21 Instagram ideas

21 ideas for Building a Vibrant and Active Instagram Community

Here are twenty-one ideas for using Instagram strategically but authentically to build a vibrant, active community that includes new coaching clients.

1.    Use Your Bio and Bio Link Wisely

Fill out your bio so that it instantly appeals to exactly the sort of follower you want. Consider including at least one of the following:

  • A one-sentence mission statement
  • What you do, who you do it for, and why
  • Any social proof of celebrity or expert status

Here’s an example from Lifestyle Coach, Denise Duffield-Thomas’ Instagram profile bio:

Use your one link that your profile allows to go to a targeted landing page—one that contains a clear, strong call to action (e.g. “Sign up for my giveaway”).

2.    Brand Your Photos with Your Brand Colors

Denise Duffield-Thomas’ example in the previous Idea is a perfect example of this. Notice that she doesn’t miss a trick to find ways to do so creatively (e.g. turquoise toenails).

3.    Add Your Instagram Badge to your Website

You’ve seen it all over the place: The usual gang of social media sharing badges—but they don’t usually include Instagram’s.

At the very least, be sure to create your own Instagram badge and display it on your page. (There are a variety of formats to select.)

Better yet, download the camera icon and make your own custom Instagram badge. (Be sure to check out the API terms of use and API trademark and brand guidelines.)

4.    Cross-Promote Others in Your Field

Nothing gets cross promotion more quickly than doing it yourself for others. Remember that your peers and fellow experts are also part of your community. When you promote them, you show friends and followers alike that you care about the community; not just your own interests.

5.    Give Your Followers a Chance to Show Off

Remember that when you run a photo contest and/or ask your followers to share their own photos with your hashtag, you are also giving them a chance to:

  • Share what’s important to them
  • Share what they’re proud of
  • Show what they can create using your tips, methods or inspiration
  • Be recognized for their excellence

6.    Make the Most of Instagram Hashtags

This doesn’t mean “use as many hashtags as you can”! While Instagram is generous with hashtags, allowing users to include up to thirty hashtags—don’t.

Choose only hashtags most relevant to your topic and brand.

People tend to click away from visual “clutter”—which is what multiple hashtags with a photo produce—and they won’t read and share the hashtags as much if you include less than half a dozen.

Select only the most important hashtags for each individual photo, the type of viewer you want to attract—and your brand hashtag.

7.    Create a Unique Viral Hashtag

Better than using a bunch of hashtags, put your efforts into creating one that stands out and catches on like wildfire.

To do this, create a hashtag that…

  • Prompts viewers to take a ridiculously easy action
  • Allows viewers to instantly express their own unique individuality

For example, what could be easier than snapping a photo of your own feet?


8.    Post Your QR Codes on Instagram!

Either feature just the code to get people to click on it and see what it’s for—people love a mystery—or edit your QR code into a photo with a message that’s relevant to the QR code.

You can easily create your own QR code such as the ones featured above at free sites like QRStuff, which also allows you to create a QR code specifically for Instagram by selecting Instagram from a list.

9.    Create an Instagram Tab on Your Facebook Page

Several social media management app companies make it easy to do this—such as Woobox and Wishpond.

There is absolutely no reason not to create an Instagram tab for your Facebook Page—and every reason to do so, if you want to increase lead generation and get more coaching clients.

10.  Share an Appealing Photo of Your Prize(s)

Running an Instagram contest with actual prizes? Be sure to photograph your prizes (or have the donor do so) to give your followers even more incentive to enter.

And don’t just take a snapshot: Stage your prizes against an appropriate backdrop or in a relevant setting, to give them even more appeal.

11.  Let Contest Entrants Know if You’re Planning to Use Their Entries for Promotion

While you can always write to each individual and ask permission, if you’re planning to use contest photo entries for future promotion, better to put those terms directly in your contest rules and guidelines; and in contest announcement or blog posts.

12.  Support Your Instagram Contest with Email Follow-up

It’s always a good idea to let people know about things like contests via more than one method—even if the contest is exclusive to Instagram.

Your subscribers may appreciate a cheerful heads-up about your fun contest, so be sure to let them know about it by email too (including rules, what to do and what hashtag to use).

Make sure your email Subject Line announces your fun new contest clearly or mentions your irresistible prize, and finish your email body with a call to action.

(Remember to send out a couple of reminders when the contest is about to close.)

13.  Promote and Praise Your Winners

Here’s another place where many brands on Instagram fall down flat: Once the contest is over and the winner chosen, that’s it.

Don’t be one of those brands. Promote and praise your winners. Share their winning photos on Instagram—and elsewhere. Interview them about their motivations and inspirations, and feature profiles of your top winners on your blog… and do ask for a quote from each one that you can share with your followers.

14.  Remember that Less is More

As a coach, the last thing you want to do is inundate your photo with multiple hashtags and too much text. It’s better to make one short point simply, with no more than two totally targeted hashtags, than make people’s eyes glaze over as they try to make sense of large blocks of text.

15.  Share Photos that Inspire Your Followers to Keep Pursuing their Dream

Want to keep people looking for your Instagram posts? Share photographs that inspire and encourage. Make them laugh when things are dark. Remind them to be kind to themselves. Let them know you are sure they can do it. Pair your photo with an encouraging hashtag they’ll learn to remember and look for, and use the heck out of that puppy.

(Check out Boom Formula coach, Jody Jelas—her Instagram feed demonstrates this to perfection.)

16.  Rotate Your Bio Link

Remember that your bio link doesn’t have to (a) lead to your generic home page (b) be cast in stone. Change it often. Use it to send people to:

  • Current landing pages
  • Contests
  • Launches
  • Events
  • Specific important posts
  • Your book
  • Your program

17.  Use Instagram Direct Messaging

Here’s a tactic you don’t often hear about with Instagram: Direct Messaging. Use it to send gifts to new followers, share a coupon code or advance notice of something important; or simply let a follower or peer know that you particularly appreciated something she did, said or posted.

Make it feel relevant, real and personal (the last thing you want it to feel like is annoying pop-up spam).

Check out coach Sue B. Zimmerman’s YouTube video on How to Use Instagram Direct Messaging to see how this works.

18.  Think Before Posting

To keep your posts of maximum interest to your ideal follower, always run a mental checklist before uploading a photo to Instagram.  Ask yourself:

  • Why will she care about this?
  • What will she take away from it?
  • What value does it add to her day?
  • Is this post for my satisfaction or my followers?

Getting into the habit of running this mental checklist before every post will help you keep your content focused on your client—as well as on your brand.

19.  Monitor Your “Likes” and Adjust Post Topics to Suit

Do you get the most reaction from inspirational posts? Personal posts? Tips? Article links? Funny posts? Videos?

Make a note of which post types gets the most reaction from your community, and build more of them into your post planning.

20.  Realize You Are No Longer Limited to Posting Square Photos on Instagram

There may be times a square photo really will not suit what you want it to say. If that’s so, select the Camera icon; then click the double arrow icon in its circle (lower left of your screen). Your followers will see the photo in landscape mode at its original size.

One caution, however: In your feed, the photo will show as square, so make sure that the most important elements of your composition are positioned correctly.

21.  Share Your Day

Sometimes going candid is a great way to thank people, give them shout-outs, inspire them, cheer them up or motivate them—all the things you do separately with other types of posts.

For example, you could post a photo of something that makes your day better—a bar of luxury chocolate or a cappuccino. Or your assistant grinning up at you as she cuts out hearts for a Valentine’s Day promotion. Or a new piece of equipment that is going to make your life better. Or an old piece of equipment being donated. Or the lunch you’re serving at your VIP day—anything at all… as long as it’s something your followers can relate to (and your staff appreciates!).

So that’s twenty-one ideas to get you started in creating excitement via Instagram. Your feed should never be the mental equivalent of “…and here’s holiday photo number one-hundred-and-forty-one, me and Bill in Torremolinos. And that’s me and Bill down by the beach. And me and Bill…”

Instead, it should make your followers happy every time you post. Always be on the lookout for creative ways to do this, and you’ll have as much fun on Instagram as your followers will have with your posts.


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