It’s very likely that you’ve heard of Happenin’s In The Ham before. And if not, be sure to follow their website and social media accounts. Russell and Amber Hooks have a dedicated following and almost 20,000 followers on Instagram! They know exactly what’s going on Birmingham, and they’ll connect you with the best events and activities around town.

Russell Hooks is one of our founding members at Forge, and he led our first Lunch & Learn event. Focusing on the power of Instagram marketing, Russell talked through location tagging, organic engagement, Instagram stories, frequency and time of posting, hashtags and much more.

“Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have their own language. You have to learn the native language for each of them.”


Over the last two and a half years Russell and Amber have developed their Instagram account without boosting any of their posts. They decided to use Instagram as a platform because it was the best way to show visually what they wanted to portray about Birmingham.

A few quick tips from Russell: 

  • Instagram is best for a quick overview. Use Facebook and your own personal website to go into more detail.
  • Location tags on Instagram are often overlooked but they are valuable- USE THEM!
  • Asking questions in your posts gives you more comments from followers…which brings you up in the algorithm feed!
  • When you have 10,000 followers or more you can add the “swipe up” button to send people directly to a link.
  • Most popular times to post: early morning, lunch, 4:30-6:30pm and right before bed!



“Social media is a lot like fitness- the results take time. It takes consistency.”

Many people ask “How many people should I be following on my Instagram account?” Russell says you should strive to get 2 followers for every 1 person you’re following. And avoid paying for followers- people can easily spot that and they’ll assume you’re disingenuous!

Forge Members at our very first Lunch & Learn!

Use Instagram for business purposes in the right way and you could have a viral marketing success. But use it incorrectly, and your efforts on the site could be a big fail. Thank you Russell for teaching us these valuable tips and tricks!