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Design Blogger School: The Instagram Tips Our Social Media Manager Gave Our EHD Mentee

Navigating the world of social media can feel comparable to navigating the open ocean. It’s uncharted territory with lots of choppy water, and it can feel like there’s a pirate ship called “The Algorithm” constantly on your tail blowing cannonballs. Now if you clicked on this post, you might be here to find out the magical formula for getting 1 million followers overnight, and if that’s you, prepare to be extremely disappointed. I hate to tell you that there’s no real step-by-step formula for growing your social media quickly. The journey can be SO different for everyone and can take a while, BUT there are CERTAINLY a few tips, tricks, and tweaks that you can use to get there faster. So let’s go on a voyage together and I’ll captain your social media ship (oh wait, I didn’t mean it to come out like that).

In this post, we’re going to use our extremely talented and deliciously personable mentee, Keyanna Bowen (@eastandlane on the ‘gram and her blog is eastandlane.com) as our example. You can check out her intro post here if you missed it. As our mentee, we’re here to guide her through the incredibly windy journey and painstakingly confusing journey of being a design blogger (her first design post in next week!), so we figured why not start with what oftentimes is your first impression to people: your social media.

We had a meeting about a month ago where I word vomited all of this information to Key via Zoom, and I’m sure it was nothing but wildly overwhelming. SO since we’re in the business of sharing way too much information (aka blogging), we thought why not share with you guys all the things we told her at that meeting. I’m sure Key won’t mind having a more concise, written out version either 🙂

Before we get started, please note that Instagram is our biggest platform, so we’re going to focus on that mostly, although MANY of the same rules apply through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok of course. Let’s dive right into Key’s Instagram profile:

Key’s Instagram At First Glance…

key’s profile after the updates

That’s a GOSH DARN PRETTY FEED IF I DO SAY SO MYSELF. I didn’t have any notes on her photos themselves (she’s an interior photographer after all, and you can tell she DEFINITELY knows what she’s doing), but I did have Key make a couple of light adjustments to her Instagram bio. Keep reading if you’re curious…

Instagram Bio

Make your bio personal to you. You can start by answering these questions in your bio: What are we going to get here that we wouldn’t get elsewhere? What makes you unique? Why would someone want to follow you?

  • Add in your motto or something specific to YOUR brand (Key already did this above)
  • Keep in key search words like “design blogger & interior photographer.” If someone were to google you, what would they type in? Example: “Emily Henderson Stylist”
  • Are you on a creator account or business account? If not, hop on one! It’s easy to change in settings and this will help you view insights and analyze your own profile. If you don’t know what this means, then you probably just have a personal account, which is the auto setting and it has no insights. There are pros and cons to deciding if you should be a “creator” or a “business,” but if you want to schedule posts, then pick a “business” account (just note you’ll probably lose your music feature in IG stories which is a total BUMMER, but we’ll live). Here’s an article that chats about all your options
  • Come up with a hashtag & add it to your bio! This can help build community and can eventually help more people find your account. For example, we’ve done several blog posts where we have you guys use #showemyourstyled or something similar on your photos, which helps us find your photos and feature them, hence building a stronger community. Hashtags can tie your blog and social accounts together to make each other stronger!
  • Have you tried out Link In Profile or something similar yet? It makes it easy for people to get from your Instagram to your direct blog posts plus it can track which blog posts get the most clicks which can be helpful to analyze 🙂
photo by veronica crawford | from: the 7 ways I use social media to help my career

Grid Posting Frequency

  • Post every day or every other day! Consistency is key, so even if you can’t keep up with this frequency, pick a couple days each week that you can post and go from there.
  • A good goal for Keyanna specifically was to post 5 times a week (and on the flip side, don’t overdo it. I’d recommend not doing more than 2 grid posts in 1 day) 
  • Timing-wise…have you noticed a posting time that works best for you and your audience? We post at 5 am PST so it aligns with our blog (and also because a lot of our audience is on the east coast). Check your IG insights and see what times your audience is most active on Instagram. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to post either in the morning between 7 am and 10 am (depending on if your audience is mostly on the east coast or west coast) or in the afternoon between 3 pm and 6 pm.
  • There are A BUNCH of different social media scheduling sites that make it easy to manage everything ahead of time. Some of my favorites are Airtable (for writing copy and drafting our schedule), Sprout Social (scheduling, reporting, and community management), Tailwind (scheduling, specifically for Instagram and Pinterest), and Hootsuite (for Twitter and Facebook). It’s also helpful to shorten any and all URLs via Bit.ly if you’re linking to blog posts like we do.

Instagram Stories

Going back to Key, her Instagram stories are SO fun to watch (check them out if you haven’t seen them), but consistency is the most important thing to remember!

  • HOT TIP: work smarter not harder…if you don’t know what to post, but you’re going through your DMs or comments and someone says something funny or interesting…share it on stories! Organically feed your community and start conversations that way.
  • Also, come up with series that people can expect to see (ie: Q&A’s, “Favorite things this week,” Inspo roundups, whatever you feel is best for you and your brand! This will make you active on stories while giving you a break from original face to camera content which can be exhausting…we know) 🙂 Plus, by keeping the timing of your series consistent (ie: every Tuesday afternoon or every Friday morning), it will help you form your weekly schedule.
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your audience questions. Original content is SO hard to constantly come up with…asking people questions and getting answers can help engage your followers and will help you come up with interesting content (this is especially great for fashion posts or any design questions you may have)

Instagram Grid Posts

Picking (and taking) photos that will receive high engagement can be DIFFICULT and a lot of times it’s a real shock as to what sticks and what doesn’t. Here are some tips for picking the right photos for your grid posts.

  • For us, vertical, medium pulled back shots perform best. Super tight vignettes typically don’t engage as high of numbers. Some wide, full room shots have been performing well lately, so experiment with what your particular audience is liking and commenting on.
  • Personal posts of Em’s always perform great, don’t be afraid to open up about life stuff if you’re comfortable with it. The engagement reward is generally very high because everyone loves someone who is relatable to them.
  • Post inspo photos — getting “saves” are like SUPER “likes” so if you can get people to save your photos, the algorithm will be very very happy with you. Don’t forget to check your saves in your insights.
  • Post videos! IGTVs and Reels are your best friends
    • Vertical videos generally perform best for us because it takes up most of the phone screen so people stop on the video more. Try filming videos vertically and horizontally at the same time if you can. They make tripods for both. Also note, your videos don’t need to be super long…aim to be between 1 minute and 4 minutes (max) for IGTV. Think about how you can capture your audience in the first 3 seconds –– if you succeed in piquing interest quickly, your videos will perform well! This is especially true for IG reels and TikToks.
  • Post more before and afters! People LOVE them and carousels are great for upping engagement.
  • Dream up some fun, low lift content (this is crucial when you’re a one person team trying to post say 5 times a week)
  • Most everybody loves giving their opinion –– me included. So asking easy fun questions is a great way to engage and see what your followers are into.
from: the 7 ways I use social media to help my career | photography by tessa neustadt

Content Ideas

Consistently posting on your Instagram grid can be overwhelming but here are some ideas for the kinds of posts you can create:

  • Personal posts/life updates
  • BTS or project-based post (don’t worry too much about posting unfinished, process photos, it’s more about your individual posts than about aesthetic these days, but I would of course recommend having a mix of professional photos in there too)
  • Inspo photos
  • Repurposed content (I forced Key to repurpose this DIY jute placemat video because it was great…things like this that you might already have on Youtube or IG stories are great to repurpose on the grid!) Your audiences are not always exactly the same on each platform, so share everything everywhere.
    • Polls (these can be inspo photos or even “ask the audience” questions for your own projects or life)
    • Fashion posts (THEY WILL DO SO WELL. PEOPLE LOVE FASHION!)
    • IGTVs or Reels of your projects, DIYs, Fashion, or just life in general.

So that’s pretty much it, simple right? HA. Social media is anything but simple. Achieving the “effortless Instagram vibe” is far more effort than anyone could possibly imagine, ESPECIALLY in the design world. Hopefully, this helped guide you (and Key) on what to do with your social media and if you have ANY other questions, feel free to hit me with them down below! I’ll be around to answer your fiery hot burning questions all day long. Thanks for reading and have a happy Wednesday!! Xx

O and here’s a friendly pinnable graphic to keep as a quick little recap of this post. Enjoy!

Opening Image Credit: Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Office Chair Roundup

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8 months ago

First of all Mallory, the compliments are just too much! You’re going to make me cry 😭! This was such a helpful refresher and reminder of things I still need to do (ie. making a hashtag, posting consistently etc) 😅. Thank you so much for all your help and genius tips/advice…especially the #placemats 😉 ILYSM <3

8 months ago

STOP IT!!!! XOXO

Erin Dae
8 months ago

I didn’t expect to enjoy this post much based on the title. However, it was so interesting! Two comments on what stood out: 1) For people who think design is the hardest part of your jobs, this post will be completely eye-opening. To do all of this to get “bang for your buck” on the algorithms and to do it in a way that feels authentic and easy…wow! 2) The reason I expected to not enjoy the post is because I don’t do IG. I ONLY engage with your content via the blog. This shows me the cool stuff I am missing on other platforms – but that I choose to miss because I don’t need more digital clutter in my very busy life. Thanks for continuing to have great content for readers like me who are somewhat “old-school” in terms of blog reading but not engaging on other platforms. I stop by here daily over my morning coffee. My primary news source is the only other digital content that holds this distinction! Love all the design inspiration. Keep up the great work – and I can’t wait to see more from Key!

Ash W.
8 months ago
Reply to  Erin Dae

Just wanted to echo this, Erin! I think there are actually *many* of us out there who have mindfully eliminated social media from our lives for all sorts of reasons. In fact, some of those reasons are right in line with the values shared and upheld by EHD.

Please remember that some of your hippest readers are miles away from “the socials” and all the happier for it. 🙂

Kj
8 months ago
Reply to  Ash W.

Yes, absolutely not on Facebook, TikTok, etc. I do have an Instagram account but *hate* having to log in to see people’s content there. Dislike “bloggers” who are only active on Instagram. And, don’t forget, you don’t own anything on those social platforms. They can delete all your content or lock you out of your account at any time with no explanation or recourse.

Jen, livelygracehome on Insta
8 months ago

Ahhh, just what I needed to read this morning to keep the juices engaged in my “post more often and try to create one to be of a consistent feel” kinda-sorts NY resolution for my side hustle. Thanks for the lift up! And excited to return for the placemats after work!

Rusty
8 months ago

Mallory!😳
I thought this was going to be a) boring, and b) over my head coz I don’t do Instagram… but no and not!
WOW!
You made that all so easy to understand!
I’ve had people telling me to do Insta for years (really, yearrrs!) as in me DO it.
Me (?!?).
At first I thought they meant I should follow people, but they actually meant and mean m.e. getting my proverbial together and making a run for it!?!
Yikes!
Buuuuuuuut, now, with freedom tantalizingly close… hhhmmmm?…
I can’t keep my opinions to myself (ha! anyone noticed? 🤣) … Mallory, you’ve got me thinking …

Rachel
8 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

Rusty,

Having my own social media after freedom was weirdly awesome but also was slightly terrifying for a while, haha.

Rusty
8 months ago
Reply to  Rachel

Rachel,
I’m expecting it to be crazy!
The only private thing I’ve had in 11 years (since he retired early) has been my phone and then only for @ a year when I locked it after I found him scrolling through it three times.
Oooooh, I’ve paid such a price for having my phone locked … but it’s soooo been worth it!

Anne
8 months ago

So helpful!! As someone just launching a cocktail/wine/food IG account, I needed all these tips. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! @annesbartable

8 months ago

I have a website/FB page/and Instagram account. I paint furniture in an oversaturated field of furniture painters. I will admit that I don’t utilize my pages as often as I should. I’m originally from Yorkshire and am a real ‘straight talker’, so being authentic and genuine is key to who I am. Sometimes it serves me well, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t want to post, just to post. I think ‘manufactured’ posts are a real turnoff – I see them all the time; they often come off as being contrived and I don’t want to read them. I always wonder ‘Are you asking me that question/needing my opinion because you are really interested in it OR are you asking that because you want more engagement on your page, and you need an active thread to push it? (As I said, I’m from Yorkshire – we’re a cynical bunch!). Your social platforms, in my opinion, show how to do it right. You have a great mix of business/social – and you’re personally engaging. But the main reason why I follow you is that I feel that you’re the real deal: you’re genuine. I feel that if I ever met you (and… Read more »

Kj
8 months ago
Reply to  Diane

Diane, your stuff is amazing. May I ask why your shop doesn’t have an option to show ONLY the available items? I actually find a lot of shops are like that, half the items are sold and half are available. Really don’t want to wade thru items I can’t buy. I understand an option to show past items but why no option to ONLY show available items? Is it a backend limitation or a choice?

Roberta Davis
8 months ago

This is how I know I’ve gotten old- this all sounds exhausting! But I know it is absolutely great for so many people. Maybe this will get me to start using Instagram, just to not be a dinosaur. Thanks for sharing, Mallory, and good luck, Keyanna!

Christa
8 months ago

Thanks for this, I need a push! As a one woman business, I have felt like I don’t have the bandwidth for thinking about content, but I can’t afford to ignore it.

AzureSongLA
8 months ago

Whew! I’m exhausted just reading this. My daydreams of a side hustle just got a big bucket of cold water!

Mary
8 months ago

Key,
I love this and so excited to see more of you! Could you please share the brand/style of jeans from your introduction post? They look so great on you!

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