social media tools archie review

Social Media Tools: Archie Review

Full Disclosure: In exchange for my Archie review, I was offered 12 months of Archie’s premium service for free. I jumped at the chance, because I’m in LOVE with Archie.

What would you do with an extra set of hands in your business?

The first task in my business I aimed to outsource was that of engagement. I know that it’s important for growing a following, and I check in every once in awhile for a social media scroll fest, but I’m just not interested in doing it for hours every day. I spend so much time in the rest of my business, it’s hard to justify, or save energy for, engagement.

Archie Review

I’ve used Archie for as long as I’ve known about it, and have recommended it to several clients. Archie basically acts as your social media intern – taking care of some of the simplest social media engagement tasks. Although there are other programs that auto follow, auto DM, and auto comment on Instagram and Twitter, I don’t recommend them. These types of social media auto-engagement tactics usually come off as inauthentic, or overly salesy.

Auto-liking, on the other hand, doesn’t come off any way but “interested.” A like is a show of support for a user’s content. People who are creating public content tend to appreciate a show of support. Archie once shared a statistic that claimed that for every 31 likes on average, you can expect a new follower. Oftentimes, a person who gets a like from someone they don’t know (especially if they don’t have a lot of followers) gets curious about the person who liked them. They might then investigate the account, enjoy the content, and follow for more.

It’s important to not only be proactive with engagement on various social accounts, but to also have an account worth following. Make social media content creation a priority if you take social media marketing seriously, and expect these engagement tactics to work.

The content that Archie likes on your behalf is based on the hashtags you specify for it. Here’s what I put in for my Chicago-based blog’s Instagram:

Social Media Tools Archie Review

My strategy for Twitter is slightly different and not location-specific. I see Twitter as a B2B network, perfect for finding leads, influencers, and industry professionals:

Social Media Tools Archie Review 3

Besides specifying what hashtags you’d like it to like for you, you can also tell Archie:

  • To interact with a certain user’s followers
  • Specific locations of people to interact with
  • Blocked hashtags for Archie to ignore
  • Users to block

Although Archie offers negative options, like blocking certain users or hashtags, some unsavory auto-liking does happen on occasion. You need to be able to stomach the possibility that Archie might like something inconsistent with your brand in order to use the tool.

Here’s how my hashtag settings are resulting in actual conversions (new followers) on Instagram:

Social Media Tools Archie Review 2

In addition to new followers in the last 24 hours, you’ll also be able to see new followers over the past week, and from your entire time using the tool. Various charts show follower growth over time, and the most recent activity (including what Archie’s liking on your behalf, in real time). One of my favorite features is the ability to see which hashtags are converting well, and which ones you may want to reconsider using.

I think I’ve made it pretty obvious that Archie can be an incredible tool for growing a following on Instagram or Twitter. But one thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the fact that it’s directly in opposition to Instagram’s Terms of Service (and Twitter isn’t too stoked about it, either). Archie is a “grey area” tool that could potentially get your account banned if Instagram were to catch on to what you’re up to. That said, I’ve used it for multiple client accounts as well as my own – nothing negative has resulted up to this point (knock on wood).

Because Archie is constantly fighting changing Instagram and Twitter algorithms (without their support), it has been down a number of times over the year or so I’ve used it. Sometimes this downtime lasts a day, sometimes it lasts a week. Archie is slow to notify customers that this is happening (if they do at all), but they are quick to fix it. When I’ve complained about downtime in the past, they make sure to credit my account for any use of their service I’ve missed. Sometimes Archie gets disconnected from my Twitter, and I find myself going back into reconnect multiple times, for days in a row (and it doesn’t do it’s job for me in between these issues).

Archie isn’t perfect, and it isn’t something Instagram or Twitter would endorse, but I will continue to use and recommend it, based on an overall positive experience with it.

Have any of you used Archie, or some other social media engagement tool? I’d love to hear your Archie review in the comments!

5 Things You're Doing Wrong with Keyword Research

5 Things You’re Doing Wrong with Keyword Research

It’s no secret that some of the best ROI in digital marketing comes from SEO efforts. This is why so many marketers and SEOs spend a bulk of their time working to get ranked at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for keywords they consider to be the most relevant to what their customers are looking for. Therefore, keyword research is an important foundational step of great SEO. But there are a lot of ways that keyword research can go awry and end up hurting your efforts, instead of helping them.

Avoid the most common mistakes that happen as a result of faulty keyword research. Here are 5 things you’re doing wrong with keyword research.

You’re Choosing Irrelevant Keywords

When conducting keyword research, new or inexperienced SEOs may focus too heavily on the historic search volume of specific keywords, without enough consideration as to the relevance of the keywords to their target customers. Not all search traffic is good – especially if it’s unlikely to convert.

A bait and switch situation can have a negative effect on how Google ranks your content. If you’re offering an affordable room for rent, you might opt to use keywords like “cheap room rent [location],” or “affordable [location] room rent.” You wouldn’t want to use keywords like “luxury room rent [location]” or “house for sale [location],” because these keywords are misleading and irrelevant. People will visit your website and immediately leave, negatively impacting your bounce rate and time on site. Google will take note!

You’re Being Unrealistic

When determining what keywords to use, it’s also important to determine how your competition fits into the picture. One of the top things you’re doing wrong with keyword research is underestimating another company’s existing hold on a keyword. When using keyword research tools, take a look at what keywords fall into high, medium, and low competition categories. For most businesses, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to outrank existing companies using high-competition keywords. Focus on long-tail keywords that represent qualified searchers. The search volume may be lower, but these searchers are more qualified, and more likely to convert.

You’re Targeting Plural Instead of Singular Keywords

It’s not a very well-known fact, but it makes sense – most people search for singular keywords, and many SEOs target their plural counterparts. You might think it makes sense to target plural keywords because you sell more than just one product, and you think it makes sense to be more general. But James Agate of Moz found that in a search between “tablet PCs” and “tablet PC,” the plural keyword got 91% less search traffic than the singular keyword. Google tends to be good at ranking both singular and plural keywords, but it can mean a difference in being the top result (and top click through rate), and lower down the page in obscurity.

You’re Not Monitoring Search Trends

SEO isn’t a set it and forget it venture. Ongoing SEO means analyzing search engine trends over time. By being proactive and staying on top of the game, you’ll consistently stay ahead of competitors who don’t take this important step with their SEO efforts.

It’s worth mentioning that staying on top of search trends is more crucial for some businesses than others. Seasonal businesses need to give special attention to monitoring search trends so they can plan content ahead, and raise their search ranking during the off-season. By properly planning ahead with content marketing and SEO, they may enjoy top SERP results during their main season of business. Try using Google Trends to see how search traffic for your keywords is affected over time.

You’re Only Targeting the Main Keywords

Guy Sheetrit of Over the Top SEO says the number one thing you’re doing wrong with keyword research is only targeting the main keywords. Many SEOs don’t realize the amount of traffic they are missing out on, and they also don’t realize that 20% of keyword queries each day are unique for at least the last 90 days!

Are you guilty of any of the 5 things you’re doing wrong with keyword research mentioned on this list? Or have you noticed other bigger problems with keyword research in your industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Lessons Learned from my first 12 months of freelancing (1)

Lessons Learned From My First 12 Months of Freelancing

I’ve been planning this post for many months – over a year, in fact! It’s finally the right time to share the story of my first 12 months of freelancing. Coincidentally, LinkedIn Profinder is also running a small business contest that invites small business owners to share their unique stories, and I think mine is something you’ll want to read.

For those landing on my blog for the first time, my name is Maddy Osman, and my brand is “The Blogsmith.” After months of brainstorming, it seemed like the perfect fit for my personality, leveraging my love of street art to show people that their content can be effective and fun, while still being professional. My clients range from lifestyle brands to tourism agencies, marketing agencies, and more. But my passion is writing about digital marketing, and breaking down complex topics.

After investing a lot of time and effort into learning about SEO (originally to promote my passion project/blog Chicago Cheap Ass), I help my clients create content that is easily found by people specifically seeking it out. Once searchers click through to learn more, my content is easy to read and engaging. Thanks to my marketing background, the content I write always has a conversion factor so that the brands I work for can create short and long term prospects.

The impact my business has had for my customers is obvious once you start to look at the stats. Here’s an email from one of my favorite clients, ParkWhiz:

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 7.38.52 PM

In another case of high-impact, a series of articles I wrote (on topics of my choosing) for client BLR’s Sales & Marketing Daily Advisor were repurposed as a marketing asset to drive new email subscribers. These two instances represent examples of client wins that happened in just the past month!

LinkedIn has always been a very large part of my personal branding strategy. I attend networking events on a regular basis and try hard to be good at following up with the people I meet. At the end of every day, I make sure to use LinkedIn to connect with people not currently in my network (Rapportive is another good tool for connecting directly through email).

By consistently posting relevant content via LinkedIn status updates (client wins, relevant industry articles, local involvements, and more), I stay top of mind with my large business network. At one point in time, my profile was in the top 1% most viewed on the platform! Anyone who knows me knows that I take LinkedIn very seriously – enough to write an article about the most common mistakes people make on LinkedIn for one client, and how to write a good LinkedIn summary for another.

LinkedIn ProFinder represents a great new opportunity for creating business leads. I’ve experimented with it and have had many great conversations, and a freelance friend of mine recently closed a lead with a company paying him $75/hour – no easy task for contract work! I can’t wait to see how this new platform evolves as more companies and individuals use it to hire freelance talent. We certainly deserve better than typically high-fee, low-paying platforms that freelancers are often directed to, especially when they’re just starting out.

Now that you’ve had a chance to see the impact my business has had on my customers, I’d like to share a personal story of my first 12 months of freelancing. Here’s how my business has impacted my life, with lessons learned for others interested in taking the leap.

Month 1: October

Making the jump to freelancing full-time is a lot easier when you have enough client work to at least pay your bare-minimum bills. But even with the promise of some work, nothing is set in stone. Corporate jobs with benefits seem so much more secure, and in many ways, they are. If you’re considering making the jump to freelance, check out the Month-by-Month Guide to Starting a Freelance Business that I wrote for Sophie Lizard’s blog – it digs deep into both the things I did and wish I had done before quitting my job!

 

Besides the financial considerations, there’s also something to be said about losing out on office culture. It can be annoying to get up early and look presentable, then commute in traffic or crowded public transportation – I won’t argue that! But being able to work in your PJs and sleep in a little longer doesn’t make up for a lack of conversation and company. Although I’m very good about getting out of my house and regularly attending networking events, I miss consistent interactions and commiserations with my favorite coworkers, and it hit me hard after my first month on my own.

 

My first month freelancing was one part “OMG I’m really doing this!” excitement and another part “OMG what happens if I fail?” I think most freelancers go through the same range of emotions when just getting started.

Month 2: November

My second month was full of change. In an interesting turn of events, the client who helped me cover my bare minimum bills and I parted ways. It could have brought about an early end to my fledgling freelance career, but another one of my clients really ramped up the work they assigned to me. In the end, it all worked out. Though my main first client and I were not meant to work together in this capacity, we’re still good friends and I consider him to be my freelance mentor. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things come together – I’ve always believed that.

Month 3: December

I was grateful for the work from my new main client, but I was frustrated with the way it was going. Though there was some structure to our working relationship, I felt like I was always on call, and that I was powering someone else’s dream (instead of building my own company/brand).

 

As someone with a major case of #BusinessMajorProblems, I craved structure and the ability to plan ahead. After all, the main perk of freelancing for me was supposed to be the flexibility. I know that if I continued working with this client, it would be damn near impossible to take vacations without a significant amount of stress. So by the end of this month (despite the busy holidays!), I was working hard to drum up new business that would allow me to live my dreams.

Month 4: January

January was probably one of my worst months as far as business (and getting paid!) was concerned. With all of my contacts on vacation, it was hard to get new assignments. There’s really no reason to be frequenting your email inbox when you’re off the clock! #CorporatePerks

 

Instead of letting it get me down, I used the time I would have been completing projects to instead work on building my personal brand. By the end of the month, it was paying off in the form of inbound leads through my professional social media channels (LinkedIn and Twitter), on top of referrals from people in my network.

Month 5: February

After realizing how effective my personal branding efforts could be, I made a point to invest more time and energy into them during the month of February. This effort centered mostly around guest posting on high authority websites (like this piece I wrote for Search Engine Journal) in my industry, and being featured on podcast interviews to share my story and convey my expertise (like this one for Brand Driven Digital). Especially in terms of my guest posting efforts, I’ve created powerful portfolio pieces that I still use when pitching new clients, today.

Month 6: March

For me, March was all about being more efficient. When running a service-based business, there’s only so much you can do before you run out of hours in a day. Besides time constraints, you also get to a point when you’re overwhelmed and low on energy. So during the month of March, I started thinking about what I could outsource, if anything, without compromising on quality. I also committed to using new tools to help with organization and keeping track of client assignments. Once I was feeling good about my new processes and plans, I gave myself a raise. From this month on, I vowed to myself that I would never charge less than I knew I was worth. I wish I would have had this level of confidence months ago!

As a nod to the fact that I was missing having coworkers, I also decided to give coworking a try this month. In Chicago, Deskpass makes it possible to try multiple coworking spaces at a very affordable price. From March til my eventual move in November of this year (2016), I gave many different coworking spaces a try. Getting out of my house (and away from Netflix) was excellent for productivity! If you’re local to Chicago (or going there for business), check out my article on coworking spaces for Choose Chicago.

Month 7: April

It wasn’t until month 7 that I felt comfortable enough with the processes I put into place, and the clients I had, to actually take a vacation. Before freelancing, I think I took vacations for granted, but never again. I have to do so much work ahead of leaving, and require a wifi connection once away in case it becomes necessary to put out any fires. As long as I’m freelancing (which I hope is forever!), I’ll never be able to completely relax during my downtime. It’s the tradeoff a person has to deal with for a non-traditional job situation!

Besides taking a much-needed break, I made the most out of the remainder of the month. I began picking up speaking engagements (like WordCamp Chicago!), won well-known Freelance Writer Sophie Lizard’s Pitchfest competition (my winning entry is linked at the beginning of this post), and picked up some unexpected consulting work. Because I’m always trying to be more efficient, I spent several days reducing my email inbox from probably ten thousand messages (if only I was kidding), to organized labels and inbox zero! I highly recommend an inbox cleanse if you’re starting to miss important messages.

Month 8: May

In May, I picked up 4 more speaking events and expanded my influence and expertise in Chicago, while practicing my ability to talk in front of large groups of people without sounding like an idiot (easier said than done). I also picked up my first event live tweeting client, launching a service I have a lot of passion for. May was truly a month of opportunity, both in terms of building my personal brand, and making more money!

Month 9: June

June marked the addition of a few new business expenses, but thankfully, also many new efficiencies! I pulled the plug on finally hiring an assistant (she’s a lifesaver), and also signed a two-year contract for an unlimited/portable wifi hotspot (it’s awesome, by the way). I also started working with a few agencies both on their client projects, and on their agency blogs as a contributor (like client Mabbly).

Month 10: July

After hiring an assistant, I had to learn how to delegate and manage. The book Virtual Freedom was an essential resource for learning how to effectively work with someone in a different place. During this month, I also created more processes for my business, like a new client intake form to learn as much about the companies I’m helping with blogging and social media (or web design) as possible before getting started. One of the highlights of July was when AT&T hired me to write a number of small business articles for their Small Business Circle portal.

Month 11: August

It was near the end of my first 12 months of freelancing that I started picking up some truly amazing clients. I have a lot of clients I’ve been working with since the beginning of full-time freelancing that are amazing, but I’ve always had my eye on writing for big brands. A freelancer friend connected me with a unicorn client – Adobe! I’m happy to say that they are now a client, and my first article was about the role of UI/UX in solving self-driving car challenges. Before closing out the subject, it’s important to talk about creating a freelance squad. Even though my Adobe contact handles similar client work, she helped me expand my own career. Freelancers need to stick together – there’s more than enough work for all of us! Think of freelancers as your coworkers, not your competition.

August was an awesome month for business, and really felt like the culmination of all the time and energy invested into making freelancing work prior to this point. Thanks to a website redesign and increased efforts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, I started getting 1-2 inbound leads each day! I also had two paid speaking gigs this month. Another highlight of August was getting hired by Nick Westergaard to help with his social media conference, Social Brand Forum. Leading up to the conference, I helped create social content, blog posts, and assisted with live tweeting during the event.

During this month, I was privileged to attend an awesome Chicago conference – Content Jam.

Month 12: September

In September I attended Social Brand Forum and made a lot of new friends while growing my network. I started using the Hubspot Sales CRM to manage prospects and client relationships. I also began playing with the Pomodoro Method (this tomato timer is as genius as it is simple) to work on my ability to focus and knock out client work in a more efficient manner.

 

I’m writing this in November, which means I’m officially past my first 12 months of freelancing. There have been so many ups and so many downs, but when it comes down to it – I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything I’ve been through has been a learning experience.

 

I can’t wait to see what the next year of freelancing brings.
Common Twitter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

12 Common Twitter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It’s been over a year since I’ve written about 8 mistakes that make you look like an idiot on LinkedIn for Brent Jones. As such, it seems like we’re past due for a similar tough love lesson for Twitter, and a discussion about the most common Twitter mistakes.

Most people find themselves perplexed by Twitter, and they just decide to ignore it completely. But for B2C and especially B2B companies, being active on Twitter means an additional channel to engage with prospects and customers. Twitter is a place for two-way conversations, which means that it has its own rules for proper etiquette and self-promotion. If you haven’t been a consistent Twitter user, you may not know these rules.

Regardless of if you’re an individual or brand, here are 12 common Twitter mistakes… and how to avoid them.

Auto Direct Message (DM)

Sometimes I look at someone’s profile on Twitter and just know that if I decide to follow them, I’ll be the victim of their generic and overly salesy auto DM. I understand the psychology behind it – people want to get their message out to as many people as possible, especially those who’ve expressed an interest in them (in the form of a follow).

But the obvious auto DM (and trust me, they’re all obvious) comes across as inauthentic. If someone seems like a prospect or you just want to get to know them better – start up a natural conversation! I promise it will convert better, with higher quality prospects.

Auto Comment

Auto responses are more of a problem on Instagram than Twitter, but they’re worth mentioning all the same.  When you comment “Nice!” on a picture that’s me at someone’s funeral… you’ve lost me as a potential follower, and you’ve also lost my respect as an industry professional.

It may seem tempting to create generic post comments, but I promise you that they will backfire at some point. Instead, spend time targeting certain relevant hashtags with thoughtful messages – they will convert into new followers and potential sales at a much larger rate.

Auto Follow (and Unfollow)

There are people on Twitter and Instagram that use bots to follow and unfollow accounts at a rapid rate, hoping to grow their following and maintain a ratio that makes them appear as thought leaders. Unfortunately for them, these bots tend to go in a loop – following and unfollowing the same people to the point where it becomes obvious the activity is coming from a bot. Like the auto commenters, this lazy and deceptive follower growth tactic might work with some people, but it really infuriates me.

I think it’s important to add that although I’m quick to come down on most automated Twitter activities, I’m actually a fan of auto-liking certain hashtags and using certain hashtags to automatically add people to lists. Sure, some people have called me out on it, but it’s been 99% a great tool for building my following!

No Bio

Some people don’t realize that a lack of completing information is one of the most common Twitter mistakes. When I’m deciding who to follow or follow back, the first thing I look at is their bio. A bio should communicate:

  • What you’re interested in
  • Who you work for (if you’re using Twitter for professional reasons)
  • A call to action

This call to action may urge people to get in touch with you, visit your website, or just follow you!

A lack of completing information is one of the most common Twitter mistakesClick To Tweet

No Website

You may not have a website, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use this field on your Twitter profile. Before making one of these common Twitter mistakes, at least put in a link to your LinkedIn profile. If you’re a writer, link to your author page for your most relevant client. Alternatively, put in a link for your company – they’ll appreciate the referral traffic!

No Profile Picture

An egg profile picture on Twitter is a tell-tale sign that you have no idea what you’re doing, and that you’re probably not a person worth engaging with. Make sure that you have a profile picture, even its a silly picture with friends. Camera shy? Get someone on Fiverr to create a cartoon icon. Or use the professional headshot you have up on LinkedIn. There are so many different ways to go about it that there’s no excuse not to have one.

Another less common Twitter mistake, but completely missed opportunity? Not customizing your cover photo. I use my Twitter cover photo to drive more traffic to my website and talk about the main services I offer.

An egg profile picture on Twitter is a tell-tale sign that you have no idea what you're doing.Click To Tweet

Not Responding to People

Many people take to Twitter to complain, which can annoying for brands, but a great way to get attention from the customer’s standpoint. As such, it’s important that no matter who initiates conversation with you, you reply. Engaging in conversation creates goodwill – and new connections! By acknowledging someone, you have the chance to turn them from a hater into a loyal customer.

Sharing Posts Directly from Instagram

I’m all about saving time where it makes sense, but sharing posts directly from Instagram is not advised. Twitter displays them as a link – not an embedded photo. To get around this awkward wasted opportunity, opt for an IFTTT recipe that allows you to post Instagram photos to Twitter as native photos (not a link!) when you use a certain trigger hashtag (like #twitter, but you can make it whatever you want).

Only Talking About Yourself

See also “being overly salesy.” This common Twitter mistake is not a good look. Instead of pushing yourself or your product and hoping for the best, curate content that makes your profile a resource for people in your industry. In the same vein, make sure you’re not just retweeting other people’s content – throw in some original thoughts here and there!

Curate content that makes your profile a resource for people in your industry.Click To Tweet

Not Using Hashtags

It almost doesn’t matter how many followers you have – if you’re not using hashtags, your tweets are unlikely to be found. Rise above common Twitter mistakes relating to hashtags by adding 1-2 hashtags to each post – just don’t overdo it! 3+ hashtags are considered to be spammy and overly promotional.

3+ hashtags are considered to be spammy and overly promotional.Click To Tweet

Being Inconsistent

Just like any other social network, the more consistent you are with it, the more engaged your following will be (and the more likely you are to grow it). Once you get in the groove of using Twitter – keep it up. Consistently post updates without taking too long of a break between them.

Claiming to Be the Best

Look, just because your mom says you’re special doesn’t mean that you can put “the best at [whatever it is you do]” in your Twitter bio. Same goes for [industry] ninja or guru. Just don’t do it. It’s tacky and I refuse to follow you if you do it (as will many others).

Twitter isn’t as hard to understand as you might think! But it’s essential to understand how to set up your profile and communicate with other users to avoid these common Twitter mistakes.

What are some of the common Twitter mistakes you’ve noticed and been turned off by? Let’s work to build a better Twitter experience by calling out bad practices in the comments below!

And if you need help with Twitter, or your social media strategy as a whole, learn more about my process and let’s get in touch!

how to create an instagram strategy that kills it.

How to Create an Instagram Strategy that KILLS it

It seems like almost every other day there’s a new change on Instagram that makes everyone wonder whether they will still be able to effectively reach their audience. It’s even worse for new players who are trying to create an Instagram strategy from scratch. Regardless of whether you’ve got an established account or just created a new one, it’s important to periodically reconsider your approach, and whether or not it’s working.

Here’s how to create an Instagram strategy that kills it.

Consistency

One of the most important yet least respected tenets of a solid Instagram strategy is the concept of consistency. In this case, it refers to two specific factors.

One is consistency in posting. Timing is important, but varies by individual account and industry. More important is that you post at least once a day and stay active for your followers. If you post more than that, make sure to spread out posts by several hours. Posting right after another post is tacky.

How to Create an Instagram Strategy that KILLS it
My goal for client Joriki was to make the feed more visually interesting and create a pattern of white and color.

The other is visual consistency. What this refers to is an Instagram feed with individual posts that use more or less the same colors, same patterns, or same filters. If there’s too much going on, your potential followers may be turned off. Try to think logically about the accounts you follow and what first attracted you to them. Likely, it has something to do with a visually consistent feed and branding.

Themes

Knowing that you need at least one post a day to satisfy followers, it becomes necessary to create an Instagram strategy that takes various daily themes into account. By creating themes, it takes some mental effort out of coming up with content and helps you stay consistent overall. Themes are basically big buckets to use for content ideas.

For example, my Instagram account has a personal edge, but also complements my lifestyle blog, Chicago Cheap Ass. Themes include: food deals, event deals, pictures of my dog, graffiti, and other Chicago-related imagery.

Other content you could purpose into a theme:

  • Quotes related to your industry
  • Facts related to your industry
  • News related to your industry
  • Upcoming events for your brand
  • Product photos
  • User generated content
How to Create an Instagram Strategy that KILLS it
Client Postmodern Foods doesn’t have an endless amount of stock photos, so I use theme buckets to make it easier to generate content. Some themes include: DC photo reposts, product photos, event reminders, user generated content, promos, and contests.

Instagram Bio

If your bio isn’t properly optimized, you’re losing out on followers, partnership opportunities, and the chance to convert followers for your specific goals.

Here’s my current bio, and what I’m trying to accomplish with each line:

Digital Marketing help: ✉️ madeline.osman@gmail.com
🍻 Use#chicagocheapass to share Chicago deals
👇Subscribe to the blog for lifestyle articles!👇

The first line makes it incredibly easy for someone to reach out if they’d like digital marketing help. My Instagram acts as a portfolio for social media success. I’m happy to say that this line has resulted in numerous leads and new business. I make my email easy to find on all of my active social networks, also including LinkedIn and Twitter.

The second line is a specific hashtag I’d like people to use. By creating a branded hashtag, you expand your reach if it catches on. It’s important that the characters are not arbitrary, but recognizable in relation to your brand. Currently, several Chicago restaurants are using my hashtag on their posts – not bad for something I’ve never talked about besides in my bio! If you’re curious about how to create an excellent branded hashtag, check out my article for the Sales & Marketing Daily Advisor.

The third and final line is a call to action to get people to check out my blog and subscribe. I use emojis to break up the text on each line (also because people really respond to them), but in this case, the pointing fingers literally draw people’s eyes down to my link.

Ask yourself: What do you want your followers to do? How can you use emojis to illustrate that point?

The final two elements of a great Instagram bio:

  • A profile picture with an accurate and recognizable brand emblem or logo
  • A link to the most important place you could send followers (my blog, in my case). If it’s an ugly link, shorten it with something like Bit.ly.

Hashtag Strategy

Going deep into the in’s and out’s of hashtag strategy should really be it’s own post, but let me leave you with some basics to get you started.

I like to start with a website called Hashtagify.Me.

Take a super general hashtag, and type it in. Hashtagify.Me will show you related hashtags, and you can keep going deeper and deeper until you find the most specific hashtags on Instagram. A successful hashtag strategy takes advantage of these more obscure, but higher engagement terms. Relying on too broad of a hashtag is a great way to melt into obscurity. Another excellent way to find these specific hashtags is by looking through posts from other people in your industry, and clicking through the hashtags on their pictures.

How many hashtags should you use? I tend to max out the 30 limit. If you’re trying to grow an account, it’s the most effective way to do it. Hide it in a comment separate from the caption so it doesn’t look as tacky.

Engagement

You could spend hours liking posts in hopes of growing followers… or you could automate that task.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I use a bot to like content. Archie is my tool of choice. You feed it a number of relevant hashtags and it likes them on your behalf in real time. It might seem a little shady, but I think it’s way better than:

  • Automatically commenting posts
  • Automatically sending a direct message
  • Automatically following/unfollowing people

These tools behind these activities are fraught with problems and are easy to see through. Liking posts is not. If you create an Instagram strategy that kills it, people will check out your feed and be interested enough to follow you. Besides, auto-liking content does not work to grow an account and increase engagement without a solid foundation.

Auto-liking is no replacement for engagement that happens on your own content. If someone leaves a comment – answer them! Even if just to say thanks for leaving the content. By reinforcing engagement, it’s much more likely to continue happening. Great fans are worth their weight in gold, as they’re likely to help you reach a new audience and provide positive social proof for others checking out your feed. It’s a good practice to also return the favor – like and comment a few of their photos if they’ve invested some time in you.

Influencer Outreach

There are many different strategies you can use with regards to influencers, but I’m going to suggest one that doesn’t require shelling out money.

Create a list of people in your industry that you have connections to. Ideally, these people have at least 1,000 followers, if not more. Approach this person with the proposal that you both post about each other in an effort to reach new audiences. Make it easy for the other person by giving them a pre-written message and image to use. This also allows you to control the conversation and implement a call to action.

Wait to take this step until you have at least 1000 followers. The idea is to create a mutually-beneficial situation that grows both accounts.

Another way to take advantage of an influencer’s following? Tag them in your picture. Now their followers looking through the influencer’s tagged photos may see your photo and investigate your account. Just don’t overdo it or the influencer might block you.

Instagram Tools

You can’t create an Instagram strategy that kills it without tools that help you be effective. Here are some Instagram tools that will make your life a little easier:

  • Bit.ly to shorten and track the link in your bio
  • Archie for automatic hashtag engagement
  • Onlypult and Grum for Instagram scheduling: Being able to completely schedule an Instagram post is technically against Instagram’s terms of service, but if you’re willing to play on the dark side, these two tools are a good bet. I’ve been using Onlypult for about a year now and am phasing in Grum after finding a sweet lifetime deal on it.
  • Iconosquare for Instagram analytics: This tool is relatively cheap (under $5/month) and will give you lots of data on followers, engagement, best times to post, etc. It’s worth the low monthly cost if you’re serious about creating an Instagram strategy that kills it.
  • Canva for photo creation: I’m no graphic designer, but Canva almost makes it seem like I am. The tool is stupid easy to use and results in gorgeous pictures. A must use if you don’t have a lot of stock photography or want to create consistent branding.

Who knows what Instagram will come up with next? The best defense is a good offense, which is exactly what I’m suggesting here.

Are you ready to create an Instagram strategy that kills it? Anything you’d do differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts and expertise in the comments!