Instagram Direct Message: Engage Followers

Are you using Instagram’s direct messaging feature? No? You should be, especially if meeting new people is essential to your business.

Not too many people realize that you can use Instagram to send a direct message to an account. One of the most rewarding things I have received from being on Instagram has been the real, yes, real relationships I have made where our first contact had been by using Instagram direct messaging. Where else in the world can you have people from all walks of life, all levels of business and every profession you can imagine, at your finger tips! What a huge opportunity for small businesses to make new connections! In a time when traditional email and even Facebook messages can get overlooked, Instagram’s capability allows you to send photos with a message or even better yet, a short intro video!

Make real connections with real people and cut through the noise.

Real life connections is what Moda is all about and we use Instagram to help us accomplish this. Meeting out-of-this-world talented people with high character makes it worth the time investment to get out there say “Hi”. It’s a joy to think of all the new people you can meet. And the bigger your network grows the more opportunities are available to you and your business. We first met Jessica Williams, Lead designer at Alvina Valenta through a direct message and we got an exclusive view into her beautiful world of lace and tulle.

Here’s a simple how-to for a direct message:

1. Make a video or select a photo to go with your message, like you would normally do when posting to your account.

2. Before you hit “share”, up at the top of your screen it says “share to followers or direct”, choose “direct”.

3. Write your message in the caption area and select a recipient in the “To:” section right below it.

4. Hit “send”.

5. How to check your direct messages: On your home screen, where you normally see all of your followed accounts’ posts, there is a mailbox icon in the top right of the screen. Any messages will be highlighted there with an orange number. Click the mailbox icon to see your messages.

Word of caution though, the quickest way for you to get blocked or immediately written off by your recipient is to make your direct message impersonal, salesy and spammy.  Treat this function like a call to your mom or to your best friend. Be real but most of all only use it to connect with businesses you actually want to have a continued relationship with.

Life is too short to make empty connections because after all, what good is your network if you don’t actually connect and know any of them?

4 simple things to make your photos crazy ‘likeable’

Photo Credit: Simply Sweet Photography by Nomo Akisawa

Did you just fall in love with the image above? There’s a good reason for that. There seems to be a lot of mystery around knowing which images will gain attention and garner more “likes” on your social media channels. Some images will get liked right away while others will gain the same number of likes but over a much longer period of time. Is it by chance or is there actual science behind knowing which images will gain popularity? Turns out, there is!

We recently came across a very intriguing paper released by MIT stating various graphs and figures using a base of approximately 2.3 million images used in a study to find out what exactly made an image popular. The findings are a gold mine of insight and a very helpful tool for growing your social following. Here are 4 key elements observed in their findings which I have combined with other findings:

4 keys to posting images that will win your audience and gain you more “likes” and a good chance, more followers!

1. Warm colours win 

Turns out colour does matter, it really matters, in fact. Most marketers will tell you that it’s well known when marketing to men that you use higher contrast and darker tones to attract the majority whereas with women, they tend to prefer, in most cases, far more softer and lighter colours, such as pastels. Obviously this isn’t the case with all people but on average, these are confirmed facts. Take a look on any popular wedding Instagram account and you’ll see that the vast majority of images are in this soft tone.

According to the study findings at MIT, people tend to favour colours that have warmer tones with rose-magenta being the highest. No surprise then that we are so enamoured with the colours of a sunset. The other favoured colours are warm yellow/greens, purples, reds, golds (sun-flares) and then aquas (why we flock to the aquamarine waters of the tropics).


2. Water, water, water

There’s no denying that we spend thousands of dollars a year to travel to water-front  tropical destinations and according to the study, seashore, lakeside, sandbars, valleys and volcanos were the highest rated natural elements in images which garnered high interactions on social media.


3. Objects of desire

I wouldn’t think an image of a dirty old plunger would ever beat-out a darling little puppy or the big wide-eyed gaze of a 6 week old kitten, and neither would you. Have objects that elicit positive and warm feelings to win the majority of the time over objects that cause negative or stressful feelings. For instance, a few of the lowest ranking objects were a laptop, plunger and a spatula. Avoid objects that will make the viewer think about work or unpleasant tasks.


4. Well-lit and well placed

Knowing a few simple rules of composition can drastically improve your post interactions. The study showed that images that were not properly lit, underexposed or poorly composed did not rank high on interactions.

One simple tip is to turn on your camera’s “grid mode”, the tic-tac-toe grid that appears in your viewfinder. Use this grid to place your subject in the cross-hairs of the grid. The most powerful spot being the upper left cross section. Placing your object directly in the centre can work and look appealing if it shows off symmetry or makes a point using the white space around it.

Make sure to capture the subject in good light and if it looks too dim on your camera, take the shot again or edit to increase the exposure.


We did our own test, using these tips, over a period of about a month and lo and behold, they worked! The images we posted containing these elements (warm tones, sun-flare, sunsets, soft warm tones, water and positive objects) were rewarded with a higher like count and quicker interactions. We also saw an increase in followers after these posts.

Try your own experiment using these 4 key elements and see how they compare with the frequency of interactions for your previous posts. Take note of the added element that sends you posts even higher and keep posting those. Share your findings in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy Posting!

4 simple things to make your photos crazy ‘likeable’.

10 steps to boost your Instagram

10 quick and easy steps to boost your Instagram

You just finished an amazing project and can’t wait to share it with your Instagram audience. You excitedly upload and hit “post”, waiting to see what your followers have to say but to your surprise, there’s no response. You refresh but still only a few people have even noticed. The next day you post a quick photo of what you’re up to that day and all of a sudden, you instantly have 100 likes and 8 new comments. What gives? It seems a mystery sometimes trying to figure out the secrets to Instagram success.

Here’s a boost you can do today!

We recently talked with award-winning make-up artist and Moda Member, Jayna Marie (Instagram @jaynamariemakeup), to share with us her best secrets to discovering what your audience is waiting for. She’ll share how to get more organic followers and interactions which leads to a more profitable audience. Her account went from a few hundred to a few thousand, all by using these quick tips!

1. Use more phone photos than professional photos.

Depending on your industry, showing the here-and-now, behind-the-scenes, phone photos tend to get better responses than professional images (with some exceptions, of course). If you are going to post professional photos, try following them up with a phone photo of how-it-happened or a behind-the-scenes.

2. Use #hashtags!

Some people make fun of too many hashtags but the truth is, that’s how your photos are mostly found by people who aren’t current followers.

Hashtags are words that are associated with your content, found in the text description of your post. For example, if you are posting about a wedding cake, you could use the style of the cake, the city where you live, the colour of the cake and the elements you used on the cake as a potential hashtag, example: #vancouvercakes #pinkcake #weddingcake

3. Research your #hashtags.

As mentioned above, a hashtag is crucial part of your post. More importantly is knowing the right hashtag to use. Use the hashtag search tool to see what’s popular and relevant to your post. Also see who is using those tags, are they consumers or more industry? Choose the right one for the desired audience.

4. Use your client’s #hashtag of their wedding, (with your client’s permission, of course!)

This is a great tactic to reach the majority of your client’s wedding guests even before they’ve left the event. If you can, post a polished photo, make it a knock-out, and then a behind-the-scenes to show how it happened. People love to see what’s going on. Try to post throughout the day to keep viewers engaged. You may find this one to be a real winner.

5. Tag big brands to encourage a Regram (post sharing).

Research companies of products you use to see if they regram from clients on a regular basis and what style of images they use. Larger companies will often regram their products in-use by their customers. Use the “tag” feature to attach the company’s account and don’t forget to mention them in the text description of the post as well using their @account.

Using these tips, Jayna’s work was featured by @houseoflashes and her post got over 8,000 likes and got over 100 new followers from that post alone!

6. Keep your best work at the top of your grid.

People who visit your account take about 3-5 seconds to scan your work and decide if they want to see more and to follow you. Make sure you have your best work showing in the first 6 squares of your grid.

7. Make your photos consistent.

Accounts that are easy to view and consistent in style usually get followed more often. Keep the size and orientation of the images consistent for a more uniform look. You can easily make landscape images fit the Instagram constraints by taking a screen shot of the image on your phone, just turn your phone vertical when viewing your photo gallery to show the white space and take the screen shot. When posted in Instagram, it will show the full image using the white space.

8. Make the description text unique and interesting.

People read text…yes, they actually do! So make sure you put in a description for your post and make it interesting. Often times, people use the text as a defining reference when they are having a hard time describing the photo. Don’t leave it blank, use every tool to engage them in your post.

9. Pay attention to your most popular posts.

People are following you for a reason and it’s very easy to lose followers. Take a look at the type of images, style and content of your posts that have received the most interactions over the last few months. This will give you a major insight into why your followers are there and then post more of that type of content.

10. Be patient, grow organically.

Don’t buy followers. Use the tips you’ve learned here and see what amazing connections you can make. After all, the whole point is to connect with the right people and build a profitable relationship. Social media tools have made is easy to connect  with people around the world. And don’t be afraid to strike a conversation with the people you follow as well!

11. (bonus!) See the best times to post for higher interactions

Try them out and let us know how you’ve seen your account grow!!

Jayna Marie is one of Canada’s leading make-up artist, keynote speaker and instructor. She has worked with celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Nikki Yanofsky, travelled to exotic places for global destination weddings and has won numerous industry awards. Jayna strives to find a healthy balance between professionalism, fun and creativity. She believes that being successful is based 50% on talent and 50% on personality…which is why you’ll always find her with a smile on her face. If you ask her for one piece of beauty advice, Jayna says “Don’t be afraid of trying something new…it’s only make-up, not a tattoo!!”

10 quick and easy steps to boost your Instagram and get seen! Join Jayna Marie as she share how to get more organic followers and interactions which leads to a more profitable audience.

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