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Are you in on Instagram?

Posted By Don Lynch, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I recently read an article on using Instagram effectively for a small business, and while it wasn’t brand new (it was originally posted in February of 2015) it made some really good points. One of its first premises was the heavy usage by that magical demographic of teenagers. I thought to myself, Hmm…we all want to engage teenagers and young twenties as the future of the needle arts. Hey, I have a couple of teenagers, why don’t I ask them for some Insta-advice?!?

Here are a few Insta-rules, as relayed by a brief, and very unscientific survey of teenage users of Instagram (and I think they can apply to a more mature audience that also enjoys Instagram.)

  1. Be consistent. I’ve been told that brands or people that post at a consistent pace (for example, once a week, or Mondays and Fridays) become part of an Instagram user’s routine. Without specifically noticing it, the user gets used to seeing posts with regularity and subconsciously looks for those posts.
  2. Don’t over-post. Although it was explained to me that the “rules” have recently changed a bit (keep in mind, this discussion is based on teenagers’ opinions, so this might be outdated before I hit “save,”) heavy users don’t want to see a poster over share. The old rule (unwritten, of course) suggested you not post a new picture until the “likes” on your last post hit “digits.” For the uninitiated, likes are indicated under your picture, and show up as the individuals user name until you have 11 or more likes, then it shows as a number. When you’ve got a number, you’ve hit digits. To further confuse you, if it’s the next day, post away, irregardless of the number of likes on your last post.
  3. Use a consistent hashtag, and always have a hashtag. Hashtags give a post a simple, searchable identification. By using a consistent hashtag, it also helps to build awareness. If all your posts have #needlepoint, #knitting, #cross-stitch, #weaving, #TNNA, or several other variations, the deeply secret and overly complicated algorithms that dictate what shows up on the user’s “Explore” page will give you more exposure. (The “Explore” page is a page of postings from people or companies that you don’t follow, but that those mystery algorithms suggest you might be interested in.)
  4. Posts should be visually interesting. Instagram is a visual medium, and relies less on verbiage than other social mediums. Use Twitter for class or sale announcements, and Facebook for conversational exchanges with your customers. Instagram is best for creating awareness through images. Or, as one of the kids I spoke with said, “we just want to see the pretty pictures!”
  5. Tracking Insta-success is hard. There are (expensive) services that you can employ to measure the effectiveness of all your social media usage. There are also “click-farms” off shore that somehow make money by “liking” postings of companies that pay for social media advertising or effectiveness measurement services. Noticing the number of followers increasing, or a custom mentioning an Instagram post is probably the easiest measure of Insta-success.

For a more professional survey of using Instagram for small businesses, American Express has an excellent forum for small business owners found here. Our own Stacey Trock has a webinar coming up (at half price for members!) in November on using social media effectively - learn more here. You can also explore the 2016 State of the Needle Arts survey results for a more detailed explanation of social media and the needle arts.

Want more information on using social media to your advantage? click here to learn more about the social media outlets your customers are using most often, so you can decide where to spend YOUR time online!

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