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20 Tips to help you use the Instagram platform more professionally

Looking to increase the professionalism on your Instagram account? Not sure how or where to start? Here are 20 simple yet effective tips to get you going!

1. Get professional support

Like anything if you want to do something better, get other professionals inside your support group. I have only used 2 logos in 6 years. My first logo lasted for 5 years before I recently updated it to simply add a modern touch, whilst still keeping the concept for the logo. That is because I got a pro to make it for me! If I had made it myself at home, which I could have, I know I would have altered it a hundred times by now and probably wouldn't have a copy of it in the right formats/sizes. If someone can do something far better than me I am going to seek their professional services, simple. Another example; I have always worked closely with a number of professional photographers and videographers in the past 6 years. This allows me to concentrate on doing what I am being hired to do, which is coaching, not taking content myself. Again if someone can also make better media content than me I am going to utilise their services rather than try to do everything myself! My main graphic designer is Jessica from Pink Tank Creative and my main photographer/videographer is Ian Yong.


2. Get a brand design in place

So many people are trying to build their profile, their brand, their business and yet they have never taken the time to sit down and create a branding design. Have a professional logo made, choose 2-3 specific colours for marketing/branding your media work, choose a series of fonts to use across all your platforms, choose a theme for your content and posts. Once get these small details sorted and in place you will find it much easier and faster to produce work later down the track with the original foundation in place first. People will also begin to identify your work naturally through your branding.

3. Profile photo Make sure your profile photo is you, your logo or your brand. Sounds like a no brainer right, but you would be surprised how many people have an image of something or someone else, especially some of the athletes. Nothing more stupid than photos of other people or a blank tile. If I can’t see your face to match it with your profile user name I’m likely not going to follow your account. Your brand starts with what/how people see you and a profile picture can tell others more about you than words, and faster. Make sure your photo is a decent quality photo and is cropped appropriately so that is is visible within the platform. Try to get one that has been taken by a professional, being a profile picture it is worth investing into getting a professional one taken.

4. Username It’s all well and good to have a funny, weird, unique username but the fact is humans are quick to judge and a simple username may be enough to either attract or detract someone. Some professionals go down the path of including branding/marketing words in their username such as @name_fitness although this may help people find you in accidental searches, if it isn’t a part of your business name lose it, to me it looks cheap. Athletes keep it simple, keep it to your name, if someone else has your name see if you can include a shortened version of your name. Businesses and coaches keep it simple and use your real name or real business name.


5. Appropriate bio description

Use the bio as a chance to let people quickly know who you are and/or what you do. The beauty now on Instagram is that you also don't have to put your email/contact details inside your bio anymore either, as Instagram has the contact button for emails/texts/calls on the profile, all you have to do is make your account a creator or business account. So you have plenty of available space to include a great short description of yourself. Make sure you use this space, and make sure you aren’t including anything unnecessary. You might use your bio description to list the services you offer or you may write a quick “about me” blurb. Also in your bio description you may like to include a small call to action to encourage people to click on your hyperlink below on your profile page (Don't make it a sales pitch, just a simple call to action will do).

6. Get your own email domain Don’t use your first high school email account from years ago as your email today when you are looking to operate as a professional. Invest a small amount of money to purchase your own unique email domain. It’s super cheap and is a great way to start making small improvements on the small details in/of your brand. I don’t think you will receive a business card/contact from your doctor with an email showing "eric_big_dawg@hotmail.com" right? Exactly, it’s not professional, so follow suit and level up your brand! I created my own email domain with Wix where I also built my website. This email domain sends my emails straight into my Google Gmail account.

7. Use of the URL/website hyperlink

Too many people either don’t use this option, have it going to somewhere irrelevant or have some crazy long url with a million letters and numbers in it (clean it up and shorten it, it's not hard to do). If you don’t have a website you can still make use of the hyperlink to take your viewer to other social media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook or perhaps even to a personal blog. Whatever link you do use, realise it as a chance to send your interested followers to another page where you can offer them further value and support. For businesses with a website make sure you have a well designed home/landing page, so when the user does open the link they can quickly find the things you wanted them to find. If you don’t have a website, Linktree can be a helpful alternative in the meantime and it's free!

8. Custom highlight cover image

Keeping a collection of your favourite stories via the highlights albums is a great way to categorise your stories into different albums, that way when a new visitor lands on your page they can quickly find the content they are searching for. Now, there is an optional setting for each story highlight where you can upload a cover photo from your camera roll. This way you can choose a quality, relevant image to attract your viewer into the highlight reel. This is a great small feature and again a nice small detail. Don't forget the small things add up!

9. Edit your images

If you haven’t had the luxury of a photographer taking your image, spend just a few minutes editing the crop, lighting and colouring of the photo. You have already made the time to take a picture in the first place, why not spend an extra minute or two to enhance the quality. I use a free mobile app Lightroom for all my photo editing needs, there are plenty of others this is just my personal favourite. The beauty of Lightroom is that once you have chosen a particular group of editing adjustments that you like, you can save them as a custom preset in your library, and then next time you will be able to edit your image in a second with the click of one button. Nothing worse than seeing people put up photos with poor lighting and cropping when it’s being posted up on a business/profile page where you are trying to develop your brand.

10. Photo proportions

Understand what the size proportions of images are on Instagram. For example, posts on Instagram feeds are usually one of the following proportions: 1:1 (1080px x 1080px) or 4:5 (1080px x 1350px) or 16:9 (1920px x 1080px). So when you are shooting, cropping and posting photos understand that! Posts via the story are either 9:16 (1080px x 1920px) for users on iPhone or 1:2 (1080px x 2160px) for users on the taller Samsung phones. You can crop photos directly from your camera roll or you can use a simple, free editing software to make the proportional changes!

11. Canva

Canva is one example of a free piece of editing software that can help you to get your image proportions right. I also use Canva a lot to create small poster/info posts with added texts/titles etc. I've made dozens of graphics in Canva over the years and I still have all of them saved for free, right there within my online account. You can use the software via your laptop/desktop or on your mobile via the app, both versions are free. 12. Lose the selfies

Fitness business owners and athletes, lose the selfies, they cheapen your brand. I remember when I first was given this advice and whilst it seemed a bit over the top at the beginning I learned pretty quickly the benefits of dumping the selfies. If you feel that you really need to share a picture of yourself to motivate yourself or your viewers, that’s fine but have the photo taken by someone else and have yourself properly in the frame.


13. Resharing

Don’t over do re-sharing content from other users/creators. People don’t follow you just to see you using other peoples amazing work. Organically create your own content and keep it all as original as possible. And, if you are going to reshare something, please get a an original copy from the content creator and keep the piece in its original size/form just as you received it; don’t crop it or change it too much, if at all! If you can't get a copy from the content creator use the mobile Repost App, I've paid for a premium version myself so that I can get the mp4 file without any watermarks on it.

14. Inshot

Inshot is hands down the my favourite video editing app that is free and for use via mobile device. I’ve even subscribed to a premium account for this app to have access to further editing tools, lose the watermark permanently and also to give back to a company who has helped me make better videos!

15. Archive old posts

Posts on your page feed that are old, posts that have been updated, details of a program that have since changed etc; archive them! If it is no longer relevant click on the image settings and click “archive” this will still keep your post, but it will hide the post from your profile's feed. This way your page will continue to look current, fresh and it will be less confusing to new viewers.

16. Seperate your personal life from your professional life

No doubt, you are going to want to share some of your personal life, and so you should. Let people know more about you, the person behind the brand and business; but just be aware your followers might not be interested in following you to see what your uncles, brothers girlfriend is up to on the weekend. If you are looking to share different angles of your life and your brand with your viewers, come up with a little plan/strategy for how often you will post about various topics/subjects. For example I post about my son Elijah often, but it’s probably only about 5% of the content I share; because as cute as he is my followers didn't subscribe to my account to see what he was up to, they wanted to learn more about training and be motivated to train.

17. Don’t abuse tagging

Wether it be hashtags or tagging other accounts, don’t go over the top with them. If it is just to attract more viewers, followers, likes or people finding you, you’ve got the wrong idea all together. Focus on creating valuable content that new users, brands and businesses will find because people have organically shared, liked or followed your work. If you build a resource of content you will get the engagement and opportunities that come from exposure, you don’t need to rush or force the process. Don’t get me wrong use hashtags, but use ones that will help catalogue your work and let people see at a quick glance the purpose for your post via these tags which stand out. As for tagging people into your photos, if they aren't in the picture or weren't apart of the event within the picture, don't spam them and tag all your best buddies into the post just so they can see it, nothing worse!

18. Lose the emojis

Sorry, I know a lot of people love them, but to me they look cheap when used in your bio or in your post descriptions. In comments they are great, they share a simple gesture/message quickly and they are an easy way to engage with your clients in this area (comments). Elsewhere however, use words and proper descriptions to get your message across. It might just be me, but I think profiles look far more professional without the use of Emojis, and if some of the best brands in the world are with me on this one, there is a good chance that it is probably right!

19. Don’t post for the sake of posting

If you don’t have decent/valuable/quality content wait until you do. I see and hear about people thinking they have to post at a certain time or a certain number of times each week. No, it doesn’t matter, people will find you and continue to follow you regardless of when or how often you post. So if it takes a day to film or edit a video or create a post with lots of informative value within it, don’t stress about posting at a late/wrong time or missing a day all together without posting. The world isn’t that cut throat and you will still achieve all the goals you have for your business.

20. Find out what your followers really want to see

If you aren’t sure what your followers really want/like to see from you, make your profile a business or creator profile so you can open up and see the insights for each of your posts and a full account summary. By doing this you can see what gets the most engagement and support from them and then with that knowledge you can do a much better job of providing appropriate content!

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