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. Also, they developed a niche. They became known for sharing information on a particular subject.

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.

A while back, people would write a blog on their website, add a snippet in an Instagram caption – to give a taste – and then add a link to that blog post in their bio, encouraging their followers to head to their website if they wanted to read the rest of the post. Now, these platforms have wisened to the term ‘link in bio’. The algorithm picks it up, sees that you’re encouraging its users to leave their app/website and penalises you by showing your post to less people.

So now, it’s better to repurpose that blog post before sharing on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter. So if you’re sharing some industry-related tips, you want a blog post to be 300+ words (for Google to pick it up; to get the SEO working for you) but a LinkedIn post might be shorter. And of course, tweets are only 280 characters, so you could share one tip per tweet.

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 – maybe even copy over the whole blog post. Facebook posts can be really long – over 63,206 characters. So you’ll almost certainly fit a whole blog post into a Facebook post. 

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 sometimes use Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance – it’s free, and Planoly is great for Instagram), 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.

Here’s a tip for writing captions on your Stories…

Captions for Stories

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.

IGTV

And once you’re used to talking to camera, you can start recording longer videos for IGTV. You can record up to 10 minutes, on your phone, then you’ll need the separate IGTV app. You upload your video there, name it, add a caption and link the app to your Instagram account so you can upload the IGTV video to Instagram via the IGTV app.

Make sure you set out knowing what you’ll be talking about. Perhaps it’s your response to a news story. Or some advice you’d like to share. Write some bullet points, or a script that you can memorise, and expect to do a few takes. Keep practicing until it’s good enough. And ask questions, so that people feel inclined to engage with your video.

Captions for IGTV

You need captions for your IGTV videos too. Because again, people listen without sound but also, it makes it more accessible for deaf people. I think the best way to do this is to upload your video to rev.com. You pay $1 per minute of your video for them to create the captions, and they are usually spot on. You don’t have to edit them.

Once created, download the SRT file. If you’re told you can’t download this onto your computer, don’t worry.

Next, upload your video to Kapwing (this website is free). And opt to upload your captions, too. Now check your ‘downloads’ folder on your computer and you’ll find your SRT file hiding there. Upload it to Kapwing and then you can burn the captions onto your video, so that you now have just one file to download: the video and captions combined. Upload to IGTV.