Steal my Systems Series: Part 1
*Note: Full disclosure, this post includes my referral link to SmarterQueue. This just means that if you sign up using my link you get a 30 day trial instead of their usual 14 days. Then if you sign up for at least a month, I get a month free credit.
Instagram provides such a great platform to not only connect with your existing followers but also help new potential customers find you through hashtags.
But the constant struggle to come up with new things to share every day can feel like a full time job sometimes.
Before you know it something more important comes up and you have gone 3 days without posting anything – and this isn’t great for keeping eyeballs on your posts.
I struggled with this for a long time until I figured out a system for easily posting to Instagram, twice a day, consistently. And, the best part is, I can do this is less than 5 minutes a day TOTAL.
This frees me up to actually enjoy Instagram when I am on there. I can connect & engage with my followers and explore other accounts. No more “fatigue” only fun!
Full confession though, this system did take a little upfront work to get ready to go. But now it is done, I can breathe and just let it happen.
First, a word on the Terms & Conditions
Instagram is all about “instant”. It means that according to their terms and conditions, you need to post in the moment. They don’t like schedulers that automatically post for you.
It is also a big no-no to use automatic likes, follows/unfollows and the dreaded Nice! comment.
I don’t propose any of those tactics here, instead I have cobbled together a system for posting to Instagram in the moment – yet totally pre-prepared.
The Tools of the Trade
1. Canva – Amazingly simple way to design your post images
2. SmarterQueue* – This is the scheduling software that changed everything for me! And the moment that it finally released the Android App for Instagram I did a little happy dance! You’ll see why shortly… But the key thing here is that it does still do the push notification to your phone for your posts so you are doing it the total legit way.
3. Evernote – This is where I store all my Hashtag Collections and Caption Library. Evernote syncs all the notes between my computer and phone so it is a simple copy & paste at the time of posting
4. PhotoGrid App (Optional) – This is what I use to edit spur of the moment photos on my phone so that it looks consistent with my feed.
5. Later.com (Optional) – This free scheduling software also does the push notification to your phone but, unlike SmarterQueue, it doesn’t automatically rotate through a library of posts. Once you post something once it is done. However, I still use this for extra posts like when I am running a promotion.
Step 1: Plan your Posting Schedule
First things first, you need to decide what you want to post when!Remember, Instagram is a SOCIAL media platform. So your feed should not be just promotional post. It should include a mix of content that your audience is interested in. This can include:
Remember, Instagram is a SOCIAL media platform. So your feed should not be just promotional post. It should include a mix of content that your audience is interested in. This can include:- Tips
– Tips- Inspirational Quotes
– Inspirational Quotes- Memes / Funny Quotes
– Memes / Funny Quotes- Behind the Scenes Images
– Behind the Scenes Images- Stories
Then you have a mix of your stuff, which can include:- Product Images (incl flat lays, “in use” or standalone products)
– Product Images (incl flat lays, “in use” or standalone products- Service Promotion
– Service Promotion- Content Promotion (e.g. blog)
– Content Promotion (e.g. blog)- Email Opt-In Promotion
– Email Opt-In Promotion- User Generated Content
– User Generated Content
– Sales / Campaigns
I recommend trying for 2 posts a day across weekdays (3 if Instagram is your main focus).If you have a business profile you can look at your insights to see the 2-3 times a day your audience is most commonly online and mark these as the times to post. Marking your busiest times as those for your promotions.
If you have a business profile you can look at your insights to see the 2-3 times a day your audience is most commonly online and mark these as the times to post. Marking your busiest times as those for your promotions.
Then simply plot out what type of post you want to post when. Try to stick to just a few different types of posts that are consistent with your brand and that keep it simple to manage.
Step 2: Choose a “Simple to Maintain” Image Style
What type of images do you want to include with your posts? Word Images? Photos? Or a mix?Also, how will you “brand” your feed to make it look & feel consistent.
Also, how will you “brand” your feed to make it look & feel consistent.Some people go all out with switching between a few different colours – always sticking to the same order. While this really looks great, I tried this for awhile and it takes a lot of effort to maintain. You can’t just “post on impulse” very easily.
Some people go all out with switching between a few different colours – always sticking to the same order. While this really looks great, I tried this for awhile and it takes a lot of effort to maintain. You can’t just “post on impulse” very easily.Another common option is to use a simple “word image” then “photo” pattern. So 1 then 1 or 1 then 2. Again, this can look really great but you might get the occasional time when you a limited for those spur of the moment posts (less restricted than the above though).
Another common option is to use a simple “word image” then “photo” pattern. So 1 then 1 or 1 then 2. Again, this can look really great but you might get the occasional time when you a limited for those spur of the moment posts (less restricted than the above though).Finally, you can just use a water mark or border to make it look consistent. I do this with just a simple teal border around all my images – and I find it the simplest way to make it flow nicely. Others use quite a thick white border so the pictures stand quite separate within the feed.
Finally, you can just use a water mark or border to make it look consistent. I do this with just a simple teal border around all my images – and I find it the simplest way to make it flow nicely. Others use quite a thick white border so the pictures stand quite separate within the feed.By doing this third method, while I pre-create a lot of images on my computer using Canva but then if I want to post something random from my day I can do so by adding a border using an app on my phone (PhotoGrid).
By doing this third method, while I pre-create a lot of images on my computer using Canva but then if I want to post something random from my day I can do so by adding a border using an app on my phone (PhotoGrid).
Step 3: Batch Create your Images
This is the biggest time saver of all! Yes, it takes a big commitment to do this now and then but it makes life so much easier in the long term.
The word images are manually created in Canva. In my case, I have a VA do this one based on a spreadsheet of words I want to use. But if I chose to I could do this in front of the telly one evening.
The other type of images I use are stock photos of stationery flat lays. As I provide a service, the purpose of these images is just to look great but the main emphasis is on the caption (more on that in a moment). In the end I created something like 67 images in one sitting – which if posted at a rate of 3 x week, gives me 22 weeks of posts!
Then I throw in a few promotional posts or images of me and I am done!
For you, maybe you want to take a large selection of product photos or do a big “flat lay” day. Then have these all lined up ready to go.
Step 4: Create & Schedule your Posts
As mentioned above, SmarterQueue is a lifesaver for me for this one! Why? Because you don’t need to schedule every single post one by one.
Instead, all you need to do is to create a “category” for each type of post you have and then add that category to a recurring schedule. Then you upload all your posts into that category – like a queued library of custom content.
So what this means is if you say on Mondays at 9am that you want to post from your “Inspirational Posts” category, it will automatically select the one at the top of the queue for you and give you that push notification at 9am Monday.
Now, this is where it get’s really cool – you can say that your posts are evergreen. Which means that once it has run out of posts in the queue it will just go back to the one at the start!! So if you have 20 Inspirational Quotes queued up for once a week, they will post for 20 weeks and then start from the beginning again!
Yes, you are repeating – but how likely is it that someone will go back 20 weeks and see that you have done that!
In my case, I do this with those stock images! So when I said I have 22 weeks of posts – well after those 22 weeks it just goes back to the beginning again! Job Done!!
Finally, I have a category for my fresh weekly content – my blog posts and my FB Live announcement. For those, each week my VA will create the graphic and add it to the allocated category but mark it as a “once off”. These and any promotions I may be running are the only things that need to be scheduled on a weekly basis.
Step 5: Captions
You have two choices when you are creating your posts in SmarterQueue: You can add the caption at the time of scheduling or you can leave the caption section blank.
Why would you ever leave it blank I hear you ask.
Well that gives me ultimate freedom when it comes to saying what I want to say on the day.
So, yes, while the word image ones often have a pre-written caption with almost identical words to the image, the stock images I have total free reign.
But what if I get a mental block on the day?
This happens more than I care to admit – so I have a secret weapon for this!
Whenever I write my blog posts, I see if there is anything interesting I can extract from there. Maybe a great little tip or rant. Then I simply copy & paste these to Evernote!
So the next time a stock image comes up and I don’t know what to say – I just go to that Evernote notebook, pick a caption and copy & paste! BOOM DONE!
If you don’t have blog posts, maybe just anytime you have one of those inspirational thoughts or a funny story that you don’t have time in your schedule to share that day – add it to your own notebook for later.
Step 6: Hashtags
The final piece of the picture when it comes to Instagram are the all important Hashtags.
These are what help get your eyes in front of new audiences and it is important that you carefully curate a selection of hashtags. 30 per post – every post!
For quite sometime, I just stuck to the same 30. Now, I have 3 x collections of 28 that I rotate through. All saved in Evernote ready to copy and paste. Then I add another two that are relevant to that specific post.
Since I made the switch to using 3 hashtag banks instead of 1, the rate of growth on my account increased significantly.
Step 7: Relax and watch the prompts come to you!
That’s it!! Now each and every time it comes to post, I get a little notification on my phone from SmarterQueue.
Then all I need to do is say post to Instagram, paste my caption, paste my hashtags and I’m done.
Free to just browse and engage. Or ramble in my stories!!
If you want to get started with SmarterQueue, if you use my referral link here you can get 30 days free instead of 14. Then if you do sign up I get one month’s free credit.