Dance Schools, You Are Doing Instagram Wrong!
Yes it's quite a harsh thing to see and hear, but I want you to know this is coming from a kind and helpful place. I am a dance photographer, and my main form of advertising is Instagram.
Instagram is an extremely powerful tool a lot of dance schools either don't use or don't use it poorly. I have seen it with my own eyes, since most of the accounts I follow are either dancers or dance schools. Let me drop some stats on you to make sure you get the point.
Instagram Monthly Active User: 1 BILLION+
It doesn't matter if your school is located in a big city like Chicago, or a small town...everyone has instagram and you are missing out on potential students.
Mistake Number 1, Boring Posts
A lot of dance schools would use Instagram to post schedules, announcements, or notices.
DON'T DO THAT!
Instagram is not a bulletin board. In fact, most of your students have no idea what a bulletin board is. Instagram is use to build your brand!
Have you ever seen a perfume commercial? There is always a beautiful celebrity, in some magical, fairy tale location, running in slow motion, in ungodly expensive outfits! What you NEVER see in those commercials are numbers, facts, ingredients...the boring stuff! Why? Because the boring stuff won't entice the viewers to spend $110 on a 3 once bottle of fruity water!
NOBODY wants to see posts about when or where to register for class for the THIRD time this week! Your students already know that stuff because, hopefully you sent that information out in email!
What you should be posting are professional photographs of your students, teachers, or spaces. Potential students and parents are looking at your IG account to get a feel of what your school is like. Having only blurry cell phone pics screams amateur. That first impression is hard to change. Now, I'm not suggesting you hire a professional photographer every week to take pictures, but you should set aside some budget for a professional photographer.
Mistake Number 2, Boring Description
Even though Instagram is image and video based, don't overlook how important having engaging descriptions is. This is where you can really dig deeper and connect with your followers and potential followers. There are two reasons for this. First is, it increases engagement...aka...more people will leave comments which helps your post to get more exposure. Secondly, it helps to get people invested in your posts and accounts. The more time people spend on your posts and accounts, the more invested they are. They start to feel they are part of a community. It is better to have 1000 dedicated followers than 10,000 casual followers.
Mistake Number 3, Ignoring SEO
SEO is just a fancy way of saying how easily your posts can be found. Granted, Instagram has made it more difficult to gain organic exposure, but that doesn't mean you should neglect this important part of optimizing your posts.
It's important to utilize the tools Instagram is offering. Make sure you use hashtags and the right hashtags. Make sure you tag the right people and the right geo location. You want to make it as easily as possible for people to find you. This applies to your website SEO as well, but that's another topic.
Mistake Number 4, Not Engaging
If someone compliments you in real life, you'd at least say thank you, correct? Same courtesy goes for Instagram posts. I see that mistake all the time. The LEAST you should do is like their comment, and reply with a thanks. If they left a thoughtful comment, reply with a thoughtful comment. It's human nature...we like to be acknowledged. A simple gesture such as liking or replying, will make a huge difference on how they feel when they see your posts. Instead of just another photograph...it will become a photograph from someone they feel like they have a connection with. That is powerful stuff!
Now this is not an end all and be all article on how to gain more followers on Instagram, but it is a good start. I understand it sounds like it's quite a bit of work, and it is, at first. But know this, if you are not putting in the effort, another school is, and that school could be gaining the attention in the eyes of people looking for a dance school for their children.
Hopefully this has been somewhat helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, especially if you are in the Chicagoland area.
Jeff Yin Is an international award winning Dance Photographer from Chicago.