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#SquiffyPrint : 10 Simple Instagram Tips for Small Businesses

Jessica Robinson face book instagram mum boss small business social media website

Hello to all 3 of my readers! 😗  

I've had a fair few people recently quizzing me on my Squiffy Print Instagram account: this baffled me as I am no big baller with 400,000K followers, but I quickly realised that even though I aspire to have a bigger following and engagement on my account, there are small businesses out there that are just starting on their own Insta journey. 

I have really set aside time over the last few weeks to concentrate on what sort of message I want to come across and how to market not just my business and products, but also myself, without sounding too pushy-pushy hard sales shit. I felt like I needed to build my Insta account to reflect my colourful products and life (and language!?) - I had spent far too long looking at and trying to emulate beautifully curated monochrome accounts, and after trying to be that person, I realised it just wasn't me. I'm a Northerner with a sick sense of humour and I sell colourful printed products, I needed my small insta squares to be just like that! 

Instagram is a fabulous free tool, I watch and follow other people on there who are further on in their Instagram-journey than myself and see how they style their shots & write their captions, and seeing as there is enough success to go around, I thought I would do a swift blog and come up with my ten top tips incase it helps anyone, so here goes: 

1) Pick yourself a colour pallet: what colours are your brand colours? Weave these into your posts to make your 'grid' look cohesive and easy to look at. I concentrate on the top 9 pictures on my account - if these aren't flowing and interesting you are not likely to entice anyone to look any further. This could well be a really good shop front for you to showcase your products: would you go into a shop if the window display was shite? Here is my current top 9 on my grid...

2) Find accounts that inspire you. Why are you attracted to them? How do they style their photos and write their captions? How to they comment back to their followers? You not going to copy everything they do, but just research how they utilise Insta to their advantage. How could you adapt these things into your account? Here's two of the many fab colourful accounts I love: Band.Do & The Scran Line:

3) Instagram is essentially a scrolling app so your pics will be the first thing someone sees before reading your caption. They need to be light, bright and with space so your grid doesn't look too crammed. Here are some apps I think you'll find interesting: 

SNAPSEED: Is a good editing app where you can not only brighten, tweak and sharpen the whole image, but also target certain areas of the photo too to brighten or sharpen up. I bought myself a stylus from a pound shop to help me with the little bits of editing as I do most of mine on my iPhone rather than computer. 

MAGIC ERASER: Does exactly what it days on the tin! This is good if you are buggering about and wanting to add bits and bobs to your final picture, I use this with....

PICMIX LITE: This is a layering app, so for example this picture of Fynn on the ceiling was me experimenting with Magic Eraser and then layering up the different images in PicMix Lite. It wasn't the best light or photo I had taken, or the best editing, but its a start! 

UNUM This is a f**king good app: it lets you upload photos that you have ready for Instagram, but in a fashion where you can move them around to see how they sit with your other photos before you post them. A planning app. GEEKY! Another tip: don't post your photos from this or any other 3rd-party apps, always upload them from your camera roll to Instagram, I read somewhere it effects the algorithm, but also I have an old iPhone and it slowed it up. So i just save my photos that are ready to go in my Favourites on my camera roll then I know where they are.  

4) Get into Pinterest. This website is a great visual resource for inspiration on how to style your products and images (as well as other things such as baking an egg in an avocado or up-cycling shit). I create myself a board once a week with fresh images, then I try to recreate them myself but with my own products and my own squiffy twist. I generally tend to gather all my props and products I want to take pictures of and a list of how/laptop open on Pinterest, then take a load of images in different styles (such as flat-lays) in one go to have them already on my phone ready to post. Then also as my new products come in each week, I will take a few selfies of me wearing them to post too. Remember: images are digested faster than words, so really spend a bit of time taking a decent photo, try not to share shit just for sharing's sake. How do your products and services fit into someones lifestyle? Flat-lays are good, but so are actual people using and wearing your stuff. Sell the lifestyle. My business page is now a kind of hybrid of a personal and business account: I also wear & use my own products too so its easy for me to get quick shots of them in action. I'm not an over-sharer of the personal side, but I do think its massively helped people on Instagram to get to know the face behind Squiffy. 

Squiffy Print cross neck hoodie

5) CAPTIONS!! I find this a really hard aspect of Insta, I am no word smith, and trying to get my point across on a short Instagram caption baffles me some days. I think the most important thing I have learnt here is to always have a 'call to action' or some form of question or discussion to get people liking, commenting and following. I know there are people out there that do the whole 'follow to unfollow' thing, but I'd rather build a good engaged audience who like my products and sense of humour. I save my arty, pretty scenic pics that have no relevance to my business for my personal account. 

6) Hashtags: These allow people to find you based on a shared interest of what it is you have tagged. However, be aware that the higher the volume of one hashtag on your topic, the bigger a sea it is to get found. Get niche with your hashtags and experiment. You can put up to 30 HT's on an insta post, I have found the more you put on the more your account gets spammed with nob heads wanting you to follow them. I am still working on this one as I find it baffling! Sara Tasker sends out an email (monthly I think) with certain hashtags on it she has found. There is also the Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project - every Friday night Instagram will post the theme and then people will tag into it over the weekend. So for example, the weekend just gone the hashtag was #WHPShine - some of the photos are AMAZINGGGG!! 

7) Post consistently: The silly Insta algorithm for business accounts means that less people see your post than you actually think. You have to expose your products/service on average about 7 times to the same person before they begin to consider parting with their money. So that pretty picture that took you ages to take? Post it again in a few weeks, or take some from different angles then mix it up with other posts. This may seem like quite a lot, but I post on average 3 times a day now, I see Instagram as a platform that will only get bigger because of the Millennial generation who have disposable content at their finger tips and seem to love this quick scrolling app. Plus its free, so keep postin'! Those who don't like you won't follow you, and thats fine because the ones that love you will. They are your tribe. 

8) Get chatty! Get engaging with other people on their accounts. I am in a couple of 'Pods' where we all comment and like each others posts to help boost our visibility. Its also a fab way to meet likeminded people and start building your own little tribe. 

9) Use all the features available to you:

GEO TAGGING So you basically tag the geographical area you are in, this makes you visible to people, say, searching Harrogate area. 

VIDEO As well as static photos, you also have the opportunity to take videos, boomerangs, and LIVE videos! Granted, I only did my first live vid about 2 weeks ago (after a g&t - bit 'o dutch!) as I was printing late and thought it would be a god place to start. 

STORIES Are a great feature that allow you to post pics & videos with gifs and emojis over the top that otherwise you wouldn't post on your 'grid'. This is a fab feature to show what goes on behind the scenes and really get customers to start to trust you as a person who is running a business! Plus people luuurve to see behind the scenes or how products are made etc. 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS You also have an option to save your stories to a highlight reel that appears above your grid but just below your bio. I find this fantastic as I can categorise my products into things such as 'behind the scenes' and 'Customer Photos' so people have the option to see more than just whats on my grid. 

LINK OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA I once went through a phase of basically killing myself to be present on Instagram, Snap chat, Face Book, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn. I am a one-man-band and just couldn't deal with all of them. I have found out that Instagram is the one that works the best for my small business, so I predominantly post on there and I toggle my posts so they then automatically post to FB too. I get good engagement on both social media sites for the exact same post, so I don't create two different posts for them. I still have accounts on the other social media's, but just check in once in a while. And I deleted snap chat after Instagram added the stories feature to their app. 

CLICKABLE LINK You have space in the bio for one clickable link to a blog post, product or website, so you really should use it. If you don't, how are potential customers going to shop your stuff??

10) And possibly a very important point: be authentic. Don't say 'we' if there is only you running the show. People buy off people. I have also changed my profile picture from my logo to a picture of me for a change: I want people to know I am a small business who designs, works and prints in-house whilst raising a small child, and not a massive limited company who employs 80 staff. I don't pretend to be that person! 

I think thats enough for the time being! Please leave a comment if you need any help/questions, but for now......go forth and do some beavering away on your Instagram account! Put in the time and watch it grow, trust me. Tag me in them too so I can see what you have been up to with #squiffyprint or @squiffyprint 

Next blog post: The 30 things I've learnt running a business! 😎 😍 😚 

Peace out mo fo's 


Jess :) 



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