Instagram Best Practices For Your Business

Instagram is a great way to introduce your followers to the lifestyle of your brand through a visual story. When done well, thousands of followers will deliver instant validation of your posts and feel connected to your products and services. The Instagram best practice tips below provide a guideline for utilizing this platform in the best possible way, while preserving your brand's integrity and establishing trust and value with your followers.

1. First and foremost, post only quality photography.
Instagram is ALL about great photography. Posting pictures and short videos is what appeals to so many users who are tired of the political rants and web links you see on Facebook and other social media. Stick to only posting photography that best promotes your brand and stay away from blatant marketing. Post professional images if you can; amateurish images should not be included. Your images are your brand, so keep the photography looking similar across all your posts. Stick to a common filter and aesthetic so that when your image shows up in someone’s feed, they know it is from your brand.

2. Engage with your followers.
Instagram is a great way of getting your brand's core values and message out. The majority of your Instagram posts should be about the lifestyle of your brand. Although occasional posts can be used to promote a sale or event, this is a slippery slope. Instagram followers do not want to feel marketed to because it is not the proper medium. In fact, there was a lot of backlash when Instagram introduced subtle ads into feeds, so they do it very seldom.

Use promotional posts sparingly, thinking about the value and alternatives before you make that post.

For example, if you are brewery and are trying to promote a new beer, just post a picture of the brew being tapped that day – your beer lover followers will rejoice! A company like Patagonia never markets the sale of their products on Instagram, rather showing their product ambassadors using their products in a great environment. Your eye will first look at the beautiful scenery, followed by the gear that got them there.

3. Use the web link in your bio as your call-to-action.
Unless you have an Instagram business account and are willing to pay for sponsored ads, Instagram is not the best platform for call-to-action click-through. Instagram does not allow website links in your posts, so your followers will not be able to click your promotional link. You can’t even copy it. Instead, reference the link within your bio profile as your call-to-action link. The only clickable link you can use within an Instagram post is a hashtag or user link (more on hashtags below).

4. Get more reach with appropriate #hashtag use.
Hashtags enable Instagram users to group events or topics using the hashtag # symbol. Pressing a hashtag link within a post will display a feed of posts related to that topic. Unless you are Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, this does not mean you should use a dozen hashtags to get your post on every search result. Studies show that using 5 hash tags is the best strategy for your posts. That does not mean you should embed all your hashtags within your post at the expense of readability.

A common mistake is using hashtags to add emphasis on a word, however it negatively affects the readability of the message.

Stay away from hashtagging general terms like “#performance” or “#best”, as those are not searched on or targeted. Try to use hashtags that relate to an event, trending topic, or common group. The more targeted your hashtag, the more likely your post will be seen. Instagram will show you a the number of times the hashtag has been used.

 

 

5. Add Instagram users to your post.
Instagram allows you to reference other users within your post by using the @ symbol in front of their user names. Instagram will even provide a nice inline search tool to make this easy. This is a great way to cross promote your posts with specific Instagram users as they will get a notification that they were a part of your post. It’s a good way to notify other Instagram users of your existence and gain them as a follower. You can also tag photos with other Instagram followers, however you can only see these tags when you tap the picture. It is not as discoverable.

6. Convert to a Business account.
Instagram provides the ability to convert your personal account to a business account. A business account provides a call-to-action contact button in your bio and also some nice analytics reporting. Of course, there is also the ability to run paid ads which can help increase your followers for a price.

7. Optimize your bio description for search.
Make sure you write your bio using keyword search terms to increase your SEO like you would on your webpage. The bio is limited to 150 characters, so be concise while not sacrificing readability. You may also use hashtags, however I would personally use them sparingly.

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I hope these tips increase your Instagram range and help get your message out. While you're at it, follow Galactic Ideas on Instagram.


Why I Recommend WP Engine for WordPress Hosting

WP Engine is a managed hosting provider focused solely on WordPress. I have been developing WordPress websites on WP Engine for more than two years now and rely on their efficient features and fast speed, and have never looked back. I now recommend them in all my proposals as it benefits my clients financially and it’s just a great service. Best of all, WP Engine provides great tools for designers to easily setup their development environments – keeping myself, a designer, completely independent of my more technically-experienced engineer colleagues. Here is why I love WP Engine and cringe when our clients choose a different provider.

1. Quick and easy staging environment setup
A staging environment is a separate development area that won’t effect your public website, where you can make modifications to later be “made live” by deploying them to the production site. Before WP Engine, I leaned on my engineer partn Scott to setup a staging environment for me in AWS, which took about 45 minutes of his time to get everything setup. Once my designs were implemented and approved on staging, Scott would have to copy the content over to the public site, manually updating the wp-config file database connection, modifying htaccess permissions, fixing database entries, and fixing any absolute URLs linking to the staging site that were hard-coded by misbehaving third-party plugins. Deployments were done late at night and the process usually took an hour or two to complete with backups, content and database transfers, etc – and the site had to be down the whole time. Since this was such a pain, I never used the staging site again, inevitably editing the live WP site directly for any changes needed beyond the initial deployment.

With WP Engine, all these manual migration issues vanished.

Setting up the staging environment can be done with one click, and adding secure password protection is quick and painless. The best part is that I can work on staging and do deployments to the live site without Scott’s involvement. Deployments usually take a minute or two to push the content.

2. It’s smoking fast
We’ve used different WordPress hosting providers and had satisfactory results, however after using WP Engine, I’d never use a different hosting provider for WordPress again. It’s now painful to edit some of our clients’ websites that use different providers. From the backend tools to the front-end marketing site, everything runs quickly and smoothly. Setting up a CDN with their toolset improves the load times even further.

3. Preserve SEO with Redirects
When replacing a customer’s site with a new WordPress site, we want to preserve any of their SEO rankings, search index links, and external links from third-parties. This can be a trick when switching from a non-WordPress site to a WordPress site, because the URLs will likely all be different. In the past, I had to create a spreadsheet of all the URLs in the old site and map them to their new locations, and then hand this off to my engineers to write a bunch of custom redirect rules to guide all external links and search bots to the right places. With WP Engine, I am completely self-sufficient with this now. They provide a super-simple GUI for setting up all the redirects you need, with a handy cheat sheet of regular expression instructions I can use to even get a little clever with it…all without having to use SFTP, edit htaccess files, or worry about server restarts.

4. Great tools for WordPress
WP Engine comes with great tools and built-in plugins. Here are a few standouts:

  • Image caching: WP Engine’s proprietary caching technology has been working great for us and it removes the need to install a 3rd-party plugin. Updates are done on the backend and are automatic.
  • SSL Certification: Adding SSL certification is super easy and just an additional $5/month.
  • Website password-protection: Setup is as easy as one-click. No code necessary.
  • Firewall protection and Malware Scan: These tools are one-click add-ons that can be requirements for certain customers. No more headaches choosing which plugins to use and figuring out how to get them configured.

5. Backups and restore points
Sometimes when I’m designing a page, I’ll do it directly in the site editor. With WPEngine’s backup system, I don’t worry about breaking anything, because I can always roll back to a restore point, which only takes a minute to do. WP Engine automatically creates restore points each time you deploy or you can manually create them in their portal; adding restore point titles and descriptions when necessary. You can also use their Git integration to handle your own version control as well.

They even do daily backups that are stored in a geographically separate location. This was recently utilized when a client's staging site’s hardware failed at the datacenter and WP Engine quickly got everything running on new hardware. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed had they not informed me of the downtime. This is a level of service we’ve never seen with any other WordPress host.

6. Notifications and security warnings
With so many third-party WordPress plugins out there, it’s not unusual to have conflicts between plugins, or to end up with a site that has so many plugins it grinds down to a slow crawl. WP Engine scans your site for unsupported plugins and security vulnerabilities behind the scenes. We’ve received notifications when we needed to update a plugin or upgrade to the latest version of WordPress, and we’ve seen their recommendations preventing us from using a plugin that would cause a performance problem or plugin conflict.

7. Manage multiple client installs with one login.
Similar to another great web application Trello, toggling between client installs is done using a drop-down menu. There is no need to create separate login credentials for each client.

8. Good support
I’m not one to call support every time I have an issue, so it has been nice that they have a deep library of common support questions in their database. The one time I needed to chat with a live human, it took less than 10 minutes to be connected and the support person walked me through the issues and even created a support ticket, which was resolved a few hours later.

9. Reseller Partner Program
Full disclosure - I am a reseller partner. WP Engine makes it easy to manage multiple clients with a signal user login. That alone is enough to make me want to lead all our clients there. Getting a little referral fee makes it even better.

 


Galactic Ideas Receives Uncode Showcase Award for Métier

I am very pleased to announce that MétierSeattle.com was chosen for the Uncode WordPress Theme Showcase. The Métier website was built using the Uncode WordPress theme and chosen for its unique look and ease of use. The Uncode theme is currently listed in Envato Market in Themeforest's 2016 Best Selling WordPress Themes. I highly recommend this theme for its powerful functionality, easy maintainability, and speedy performance.

 

MétierSeattle.com is a responsively designed WordPress website with eCommerce capabilities.