Instagram is (by far) my favorite social media platform. It’s the first app I open in the morning, my go-to source of entertainment when I’m stuck in a line somewhere, and a great way to give my brain a break when I’m in the middle of a project. Here’s something kind of funny about me, though: for as much as I love Instagram, and spend an average of 47 minutes a day mindlessly scrolling through my feed (shoutout to Instagram’s new activity tracking feature), I am basically a ghost on my personal account. Seriously – I post a photo to my page a grand total of once (or twice, if I’m feeling crazy) per month. So, when Courtney told me I would be taking over our agency’s and our clients’ Instagram accounts, I was a little intimidated.

Instagram is a high-pressure platform. Think about it – on Twitter, anything goes. You can post two sentences without a photo, and even when you do post a photo, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s more of an “in the moment” platform. On Facebook, businesses make more of an effort to craft the perfect caption and attach an engaging photo or video, but the photos aren’t presented all at once in your feed like they are on Instagram. You don’t have to worry about being as cohesive with your aesthetic.

On Instagram, there are a lot of things to consider when making a post. You might ask yourself, how will this photo look alongside the other photos in my feed? Is this on-brand? Which hashtags should I use and where should I put them? How can I ask questions engaging enough to encourage a response from our followers? How are these people putting spaces between the paragraphs in their captions? These are all questions I’ve asked myself in the past.

If I’m being completely transparent, Instagram didn’t come easily to me when I first started out; but in the past two years of being the social media coordinator here at Smarter Searches, I’ve picked up a few helpful tips along the way. If you’re already an Instagram wizard, these tips might sound like child’s play to you. But if you are a business owner or baby marketer trying to figure out what the heck to do on Instagram, here are my five crazy-easy tips to get you started.

1. Let’s just jump right in by talking about hashtags.

Which ones should I use? Where do they go? The answer to the first question is simple: you know who your competitors are, so go stalk them and see which hashtags they’re using. Now, we would never recommend completely copying and pasting what they’re using – just get some ideas from several different companies, pick out the best ones, and then add to them to make them your own. Here are the hashtags we typically use.

 

This screenshot brings us to my next point. Notice how I placed the hashtags in a separate comment below the caption? I do this so that the hashtags are completely hidden and they don’t clutter up the caption of my post. I keep all the hashtags in a note on the Notes app on my iPhone, and when I need them, I just pull up my note, copy the hashtags, and paste them into the comment.

Pro Tip: Try to post the hashtags as soon as you possibly can after hitting “Share” on your post for maximum effect.

2. Those ever-elusive line breaks.

This frustrates me to even write about – it’s truly ridiculous. This took me WAY longer than it should have to figure out. I’ll spare you the details of how many articles I had to read to crack this code and just provide you with the answer:

[               ]

Yep, that’s it. Just copy and paste these “magical” spaces where you want your line break to be, and then delete the brackets. Warning: this might not work 100% correctly every time; but fortunately, you can edit your caption after posting and add the line breaks back in.

3. #ThatAestheticTho

Ah, the Instagram aesthetic. Have you ever looked at a business’s Instagram feed and been floored by the beauty that’s in front of you? The branding, the filters, the colors…it’s all so cohesive. Well, it’s harder than it looks to create a beautiful feed like that. Enter Adobe Lightroom Presets and stock photos searchable by color.

Let’s just face it – Instagram filters are not the best. After trying several photo editing apps, I have come to the conclusion that Adobe Lightroom is where it’s at. In order to get a cohesive look with your photos, you need to be using the same filter preset. You can grab a preset pack easily on Etsy by searching “Lightroom mobile preset,” load the presets into your Lightroom mobile app, and it’s pretty self-explanatory from there! With just a few taps, you can get the perfect filter every time.

For stock photos like flat lays, we use Adobe Stock. We love the Search by Color feature, which allows you to input a Hex Color Code and find stock photos in the color that you’re looking for.

4. Use Canva to create simple and engaging graphics for Instagram.

How many times have I talked about Canva.com on this blog? I’ve lost count. I use this online graphic design platform every single day. Most of the graphics you see in the screenshot above were made on Canva, and even if you aren’t design-savvy, they have beautiful premade templates that make it easy to design a graphic that works on your Instagram feed.

5. After you post, share a sneak peek on your Instagram story.

400 million users watch Stories on a daily basis. If you aren’t already, you need to be utilizing Instagram stories to promote your brand. You’ve probably heard this a hundred times – but remembering to add to your Instagram story on a regular basis can be overwhelming for busy business owners. It’s all about baby steps, though, so here’s our recommendation for a quick and manageable Insta Story strategy.

Posting to your Story a few times a week is better than not posting at all. Every time you post something on Instagram, post a sneak peek of the post on your Story to let people know to take a look at your post. Here are a few examples, one from us and another courtesy of Later.com:

  

Pretty simple, right? If you can get in the groove of doing this with your stories, it might start to be a little less overwhelming for you and allow you to start posting even more.

Instagram is hard!

Instagram is a super fun platform to peruse in your free time, but being tasked with running an entire Instagram page for a brand can be daunting. There’s definitely a learning curve that comes along with it, but once you get the hang of things, it gets easier and easier.

Do you have any quick tips to share that I didn’t mention? Be sure to leave them in the comments!

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