Welcome to another episode of the Free and Fearless podcast. Today we’re talking about using Instagram for business.
Many of you have asked me questions about Instagram, how I use it, how I create the graphics, how I grow my audience, how I feel good about showing up there often and how I decide what to post about.
There’s a lot going on for me there lately so I wanted to record a whole episode on that and talk about not just using Instagram for business, but actually having fun doing it.
Because if you’re just pushing yourself to be there, doing what others are doing, posting too much or too little, comparing yourself to others, sliding into people’s DMs and feeling salesy, well something is just not right.
Tune into the episode below:
- [07:07] How I used Instagram before vs now & why I deleted my personal account
- [08:52] How I set a clear intention for social media & why that matters
- [11:49] The tools I use to create graphics
- [13:38] When I post and how often
- [16:28] How to decide what to post
- [19:12] How I organize my feed & what matters more than aesthetics
- The Free Abundant Biz Journal Challenge
- Fearless Content
- My Instagram
- Styled Stock Society
- Planoly [app]
- Lightroom [app]
How to Use Instagram for Business
I’ve used Instagram for business a few years ago but then I was doing completely different things from now. I was posting motivational quotes and my content was related to personal development.
I wasn’t showing my face and got a certain amount of followers, but it just didn’t lead to anything. It was absolutely pointless.
So I left it behind and literally didn’t even log into my business Instagram account for around 1,5-2 years.
During that time I was using my personal Instagram account but not that much, and I was growing my blogging business.
But in 2020 I decided to finally get out of my comfort zone, focus on branding and marketing, and just get out there.
One of the decisions I took, other than re-branding my site and starting the podcast, was to also go back to using Instagram for business. I wasn’t sure how to go about. An I was also having a hard time managing my personal account and the business one, as I didn’t want people from my personal to know about my business one, and vice versa.
That was actually causing me stress so I had some final decisions to make as I didn’t wanna spend time switching between accounts and hiding from some people while engaging with others.
I knew I wanted to go all in on my business and didn’t really enjoy using my personal account, so I deleted it. I focused solely on the business one, only followed people I admire and wanna learn from and started connecting with like-minded women, people from my audience and just other business owners.
Setting a clear intention for Instagram
I came back to my business account with a fresh perspective and with new energy. I wasn’t gonna use it for money and didn’t wanna become any sort of influencer and work with brands on social media.
I had another intention, and setting your intention before you do anything is important. I wanted to use Instagram for branding and to connect with people. And that’s exactly what I got.
In the beginning I wasn’t sure what to post, what colors to use, how to share my content from the blog on my Instagram as there was only the bio link available. But I wasn’t in a rush to start posting often so I began observing, deciding who I don’t wanna be on that platform, and going with the flow.
I showed my face more often and created more graphics and quotes that inspire and educate, cause that’s the content I wanna be associated with.
I wasn’t even sure what exactly to write in my bio and most people just assumed I was starting a business now, or was a coach.
Later I did figure it out and I created my mission statement, added a sentence to my profile saying who I wanna help, and used the ‘Name’ field to add my first name and what I do. It now says ‘Lidiya, Blogger and Course Creator’, cause that’s what I am.
My nickname has always been @letsreachsuccess, so feel free to find me and connect if you’re active there. I didn’t rename that as my business is still about my content, not that much about me even though I’m showing more of myself now.
I also have many resources to share so it made sense to create the so-called link tree, but on my website.
What I mean is, to get all my most important links in one place, and share that URL in my bio link.
So I published a new page on my site. The web address is letsreachsuccess.com/ig. It was important to make it pretty and super simple, and it’s meant for Instagram users who click on it so the name says it all.
I created it with Elementor, which is a free WordPress website builder, and it’s simply a page that shows my picture and all the important links I have to share with people.
These can change over time, but usually it’s the blog, the podcast, the latest interviews, my About page, a page with all my courses in one place, and one or two freebies, usually the newest ones.
The tools I use to create graphics
Many people reached out on Instagram to say they like my feed and the vibe and the content, and I love hearing that so thank you. It all came naturally, there was no actual strategy or plan, and that’s why I’m enjoying more than before.
I already had my main brand colors on the blog as well as the topics I cover, so it made sense to just keep sharing that but on Instagram and in a format that does well there.
I posted more pics of myself at first, but didn’t really enjoy that. Even though I can provide value and share tips in the caption, I also wanted the visual element to be educational or inspiring or both.
For the actual graphics, I use Canva. It’s absolutely free and it’s a big part of my business as I’ve used it for all other visual elements I have.
They have Instagram templates and you can create stories, quotes, reels , graphics or whatever comes to mind in a matter of minutes. Then you download it and post it on Instagram.
I also joined a stock photo membership and paid for lifetime access for it last year. It’s called Styled Stock Society.
Thanks to them I have access to many, many stock photos as well as Canva templates. And they add new ones weekly.
That definitely saves me time and helps me to stand out with graphics that I wouldn’t really create myself as I’m just not a graphic designer. But you don’t need to invest in that and Canva is more than enough.
If fact, you can create a few templates and simply use different text, pictures and colors on each, and have brand consistency on your feed.
When I post and how often
As for the time of posting and how often, I usually try to get 1 Instagram post out and publish it in the morning, between 8 and 11 am. As I’m in Europe, though, that means the afternoon for me.
Before you have an engaged audience, the time of posting won’t matter much. Once you do have people though, you can check the Insights section of your business profile to see when they are most active.
Often you already know that as you’re an Instagram user yourself. You know who your ideal client or reader is and you can imagine how their day goes.
If you like to scroll through Instagram in the morning or spend a few hours there and engage with people while your kids are at school or taking a nap, then that’s what other moms do as well as any woman working from home.
The more time you spend on Instagram, the more you learn about the platform and what does well. So keep publishing now, don’t think about results, simply provide value and after a month or so, review everything.
See the posts people engaged with the most, who responds to your stories, what topics they enjoy the most, what time of the day your people are most active, who you enjoy following and why.
Instagram is built for engagement and it’s a visual platform, so respect that.
Create visual content, and form real connections with people.
Engage with the content of those following you, leave comments and genuinely enjoy seeing their updates and starting conversations.
For example, I not only increased my reach on Instagram and connected with amazing people, but I also turned my whole feed into a source of daily inspiration for me.
When I log in, there’s only positive posts from women who are into business or manifestation and personal development, or into all of this. We have similar interests, can motivate each other, ask questions and recommend other things to learn.
As for posting Stories, there are no rules there.
What’s best is to only post when there’s something interesting going on. Just do it every few hours throughout the day as that will help you to always show on top for your followers and they are more likely to click and see what you’re up to.
I can’t tell you how personal to get and what to share on Stories as this depends on what areas of your life you’re opening to people online. I might share some updates from my day, but mostly I try to really keep it to a minimum and still share to provide value and help my posts get seen.
Usually, half of the people scroll through their feed and see posts and the rest prefer to only check Stories. Some do both, of course, but the point is that anyone can miss your new post or Story if you only say this once. That’s why you should stay consistent with your content creation.
How I choose what to post
I tried planning this but it’s not that natural. Of course you can just outline the topics you’ll have each week of the month, and depending on how organized you are, you can also create the graphics and schedule each post ahead of time. I don’t do that.
I make sure I’m in a good mood and energetic when I’m showing on Instagram. It’s okay for me to skip a day or even a few and not post or not even open the app. I come back when I have something to say, am ready to engage with others, am excited to share something new I worked on with them, or else.
I respect their time so I don’t wanna post just for the sake of posting and showing up on their feed.
Choosing the topic I’m talking about is often based on intuition, passion and just what I’m working on that day. It can also be inspired by a comment or message or email I receive which gets me thinking, so I can share some tips on that topic together with my post or create a whole new one related to this.
Other times, I’ll just remember to post something that day and add an inspiring caption or share part of my story that might help others.
But usually a few things remain consistent, such as when there’s a podcast episode or an interesting blog post, income report or an interview I publish.
Then I create a beautiful graphic for it and a few Stories to show people what it’s about and encourage them to read or listen to the whole thing by clicking my bio link.
I can also post about it one more time with let’s say a quote that’s part of it or just something related to the process of creating that piece of content.
So if you are constantly wondering what to talk about on Instagram, chances are you might not be creating any content outside of it.
Because if you publish even one blog post, or podcast episode, or video on YouTube a week, then you can not just promote it over the course of 2 whole days so that everyone hears about it, but you can also discuss topics related to it the whole week.
It’s interesting because usually, if you have lack of clarity on Instagram and not enough content to share or some other things that don’t feel right, it means your whole content strategy and business might be out of alignment.
That’s exactly what I’m going to help content creators with, with the new course I’m working on now. And that’s why it’s called Fearless Content, cause it literally teaches you how to release all that’s no longer serving you, then define what platforms you should be using in your business and what content you should be creating.
How to organize your feed
Instagram is a visual platform and usually what looks good, gets attention there. That can be bad if someone is materialistic and comparing themselves to perfection that is actually an illusion.
But it can also be good as for example I stepped up my branding game and the visual content I created simply because I was spending more time on Instagram and wanted things to be visually appealing.
I use the Planoly app to just see how the overall vibe of the feed will be when I add a few new posts. And some basic rules I’m following for myself are to have a quote or something else with a lot of white space, followed by a photo.
I don’t use the same filer or anything, I just make some photos lighter using the free Lightroom app simply because it’s often too dark at my place and I just like it lighter.
I also stick to similar colors, fonts and designs and that is all inside Canva, where you simply need to choose a few brand elements and include them on any post you create.
But I never let perfectionism get to me as it can be overwhelming to try and create the most beautiful feed, and often, this has little to do with the value you provide.
I want my Instagram to be a place where people can find empowering captions and also real business and mindset tips, but it’s all about the content and the message of each post. How it looks is just something I spend a bit of time thinking about and planning, but never too much.
Because if you start comparing yourself to others, you risk losing your authenticity and your unique gifts can’t shine.
So go with the flow, use the colors you enjoy and which fit your personality and the topics you’re covering. All this will eventually lead to a consistent brand online and, offline and an aligned business.
I really hope all this helps you. If not else, at least you have examples of how someone uses Instagram for business and why I do what I do. So you can follow a similar direction when taking decisions about your brand and how you wanna show up on social media.
Reach out to me on Instagram @letsreachsuccess if you wanna talk about any of this, and I’d love to connect.