Eight Ways to Cut Back on Time Spent on Instagram
When was the last time you talked about Instagram with someone and they responded, “Insta-what?”?? Never. Or at least, I’m sure you can’t remember.
EVERYONE and their dog knows about Instagram, and probably has one! At over 1 billion active users, Instagram becomes a crucial piece of the social media marketing puzzle. You get to engage with an essentially limitless audience, for free, and right in front of their nose. What better way to put yourself and your side hustle top of mind in your followers’ daily lives?
Just as it’s so easy for you to market to your audience, it’s easy for you to get sucked into mindless scrolling, searching, and Story watching. Just a few taps of your finger and you’ve got endless entertainment and inspiration!
Hold up — aren’t you running a side hustle here? How on earth do you have the time to mindlessly scroll when you’ve got so much else you’re in charge of?
The truth is, you don’t. But spending some time on Instagram is crucial to your marketing success. How do you balance the time you’re spending on the platform with all the other things you should be doing for your side hustle?
Today I’m sharing several tips for cutting back on your Insta-time. Some time-saving “hacks” are sort of common sense like spending less time writing lengthy captions or spending less time engaging with your audience. But the problem is that those things directly correspond to your ranking in your followers’ home feeds per the Instagram algorithm. So it’s almost like spending less time on the app equals less of a presence for your audience to find you.
The reality is that you don’t have to strictly spend less time on the app by cutting out important steps -- instead, you should act more purposefully with your time, ultimately spending less time because you’re performing more critical tasks with effectiveness rather than shooting arrows in the dark, and hoping you land on a new follower or two.
It’s all about balancing your time spent on the platform and prioritizing it wisely to get the most success in the least amount of time possible.
Here are some ways I’ve found I’m able to do just that!
Utilize canned responses.
How many of the same requests do you get on Instagram?
Where can I find your prices? How much for this? Do you ship outside the US?
Create a Note in your phone or saved to your keyboard where you can easily send quick responses to questions, attending to all your inquiries without spending the time dictating personal responses.
Our latest arrivals are listed on our homepage, which you can access in the link in our bio. You’ll find older products, and prices on each, if you scroll down past the New Arrivals section. Let me know if you can’t find what you’re looking for!
We currently ship our products to the contiguous United States only. We find that the demand and costs associated with this service area are just perfect for our little business to handle. Thank you for understanding!
Sure, you could spout off a similar answer each time a question comes in, but if it saves you seconds per inquiry, it helps you better streamline your time using the app and to stay focused on the main task when you’re present on Instagram: engagement.
Create Stories Highlights in your profile.
Another great way to house information pertinent to your audience directly in your profile (without the character limitations, of course) is to save that info to a Stories Highlight.
You can save an entire Frequently Asked Questions highlight as well as instructions on how to order, a list of your latest arrivals, and details about your services and pricing structure.
No more posting on a whim.
My biggest turning point in using Instagram more efficiently was to plan out my content for one month at a time, during the month previous. For example, I completed all of my August Instagram posts before the end of the month, meaning I started September knowing that I was all scheduled out, including the weekend I’d be away and out of cell service, and begun planning October’s Instagram posts about half-way through the month, when it was convenient.
Planning your Instagram content out in advance means:
It’s more professional — less grammar and spelling errors you might miss while hastily posting just to post.
Your posts can be higher quality when you’re not rushed to get something up.
You have time to plan photo shoots or search for high-quality imagery and graphics to share to spruce up your feed.
Freedom in other areas of your business knowing that Instagram marketing is taken care of!
What about those times you have a great idea for a post, and you know it’d be perfect for your audience? Spend the rest of the afternoon planning it out, and then schedule it to post when you feel it would do the best — not necessarily right at that moment.
Another idea when you have some great thoughts to share, but aren’t quite ready to flesh them out into a full caption, is to create a sort of story bank to pull from when you need something to share. Save your memories and favorite quotes to a note on your phone, and when you sit down to plan out more content, you’ve already got tons of ideas to get you started.
Save your favorite hashtags.
You know you should be sharing hashtags. Do you? And do you simply copy and paste the same ones on each post?
Guilty. Or at least I used to be until I learned that Instagram flags such a thing as potentially a little spammy. Not wanting to upset the Instagram gods that be, I spent a couple of hours last month organizing several batches of well-performing hashtags in my Planoly account to add to the end of posts. They’re organized in a way that allows me to tack on relevant hashtags to different types of posts and subjects, and ultimately my posts are performing better as a result!
Having these hashtags saved in my scheduling app, rather than thinking of them on the fly, allows me to use all 30 hashtag spots with purpose — not a one is wasted.
Be intentional with who you follow.
What’s the first thing you do when you open the Instagram app? I often scan my home feed very first. I catch up on all the posts I haven’t seen, then move on to Stories, and by that point, I’ve wasted nearly ten minutes and don’t even remember why I got on in the first place.
Since I have both a personal and a business Insta, I use my personal one to follow and connect with my close friends and family, as well as accounts that inspire me, and I use my business account for a different purpose entirely.
I follow past clients (that I want to maintain a strong connection with) as well as potential clients. I also use my business account to interact with people I want to attract as future clients. It feels a little black hat to solicit friendships with people because I want them to pay me for my services, but ultimately, I feel that is the best use of my time spent engaging with those I follow on my business account!
I appreciate my friends and followers on that account, but if they’re super important to me, I’m already following them in my personal feed and I don’t need to waste time scrolling through their posts or flipping through their Stories a second time when I’m attending to my business account.
Only share with a frequency you can keep.
There is no “magic number” of posts per week that keep you relevant. Other than the obvious thought that more posts per day mean more chances to show up on someone’s feed (which could backfire if you’re constantly spamming their feed with info until they unfollow), to design the best Instagram marketing strategy for your business, it needs to be manageable.
If you’re in a season where quality, value-adding posts are only manageable about once a week, then perfect. Plan on that, stay consistent, and work through the other aspects of your business that are taking up so much of your time so that you eventually free up some more time to spend planning a few extra posts a week.
However, if you’re able, I like to recommend at least three posts a week to stay as relevant as you can. I’m usually around 3-4 posts per week, and it only takes me an hour to schedule an entire month of Instagram feed content, including creating visuals and graphics.
That being said, I truly believe the best strategy is going to be the one you can keep up with. Experiment to find your sweet spot and understand what works best for you and your schedule, and then make it part of your routine!
Create a rotation of content that you’re passionate about.
Anyone tried to write a blog post or an email or an Instagram caption when they weren’t in the mood, or when the topic was something they weren’t interested in? It’s HARD to metaphorically put pen to paper and just git ‘er done, and once you do, you don’t feel a whole lot of connection to the content you shared.
Once I started creating a rotation of content that interested me as much as I knew it would my followers, I knew I was onto something. Planning my Instagram content for the month came much easier and was a much more efficient process. With a narrowed focus for each post, I could more easily share my thoughts and add value to posts, continuing with the confidence that my readers would appreciate what I was sharing.
As you sit down to plan your posts, just knowing that you’ve already got the subjects and categories lined-up with the days you’re planning to schedule each helps you move through the planning process more quickly, saving you time to spend on other things for your side hustle besides Instagram marketing.
READ MORE: How to Create an Instagram Content Rotation
Only check your business Instagram once daily.
If you’re like me and have your business Instagram account(s) separate from your personal, and if you’re intentional with what fills your feed, there’s no reason to pull up the app more than once a day. Here’s why:
You say, “Oh, it’s been a couple of hours since I looked at Instagram. I’ll just check really quick while I’m waiting for this file to load.” Next thing you know, you’re sifting through Stories and refreshing feeds that you already looked at earlier today, and maybe you’ve even fallen into a trap of clicking through to different profiles that don’t even matter all that much to you.
In my opinion, it’s best to just stay off as much as you can, allowing yourself just that one check per day. Stories last for 24 hours, so at the very least, you can check your account just once or twice a day and never even miss a Story, let alone a post, which has a much longer life in your feed.
Reset your mindset to remember that you won’t miss anything, and your time will be spent much more purposefully by dedicating maybe half an hour to scrolling your feed, catching up on messages, and engaging with others on Instagram just once a day. Okay, twice if it’s too hard of a habit to kick.
Ultimately, we should remember that Instagram is (or should be) a happy space, not a time-sucking waste of life. Don’t get caught up in the mindless scroll when you could be using your time more wisely! I encourage you to contribute to Instagram being a wonderful tool to engage with your audience and market your products and services than a void where your free-time gets eaten up.
What tips would you add to this list? I’d love to hear how you implement these and other strategies to improve your efficiency while using Instagram to market your side hustle!
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