How to use Instagram (for the over 40s)

I am really bad at social media.

I started using IG in 2013 with my first account @cpertwee. It was a bit of fun. As a photographer I loved the image driven environment where I could look at lots of great photos.

My aim was to post the odd picture and to look at some nice pictures. None of my past clients found me via social media. I didn’t see it as a marketing tool.

As I transition into shooting less for others and more for myself and trying to sell prints it is beginning to dawn on me how important social media is to my marketing.

So I started up a new account - @charles_pertwee I am the first to admit my personality type is not a good fit for social media. I am an introvert and not very social.

I don’t know if age is a factor too? or is it a myth perpetrated by people of a certain age bracket that social media is a Gen Y/ Gen Z thing? I am sure there are people out there in there 40s and above who love social media and are good at it.

The first person I turned to for advice of course was Gary Vaynerchuk. Why not learn from the king of social media? I admire his self made status and his generosity with the advice he gives out freely. But he advocates 6 to 7 hours per day on Instagram. I can't sustain that.

I am obviously not ambitious enough nor driven enough to be a Gary V. acolyte.

The very next video in my Youtube queue caught my eye.

Grow ORGANICALLY on INSTAGRAM - 10 Tips to beat the ALGORITHM!! by a photographer called Chris Hau.

I like the idea of organic growth. It gives the idea that it is wholesome and healthy. Chris has a great delivery and is concise and precise.

There were some of the usual common sense tips:

  • using relevant hashtags,

  • staying active,

  • posting consistently,

  • etc.

But there were a couple of tips that I hadn’t seen before, that I could do quickly.

And apparently there is an algorithm.

Thanks to President Trump Tech companies and their algorithms are a pretty hot topic.

A summary of what I have learnt from Chris Hau.

1) Grid OCD/ Page Consistency

Makes your main/ business account visually consistent, be it with the style of images, the type of images, colours, etc.

This is one aspect of branding - brands are all about consistency so that people know what to expect when they eat at a certain chain of restaurants, stay in a chain hotel, buy a particular brand of car etc.

My feed is a mess. Look at it - picture of a book, a video of a fungus, picture of my kids. What?!?!?

My feed is a mess. Look at it - picture of a book, a video of a fungus, picture of my kids. What?!?!?

Time to do some tidying up. This is what it looks like now. I archived a few posts and will try and keep it more visually consistent in the future. I could be more ruthless even.

Looks a bit better than before. Could be more ruthless.

This also means you need to put some thought into what the focus of the account is.

2) Clean up your account

Get rid of inactive followers. A bigger number gives your ego a boost but inactive followers don't contribute anything to your account or your community. They may actually be hurting you because of this new algorithm.

He recommends an app called Cleanup App. I downloaded it and got to work ditching fake followers. My numbers took a dip, but at least the followers that remain are actually following me for a reason other than a follow back. Or at least I hope they are.

3) Follow people - but only in your niche

Again, this is to appease the algorithm. It will lump you together with accounts in your area of interest and that will lead to some kind of benefit.

And while you are looking for and following those accounts take some time to like and comment on posts and start engaging with the like minded.

We all have multiple interests so if you want to follow accounts outside your niche setup another account.

4) Use hashtags - but only upto 25

Use relevant hashtags otherwise your posts will never be found. Chris Hau goes further and recommends not using all 30 tags that IG allows, but to stick to between 5 and 25.

Also look for keywords that have less than 500,000 posts associated with them, and throw in a few BIG tags at the end.

Take the time to also tag the accounts that are associated with the keywords, if relevant.

5) Engage with the hashtags

While searching for the hashtags take some time to interact with some of the posts and posters you discover.

6) Posting time

You want to post when people are active instagram. If you have an IG business account there are a host of insights that you can check to see what time your followers are most active.

Instagram Insights Page for @cpertwee

A search will also bring up many websites with breakdowns of the peak times on all the social media platforms.

Post about 15mins before peak time so that when your followers come online they will see your posts.

At the very least post at a similar time each time.

7) Warm Up

Before uploading your own post take half an hour to engage with other accounts. Show the love. And karma, and/ or the Algorithm, will work in your favor when you come to post your own post.

8) Reply to comments

Reply to genuine comments with genuine comments. It is all about community and it is, at the very least, polite to reply.

In addition the Algorithm is watching and holding a stopwatch, so engage with your post and community within the first hour.

The Algorithm will reward you.

9) Build a squad

Build up a small network of like minded people, accounts in your niche (see #3), and support each other by commenting and liking etc.

Turn on post notifications for your squad mates so that you can comment when they post. And hopefully they will do the same for you.

10) Stay active

Be part of the community of photography lovers that is instagram, Algorithm be damned!

So, 10 ideas to get started with. A lot to think about and do for me. I have a long way to go.

If you have any tips or ideas feel free to let me know!

#socialmedia #education #instagram #tipsandtechniques #instagram #photography #photographer #marketing #BTS #documentary


 © 2019 by Charles Pertwee                        

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Charles Pertwee is a photographer with over 20 years of experience. This site contains images from my extensive archive and new images. All images are available as fine art prints. I am passionate about landscapes, both natural and urban, the built environment and the ocean.