My first experience with a computer was in 2nd grade when my teacher, Mrs. Biel, was the first teacher in the county to get one. She was young(ish) with big, reddish-brown 70’s style, curly hair and was known for being a really kind teacher who had a lot of patience. Having computer time in Mrs. Biel’s class was a total treat, especially for someone as introverted as myself. I mean, here was this device that interacted with me and provided loads of entertainment. I was hooked on all those wondrous lines of green, dot matrix text.
Fast forward three years later during the summer before 6th grade, I attended a computer camp at the local community college. It was an all-day camp in which we took swimming, tennis, and computer programming courses. This was the mid-80’s, a time in which the Commodore computer was the designed “for the masses, not the classes.” We were taught how to write basic computer programs using line commands. It was here that I grew my love for all things technology. So when my family purchased a Tandy 1000 from Radio Shack the following year, I took to it immediately.
I remember the days of dial-up internet, of PC Link chatting, and many long nights playing King’s Quest as a pre-teen. And then as a freshman in college when I bought my very first computer. I thought it was the best earned and spent $2,000.
Most of my life has been filled with computers and because of this, I often forget that the very same things I take for granted – the ability to pick up any type of technology and instantly know how to use it – is difficult for those in my own age bracket (and up), social media included.
So I thought I’d write some tutorials to help fellow Teachers Pay Teachers teacher-authors get a jumpstart on Instagram since there’s been a lot of talk about how it’s the new Facebook. After all, once Facebook implements its new rules for ads on the platform, it’s going to be imperative that teacher-authors learn other ways to get their brand’s message out. So let’s dive into the ins and outs of Instagram.
Setting Up An Account
When you make an account, it’ll ask for your first and last name as well as an Instagram name. If your business is branded around your personal name, use your real name to make the account. If you’re like me and your business name isn’t personal, then by all means use that name to create the account. The same would hold true for your Instagram name. For example, my Instagram name is glittermeetsglue and the name I chose for myself (instead of using my real name) was “Glitter Clipart for Teachers.”
I’ve been amazed at how many Instagramers don’t use their bio space. Write a bio, folks! Use keywords. Keep it brief. People aren’t apt to follow you without knowing something about you. The best way to connect with other teacher-authors is to mention “TPT” in your bio. My bio says,
Wife. Designer. Art Teacher. Lover of the beach. Cat Wrangler. Teachers Pay Teachers education clipart. All things glitter. Use #gmgclipart in posts!
Also important is to put a link to your store in there. Many people are copy/pasting that really long link to their store which doesn’t leave enough room to write much else. Here’s a worthwhile tip: Use BITLY to form your links. Go to that site and paste in a direct link to your store and it will give you a super short link that will be character-light, saving you loads of space to type an actual bio. I link to my website but sometimes I switch back to my store with a BITLY link.
Lastly, consider linking to your other social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. To do this, go to your profile page and click on the white gear in the top right corner. Scroll down to “share settings.” From here you can add in links to other sites. When you post, you’ll be able to select these others sites to “push” your content so it’s seen there.
What to Post About
Having a mix of playful, fun images alongside promotional images allows your audience to get to know you as a small business owner. Making a personal connection is what social media is all about. You don’t have to get super personal. You need not post selfies and family photos to connect with potential buyers. Simply showing shots of the beach while you laze about will be personal enough for people to comment (and drool) over.
Think about main idea topics you can touch upon that interest you personally and plan posts accordingly. If I were to size up my Instagram feed into a few keywords, I’d say: clipart, cats, craft beer, teaching, home improvements and food. This quick snapshot of my current feed shows some of those very topics.
Once you’ve narrowed down something you want to post about, click on the camera icon at the bottom and either snap a picture or load up an image from your current camera roll by clicking on one of the images at the bottom of the screen. You can scroll through them from here and then tap to select it. It’ll appear in the window above. If you tap the white arrow above, you can go back to the previous screen if you tapped to do the wrong thing. When you’re done, hit “next.”
In the next window, select a filter to use to improve the quality of your image. Then hit, “next.”
You’ll want to type some text to accompany your image. Use keywords. Be interesting. Be humorous!And use hashtags (more on that soon).If you’ve already posted using hashtags, they’ll appear in the screen below the moment you hit the # pound sign and type in a letter. You can see that typing in #t- brings up a list of related hashtags that start with the same letters.
Once you’re done typing your text and including relevant hashtags, you’ll want to select some other social media sites to push your content towards. Simply tap one or more of the names here and it’ll be highlighted and therefore pushed to those sites. At the bottom of the screen, hit “share.” You’ve made your first post!
How to Post a Product Photo on Instagram
There are so many different ways people post their product photos and that all depends on your work flow in publishing content. The idea is to have your product image in the camera roll of your smartphone or iPad. And that can be achieved in various ways. Some suggestions include:
– Email the photos to yourself and save them from there (read: this is the most cumbersome method as it involves lots of steps)
– Transfer the images to a Dropbox account on your home computer and then open and save them on your smartphone or iPad right to the camera roll.
– On your smartphone or tablet, navigate to the product page of your image, select the image to preview it, and take a screen shot
– Navigate to whatever social media site you’re posting images on and save it from there.
I almost always open my FB Pages app and save the image from there. I find it’s the quickest, most efficient way for me.
How to Use Hashtags
The easiest way I can describe what hashtags are is that they’re ways of connecting people to ideas and concepts using a single word or phrase. Hashtags are awesome because your followers can click on them in your post (or search for them using the search feature) and see the posts of anyone else using that hashtag. This is how people find one another! And this is why it’s super important you use them. This is how you grow followers.
Some popular hashtags that unite teachers on Instagram include:
Outside of teaching, many teachers (and other people) on Instagram use common, popular hashtags like:
#widn (what I’m doing now)
Feel free to create your own hashtags so you can better track who is latching on to your ideas. And sometimes, it’s fun to discover that what you thought was an original hashtag, but really it’s being shared by thousands of people. Some I’ve discovered on my own were:
#nom (think: the sound of when you’re eating and enjoying that morsel)
Drawing/Writing on Photos
There are piles and piles of apps that will let you add text and doodles on top of images. These apps make your Instagram images more unique. I recommend you check out some of the following in the app store:
A Beautiful Mess (I use this one and like it)
Typic (This app actually has a lot of features and is nicely designed)
Flipgram (this app will turn your images into an animated gif you can post to Instagram)
You would edit your images in one of these apps first and then bring it into Instagram to post.
Get On Board
There are may other aspects to Instagram to delve into, but these are the basics to get you up and running with your own account. I hope you found this information helpful. And if there are other aspects you want to inquire about, drop a comment below!
And follow me on Instagram. I’m, you guessed it, “glittermeetsglue!”