At this year’s Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference, I gave a presentation on using Instagram as a Craft Beer Social Media Influencer.
My presentation partner, Cameron of Garnet Heart, and myself, didn’t come with so much a presentation. Instead, we came ready to share our story and experience; answering all of the questions the audience had.
The talk at the beer blogging conference was scheduled for an hour, but we could have at least been there for several with the amount of questions. After the talk, I met with a few other bloggers to give them more one-on-one Instagram advice.
In doing so, I noticed a few of the same (underutilized) strategies were coming up again and again. So I decided it’d be best to list out my favorite Instagram strategies for beer bloggers. And I know they work– how? The people I met with after the presentation have already seen a huge spike in their followers and engagement, in just a few weeks.
6 Instagram Tips to Become a Craft Beer Influencer and Grow Your Blog’s Brand
I never thought I would be up on a stage presenting my experience and advice for using Instagram as a craft beer blogger. But it was incredible to share all the knowledge I have with so many of my peers! I want all my beer bloggers to grow and capitalize on the same success I have found using Instagram.
That’s why these Instagram blogging strategies are 100% honest… And coincidentally ones I don’t see other social media blogs discussing much. And of course, if you have any questions definitely ask me in the comments below!
Instagram Tip # 1: Optimize Your Instagram Profile
I see so many bloggers not utilizing the space in their profile/bio and it pains me! Here are my Instagram tips for you beer bloggers:
Optimize Your Name and Handle
Your handle and your ‘Name’ are completely different and can be optimized to help users find and follow you. Your handle is pretty much your unique Instagram URL. I do not suggesting changing this one unless a whole re-branding is in the works.
Anyways, you’re granted a lot of space in your “Name”. What I suggest you, as a beer blogger, do is add a beer mug emoji in your name along with a geographical or niche keyword such as, “Chris [Beer Mug Emoji] Maryland Beer Podcast”, or “Greg [Beer Mug Emoji] Craft Beer Blogger”.
And here’s why… the terms you use in your name are similar to keywords and assist Instagram in showing you to users. Here’s what happens when I search “Austin Bloggers”, PS. I don’t follow all of these people,:
Secondly, when people are searching for new people to follow, a visual representation of what you are all about, like the beer mug Emoji in my name, is eye-catching and encourages people to hit that follow button. Especially if you’re like me and have a blog name that doesn’t directly have beer or a similar term in the name.
Add a Call-to-Action!
People need to be told what to do. I’m serious. That’s why, along with always keeping a link in your profile, you should always include a ‘call-to-action’ in your bio to get visitors to click that link. It could be something as simple as, “Latest adventure here >>” or even if you want more followers say, “Follow along for the freshest beer interviews”.
I also recommend testing out the use of Linktree, or a similar app that allows for multiple links in bio. I don’t use it personally, but have had great results using it on my company’s Instagram.
Fill Out Your Bio!
Your Instagram bio should be thought of as an elevator pitch to new visitors you want to turn into passionate followers– and companies that potentially want to work with you. So fill out your bio to the max! You’re not allowed a lot of characters here but you can get creative.
Make sure that you are clear about what your Instagram and blog’s brand is all about– be honest, semi-professional, and fun! Here’s a shot of my Instagram bio:
Try to Use an Eye-Catching Photo of Yourself
Don’t use a logo as your profile picture. People don’t get attached to a logo or a generic photo– they get attached to someone’s face, whether they think you’ve got a pretty one or not!
Logos certainly have their place in branding. Mainly, they are great at getting people to recognize your brand. However, they shouldn’t belong in an Instagram profile picture.
I personally, always try to use a closeup of my face against a brightly colored background. Therefore, when people are scrolling through their feed and stories, they recognize me right away and (hopefully) stop to pause at what I’m sharing.
Instagram Tip # 2: Work with Local PR Companies
This one isn’t directly related to Instagram, but PR (public relations) companies are going to be your new best friends and will certainly help grow your brand. Their goal is to get their clients in front of as many people as possible. Your goal as beer blogger/Instagram influencer is to share the latest and greatest with your audience. It’s a match made in heaven.
Seriously, PR companies love bloggers and finding them isn’t hard at all. Simply search for local “PR companies” in Google, and email them introducing yourself asking to get put on their press list.
Getting on their list will ensure you get all their press releases and you will be able to start nurturing a relationship. I’m 100% biased because I was a PR major in college, but PR people are some of the best people, especially working with them as a blogger. However, getting on their bad side (aka BLACKLISTED) should be something you avoid at all costs.
Along with PR companies, reach out to your local and/or state tourism agency to see if there are any projects you can work on with them. If you’re traveling, reach out to those agencies and ask if they have any recommendations for breweries/beer-related places to visit. I know we get great recommendations from beer groups, but you’ll get the best recommendations plus, the possibility of interviews/visits arranged if you reach out to these agencies.
Instagram Tip #3: Network with Other Bloggers for Inspiration
I really think my Instagram growth took off once I started networking with other bloggers, both local and beyond. The power of a community is strong. And in particular, our beer blogging community is a very helpful and supportive one.
Find the people who inspire you and connect with them either by commenting on their content regularly or messaging them. Who knows, maybe you could ask one of your local bloggers for advice or to help you out getting connecting with PR companies or local brands/businesses.
One great way I networked with bloggers when I was first starting out was asking about a dozen local good bloggers if they had any recipes using alcohol or beer. I’m not a cook, but most of them are so I knew they’d be a great resource. Then I took their recipes and included them in a nice and easy round-up to share with my audience.
Once it was published I shared it with those who contributed, and many of them ended up sharing it on their own channels. It worked (for both parties) because I stroked their ego and exposed them to a new audience, while I got to start a relationship with local bloggers. Let this be proof that creatively networking with others can pay off.
Another strategy I’ve seen that works is doing a ‘Friday Favorites’ in your Instagram Stories. One of the newest features allows you to repost feed photos in your stories. You can get really creative using this strategy…
Along with connecting with others, Instagram allows you to privately save other photos. This is a feature I use often. Mainly, to save great photos I like, good captions I want to study, bloggers I want to work with, or cool places I want to check out. Take advantage of this Instagram feature!
Instagram Tip #4: Be Consistent
Consistency is one of the hardest things to achieve when starting out as a blogger on Instagram, but keeping a theme is vital to your success. Here are a few areas to stay consistent:
For the love of God, please keep your Instagram content consistent. If you want to build your brand as a beer blogger and become a social media influencer, you will need to stay focused on your niche. Create a personal Instagram if you still want to share photos of your child or cat, I know many bloggers who do just this. Just don’t share everything on your blog’s or brand’s Instagram account.
For example, on my Instagram all of the photos I share must be one of three types:
- Pictures of Myself (Gives me a lot of freedom to post outside of beer)
- Drinks (Try to keep 90% of these beers)
- Interior Shots of Breweries (I really love these photos, but they are usually my worst performing content so I share them anyways. )
Finally, every few weeks/months, go through and clean up for feed. Deleting photos is like killing off one of your babies, but if it doesn’t fit you gotta kick it to the curb. Instead of deleting photos, Instagram allows you to “Archive” them, which simply hides them from your feed. You can un-archive them at any point, and comments/likes will still be there.
Note: Instagram loves pictures of faces/people. Some, myself included, theorize that the platform pushes them above other photos. Photos of yourself help your followers connect with you, but photos of other people are engaging as well. If you do interviews/tours, share photos of brewers and beer industry folks.
At least once a day, post at the same time. In the beginning, you’ll want to test out times to find out when your audience is most active. I now recommend switching to to a Business account so you can easily monitor this in the analytics.
If posting at the same time every day is a challenge, look into using a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to assist.
Editing Beer Photos on Instagram:
There are dozens of options for editing photos for Instagram, not to mention many phones these days have incredible cameras built right in. Even Instagram has an impressive editing feature built right in. (BUT PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE, stay away from their presets!)
Personally, I use Adobe Lightroom (and the Express app for on-the-go edits), but the other popular app is VSCO. One reason I like Lightroom so much is I can create presets that help me achieve a consistent color/theme in my Feed photos.
Note: I also suggest, if you decide to use Lightroom, to search “Free Lightroom Presets” and download ones that you like. Later, you’ll want to adjust them to fit your unique style.
Here are a few basic Instagram tips for taking photos of beer:
- Aim to take all pictures in natural light; make sure the sun isn’t washing out your focus or the background. Watch for shadows!
- Get creative when taking a beer shot: add props based off the beer label, get closeups of the lacing, add some depth, etc.
- In most cases, too much editing is bad and will ruin the photo. If you’re lucky to have captured the shot in natural light, you might not have to do much editing at all!
- There are plenty of pro-photographers out there putting out educational content. Search through YouTube/Pinterest to find one that matches your style.
- Don’t be shy! Jump up on that chair if you want a great shot of your beer flights and food from a local brewpub. Ask brewers if you can grab a few shots of them against the equipment. You won’t regret the crazy things you had to do when you nail that perfect shot.
Instagram Tip #5: Know the Difference Between Stories and Feed Photos
Along with consistency, know when to share something on your feed and when it belongs in your Stories. Just as a clarification, here are definitions of the two:
Instagram Stories is a feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours, but can also be archived in ‘Highlights‘ Content shared to stories also won’t appear on your profile grid or in the main Instagram feed.
The Instagram Feed is your feed of photos and/or 50 second or less videos that live on your ‘grid’ permanently– unless they are archived or deleted.
I said earlier that Instagram is for curated content, and that means you shouldn’t be posting to Instagram all day long. Once a day is enough, twice a day works if you can keep up with producing new content. I know how hard it is not to share everything when you get to do so much cool stuff as a beer blogger. AND that’s why Instagram created Stories.
There are plenty of ways to customize Instagram Stories using gifs, text, and drawing. Have fun with it and try out every single feature. I’m always surprised by how much engagement Stories can stir up, and they’re kinda fun to make. Here’s a blog post full of more Instagram Tips for your stories, plus a sample of what I like to share in Stories.
Instagram Tip #6: Cross Promote Between Your Other Channels
A lot of people forget about this strategy, but it’s pretty simple: promote your Instagram on your other channels! If they’re following you on Twitter or Facebook, there’s a good chance they are on Instagram and will want to follow you there too.
If they’re listening to your podcast, why wouldn’t they want to follow you on Instagram as a way to see behind the scenes photos? Seriously, cross promote between your channels– and do it frequently.
All you have to say is something along the lines: “Hey, are you guys following me on Instagram, yet? I’m always sharing X, Y, and Z, and don’t want you to miss out on that action.” Then add a link. I promise you, you’ll get good results from this.
Additionally, if Instagram is the only channel you’re using, you gotta diversify ASAP. Remember that saying: never put all your eggs in one basket? I bet you also remember Vine? People were making $10K+/month on that channel and it literally disappeared in 48 hours. Imagine the pain those influencers felt!
See not so bad right? Just a few simple tweaks make all the difference in growing your Instagram as a beer blogger. Before you start chasing down new followers on Instagram, I suggest following these three steps:
- Optimize your profile and bio Instagram Tip #1.
- Go through your Instagram feed and hide (aka “Archive”) any photos that you don’t love and/or aren’t related to your niche(s).
- If you’re not already, find some accounts that inspire you. I suggest finding some in your niche, and some outside of it– both types will inspire you in different ways. Here is a short list of a few Instagram accounts that inspire me:
@cory_s_smith | @uncapeverything | @atasteofkoko | @isbeeracarb | @dallasbeerbabe | @apertureofales | @taratea | @craftandcocktails | @amyseder | @visualhops
If you have any questions please feel free to ask them below, or shoot me an email. And of course, you can always find me on my craft beer Instagram. Cheers!