each box as you meet this goal each day of the week.

Now it’s time to put these tips into practice!

I’d love to share my one-sheet wonder Social Media Planner that is PERFECT for Instagram with you.

Click here to get the free PDF right in your inbox!

And, please, let me know in the comments what you think of these tips and if you have any other ways you stay organized on social media.

Happy Posting!

2 thoughts on “Making Instagram Work for your Business

  1. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing this, I’m laser focused on upping my Instagram game for my new business so this was perfect timing! I found your blog by way of your Calligraphy book, by the way.

    1. Hi Anna! I’m so glad it found you at the right time! I’d love to follow you on Insta if you want to share your username!

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