Instagram is arguably the fastest growing platform for designers around the world. It's function is straightforward - and its interface is beautifully simple. Instagram is the no-nonsense platform that Facebook used to be, which is why its popularity is so wide spread. Opting out of events, status updates and annoying game invitations, Instagram has managed to stay true to its original function: sharing photos. It goes without saying that visuals are paramount within the design community. After all, what better way to show off your most recent project than a eye-catching room vignette? And what if you could take that eye-catching vignette and develop your brand via a free, online portfolio that (if done correctly) automatically connects you to thousands of like-minded individuals worldwide? If that interests you, then you need to join the Instagram bandwagon. If you're one of the half-billion people that are already onboard, check out these hacks to help grow your account:
1. Make your personal account, a business account
This one won't make or break your Instagram experience, but it's at least worth mentioning. If your company has a Facebook page, then you have the ability to turn your Instagram account into a business account. Why would you do this? Business accounts have access to extra features that personal accounts just don't have. For example, business accounts can run ads in conjunction with your Facebook ads, and even show you metrics and other useful information. It's not a make or break scenario for most designers, but it does offer your followers an easier way to contact you. If you're interested in making the change, you can click here to learn how.
2. Understand hashtags, and how to use them effectively
One question I get a lot is "what is a hashtag and what does it mean to me" - well let's make sure we're all on the same page. A hashtag is a way to connect social media posts from users worldwide, using a word or phrase after the pound (or hash) sign. You've probably noticed hashtags at events like #HPMKT for High Point Market, but they can be used for special promotions like our #Trendy20 and some are even weekly social trends like #TBT for "Throwback Thursday". These are all just examples of another way to connect content with relevant users. For example, if you were to post a photo on instagram and add #InteriorDesign to your caption, it would show up on the search results for anyone else looking at #InteriorDesign. While you may not be actively searching hashtags, I can assure you that millions of other users are.
This brings me to my next point: using hashtags to expand your organic reach. Social media is all about putting your content in front of where people are already looking. Instagram has a limit of 30 hashtags in a comment, which gives you 30 opportunities to interject your content into 30 different conversations. If you're not maximizing the use of hashtags on all your posts, you're missing out on being discovered by millions of potential followers. However, just because you have a maximum of thirty tags doesn't mean you should just pick them at random. You'll want to put some thought into what your important keywords are and base your hashtags around that strategy.
If you have a new room shot you want to post, take a few minutes to think about some important keywords and then do a little research into how popular that hashtag is (doesn't do you any good to inject your content into a conversation that no one's having). You may decide to start with some basics that describe you and/or your company (e.g: #InteriorDesign, #ProductDesign), then move on to a couple variations to make sure you're accounting for all contexts (e.g: #InteriorDesigners, #ProductDesigners). Maybe your post is a room shot of a beautiful living room you just finished for a client, you could include descriptive tags like #LivingRoom, #MidCenturyModern, #Groovy and more. Another way people use hashtags is to inject their content into their competitors audience. For example, AT&T may announce a great Black Friday deal and tag #VerizonWireless in the post in an attempt to convert their customers.
3. Hide your hashtags via comment truncation
We've already covered why hashtags are important, but again, here at Designers Today we're all about maintaining the aesthetics. Your profile wouldn't look too good with thirty hashtags at the end of every post. So what can we do? Luckily, all you have to do is learn to navigate Instagrams automatic comment truncation. "The gram" knows that in order to maintain its user experience, they had to shorten comments and descriptions that are particularly lengthy. If you use this simple hack, you can hide your hashtags with a clean [...] instead of all that text. Recreate the following in the notes section of your phone:
- 5 separate lines of "."
- Add your hashtags below
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Ryan lives at the crossroads of marketing strategy and content curation. As Content Manager for Designers Today, Ryan strategizes with companies to develop integrated marketing campaigns via custom content and other vehicles.