Your Guide to Conquering Instagram

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We all know using Instagram is crucial for any business. It’s the perfect way to relay the personality, features, and benefits of our stores. And using the right mindset, it will be a lot of fun on both sides of the screen.

I’ve always loved social media. I built a successful online business, CraftyChica.com, and used the various social media platforms to build a full-time career and a strong national community.

I decided to use the same techniques for Mucho Mas Art Studio, a Phoenix Latinocentric gallery and boutique I opened last year with two other local artists. I learned posting for a physical storefront is much different than for an online brand - but I excitedly accepted the challenge!

Because of CraftyChica, I’d been invited to the Facebook and Instagram headquarters three times in the past year-and-a-half. My recent visit was this past March where a group of online influencers from all over the country was trained on best practices for Instagram and Facebook!

I found the information to be so helpful, I thought I’d share the Instagram portion with all of you. These are directives coming straight from the Instagram team! Their only mission is to help users have a positive and successful experience with the platform.

Okay, here we go!

Why all the changes?

We were told that the changes aren’t meant to drive us crazy, but to help us. I learned that the Facebook and Instagram teams are very action-oriented. They are always coming up with ideas to help the platform evolve. The goal is for everyone involved to have an authentic experience. So the more people try to rig the system, the more apt they are to change the game to prevent that.

 Example of a user's Explore page.

Example of a user's Explore page.

GOAL: They said our goal for our Instagram business pages should be to have our content end up on users' "Explore" pages, where content is generated by Instagram's algorithm based on the user's interests. It’s the golden ticket to being exposed to a wide audience! It’s a different experience for every user. The more we do all of the below, the bigger the chance we have of getting on that page.

Your profile is a muscle, and the tools are your gym equipment!

Yes, they literally told us this! And it makes sense! Instagram has a variety of tools to use with your account. Rather than only focusing on one, they said to the more we use ALL of the tools, the stronger our muscle will be. Look at each tool as a station at the gym. If you use all of them, you will have one strong Instagram account!

And just like working out every day at the physical gym, if you stop or take a break, your muscle goes a little soft. It’s better to post than not to post. Consistent posting builds momentum.

One big takeaway - Instagram is all about “hyperlocal” - they want us to show off our city, and our lifestyle in our city, how and why we are proud to live here.

Click on the Explore page. See all the features there? That’s what you need to do for your profile - use them all on a daily basis:

  • Video

  • Stories

  • Captivating photos

In addition, make sure to use these on EVERYTHING you post!

  • Location tags

  • Hashtags (like #LocalFirstAZ!)

  • Keyword rich descriptions

Tips for your photo feed:

  • The goal is for users to feel motivated to take action - via a like, a comment, a share or tagging.

  • Incorporate video approximately every fifth post. Boomerangs count as video.

  • Feel free to repost content from other users, just make sure to ask permission and/or tag them and use #repost.

  • Use relevant hashtags, and be creative and think outside the obvious. It doesn’t matter if you post in the description or caption.

  • There is no such thing as shadowbanning on hashtags. You should know if you've done something wrong according to Instagram's policies. 

  • Don’t become obsessed with the look of the “nine-grid” - yes, it makes it pleasant to look at, but most people are scrolling through and see one picture at a time. So make sure you put your effort into each photo as a stand-alone, rather than trying to match your grid.

  • Videos and photos should be conversation starters.

  • Make your captions count. Give context. Start a conversation, don’t just slap up a photo to try and sell something. Be meaningful. Incorporate keywords, because it’s not all about the hashtags! Keywords are just as important!

  • NEVER delete a photo - archive it instead! When you delete a photo, it sets your momentum back to zero and you have to start all over. If you have old posts you don’t want, you can archive them. It saves them and you can add it back in later in the original timeline.

  • Give your photos a chance. Just because a photo doesn’t do well right away doesn’t mean it won’t gather steam later. It’s okay to have variety in post popularity.

  • Did you know you can follow hashtags on Instagram like you can for a profile? “Follow” the hashtag feeds related to your industry (including #LocalFirstAZ!). Interact on those photos to be a part of the story, make new friends and expose your business to new people!

Tips for your stories:

  • The goal is for people to stay on your stories and not tap through or swipe away.

  • Stories is loaded with features you can use to make your entries pop! There are a zillion types of hacks you can use - check out YouTube to see them.

  • When posting stories, play with all the features offered along the bottom of the screen - Focus, Boomerang, Live, Rewind, Superzoom, etc.

  • Also use stickers, gifs, screen filters, etc.

  • Use a mixture of photos and video. A good story is 3-5 entries.

  • If you plan to do a long talk, use the live feature and promote it.

  • Use location tags all the time! And be sure to tag other profiles that you mention, because they may decide to share the story that they're tagged in. 

Tips for your profile:

  • Make use of the “Stories Highlights” feature and don’t forget to update it often to keep the info fresh!

  • Use keywords (and hashtags too!) in your bio description of what your brand/business is about so people will find you easily.

  • Don’t be obsessed with numbers or finding the “perfect” photo. Focus on getting people excited to join your community and interacting with them.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found these tips helpful!


This article was written by LFA member, Kathy Can-Murillo of Craft Chica & Mucho Mas Art Studio in Downtown Phoenix.

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Kathy Cano-Murillo is a speaker, artist, and author of nine books (two of them novels). I write articles about Latino-inspired crafts, Phoenix life, recipes, pop culture, travel, entertainment, shopping, books, entrepreneurship and more! My goal is to spread positivity through creativity through my handmade goods, artwork, articles, books, product lines and workshops!

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