For those that follow my blog, you know my love/hate relationship with Instagram (well, all social media for that matter). But being present on Instagram and implementing strategies that increase Instagram engagement is especially key for creative business owners. We often have very visual based products that flow perfectly well with Instagram users.
When I dove into the world of Instagram in 2015, I had no idea there were so many tools available.
In the beginning, my Instagram posts were random, far and few between and overall awkward (kind of like my early 20’s dating life – ba da bum! – that was my attempt at a joke, people).
I knew to increase Instagram engagement, I needed to do things like: post on a regular basis, create beautiful graphics, schedule at the right times, etc…
The challenge was how to get all those key engagement things going, and keep them going, without spending all my time on Instagram tasks.
For more details on the “must do’s” of Instagram, click here
Some of the challenges I faced included:
- How do I create beautiful graphics (without using programs like photoshop, etc..)?
- When should I schedule posts…and how do I stay consistent?
- I need more links in my bio! How do I do that?
- What hashtags are best for my business?
I set out to find programs that would offer solutions for said pain points.
Luckily, every paint point I could think of had a solution; however, I quickly learned that if I signed up for every program I wanted, I’d easily be paying over $250/ MONTH….ummmmm, no way. Not going to happen.
So I was on the hunt to find the tools that most fit my needs AND that were cost effective (or free!).
The list below consists of the 3 tools I used on a regular basis (even to this day!) to continuously improve Instagram engagement (and management) for Vintage And Restore By K.
For those just entering the world of Instagram for your creative business, I also included the problem each tool solves so you don’t have to wonder when (or why) in the heck you would use each tool listed.
Description of Canva:
Canva is a graphic-design tool website for people like me that don’t “do” graphic design. It’s an easy way to create your own social media post graphics, Pinterest graphics, email newsletter graphics and so much more.
Problem Canva Solves:
Graphic design for non-graphic designers. Create awesome brand graphics, flyers, Insa photos and more. Super easy to use drag and drop format.
What I love about Canva:
SUPER easy to use. Anyone can create beautiful graphics — and for those who don’t feel like creating graphics from scratch, there are hundreds of pre-made templates in all shapes and sizes.
They are continuously improving features and adding new tools. Recently, I noticed a “remove background” feature that is BRILLIANT!
In the past, I’ve had to either use a free (not user friendly) tool when I wanted a background removed or, I’d pay someone to do it.
With this new feature, I can simply click “remove background” on ANY photo and it does it for me – like magic! No touch ups needed. It truly is simply amazing and a huge time saver.
I currently pay somewhere around $119/year for the upgraded features, but they do have a completely FREE version that is great to get started.
Check out Canva by clicking here.
PS – I get a lot of questions about my puzzle feed and Canva is what I used to create my puzzle feed on our Instagram account. This is what the puzzle feed looked like:
Tailwind is a scheduling management tool that helps you manage your Instagram (and Pinterest and even Facebook!) scheduling and posting.
Problem Tailwind Solves:
SCHEDULING! Holy moly, Tailwind has been a lifesaver when it comes to saving time and research.
Not only can you schedule your Instagram posts but they also have a tool that tells you how competitive hashtags are – so this tools really solves two problems: managing time and identifying the best hashtags to use
What I love about Tailwind:
After I create/resize my Instagram photos in Canva, I head over to Tailwind where I can easily schedule my posts.
Tailwind tells me the best time to post and I use their hashtag analyzer feature to find relevant hashtags.
UPDATE: I’ve been recently using HashTags For Likes and LOVE their platform. It easily tells me which hashtags are getting the most likes and is now my #1 go to tool for finding the best hashtags
I currently create enough content to get through two weeks of posts, so I am always planning ahead.
I tried creating enough content for a month, but found planning that many days out just didn’t work for me.
Before Tailwind, I would find myself posting at random times, shooting for once/day, but it was all done manually and I wasted so much time. Talk about a TIME SAVER!
I currently pay about $15/month for the Instagram features of Tailwind (plus another $15/month for Pinterest). They also have a FREE version to try out.
Check out Tailwind by clicking here.
Bonus: By using my link, you’ll get a $15 Tailwind credit when you upgrade to plus.
Description of Shorby:
Shorby is a tool that optimizes your Instagram traffic with clickable links, messengers, and social networks. It’s a way to side-step the one bio in link limitation (hallelujah!).
Problem Shorby Solves:
You know how when you go to someone’s Instagram bio and you only see one clickable website link? Weeeeellll, Shorby makes it to where you can link multiple sites/pages in the one little link…which makes it easier for your followers and fans to find exactly what you want them to find! Hallelujah!
What I love about Shorby:
You will find a common theme with the tools I use…they are all EASY TO USE. And Shorby takes the cake when it comes to ease of use. You simply connect it to your Instagram account (super easy to do – just a couple of clicks and you’re off!), and you can create multiple links that followers and fans can click on.
There are several customizations and Shorby and you also have the option to track pixels — in other words, you can keep track of how many people are clicking each link.
You can customize your background (I just use a simple background for now) and switching out links is easy.
When you click the link in our bio now, here is what it looks like:
Check out Shorby by clicking here
PS – Tailwind recently released a new “Smart-bio” option that is similar to Shorby. I haven’t tried it yet, but good to know if you want to just use Tailwind for this feature too 🙂
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