We are Sharing our Step by Step guide to a Killer Instagram Feed and how Prioritize Your Limited Time to Increase Engagement
Learn how to transform your Instagram feed in just seven days! We teach you how to create your best Instagram account and love the process.
In this post you will learn how to:
- Create a Powerful Instagram Bio
- Clean up Your Feed
- Increase Your Engagement
- Make the Most of your Stories
- Improve your Photography
- Connect With Captions
- Adjust Your Attitude to Go the Distance
In just one week you will be on your way to creating a killer Instagram feed. Let’s get to it.
Killer Instagram Feed Day 1: Create a Powerful Instagram Bio
Your Instagram bio is often your first point of reference. It is where people come to decide whether or not to press follow. Spending time creating your best first impression should be your first priority, and will bring you one step closer to a killer Instagram feed. Your bio should say who you are, what you offer, and why they should care.
Note: The word “bio” misleads many people. Your bio should be less about you and more about them. People want to know what’s in it for them if they follow you.
150 characters is not a lot of space. Instagram has designed this with intent. People are moving quickly, scanning information at a glance. 150 character limit forces you to be concise and to prioritize. You need to be very clear and very intentional.
Best Instagram Bio Tips
Your bio should:
- Highlight your personality or your brand’s personality
- Describe what you offer/why people should follow
- Leave visitors with a call to action
Make certain your bio photo is the best it can be. Just because you have a business, remember: people connect with people. If you are debating about whether to feature your face or your company logo we lean toward your face. You can always change to a logo later. We believe creating an Instagram account that is “face forward” will invite people to engage more and encourage relationship building.
Make the most of the name field. This field is also searchable on Instagram, so don’t just use it for your name. You can use up to 30 characters to add your industry name and/or other key words to help your target audience find you.
For more inspiration on how to create a killer Instagram feed, read the “11 Simple Tips that Will Instantly Improve your Instagram Feed.”
Killer Instagram Feed Day 2: Clean Up Your Feed
Now that you have a stellar bio make sure your gallery is up to par. It’s time to clean things up to achieve that killer Instagram feed. Just because you posted something doesn’t mean it has to remain permanent. Go through your Instagram gallery working from your most recent posts. We suggest deleting posts that fall into these categories:
- No longer represent your direction/focus
- Poor quality photography
- Outdated material, i.e. sale no longer active, giveaway completed, etc.
- Not aligned with your niche
Killer Instagram Feed Day 3: Increase Your Engagement
We hear a lot about engagement these days and for good reason. Engagement is the key to Instagram success. But how do you get it?
Your posts need to tell a story, both in your photo and in your words. You need to say something. Better yet, you need to start a conversation. Make it real, not phony. People can feel if your post is just an attempt to get them to respond.
Here are some ideas to create engagement:
- Ask them to help you decide something. Give them the choices you are considering and ask for their advice picking which one.
- Ask your followers for their opinion People can’t resist telling you what they think.
- Share a story that you think your followers can relate to. Share real life. Give them permission to feel a certain way. Relatability is key.
- Tell your followers what you offer. Don’t assume they already know. Tell them how and where to find it.
- Next, you need to respond in real time to the conversation you’ve started. Don’t post and run. You’ll be missing out on this all important interaction. We know you can’t stay glued to your phone for the whole day. We aren’t suggesting that. But do plan to stay with your post for at least a half an hour, and an hour is even better.
- Finally, be sure to spread the love. Don’t just stay on your own posts or in your DM. Comment on people’s posts and respond to other stories.
Why Should You Spend Valuable Time on DM (Direct Message)?
- IG views people you DM as your friends.
- IG reacts by showing your posts and stories to them (and vice versa).
- DM’s make your followers feel like friends with direct dialogue.
More Engagement Tips
- Comment on posts with original and thought-provoking replies that make people happy and grateful to read. To be memorable say something memorable.
- Watch stories and respond.
- Leave voice messages to make it even more personal and save yourself from hand fatigue at the same time.
- Make time to explore outside your circle.
- Give generously and freely.
- Don’t keep score.
- Don’t waste precious time and energy trying to decide who to give to.
- Do not keep track of who’s following you or not.
- Don’t try to make things “fair”.
- Just GIVE.
- Be an encourager.
- Leave comments that are four or more words.
- Use people’s names in your response to them, make it personal.
- Respond to comments in real time, especially during the first hour.
- Create a conversation.
- Elaborate on their comment. Don’t just thank them, engage them.
- Make friends.
Killer Instagram Feed Day 4: Make the Most of Your Stories
“Give up the need to be perfect for the opportunity to be authentic. Be who you are. Love who you are. Others will too.” ~ Hal Elrod
The sooner you become confident on Instagram stories the better. Practice makes better (not perfect!) We say this because the goal of stories is never perfection. You can relax. If people wanted perfect they wouldn’t be watching stories. They would be watching the evening news.
Engage Your Followers by Showing the Real You
Be your own best version of yourself. Just like on your feed provide value. Be a storyteller and be yourself. Face the camera. Don’t be shy. Facing forward and engaging your audience is the most powerful way to connect with your followers and bond with them.
Keys to remember:
- Show your face
- Show behind the scenes
- Be funny
- Be real
- Share confessions
- Share secrets
- Ask for their input
- Connect on a personal level
- Don’t make it perfect. Perfect doesn’t make you relatable.
- Bloopers make people laugh and make you vulnerable. Both are incredibly powerful.
Use All the Story Features
Besides adding interest to your stories IG likes it when you use ALL the features available to you.
- Increase engagement on stories with Stickers
- Question Stickers
- Add a questions sticker so people can ask you a question.
- Location Sticker
- Another way people search & connect.
- Increases engagement by 79%.
- Question Stickers
- Emoji Slide Sticker
- Poll Sticker
- Add a poll sticker or emoji slider sticker to write your own question and customize the answers. People can respond by tapping an option you’ve provided or sliding the emoji you’ve chosen. Once published, your followers can vote and see real time results. When you view your story and swipe up, you can see how many votes each option received and how each person voted.
- Hashtag sticker
- If you use the hashtag sticker it is clickable. Otherwise it’s just searchable
- Current time or weather sticker.
- These stickers are based on information from your device and your current location.
- Selfie sticker
- Use by tapping and taking a photo. You can tap the sticker for more options
- .Countdown Sticker
- Customize the name, date and time and color for your next event.
- Hashtag sticker
GIFS (Graphics Interchange Format)
- Research shows that GIFs dramatically increase viewer attention span
- Adds movement
- Grabs attention
- On Trend
- Adds Delight
- Maximum of 10
- Increases searchability – This is how your stories can be found outside your followers
- Shrink for aesthetic purposes
- Don’t hide under a GIF…viewed by IG as spam-like
Consider Viewers without Sound
- Get in the habit of adding captions to all your videos.
- Studies reveal most people watch stories with sound off.
- Studies show that videos with captions have a 12% increased viewing time.
- Add captions to communicate your key message.
- They maintain engagement with your audience.
- They add entertainment for your audience.
- You can use an app called “Add Subtitles”
Direct your Followers Where You Want Them to Go
- 10K Access to the swipe-up direct web link.
- Link to sales or affiliate products
- Link to other platforms/blog posts
- Even without the swipe-up option you can still direct your followers in the same way.
- Use your link in bio for sales or call to action.
Don’t forget the very valuable Highlight feature. This feature offers a place to save and “highlight” stories of your very best Instagram stories. Reserve this for only those stories that will add value for your followers.
Killer Instagram Feed Day 5: Improve Your Photography
There is no getting around it. Instagram is a visual platform. If your photos don’t stop people in their tracks you won’t get their attention long enough to share your story. There is no way around this one: Photography should be your first priority.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to create a successful Instagram account. And no, you don’t have to own any fancy camera equipment or editing software. Many successful Instagram accounts have been created using just an iPhone or smart phone. You do, however, have to practice your photography.
Here Are Some of Our Best Photography Tips:
Pay Attention to Light
Take photos outside where the light is even (not spotted or glaring) when possible. When taking photos inside experiment with the time of day and take advantage of rooms lit with natural light.
Take A Lot of Photos
We don’t recommend posting the first photo you take. Get in the habit of taking a lot of photos. Experiment with different angles, different lighting. If taking indoor photos experiment with the lights on, with the lights off. Keep in mind, professional photographers present only their top two percent to the world.
The Importance of Editing
How many edited versions do you create?
- Compare multiple versions.
- Come back later with fresh eyes.
- Have someone to give you advice.
- We often send our edited photos to each other and ask for help.
- Less is more. Over-editing can make the photo look unnatural. Instagram prefers natural looking photos to over-edited ones.
Photography Editing: Tips & Tricks
Editing skills are as important as photography skills, especially if you are using an iPhone.
- More is not better
- Don’t over edit. Instagram prefers natural looking photos to highly stylized photos.
- Example: Learning a foreign language. New sounds have to be exaggerated before they can be finessed. In the same way, beginners tend to exaggerate the edits; they are clumsy and heavy-handed at first.
- Example: I remember desperately wanting brighter pictures. The first editing mistake I made was to use the Brightening tool to excess. I ended up washing out all my photos until they looked blurry and dull.
- The better you get the less you should have to edit. The more your eye will be able to differentiate the subtleties. And the more finesse you will develop with your edits.
The Preset Option
- What are presets? They are a series of photo edits that you save and then apply to all photos in your feed.
- Why use presets?
- Create a cohesive look
- Can help define your style or aesthetic
- May help you stand out from others
- Lines: look for lines to draw the viewer into your photo.
- Allow the eye to travel.
- Foreground interest: brings detail to the photo & creates depth.
- Rule of thirds: don’t always center your subject.
- Symmetry: why do you think front doors look so great?
- Repetition in design is powerful, as it is in photos.
- Pay attention to heights & angles. Avoid “the standing habit”. Great reason to use a tripod.
- Pay attention to the camera “tilt”.
- Size matters –
- 3 size options: Square, Horizontal, Portrait
- Take advantage of the biggest, most impactful size.
- Portrait is the largest and takes up valuable real estate.
- When people are scrolling FAST size really does matter. Choose the largest most of the time.
What Instagram Prefers
Here are a few general characteristics of Instagram preferences:
- Unique, original, & inspiring photos
- Engaging, active members of the larger IG community
- Natural-looking photos (not over-edited)
- Natural light
- Clean composition
- Brighter, fresher exposures
- Vertical photos over horizontal
These are general rules of thumb. Of course there are always exceptions, but when in doubt let these preferences guide your judgments.
- Snapseed (free)
- Adobe Lightroom (free and advanced versions)
- Choose one and really learn it
- Edit inside Instagram
Content Choice – Protect Your Feed
- Every post counts.
- Every post has the power to either increase or decrease your engagement.
- In other words, don’t post a bad photo just for the sake of posting something.
Phone cameras vs. DSLR – This is a really big topic. Be sure to check out our blog post where we debate this decision in more detail.
- The main drawback of smart phones is their inability to adapt to lighting challenges.
- While blogs require higher resolution photos you can often get away with camera phone resolution on Instagram.
- When you start working with brands they may also require high resolution photos.
Lighting kits – Consider buying a light kit for use on interior shots where natural light is scarce.
Sturdy Tripod for DSLR – Investing in a more expensive tripod is necessary when using a DSLR.
Inexpensive Tripod for Phone – Getting an inexpensive tripod for use with your iPhone is a good idea. This will be especially useful for video creation when you want the option of “hands free” activities.
Additional Photography Resources
Stock Photography: Free and/or paid access to professional photos. Be sure to read the license agreements. Some examples:
- Creative Market
Hire or Swap Services w/ Professional Photographers
- To take photos for you
- Take photos of you
- Teach you photography
If You Are a Small Business or Maker
- Engage Influencers
- Partner with influencers who take great photos
- Their photos can be a very valuable resource
- Creative Live: www.creativelive.com Free and fee-based live online classes in photography and other creative arts.
- IPhone Photography School:
Great articles at www.iphonephotographyschool.com
Killer Instagram Feed Day 6: Connect with Captions
This is your opportunity to interact with your dream audience: Make your captions about them, not just you. IG is a place to socialize, not sell.
“When we write about real things and get personal, we create community. We are all struggling with something, and there’s no better way to connect than to get transparent about what you struggle with. Perfection is overrated! Share from deep within you to connect deeply.” ~ Beth Kirby
Create Your Best Captions
- Your feed should be the best reality show that people can’t wait to tune in to.
- Show your personality. You do you.
- Find your voice.
- Elicit Emotion.
- Use humor.
- Be vulnerable, share confessions.
- Don’t hold back. IG is no place to be shy.
- Keep your shares meaningful and positive. You don’t want to bring your followers down.
- Be a Storyteller.
- Build an audience that is invested in you.
Captions Increase Engagement
- Teach your followers to value your posts. Give useful tips & advice in your area of expertise.
- Bond your followers to you by adding a personal dimension to your feed.
- Create intimacy. Share stories that help your followers connect with you.
- Talk to your followers like best friends/family.
- Create loyalty: Build relationships that last.
We are all multi-dimensional. The more you are willing to share, the more open you are….the more opportunities you will create for others to relate to you.
How to Become a Better Storyteller
- Work on your writing skills (just like you work on your photography skills)
- Use descriptive, sensory words: words that evoke the senses
- Include how the event made you FEEL
- Be specific: Instead of saying, “I love my new table” you can say “My new vintage-inspired table is now my boys’ favorite place to hold their Pokeman Defiance league drawing contests.”
- Don’t worry about making sure that your image and caption relate. You can talk about your photo, but it’s not essential.
Why Do We Care So Much About Captions?
- The more time your followers spend on your feed the more IG sees your posts as valuable.
- Your captions are your opportunity to connect with followers on your posts.
- Creating active discussions greatly increases engagement.
More Caption Tips
- Top 2 lines are key. Compel them to click to read more.
- Make it urgent.
- Make it timely.
- Give them a Call To Action, e.g. voting, polling, weighing in with their opinion, asking for their help, input, etc. Example: “Double Tap if you love pompoms.”
- Make them feel part of your journey.
- Take the time. Don’t be lazy. It shows your lack of commitment and your followers will respond the same.
- Create meaningful texts in advance and save in notes.
- Create posts in advance in IG and save as drafts. It’s hard to create really significant posts when you’re short on time.
- In order to inspire you need to be inspired. Constantly be working to become the inspirational person people want to follow.
- Have something to say.
- Make it meaningful.
- Add value to people’s lives.
- Make them come back for more.
- Invite them into your life.
- Invite them into your story, and make it a good one.
Killer Instagram Feed Day 7: Adjust Your Attitude to Go the Distance
JOY + COMMITMENT = SUCCESS
#1: Be Open-Minded and Ready for Change.
The only constant on Instagram is change. This means we can never get too comfortable. Just as soon as we hit a groove and feel we understand things Instagram throws us new curve balls and we feel like novices once again. To success on Instagram we must adopt a willingness to change. We need to stay up to date and embrace change with enthusiasm and excitement.
#2. Stay Positive.
Since attitude is everything you need to be sure to manage yours. The ups and downs of Instagram can be challenging. In fact, they will be challenging. You can’t control Instagram, but you can control your reaction to the challenges. Just as in life all you can control is your own attitude. And a positive outlook is a powerful force.
#3. Remain Consistent.
Instagram rewards consistency and so do followers. Both IG and your followers want to know they can count on you. Post consistently. Answer comments and questions. Show your followers you care through your actions and they will reward you with their dedication as well.
#4. Remember Your Why.
In order to persevere you’re going to need to focus on your why and stay in the moment.
- Be generous
- Celebrate the journey
- Share your joy
- Be a giver
- Instead of focusing on the numbers cherish the followers you have
Your Killer Instagram Feed in 2019 and Beyond
- Don’t worry about the numbers. There is a new opportunity for micro-influencers.
- You don’t have to wait for your account to be huge to have value.
- You can make a real impact at whatever size you are.
- Increased technology recognizes real accounts.
- We don’t have to compete with fake accounts.
“Make bold moves toward your dreams each day, refuse to stop, and nothing can stop you.” ~ Hal Elrod
Now you have all the necessary tools to create a killer Instagram feed. We hope this was helpful to those of you looking to up your game on IG. Be sure to check out our library of blog posts related to all things Instagram, including our Instagram Posting Checklist.