Best Practices to Grow Your Audience with Instagram

Grow with Angie and April: A Podcast for Teacherpreneurs
Grow with Angie and April: A Podcast for Teacherpreneurs
Best Practices to Grow Your Audience with Instagram

Today we are going to jump into how to use Instagram to connect with your audience and best practices to build your brand through the platform. If you want to continue the conversation join us at our Facebook Mastermind group and let us know what’s worked for you and what questions you have. If you haven’t already, join our group to find the support and accountability you need to grow your TpT business. 

April and I were really excited to have Jacqueline Ortiz from The Little Ladybug Shop come on the podcast to share with us her Instagram tips and trick.s Jacqueline’s had a lot of success growing her brand and followers through the platform.

A little of Jacqueline’s Instagram story

Jacqueline started doing TpT back in 2015. At that time her focus was on Pinterest and FaceBook. However, she started to notice a shift for bloggers and sellers starting to use Instagram. She’s found that a lot of teachers are now using the platform a lot like Pinterest. It’s a faster way to scroll through and find resources you’re interested in and new teachers to follow.

So, in 2017 she started to really focus on Instagram. She started to grow her following and find other teachers to collaborate with. Today she has a little over 20K follower and her platform is the 3rd largest traffic source for her store and one of the top sources for her blog.

From our podcast conversation, here are the best practices to use to grow your TpT store and following on Instagram.

Use hashtags

Using hashtags is a great way to help teachers find you that aren’t already following you. One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that you can also use hashtags on your Instagram Stories. If people search these hashtags they can find your stories as well as your regular posts. 

When you look at your insights for your stories you’re able to see how many people found your story from searching with those hashtags. 

Engage with your audience

Instagram is just like any other platform if you want to grow your following you need to engage with your audience. One of the best ways to do this is to know when your audience is online. 

Jacqueline, April, and I have all found that the time when the most amount of our followers are online is in the evening. Because of that, our posts perform better when we post them during the evening. If we post earlier in the day there just isn’t as much engagement with the posts. 

You also want to make sure that you are responding to any comments that are left on your post. 

Be consistent

It seems like it comes up time and time again, but consistency truly is key. Jacqueline shared that she tries to post to her feed at least four times a week. The more consistent you are the more people will see your posts. But, if you disappear for a while, when you come back and start posting again you won’t get the same reach that you were getting when you were being consistent. 

There are some tools that you can use to stay help you stay consistent. They can also help you post at those crucial times of day when your followers are on the platform.  Tailwind has some great tools to help you if you are using that resource.

If you don’t use Tailwind, you can do what I do. You can actually create draft posts directly on Instagram. Earlier in the day, I will start to create my post but before hitting to publish I will hit the back button. It asks me if I want to save the post as a draft. Then, I set a timer on my phone to go off each evening. When the time goes off all I have to do it go in and hit publish. 

Protect your time

Anyone that’s been on social media knows how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole. You might get on Instagram with a plan to create a post and two hours later realize that you haven’t posted anything but have spent the whole time scrolling through your feed. That’s why we recommend setting a timer for your screen. Jacqueline sets her Instagram timer for an hour and 15 minutes. Once her timer goes off, she’s done for the day.

Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are one of the most effective ways to use the platform to grow your audience and TpT business. Most of Jacqueline’s traffic comes from her Stories. She recommends that even if you don’t post daily on the normal feed that you post to Instagram Stories every day.

When creating content for your stories remember that it doesn’t need to be perfect. It will be deleted after 24 hours if you don’t delete it before that. This can take some of the pressure off you for trying to create the perfect content. If it doesn’t come out just right, it will be gone shortly anyway.

I recently started using the swipe up feature on my Stories and I love it! People can purchase directly from Instagram without having to leave the platform.

Creating quick content

April admitted that she has a lot of stress over creating content for Instagram. As a perfectionist, she wants to make sure that her feed matches, is branded and looks just right. I’m guessing some of you struggle with that as well.

Jacqueline shared that she creates her Instagram posts right on her phone. She uses Color Story and the iPhone photo tools to adjust the pictures. She also shared a great tip that I’ve had success with as well. When she creates her Instagram photo she shares it directly from there to Facebook and Pinterest. It surprised me at how well the square images performed on Pinterest.

Another option that she shared was to use the same photos that you’re using for Pinterest and resize it to the square for Instagram. You don’t need to have all the words on it that you would for Pinterest because you can write content to go along with it.

Remember as you create content to try to keep things matching your brand. Think about the colors and style that you’re using in the images. One strategy that’s helped me is to make sure I’m taking lots of photos when I create a new resource or doing a new blog post. Then I can create multiple different posts for the same product or blog post.

What you need to know about FERPA

If you’re a teacher-seller that also works in the classroom there are some things that you need to know about FERPA. I’m not going to go into detail about it here, but Jillian Starr from The Starr Spangled Planner did an amazing post covering the topic called 10 things every teacher should know about FERPA. We strongly urge you to take a look at this especially if you are sharing images on social media from your class that you are profiting from.

Show that you’re a real person

People connect with people. That’s what social media is all about. Don’t be afraid to show your audience that you’re a real person. They will love you for it.

At the start of the school year, there were lots of teachers that were showing what it really looks like as they prepared their classroom. They weren’t afraid to show the messes and people loved the posts. Don’t worry about trying to create perfect pictures or look perfect in your pictures. When you show that you’re a real person you become more relatable and people appreciate that.

Pay attention to the first line of your post

The first few lines that you write are the most important lines. This is what people are going to see as they scroll through your feed. So, this is your chance to hook them in and get them to read the rest of your post. After that, the length of the post is really up to you.

Entice people with a giveaway

Jacqueline likes to attract engagement on her posts by giving away a product. For example, she will share a new product on her regular feed. Then, she’ll create an Instagram story encouraging people to comment on her post because she’ll be selecting two people that comment to receive the product for free. This has helped her to get anywhere from 60-100 comments on her post. 

This isn’t something that we recommend you should do too often. But, it’s something that you could do once a month or every couple of months. 

Don’t overfocus on the number of followers

A lot of people stress about getting to a magic number of followers but no matter how many you have, you need to focus on how many you have engaging with you. You could have 10,000 followers but only 100 engaging and someone else could have 300 followers with 200 engaging. The total number isn’t as important as the number that you have interacting with you. 

Remember that one of the best times to grow your following is over the summer. This is when teachers have more time and they are working on planning for the upcoming year. They’re online looking for resources and it’s a great time to get your content in front of them and connect with them. 

What works best for you?

Do you have Instagram tips and strategies that have helped you grow your following and TpT business? Jump over to the Mastermind Group and share them with the group.