It can be hard to stay on top of the social media landscape with it changing constantly, and to really grasp the current state of the social media market. Below are some simple steps you should follow.

Follow the 3F rule: FIND, FOCUS, and FRIEND your niche

The first thing you must do in order to gain traction and attract your target demographic on social media is to find your niche. Everyone has heard the phrase 'find your niche audience', but why is this so important? You don't just find prospective clients when you find your niche, you build a community of people who have something in common with you: your channel. As soon as your audience finds you, they will engage organically - commenting on your posts, sharing your posts with friends, engaging with you in the comments section - and isn't having a strong community what it's really all about?

Make Your Word Cloud

How does one accomplish this? It may sound cheesy, but all it takes is some good old-fashioned research. Create a word cloud that shows what your freelance business is trying to accomplish and how it appeals to your targeted audience. Suppose I wanted to launch a freelance dog training business and listed words like: dog trainer, puppy trainer, dog lover, dog sitter, behavior modification, etc. 

You now will be able to create what is called the 'hashtag ladder' for your Instagram posts once you have a list of about 10 words or phrases.

Search for Your Tags

How and where do you locate your hashtags? Look at the word cloud you created earlier! By breaking up the phrases into single words you can find the tags more easily, and then by adding emojis or a second word you can begin to dig deeper into trends.  Another way to ensure your content reaches your niche and targeted audience is by including your city's initials in the tags, or any relevant holidays being observed that day. Using Twitter is another great way to research Instagram hashtags if you're having trouble identifying which ones are popular. Just type one hashtag at a time to see how relevant it is. If you're viewing posts from several years ago as the most recent, you might want to change up the phrasing or add an emoji if appropriate. Keep researching! Finding relevant hashtags will be crucial to building your ladder.

Creating a Hashtag Ladder

A hashtag ladder is a theory that states that by having a set of 30 hashtags ranging from easy to difficult to rank for, you can hit the popular results for the easier ones, get some engagement, then rank for the harder ones, then gain more engagement and so on”. This strategy originated during the early days of Instagram when people stacked 30 hashtags into every post, but for your posts to feel less spammy, you should use 10 hashtags per post you make on your Instagram account.

You should start off with two hashtags that have been used at least 1 million times, three within the range of 50,000 - 100,000, the next three within the 10,000 range, and the last two should be very unique and personal to your business. So, if I owned a dog training business in NYC called Pup Lovers Training, my hashtag would be #puploverstrainingnyc or, even more personally, #wearepuploverstraining. If you use hashtags at the lower end of use, there is a good chance that your post will reach the top of that hashtag page. Examine what you consider your competitors and consider how you may be able to do things differently and more creatively.

Okay, so now you have 10 hashtags that you love, but you realize the content you are posting today isn't going to match the content you are posting tomorrow. What do you do now? Create a hashtag bank of approximately 30 - 40 hashtags that you can switch out as you see fit. Rather than doing the research every single day, replace underperforming tags with more effective ones on a biweekly or monthly basis. In order to stay organized and use your time efficiently, it is important to keep the 'ladder' categorized.

Create Your Own Voice

Having developed your ladder strategy, it's time to find your channel's language and tone. This can act as a guideline for your own social brand, so you aren't overwhelmed and confused when it comes to commenting or caption writing. Your channel's voice will be set, which is going to be extremely helpful across all social platforms. Ask yourself the following questions when searching for your brand's voice:

1. How would you describe my brand/objective in three to five words?

2. Is there anything that you don't want your channel to say?

3. How do I stand out from my competitors?

By answering these questions, you will better understand what kind of message you want to be perceived, as well as the tone of voice you want for your channel. Are you looking to create a channel that is playful, charming, edgy, confident?

Be sure to tailor your voice to meet the needs of your audience in a way that feels informative and unique. Staying true to your personal values will enhance the authenticity of your platform, creating an open and friendly atmosphere. As soon as you have completed your hashtag ladder and channel voice, you can start creating content! 

Also Check: 6 methods of overcoming procrastination and learning to manage your time

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