How to build an engaged following on Instagram

In this episode, I let you in on my biggest Instagram secrets for getting excellent engagement and how to convert followers into paying clients.

In this Episode:
01:39: Why I changed my mind about Instagram.
02:48: Determining if Instagram is the right platform for your marketing
03:18: How to nail your Instagram bio
04:18: Details you should include in your highlights
05:29: Making your Instagram feed look cohesive
09:00: The importance of meaningful captions on your posts
09:48: Using hashtags to get more eyes on your feed
10:57: What are Instagram Stories and what you need to post in your own stories
12:37: When to post stories, checking your stats and adding captions to your stories
13:22: How to undertake meaningful engagement on Instagram
14:42: My Freebie for you: The Ultimate Instagram Engagement Checklist + Bonus: 10 Instagram Story Ideas.






I don’t have a huge Instagram following (yet), however I do have a very engaged following and most excitingly, Instagram is where I get most of my clients.  If you are in a service based business, tonight I share exactly HOW I have such a high engagement rate with my followers and how I get them to work with me!  I literally am sharing all of my Instagram secrets, so this episode is a must listen.   

Today I wanted to talk to you about Instagram, particularly if you are using this platform to sell a services business as compared to a product-based business.

Now, in my opinion, not that long ago,  Instagram was a platform for beautiful people in bikinis and photographer. But I have definitely changed my mind.  It has become one of the largest social media platforms in the world.  This is no longer a platform for the cool, the beautiful and the those that can take amazing photos, people are flocking to Instagram with over 1 billion users on the platform and with over 60% of them logging in every day. 

Now I am NOT professing to be an Instagram expert, and I don’t have a huge Instagram following, however I do have a very engaged following and most excitingly, Instagram is where I get most of my clients. 

So what I want to do with you today is share a heap of my Instagram hacks for getting great engagement AND converting them into paying customers.

But before we get into the practical stuff, I just want to check whether Instagram is the right platform for you!  So don’t think about YOU, think about your ideal customer.  Where do they hang out online?  What’s their age, their hobbies their habits?  I will say this, to do Instagram, and do it well, is a big commitment.  So you want to make sure that before you embrace this as a marketing strategy that it is going to deliver customers for you!

Now let’s get into the good stuff.

First piece of advice for Instagram? 

To NAIL your bio.  Remember that lots of people will stumble across your account having no idea who you are and what you do.  Make it really clear.  And show a bit of your personality!  One of my favourite bios is Wildspark Copy who are a copywriting service and their bio reads “We use rad words to make cool shit happen for awesome brands” and they then bullet point their services.

My next tip on your bio- have a call to action!  Like download my freebie, join my mailing list etc etc.  Remember that most of your followers won’t see all your posts, so you want to try and get them OFF Instagram if possible and onto your mailing list.

Next hint?  Is highlights.  If you aren’t sure what highlights are, they are the little round buttons underneath your bio.  If you want to check out an example, jump over to my Instagram account clare_wood_coach and you’ll see what I mean.

Now the trick with highlights?  To tell the story about you!  I think about them like a mini website- have an about page, services, free stuff etc.  Similarly to the bio, this is a great way to tell the story of you in a snapshot!

To add a highlight, you need to post something to your story and then you click that + button where it says highlight and select the story you want to add and give the button a name.  You can also add cute little covers like I’ve done!

OK now we’ve nailed the first impression people have of your page, let’s get into the actual Instagram feed.

This is the place that you get to connect with your audience, to tell your story! 

Firstly, the photos.  Do you have a bunch of amazing and varied photos?  If not, you need to get some!  A professional photo shoot is a great way to do this, but even on your iPhone you can take amazing photos these days, so get snapping!  I STRONGLY encourage people to limit, or even avoid stock images.  Original photos are such a better way to build rapport and remember, your feed doesn’t have to be perfect!  It does however, have to look good and cohesive, so make sure you use a filter or check how your photos all look in the feed. 

In full transparency, I have a social media manager.  Her strength is visual stuff, which is a really weak area of mine, so she ensures I have a feed that looks fantastic, and that I have a steady stream of content coming through.  All of my content is either written IN FULL by me or reviewed and put into my own words.  However, there is NOTHING wrong with getting help with your copy, or your imagery or BOTH if you need it. I know I’m quite good with words, and because my brand is me, I want it to be really authentic. 

Oh I got a little sidetracked there but the point I wanted to make was to ensure that your content looks great together, and I strongly suggest the app Plann.  This app is NOT an auto poster, but it does allow you to preplan the look of your feed AND the content.  Plus it has a great spot for planning hashtags

I’ve just realised, I am sharing SO much content here and you might be listening in a car or out on a walk, so that you know, I’ve created a checklist that contains ALL the tips I’m sharing today called the Ultimate Instagram Engagement checklist.  You can download it via my website 

Ok, back to it.  Captions  WHEW this is HUGE.  And this is almost entirely what I attribute my success on Instagram to.  In the earlier days of Instagram, you could post a loveheart with a picture and it would go nuts.  These days?  It’s SO much about the captions.  I invest SO much time and energy into each and every caption of mine.  I add value, I tell stories, I make jokes, I teach, I share success stories of my clients… this is a place you can talk STRAIGHT to your ideal clients, so don’t let it go to waste. 

And the last part of the feed, is ensuring you use hashtags!  Hashtags are basically a way that people can find your account by looking at a particular topic.  The trick is not to be too general, nor too obscure.  You can use up to 30 hashtags, so use them all!  Mix them up and add them into the first comment so that they don’t make your caption look messy.  Oh and one last thing?  Don’t be too salesy!  Spend more time adding value and connecting, BUT make sure you do ask for the sale, or tell people what you offer every now and again!

So, we’ve spoken about how to nail the perfect post… the question is now, how often should you post?  Now my thought is, the more often, the better WITH a proviso.   Quality over quantity.  So I’d rather you post 2-3 times a week with an amazing original photo and an epic comment than to post daily just for the sake of it.  Personally, I post daily, but if I miss a day here and there I don’t stress too much about it!

Next I want to talk about Instagram stories.  For anyone that doesn’t know what a story is, these are kind of where it’s all at right now.  They are the buttons that appear across the top of your homepage feed.  These are just little snapshots that exist only for 24 hours and then they disappear (unless of course you add them to your highlights like I mentioned earlier!).  These are a great way of sharing little snippets of content without a full post.  Also a great place to put videos or things that are a big ugly looking that you don’t want in your feed 😉  If you have no idea where to start, I’d suggest that you just watch what other people are doing. Don’t copy but just see that they are all about.  Basically you take a photo or a video and you can add text, icons, polling buttons, all kind of cool things.  My best advice is just to play around, and to use the features that Instagram gives you! The algorithm loves when you use the features.

If you’re not sure what to post, check out the bonus on the Ultimate Instagram Engagement which is 10 story ideas.

Few tips here again, the more often you post, the better because it then pushes you to the top of the feed, BUT as always, quality over quantity!

Check your stats, see what people are connecting with  oh and if you do videos, PLEASE add captions, as so often people are scrolling on the bus or while watching TV, you don’t want them to miss what you are saying!

Last component here is engagement.

Engaging is a great way to helps gain traction on your post and also to connect with your audience. I usually engage for 30 minutes a day (15 mins with existing followers, 15 mins with new people outside my following). What does engaging mean?  It means Liking or Commenting on posts.  Because after all its called SOCIAL  media for a reason.  Get social!  My advice here?  Be genuine! And use meaningful comments NEVER use bots to do your engaging (because it can seriously ruin your brand), and just engage with people and accounts you like.  And ensure you respond to all DMs and comments.  In all honestly, I struggle with this, but it is so important, because that is people literally reaching out to connect with you!

And just a final reminder, I’ve consolidated all of this into an epic CHECKLIST called the Ultimate Instagram Engagement Checklist PLUS a bonus of 10 Instagram story ideas which you can download via my website 

I told you right, there is a LOT to Instagram if you want to do it properly.  But like I said, the upside in terms of building relationships and converting them to paying clients is well worth it.


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