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Instagram Tips from the Instagram Queen (1)

Instagram Tips from the Instagram Queen (Toby and Roo @ #BlogOnmsi)

I chose the name “Instagram Queen” for the amazing Harriet from Toby and Roo, because it just fits her perfectly. With over 80 thousand followers on instagram, it is clear that she really is the bees knees. Her hilarious accounts of what it’s like to be a parent of young kids (the “I just wanted a bath” video being a classic example of this) have captured the hearts of so many. But as Harriet herself said, “if content is queen, then engagement is her king”.

I’ve been lucky enough to know Harriet for several years now, having first met her at another conference way back in 2014 (that’s a long time in the blogosphere, don’t you know!) And it has been a joy to watch her passion and skills lead to great success in her online work. So it was absolutely no surprise to me that her session at the Blog On Conference this past weekend was packed to brimming

Instagram Tips from the Instagram Queen Harriet from Toby and Roo
There was so much information given out during the short 45 minute session – it’s been a long time since I have needed to write as fast as I did to get it all down (I really must learn shorthand one day!) I kid you not, I have 4 pages worth of notes to share with you, and even with all of that Harriet was still gutted that she couldn’t fit more in. That’s why she’s the Instagram Queen, and that’s why I’m sharing my notes from her session with you all – because they are awesome.

THE BASICS

Instagram is keyword searchable – make sure that both your profile and your images take this into account.

600 Million people use instagram every month. It is estimated that 68% of those are female, and 90% of them are under 35.

Analytics will tell you when most of your followers are online – use them to help you connect with others more efficiently. You can access analytics if you have a business account. If you don’t have a business account, you can try third party apps like Squarelovin.

Post consistently – if you have under 10k followers, post 2-3 times per day; if you have more than 10k followers aim for 1-3 times per day.

If you post more frequently than this, your engagement will drop. Instagram no longer works like a timeline – it shows your posts to those you are most engaged with you, so if they see multiple posts from you it will come across as spammy and they will stop engaging.

Equally, if you don’t post consistently, you won’t give your followers a chance to engage with your content and they will become less likely to see it in future.

YOUR PROFILE

Put your niche before your name in your profile (e.g. Harriet’s says, “Parent Blogger. Harriet” not “Harriet. Parent Blogger”). This means that when people search for parent bloggers to follow, you will come up in a search easier than if your name was first.

Add an email address to your profile – make it easy for people to contact you.

Also make sure your website is in your profile – it is the only place on instagram where you can add a clickable link, so use it!

Your profile image should be on brand – that means either a photo of you or of your logo. People want to see who you are.

your style/niche

Have 3 things that you are known for and stick with them (Harriet used the example of two of hers, which are always using emojis, and swearing!)

Don’t try to copy others or worry about how successful they are – build your own style and success.

It is possible to be too niche – don’t worry about doing something slightly different from time to time, as long as you can make them relatable to your core niche. Brands will look at your feed, and it is if too narrow, it may result in you losing potential opportunities.

Harriet used the example of how she worked with a Nails Inc and created an image of how she found time to pamper herself as a busy mum, as that would speak more to her audience than a photo of her painted nails alone – see below.

 

Today is hella stressful people. Toby has been up half the night with a terrible cough and as a result he couldn’t go to his last EVER day at preschool this morning on top of that, Edith isn’t well and is being very demanding while I have alllllll the deadlines. You will never feel like a lesser mother than when you shout at poorly one and three year olds because “Mummy has to work” and they won’t leave you be. That in mind, now is the time to take 5 and step away for a mama pamper – the only one I ever get time for is painting my nails , but guess what, that’s JUST enough to make me feel a bit better☺️. This amazing set from @nailsinc is available on @qvcuk today for £28.98 down from £108.00 . The spray nail polish is officially the most INGENIOUS creation known to man. #sparklelikeyoumeanit #mamapickmeup #ad

A post shared by Parenting Blogger Harriet (@tobyandroo) on

HOW TO GROW YOUR INSTAGRAM Account

This is where Harriet’s brilliant phrase, “If content is queen, then engagement is her king” comes in…

Follow other Instagrammers within your niche.

Comment on other photos within your niche.

However much you comment, comment more! People will see these comments and come to your profile to find out about you – this can (and does) lead to new followers.

Like things, a lot. However, don’t do it all at once as you may get blocked by instagram. You will usually get a warning from instagram, followed by a “soft block”, which can last anywhere between 12 hours and a week. Finally, if you keep doing it, you could have your account deleted.

If you see the hashtag #ad, comment to support your fellow bloggers and instagrammers.

But remember that your niche is not other bloggers (support them, but remember your niche is not “blogger”).

Unfollow people if you’re not engaging with them – you aren’t helping them by being an unengaged follower.

 THE BIG NO-NOS

Never buy followers or likes – it is obvious when you have done so.

Avoid follow for follow opportunities – they’re aren’t supportive. Instagram is ratio sensitive and so they will know. You are actually capped at following a maximum of 7,500 accounts, and some brands will ask that you follow less than 2,000.

Don’t play the follow/unfollow game with your fellow bloggers – this is popular in the US and a lot of businesses do it on instagram, but whilst it works it really annoys a lot of bloggers.

Don’t use automated systems for commenting and liking – instagram is slowly shutting them down and they don’t help with engagement anyway (plus they annoy people and are often really obvious).

hashtags and keywords

People won’t find you unless you market yourself, so hashtags and keywords are vital.

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags on a post, so use them all! Think of them like flyers – you wouldn’t print out a load of flyers and only hand out a third of them, so why only use a third of the hashtags you’re allowed to use.

Always place hashtags in the first comment rather than the caption – this avoids making people scroll down incessantly.

Research relevant hashtags and keywords using the instagram search function, and aim to get into the top 9 results (i.e. those that show first on the search results screen).

The number below a hashtag or keyword on the results page shows you how many people are using it. You will have far more luck getting into the top 9 results if you use a less popular hashtag, rather than one which has 100k+ people using it.

The top placements in the search results are worked out based on the speed of engagement in ratio to the followers someone has, rather than the total number of likes per post. This means that smaller accounts have a better chance of showing up in results.

Have presaved lists of various hashtags and keywords you can use for different types of posts. This makes it much quicker and easier to use them when posting.

Be aware that instagram is moving away from using hashtags to keywords, so make sure you use carefully selected keywords in your caption to compensate for this.

This change in the use of keywords instead of relying on hashtags alone has led to various speculation over “shadow banning”. Shadow banning is not a thing – The Social Media Posse have done some research which shows this change towards using keywords for SEO functions, rather than hashtags.

HOW TO BOOST ENGAGEMENT

Instagram’s algorithm is based on speed – it’s all about how many people engage with your content within a certain time frame.

Reply to comments left, to keep engagement going.

Join a comment pod.

Join an Instagram Instant group on Facebook, such as Instagram Bloggers UK, Instagram Fabulous, and UK Instagram Support.

Engage on followers’ posts.

Join in with like for like threads (i.e. those where instagrammers share an image they would like engagement on in return for engagement on one of your own posts).

Use hashtags and then comment and/or like the top 9 results for each hashtag used straight after you post your image. They are likely to return the favour.

INSTAGRAM STORIES

You should be making use of this feature.

Aim for between 5 and 30 stories per day.

Do one just after you post, so followers know you are on the app.

They are ideal for supporting other things you have done, to direct people to a blog post or specific instagram share etc.

If they are sponsored, they must include the #ad hashtag.

MAKING MONEY FROM INSTAGRAM

Instagram is second only to YouTube in terms of monetary value.

The standard rate is 1-10% of the number of instagram followers, if you engagement is good (e.g. 10k followers = £100 per post).

Engagement rates for standard users is around 1% – to work with brands you want yours to be between 2-5%.  If it is higher than this, make sure you say so when talking with brands. However it’s important to note that some niches will always have a higher engagement rate than others.

Your overall theme is what matters – numbers aren’t enough if your feed isn’t well curated.

When pitching to a brand, show them examples of previous posts that had a good engagement, and make them relevant to your idea for the work you want to do with the brand. This helps them to see your vision and know that it will lead to good engagement.

PITCHING TO BRANDS

Brands will often contact you with information regarding current campaigns – if you want to be involved with a brand try contacting them and asking if they have a campaign you could collaborate with them on.

Look at what other bloggers are working on – which brands are actively seeking collaborations with bloggers and instagrammers.

Check the hashtags #ad, #spon#  #sponsored, #advert, and #collaborative to find current campaigns.

Use Twitter and LinkedIn to find the name of the person you should contact at the brand you wish to work with. Sending an email to the right person will make a big difference.

Utilise contacts from previous campaigns you’ve worked on.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

Check with your apps can do – some apps have access to your account and can like things for you. Not all of them do this, but some do, so it’s important to monitor your account.

 

Phew… can you believe Harriet managed to fit all that into 45 minutes? It has taken me longer than that to type it all up! I do hope that it has helped you feel more confident with growing your own instagram account – I know I have got a lot of action points to follow myself.

All that’s left for me to say is a massive thank you to Harriet, for being so awesome, and to invite you to connect with me on instagram if we aren’t already insta-buddies.

Instagram Tips from the Instagram Queen

 

Winning Ideas for Pinterest Lessons from #britmumslive

Pinning Ideas – (Pinterest) Lessons from #britmumslive 2015

As a blogger, I am very aware of the importance that Pinterest can play in connecting people and driving traffic to your blog. I have seen the connections that other bloggers have made, and regularly use Pinterest for finding inspiration and ideas. More often than not, the links connected to the pins lead you straight to a blog rather than a website run by a large company. It’s easy to see how helpful that can be for a blogger, right?

But just because you can see the importance of using Pinterest, doesn’t mean you know how to use it effectively, does it? I use Pinterest almost daily, yet I rarely pin my own blog posts. And I rarely use the few collaborative boards I am actually a member of. So imagine my relief when I discovered BritMums Live had arranged a sesson with some of the UK’s top pinners from within the parent blogger niche.

Jen from Love Chic Living, Jennifer from Jennifer’s Little World, and Helen from Kiddy Charts all happily shared their thoughts and experiences with a room jam-packed with interested bloggers. The session was incredibly interactive, with lots of questions being fired out from the audience throughout, and so I hope I managed to capture all the key points in my notes.

Winning Ideas for Pinterest Lessons from #britmumslive

Pinterest basics

  • Pinterest now uses smart feed, which means that when you log in you’ll see pins of “related content” that are based on things you have previously pinned
  • Pins can either be pinned from their source or repinned from within Pinterest itself
  • It’s important to check the pin links directly to the post you want and not the homepage
  • Always check and edit the description so that it includes key words (e.g. ingredients used in a recipe)
  • Do not use hashtags – these are not used on Pinterest and are seen as spam

Making the most of your account

  • Set up a business account – this is important if you plan to make money via your blog. It also gives you access to analytics within Pinterest. It is easy to switch from a personal account to a business one (NB: I did it yesterday and it really was very simple!)
  • Once you’ve changed to a business account, you’ll be able to verify your account.
  • Apply for rich pins – these are pins which have a bold title and provide space for a lot more information than standard pins. Using these will give your pins more weight in searches and they also stand out more in a feed. Pinterest are also adding “call to action” buttons to rich pins.
  • When people first see your profile, they will only see the first 8 boards, so make these count. You can change the order regularly, so consider making these seasonal.
  • Remember that we are naturally drawn to the top left of the screen, so make your first board the one you want to be seen first. This is a good place to create a blog board to pin your own blog posts to.
  • You can pin to your blog board first, and then repin your own content within Pinterest to other more specific boards or collaborative boards. Just make sure that you don’t do this too much in quick succession, otherwise you will be seen as spamming.
  • Make use of secret boards for pinning ideas and projects you are planning for a future date. You can then publish them when you are ready to go live.
  • Use sensible keywords for board names and include them in your profile as well.
  • Make sure your boards are all in the right category, to make sure they are easy to search for.
  • Pin regularly, but keep it natural by making sure that the pins are relevant to you. Mix things up and pin other people’s content, this is how Pinterest works!

Understanding Pinterest and how it equates to blog traffic

  • Pinterest works like a search engine and discovery tool rather than a social media platform. You don’t need a lot of followers to be successful, and the number of followers does not always equate to traffic.
  • Pins are evergreen – don’t delete pins, they will continue to grow organically over time. Seasonal posts, in particular, will be more popular at certain times of year.
  • Talking of seasonal posts, remember to pin them in a timely manner. For instance, Christmas-themed posts will start to gain interest in October when peple start searching for inspiration. If you pin something in December, it may not gather much interest this year, but could be much more successful the following year.

What makes a good pin?

  • Always use portrait images with a ratio of 2:3, and never post a landscape image.
  • Make sure the image is engaging, beautiful, and high quality.
  • Give it a searchable title
  • Make sure that the description includes keywords, but that it is also written naturally. The longer the description, the better.
  • Add teaser text over the image if you think that it adds to it, but remember this won’t always work and some images will be better without it.

Collaborative Boards

  • Collaborative boards are good for extra exposure and offer more pinning opportunities
  • PinGroupie is a great way to find collaborative boards and get involved
  • Make sure you always follow the group rules

Jen’s collaborative board, Love Home Bloggers, is a great example of how these work. 

Pinterest Rules

  • Do not run “Pin It to Win It” competitions, Pinterest hate these.
  • You cannot be paid for pinning to one of your boards, but you can pin sponsored content.
  • You can, however, be paid for pinning to a collaborate board run by a brand.
  • You can run creative competitions (i.e. entrants have to create a board based on a theme) so long as the sponsor does not require entrants to pin content of their own products.
  • You can be paid for offering Pinterest consultancy.

Top Tips

  • Link to Pinterest in a blog post whenever you can and embed relevant boards.
  • Make pins searchable
  • Link to Pinterest boards from your other social media channels
  • Have a Pinterest board for your blog and remember to use categories

Resources

  • Stock photo sites, such as Pixabay and the Creative Commons area on Flickr can help you find relevant images for your pins. The image I used in this post came from Canva
  • If you use WordPress, there are various plugins you can use to make everything easier. Try SumoMe for starters.
  • There are many resources you can use to help organise your content and sharing. These include Buffer, Ahalogy, Curalate, Expion, Newscred, Percolate, Shoutlet, Spreadfast, Sprinklr and Tailwind. Some focus specifically on Pinterest, some are more general social media schedulers. Some are free, some charge a small fee. Find one which works for you.

I do hope that these notes are helpful – they have certainly given me a lot to think about and a long list of things that I need to change.

This post is part of a series entitled Lessons from #britmumslive 2015. You can find the other posts in this series below:

Turning Pitches into Profit
Social Media Optimisation
Breaking Boundaries with Insight and Passion

Social Media Optimisation Tips for Bloggers from #britmumslive 2015

“Social Media Optimisation” – Lessons from #britmumslive 2015

As I mentioned in my first Lessons from #britmumslive post, I went to BritMums Live this year hoping to gain as much insight and inspiration for taking my blog to the next level as possible. This included learning how to use social media in a much more efficient way, and so I was very excited when the session “Social Media Optimisation – Doing It All, Yes You Must” appeared on the agenda.

Social Media Optimisation Tips for Bloggers from #britmumslive 2015

The session was led by the amazing Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art and Ali Clifford from Kids Chaos. Both are seasoned bloggers, with huge followings across various social media platforms, and it was really interesting to hear about their favourite places, how this has changed throughout the years, and how it differed from other bloggers in the audience.

Here’s what they had to say…

Why do you need to do it all?

  • Social media is owned by third parties, who are always changing their algorithms. This can massively affect your traffic, so you cannot afford to rely on one platform alone.
  • If you want to work with brands, you need to be present on all the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as these are the big traffic drivers
  • However, each brand will have individual platforms which they prefer, so it is important to be visible across them all otherwise you could easily miss out on opportunities that focus on one or the other.
  • It looks odd if you have a massive following on one platform and hardly any followers on another. It can make people wonder how authentic you are and whether you have “bought” all those likes.

What does social media “optimisation” mean?

  • Prioritising one or two accounts whilst still being visible across other platforms
  • Having a consistent name and profile across all platforms
  • Grabbing your name on all social media platforms (even if you do not intend to use some of them much, you can still passively grow an audience and it also stops people from using your name for their own accounts).
  • Connecting all of your accounts for easy posting, but be wary of simply posting everything across all platforms when it may not be relevant to your audience in some places.

Defining Your Social Media Style

  • Work our what your focus is and go with it – even if people don’t like it, remember that you need to be happy with it
  • Watermark your images if you can so that they are still recognisable as yours even if they are shared elsewhere
  • Act like a brand and try to have a consistent image across all platforms
  • However, remember that your style may vary slightly across the different platforms – for example you may prefer to use a profile photo on instagram and your logo on Facebook.

Understanding the different platforms

  • Join and use blogging groups to keep up with changes in social media
  • Pinterest is used more like a search engine than social media platform, with pinners saving links they will come back to at a later time. Be aware that things often get mis-pinned, so it is important to check details when you repin an item.
  • Twitter is all about chatting with others. Remember you will need to tweet links to your posts multiple times as they will get lost very quickly on Twitter. However it is important to change the wording rather than simply tweeting the same thing over and over.
  • Facebook is much slower, and so you will annoy people if you simply post the same thing multiple times. Try resharing updates from bloggers with a large following.
  • Instagram is about connecting with people on a more personal level, and may not lead to visits to your blog. Make sure you interact with people and have conversations on there, rather than simply posting images.

Points to Remember

  • People like it when you post other people’s content as well as your own.
  • Scheduling via Hootsuite, Buffer etc can help you keep on top of your social media streams, however it is important to check for interaction rather than simply scheduling posts.
  • Social Media can take up a lot of time – Maggy shared how she spends more time on social media than she does on her blog!!
  • It’s not the number of followers you have that brands look for, but rather the engagement you have with your readers.
  • Work out, in a table, which platforms you focus on, which you passively use, and which you simply need to park your name on, and then use this as a guide.

I hope that these notes do the session justice and help those of you who couldn’t make this session.

Remember, I am writing up all the notes I took at BritMums Live this year, and you can find them all below:

Turning Pitches into Profit
Breaking Boundaries with Insight and Passion
Pinning Ideas

It's All About Community - Celebrating the Heart and Soul of Blogging

It’s All About Community – Celebrating the Heart and Soul of the Online World

Every so often, I find myself coming back to the question, “why do you blog?” and regardless of how the finer details change, there is one thing that remains constant – community.

I was reminded of this again last night thanks to a blog post by Aby from You Baby Me Mummy and a chat on Twitter with Joy from Pink Oddy. These two bloggers are lovely ladies who I have not had the pleasure of really speaking to before, and yet they both reminded me of just how important the community aspect of blogging is.

Aby has a most beautiful and balanced view of what it means to be part of the community. Her recent post called “Finding Your Tribe and Why You Need One” is an excellent example of this, however it was another blog post in which she explained that she spends most of her blogging time reading other blogs and commenting on them, which really got me thinking.

When I first started blogging, way back in 2006, I had been reading blogs for several months. In that time I had come to know some of the bloggers really quite well, through reading about their lives and commenting on their posts. In fact it was the thought that this was a rather “one-way” relationship which made me start a blog in the first place – I thought that it might be nice for the bloggers I knew so much about to know a little bit about this person who was commenting on their blogs too! In essence, I wanted to be a fully-fledged member of this exciting new community.

Fast forward several years and social media has taken a lot of the conversation off the blog and even sometimes impinges on the time available for reading and writing itself. Indeed, I was having a great conversation with Joy (Pink Oddy) last night about my love/hate relationship with social media (on Twitter, I might add, so that would be a moment I loved social media!) We lamented the death of the online forums we used to frequent whilst at the same time finding amusement in that fact that Joy and Aly from Bug Bird and Bee had lost several hours in conversation following the end of their #Fridayat11 Google Hangout, which is a fantastic way of getting to know the people behind the blogs!

So last night, after a really lovely evening chatting with other bloggers, I  felt inspired to celebrate and lift up the community aspect that is so important to bloggers and social media fans alike. I spend an awful lot of time reading posts via Feedly and looking through updates on Twitter and Instagram, and I thought it might be a nice idea to choose two or three things that have really embodied the spirit of community and bring them all together in a post that reminds me of just why I love blogging so much.

Welcome to “It’s All About Community”

It's All About Community - Celebrating the Heart and Soul of Blogging

Not the snazziest of titles, I know, but it is what it is!

I’ve already highlighted You Baby Me Mummy’s post, so I’m going to head straight on to a couple of other things that have really inspired me this week.

First up, it’s the #birthjusthappened hashtag that I stumbled across on Twitter yesterday. It is a hugely inspiring and emotional collection of images, which show that birth doesn’t have to be something we dread and fear. There are so many blog posts and articles about how this went viral and what it stands for, but I wanted to draw your attention to the images themselves. I posted my own because, despite having an induced labour and feeling completely let down in many ways during my actual labour, I still cherish the moment I gave birth as the most surreal and yet magical moment ever. I know that this isn’t true for many women, and birth can be hugely traumatic, but this collection of images shows that a positive birth experience can come in so many different shapes and forms and I love it for bringing women together to share as much and empower each other.

Then there is the incredible post over on The Adoption Social by Sarah from The Puffin Diaries entitled “How Twitter Changed My Life“. I read this post when it popped up on my Feedly app and I felt myself nodding along to everything Sarah wrote about how Twitter can be a real force for good when it brings together people with a common experience or common goal. I think the same can be said about any social media platform, and especially blogging, and Sarah’s explanation of all the amazing ways her life has truly been changed through connecting with a community online is well worth a read. So often we only hear of the negatives around social media, and yet just look at how many positives it has brought to those who simply need to find a community of people they would never have had the opportunity to meet were they limited by their geographical location.

And finally (so as not to make this this longest blog post in history!) I couldn’t miss the opportunity to highlight that the BiBs – that’s the Brilliance in Blogging awards run by BritMums – have opened for nominations this week. I’m not even sure where to begin with choosing my nominations because there are just so many blogs I enjoy reading. But what better way to celebrate the community that we are a part of than by nominating those that inspire you time and time again. It’s like giving people a great big pat on the back and saying “thanks for being a part of my world”.

So that’s it from me… tell me, how do you feel about the online community and who has inspired you this week?

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Linking up this week with Bod For Tea’s Share the Joy Linky – why not join me?

Share the Joy linky at bodfortea.co.uk