4. Creating content

On all platforms, you’re looking to create meaningful content. Ask almost any influencer how they got so many followers and they’ll say: it happened quite organically. This means they started writing posts and putting out photos that resonated, or made people laugh, or taught them something new. And people pressed ‘follow’ and told all their friends to as well.

Make sure that your photos look good – on all platforms but particularly Instagram and Pinterest, as your feed is literally just a series of images until people click in. Look at what other people are doing, borrow ideas. Taking your own photos is best, as it’s original content then but if you’re not comfortable doing this, you can share other people’s quotes/images (with permission) or find images on Pinterest. Again, always include the source.

If you’re sharing a blog post you’ve written, make sure that the blog post also has a good image. If the image works for your website but doesn’t fit on your Instagram feed, chose a different one. But do share your posts on all your social channels. You could start with a quote from the blog post, followed by a brief synopsis – and then link to the full piece in your bio (on Instagram; directly, on Facebook and Twitter). Also post about any new services, products or events you’re launching. 

In terms of length, Instagram posts can actually be quite long – 2,200 characters per post; on average this will give you room for about 300 words. So you can go into some detail – or copy over the first few paragraphs of your blog post – and then link through to the rest (in your bio). Facebook posts are slightly shorter; 2000 characters. And Twitter only allows tweets to be 280 characters, so you need to think of a short, snappy intro to your larger piece of content. 

You can use a website/app like Canva to create quote boxes. You can design a template and change the background colours and font. If you have a designer who worked on your website and branding, perhaps they can create a template for you so you just pop in your funny/clever thoughts. But while the visual side matters, it’s also ok for this to evolve over time. You can find your style.

And in the meantime, having a bit of you in there will keep people interested. Bring them on your journey; tell them you’re new to it and finding your feet. Or if you’re further along, ask them for their feedback – what do they want to see more of? Treat your followers like a real community of people: engage with them, talk to them, share ideas, respond to all their comments and suggestions (this is important in terms of keeping them engaged but also – to be frank – algorithm).

It’s good to share content other than your own on your social channels. So on Twitter, if you schedule the recommended 10 tweets a day (I use Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance – it’s free), make a handful of them about your and your work, or linking to your blog posts, and a handful retweeting other people’s stuff then find articles/videos/podcasts that your followers might like and schedule a few of those to go out each day. On Facebook, you could do one post about you/your work and another sharing someone else’s business or ideas. On Instagram, Stories are great for sharing other people’s posts. On Pinterest, pin other people’s posts as well as adding your own images to your boards. Again, it’s about adding value.

Lastly, get on Instagram Stories. It can feel daunting talking to camera but you can start out by writing your posts or just adding photos. Stories are great for engagement and they are easier to see, as they appear at the top of the app when people click in. When you feel ready to start talking to camera, here’s a tip for writing captions…

Captions

If you’re doing Instagram Stories, it’s really useful to have captions so that people can watch without the volume up. Here’s a caption-writing trick (because most of the apps that promise to help with this are crap). You record your Instagram Story, then click the ‘Aa’ in the top right-hand corner. But instead of typing out your caption, click the microphone on the keypad. If you have an android phone, you can let the video play and the mic will record the caption. If, like me, you have an iPhone, you’ll need to speak into the mic – so say the story again; but you can summarise or shorten it – and the mic will type it out for you. It means less spelling mistakes and typos, and less thumb-tapping. It’s bloody good, once you get into it.