Instagram is owned by Facebook so we all knew it was a matter of time before our utopian social media world started changing in ways that we may not like. We signed petitions and made a stink but big companies will do what big companies will do and bloggers and business owners will have to adapt.
The truth is, Instagram has had an algorithm that only shows us a small portion of the people we follow for a long time. I've noticed in my own feed, not seeing posts from blog friends and wondered to myself "Where'd they go?" only to find that I've missed the last 3 weeks of posts from them. It's a bummer but no one can possibly keep up with all 2,000 people that they follow on any social media network so something had to be done. The changes will hurt some and they will help some. Social media gurus are already lining up with their latest seminar or workbook for sale on how to beat the system but the fact is, there's nothing that you should start doing now that you shouldn't have been doing all along. So here's my tips on how to "survive" the change
Don't turn on post notifications
Right now, this is everyone's big ground-breaking advice on how to make Instagram work for you. Ask your followers to turn on notifications so they'll get a notice on their phone every time you post. I tested this one out myself and it was a disaster. I turned on notifications for about 20 people and my phone buzzed all day and all night. Every time they posted a new picture of their dog, their lunch, their latest Etsy sale, my phone buzzed and chirped at me. Sometimes I was working, sleeping or at a time in the day when I didn't need my phone making noise. I don't want to miss my friend's posts but I also don't want to wake up at 2am when my phone buzzes because someone in Australia posted a selfie. I could turn my phone off or put it on silent but I need to be reachable in case of family emergencies so I turned off post notifications immediately after I turned them on. #sorrynotsorry but post notifications are not the answer.
Engage with people that you like
All social media sites show us posts based on what's popular and what kinds of things we regularly like and comment on. So, if you don't want to miss posts from your favorite accounts, simply like and comment on them regularly and they'll show up in your feed more regularly! It really is that easy. No midnight interruptions from a buzzing phone.This is the way it works for Facebook too. In turn, if you want your followers to see your stuff, post things that you know they'll like and comment on too. More on that...
Post content that your followers love
I love to share pics of my kids doing silly adorable things or my pretty lunch or my goofy ferret but the truth is, my Instagram followers don't care about those things. I know this because I don't get many likes and comments on those kinds of posts. I could share them anyway but Instagram is an extension of my brand, not my personal journal. The key to being awesome on social media of any kind is to post things that your audience really loves. Each account is unique so what works for one account may not work for another but here's the easy way to find out what your people love:
Use the Instafollow app's media insight tool (this tool is an extra 99 cents)
Log in with your Instagram info and click "media insight" from here, choose "most popular media". The app will show your most liked and commented posts of all time. You can also check your least popular media to see what kinds of posts are a big flop. Here's a look at mine:
My audience obviously loves outfits and pretty vintage hair. They are not interested in Instagram challenges, giveaway shares and things with text overlays. The most liked media has bold colors and great lighting. The least liked is too dark or too light and mostly pastel colors. Now, I can use this as a guide for what to post. Before I make any Instagram posts, I go back to this and think about my audience. If I really want to share something but I know it won't do well on this platform, I can share it with friends on my personal Facebook page nor even start a second Instagram account just for friends and family. Bloggers track their stats to see how well blog posts do, we should do the same for our social media accounts.
Continue to use hashtags that are popular in your niche
Hashtags work and I don't think they'll be going away any time soon. When I need pretty hair inspiration, I know I can search for #vintageupdosformoderngirls #vintagehair or my own hashtag #pincurlclub . To see everyone's cute outfits and accessories, I search for #truevintageootd #oodtsocialclub #thedailybake and #noveltybroochfriday . Keep a small selection of favorite hashtags in mind and use them when you can! Use hashtags that people popular in your niche use and that people in your audience use. Don't use hashtags that only have 100 or so posts, check them to see if they're being used by your ideal audience. Avoid using more than a couple per post. When I use my favorite hashtags, I always get new likes from people that I've never seen before, which leads me to following new people too!
Its called social media not "follow me" media. The great thing about Instagram is that it really feels like a community. You talk to people, you share moments of your life, you become friends. Keep the conversation going by leaving genuine comments on posts, asking questions on your own, sharing beautiful things from others (With permission, of course) and maintaining your brand's voice in your posts.
Up your phone photography game
I'm guilty of the dark photo and since I got my terrible new phone, grainy photos! I'm switching back to my old phone with a better camera just for Instagram photos because the thing about Instagram is that everything must be gorgeous. I've been known to scroll through my feed as fast as my screen will let me. What makes people stop and double tap for a like or leave a comment? It must be eye-catching.
Start a photo kit: go to the dollar tree or Target's dollar section and pick up some pretty props for your photos. Wrapping paper or scrapbook paper makes great backgrounds for small objects. Quality fake flowers or real ones add life to the shot. Pick items that fit your niche. You can never go wrong with pretty scissors, cute pencils, sunglasses and lipstick. Keep your basics in a bin or drawer so they're ready when you are.
Find a favorite bright, clean spot: for selfies, outfits or flat lays, find a spot that always has awesome lighting and is tidy. Don't take a selfie with a toilet in the background (ahem, like me). While checking your smile or your angles, check your background for clutter, a naked toddler streaking through the house or your neighbor's bathroom renovations in progress.
Upgrade to quality photo editing apps: I don't purchase many apps but there are a few that are essential and well worth a few bucks. The best (I think) is VSCO. VSCO itself is free but there's so many beautiful filters that you'll probably want to upgrade to. Its like the Photoshop of Instagram apps. The selection of stylish filters is spectacular and there's so many necessary tools at the tip of your finger. Its simple to use and I never post a photo without it. My Instagram following skyrocketed since I started using VSCO to edit my photos. VSCO holds occasional sales on its filter packages so if you can hold off, you can get a deal on all of the sets. Other apps I love include A Beautiful Mess, Piclab and Flipagram
Consider your Instagram account as a whole.
If I'm lucky enough to have someone like my picture enough to click my profile, I want them to like the entire feed as a whole. At a single glance, they should be able to see what my brand and blog is about and determine if I'm worth following. I want my pictures to be bold, bright, well styled and show them what I'm all about. From a non-scrolling glance, you can see my outfits and hair, my craft projects and my vintage home decor and recent vintage finds. Look at your grid and see if its cohesive and speaks for your brand. I like to use the same 3 or 4 filters, the same kinds of colors and similar layouts for my photos. While you're looking at your grid, make sure to use some key words in your description and a good link to your site.
I hope that these tips help my blogging friends in their Instagramming. Life as a blogger is always changing and it can be hard to keep up but we're in it together! If you have any Instagram tips or challenges that you face in social media, please share in the comments below and of course, follow on Instagram @vavoomvintage