Using Instagram for Business 101

Ask Mandy Q&A: Using Instagram for Business 101

Instagram is on the rise. This image-based platform topped 300 million users in 2014.  More and more businesses are taking advantage of this awesome platform. In fact, this is one I’m trying to use more of this year, both personally and professionally.

This past week I received the following question via my Ask Mandy page:

I’d like to know “how to” promote my portrait photography on Instagram. How do you post photos files other than those taken with your phone? So far, the only suggestion I’ve seen is to upload them from box. I just started using Instagram and so far the only posts I see are the ones I “follow” instead of everything posted. So how do I know if my posts will be seen by everyone?

Promoting on Instagram really is no different than other social media platforms. Here’s a simple 101 guide to promoting your business on Instagram:

Uploading Photos to Use

Instgram is different from Facebook and Twitter because you have to upload a photo to post. Photos are the backbone of this platform – without them, this wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately at this time, there is not a direct way to upload a photo via your computer. I’m sure one day we may have this option, but right now, there’s not. Here are the most common ways to post your photo to Instagram:

  • Take a photo on your smartphone or tablet and direct upload from the device.
  • Create a DropBox folder or a folder in Google Drive and upload the photos you’d like to use and sync it with your smartphone or tablet. You’d then download the image from the cloud onto your device and post from there.
  • Repost App. This is an app that allows you to share other people’s Instagram photos. When you open it, it brings up the feed of who you follow and you just tap the photo you want to share and it allows you to open it up in your Instagram account to post.

Using Hashtags

Hashtags are very important when using this platform for your business. Like Twitter, these allow you to be found when someone searches. Instagram’s guidelines on hashtags can be found here. Jenn Hermann of Jenn’s Trends is one of the top Instagram strategy people I know. She wrote an article about using hashtags on Instagram and here’s what she says (and I suggest as well) –

  • Use relevant keyword hashtags
  • Don’t use too many hashtags
  • Use industry related hashtags
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Don’t hijack hashtags (basically using a popular hashtag to butt in on a trend or conversation)

One of her best suggestions on using hashtags was to create a list of hashtags and save them on your mobile device –

“On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram. Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It’ll also make sure you don’t leave any out!”

Following People & Getting Followers

In the question above she mentioned only seeing the posts of people she’s followed, not everyone. On Instagram, in your feed you will only see the posts from those you follow. If you click on eyeglass at the bottom, it pulls up the search where you see photos from people based on the people you follow. You can also search people and hashtags as well. To be found and get followers, it’s important for you to use hashtags (see above). Most people you follow will follow you back, however here are some tips when you follow people and getting people to follow you back:

  • Have your bio completely filled out and include a link to your website. Also, make sure you have a legit and professional-looking profile photo (read: no bikini pictures or topless (if you are a guy), no vulgar expressions, etc.).
  • Post relevant content. Your stream should not be a collection of selfies.
  • When you do follow someone and they follow you back, do not immediately unfollow them. This is my biggest pet peeve. I’ll have people follow me and I’ll follow them back if I like their content and 2 days later, I’m scrolling through my followers and see they are not following me anymore. Talk about rude. Beware of those who follow you who are following A LOT less than follow them.
  • Check out who is following your competitor and follow those people. Keep in mind to only follow quality people.
  • Comment on other people’s posts. If someone comments on mine and I’m not following them, more often than not, I’ll follow them. Of course, look at their bio and what they’ve posted first.
  • Use relevant hashtags.

Promoting Across the Web

Of course you’ll want everyone to know you are on Instagram now. When you launch your account, make sure you have your Instagram link on your website. Also, post a status update with your link on your other social accounts. I have several I follow on different social media platforms and their Instagram posts are much different (for the better) than their Facebook updates. Here are some ideas to promote your Instagram account across the web:

  • Status update on your social platforms.
  • Link on your website.
  • Write a blog post about why you’re using it.
  • Share your Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook.

Be Active Daily!

Like any other social media platform, you have to use it regularly to benefit from it. Posting once per week is not going to do it. Plan on posting 2-3 times per day. The more active you are, the more your account with grow.

Track Your Analytics

Last but not least, you need to be able to track and measure your Instgram effors. Fortunately there’s a great program called Iconosquare to help! This program lets you manage comments on your Instagram photos, manage your account by providing you widgets and badges to let people know you’re on Instagram and gives you data on who is following you and optimal times to post.


Using Instagram can be A LOT of fun. It’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the daily lives of business and individuals. If you use it the right way, you’ll see your presence grow.

Do YOU have a social media question you’d like answered? Just write in your question on our Ask Mandy Q&A page!

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Tips to improve your workflow

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Why You Should Ignore "Expert" Lists

Why You Should Ignore “Expert” Lists

I’m having a love/hate relationship with the social media industry right now. I’ll be a big girl and admit it.

What am I talking about? “Expert” lists.

For all the value they can bring, I love them and for the negative they also bring, well, they suck.

Before I go any further, let me say this. If you are new to the social media industry, these “expert” or “top people” lists can provide value in helping you to find who to follow to learn more. So please don’t be discouraged from what I’m writing.

Truly, I am a list person through and through. I organize my day by them, projects by them, my Twitter account by them. I could not survive without my to-do lists. So naturally I gravitate to lists giving me the best social media programs to use, best WordPress plug-ins to use, etc. and the top/best/brightest/up-and-coming in the industry. That last type of list is what brings me here today.

Being on a list is a great boost to a person and their business. It could be Forbes Social Media Influencers list, someone’s top 100 Twitter Accounts to follow or a list of soon-to-be known names. What frustrates some of my peers and I to no end is the fact that it’s almost always the same big-wig clique who always gets all the praise. On top of that, some of them are just blowing smoke and no actually doing the work themselves. There are MANY social media pros out there that should be making these lists and aren’t.

I realize there are a bajillion people working in social media these days (seriously, do a search on LinkedIn) and it’s hard to weed through everyone. If you are listed somewhere, somehow, you should be grateful (unless you are bribing people to get on a list, then you should be ashamed). I really am when I see my name pop up. However, for those who don’t make a list no matter how long they’ve been in the business, some form of self-doubt and second-guessing does creep up.

I know when people come up with lists, they devote a lot of time and energy into selecting the people they want. They cannot include everyone so something has to give. For the most part I think we need to start ignoring most of these lists or at least be very selective in what lists you give value to.


It’s just one person’s opinion.

Who I respect and follow is different from the next person. Those individuals I would put on my list probably wouldn’t be the same as Joe Schmo’s.

Some of the individuals don’t walk the talk.

Yes, it may be the same people over and over, but if you take a look at the real work they are doing, you’ll see some of them don’t deserve it. For example, if a social media “expert” is doing nothing but typing quotes into Canva and publishing it, are they really a social media “expert”? How about stealing content from other social media professionals? Trust me, there are some big names out there doing both of those.

Some of the best and brightest are not out there to be acknowledged all over the web.

I know of several pros who deserve to be acknowledged like that, but because they don’t fawn over the big names with “look at me!!” they are often missed.

If you put too much into being validated by a list, you’ll lose your way and start doubting what you do.

Let me explain. Self-doubt can be harmful for a business owner. It’s a sick, downward-spinning spiral that can totally derail what you are doing. In life everyone seeks validation and being on a list does that for a businessperson, no matter how superficial or vain. It can indicate they’ve made it or they are someone important. However, you shouldn’t judge yourself by that alone. If your business is growing year after year, you are doing something right.

Speaking of that self-doubt, we all struggle with it throughout our lives (hello, middle school?) however there are things we can do to combat it.

  1. Point out your successes. If you focus on the positive and not the negative, you’ll feel better.
  2. Use your self-doubt as a motivator. Prove to yourself you can do it, whatever it is. Show the world why you’re awesome.
  3. Use it as a self-improvement tool. Take a look at yourself and ask yourself why you have that self-doubt. Is it out of jealousy? Did someone say something?

Okay, confession time. A while back there were a few social media people lists that came out from people I talk with on a regular basis and I was not on any of them. Yes, my feelings got hurt but you know what?  I got up the next day and kept trucking. I (we) do not need to let these lists influence how we go about our daily lives and our daily business. These lists are simply opinions and we all have them.

So let me ask you – what’s your honest opinion about these lists?

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