January 13, 2014

It’s no secret that I’m an advocate of Instagram. But one question I get from a lot of the bloggers I talk to is how can they use the platform. As with any other social media platform there are many different ways that different businesses and brands can use Instagram. And I do believe – and have seen personally – that bloggers can successfully use Instagram.

In this post, I want to go into a few more specifics about how bloggers can use Instagram to develop their brand, generate interest, and drive traffic.

Developing Your Brand

One of my favorite things about Instagram is how we can use it to enhance and develop our brand. You can share images that reflect your business, your products, and your brand. You can use filters to enhance photos to better represent the atmosphere or style of your brand. This is easy for businesses that have products to sell or a business location to spotlight. But when it comes to bloggers, how can we enhance our brand though images?

As a blogger, you have a niche. There are topics you write about and an industry that you are focused on. You can use Instagram posts to showcase your involvement in these areas.

For example, if you’re a craft blogger, share Instagram posts of crafts that you are working on. Or takes photos and videos when you attend craft events. If you’re a service based blogger, share images of client locations when you visit them. Or share images from around your city to promote your local service area. Just as you use your blog to establish yourself as an industry expert, Instagram images can help further develop that commitment and expertise.

You can also use hashtags to further develop your brand. If there are any hashtags that you use on Twitter or other sites specifically for your business, tag your Instagram posts with those same hashtags to develop that presence there as well. Make sure you are using industry related hashtags on your posts too. As a social media blogger, I use #socialmedia and #socialmediamarketing as well as other related hashtags like #business or #bestpractices or #marketing when I share blog post notification images on Instagram.

As bloggers, I’ve heard many complaints that they don’t have anything to share on Instagram. Many of us bloggers work from home and don’t have the ability to showcase employees or more “behind the scenes” type images. Rather than focusing on what you can’t share, think about the things you can share. Take a picture from your desking looking out your window. Describe your view that day – maybe it’s the first snow fall of the year, or maybe it’s a beautiful sunrise to start the day of strong. If you have pets, they qualify as office assistants! Share posts of them “helping” you work or perhaps insisting it’s time for a break.

It might take a little more creativity than other businesses, but there are plenty of ways in which you can document what you do for a living.

Just make sure that your Instagram account isn’t all about business. Just as with other social media sites, people want to get to know YOU. Make sure to incorporate images that are more representative of who you are as a person behind the blog. Share posts of your family, pets, vacations, and even the occasional selfie (please keep the selfies to only the occasional post though!).

Instagram posts allow you to showcase your brand to a bigger audience and develop your brand beyond your traditional audience.

Generate Interest

Instagram is a great way to generate interest in upcoming blogs or projects. You can use Instagram posts as teasers or to introduce new things to your audience.

If you review products on your blog, you can share posts that document the process of your review. Don’t give away your thoughts on Instagram though. Keep that for the blog and give people a reason to come check out the final review!

Maybe you’re working on a blog post that covers a current hot topic. Sharing an image of your computer screen as you’re typing the blog post showing the first few lines of content or even the title is a great way to tease the upcoming post.

Make sure that you make good use of the comments on these posts to further generate interest. Leave comments that include descriptions of the content or even excerpts from the posts to really draw in readers.

Find ways to incorporate your personality into your Instagram posts. The more of your personality that shines through your Instagram posts, the more likely people will be to read your content. If your blog readers have been following you for a while, they know your personality by now. But you can showcase that even more through images. And you can reach new readers by showing your personality on Instagram and inviting them into your world.

Drive Traffic

Of course, what we all want is more traffic to our blogs. The only place on Instagram where you can post a clickable link is in your bio. So make sure that this link goes to the page you want it to. If your home page lists your most current blogs then you can just link to your website URL. However, if you have a separate page for your blog, I recommend you use this page URL in your Instagram bio.

To promote my blog posts on Instagram, I create an Instagram-formatted image to share. For example, for this blog post, I will share this image on Instagram.

In order to maintain my brand consistency, the images I share to notify of new blog posts always have a similar style to them. And I try to use the same image as the featured image on the actual blog post. This way, when visual centric people come to the blog from Instagram, they can recognize the image.

I also always include the link to my blog in the image. And then in the comments I let my audience know that they can click on the link in my bio to view the post. I also include a brief description of the blog post in the comments. Make sure that your description isn’t too long though – people aren’t on Instagram to read! Give them enough to generate interest and invite them to your blog to actually read it.

A lot of other people do really good jobs of advertising new posts as well. Amanda Brazel is another blogger who does this well by sharing an image of the latest post on her computer screen. This works well because Instagram viewers get to see what your site actually looks like. If they like the look and layout, they are more likely to click through to the blog.

Using techniques like this can ensure that your Instagram audience knows of new blog posts and how to read them. This method does drive traffic to your blog!

I hope that this information will help you better utilize Instagram. And the next time someone asks you how bloggers can use Instagram, I hope you’ll point them in the direction of this blog post! Or if you know bloggers who could benefit from this post, please share it!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Wow, I loved this post because I am a bit puzzled when it comes to Instagram. You addressed all of my questions and you gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get serious about the platform. I work from home, but have one assistant, 3 cats, and 2 dogs so there is always something interesting going on at the”office”. Appreciate the great info!

  2. Very cool Jen. Instagram is definitely a place to give your your followers a behind-the-scenes look at what you do and how you do. So I too take lots of screen shots of my work and upload it to Instagram so my followers can see my work journey. Now watch me share this 😉

    1. Thanks Raquel! You do a great job of sharing content on Instagram too. I’m looking forward to seeing the share 😉

  3. Great post Jenn, I’ve been wondering about this myself as I use Instagram more for fun and for more nature photos. I will start taking screen shots of my blog and use the fun images from them. I sometimes include my url with the images. Maybe I should all the time now for Instagram. Great tip, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Lisa! I’m so glad you got so many good ideas from this post. Best of luck as your grow your audience through Instagram!

  4. Well you’ve got me thinking about Pinterest now Jenn. I’ve always seen this platform as one which benefits businesses with a physical presence or in the fashion / arts / crafts industry. I like the example of Amanda you’ve used which is a great way to draw users straight to your website. Cheers Jenn!

    1. Thanks Kapil! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and that it got you thinking about how to use the platform differently.

  5. As always Jenn you are pushing me past my creative comfort zone. I am not on Instagram because my pictures are horrible and I would rather not be there than represent myself badly. But as I said you gave me something to think about.

    1. You know my mantra for this year, Julia: Live outside your comfort zone! 😉
      Photography and Instagram isn’t necessarily for everyone and that’s ok. If it adds undue stress and isn’t valuable for you, then continue to focus your time and energy elsewhere. But take it from someone who was late to the Instagram party, don’t knock it until you’ve really tried it! You might discover that it is more fun than you thought and the ability to edit photos on the app can transform images easily into amazing photos.

  6. Nice post for bloggers to use instagram. Is there anyway by which I can post my blogpost images directly to Instagram just like pinning to Pinterest?

    1. Hi Rajan. There is no way to do this directly and I’m not aware of any third party apps that allow this either. I typically email myself the image and then save it to my mobile device. This way I can share it to Instagram.

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