Instagram started out as a fun app for kids to share photos. However, it has quickly outgrown that impression to become a serious platform for content marketing, audience building tool, and networking for brands and individuals. If properly used, it can be a high value visual advertising channel for individuals and brands.
Recent studies show that Instagram has a higher engagement than other social platforms. However, in order for your business to extract the maximum value from Instagram, you need to build a massive following. Similar to other social networks today, you need to know how to use in order to build that following, and become famous. Here are some practical tips, which you can implement today.
Generate Quality Content
Generating the right content is the first step when it comes to getting more Instagram followers. Although it appears obvious, it is something that most brands ignore and go for other sophisticated means.
Going back to the basics, identify what your clients love seeing on Instagram and then release relevant images accordingly. A sure way of identifying what your clients love, is checking out the what your competitors are posting, and the number of shares and comments they get in return. You can also check out the type of imagery or themes applied in their website, blogs or Instagram account.
Certain images and themes work perfectly with most brands. These include scenic images, food photography and humorous quotes. If what you sell is already appealing visually, you can proceed to add photos of what you do. However, such photos should not dominate your profile. They should be kept at a minimum. Your followers will get bored, if all you keep posting is your life, your friends, or family. Don’t copy celebrities and think you will get away with it.
The reason why their personal photos are so popular is that their brand is their personal life. Fans are very curious to know what Rihanna is preparing for breakfast, or where Beyonce spent her weekend. That is the difference. Unless your brand is your personal life, keep personal photos out of your brand’s Instagram account. Keep personal information to your personal account, if you really want to see your brand grow on Instagram.
However, there are those instances where your personal photos would fit with your brand, and that is okay to share them. For example, a founder or a CEO would post a personal photo, showing how they have organized their desk. On that note, avoid over sharing too since you might end up confusing your followers and losing out on the chance to build a consistent brand.
Share humanized, Relatable Photos
When you visit popular Instagram accounts, you will realize that they have one thing in common. All their photos are humanized, relatable, and personal. This implies that they share photos that give leave their audience with an emotional connection. This includes their current activities, behind-the-scene shots, inspirational scenery, and similar content. You don’t have to share perfect photos. What you need to ensure is that, make the audience feel that the photo was captured by a fellow human being and not a brand.
Social media is more of connecting with your followers and audience. This means that if you share great images, they will attach some emotion to it, and keep following you for more photos that are awesome. In short, Instagram is not a platform to showboat if you want to build a loyal fan base. For example, if you are sharing photos of where you took your dinner or about a popular celebrity you met, don’t expect any serious followers. You might end up with a few followers, most of whom don’t relate with your brand.
Use the right Hashtags
When it comes to captioning your ideas on Instagram, you need to be creative with your hashtags. You are on Instagram to grow your following as well as engage with the current audience. Many people make the mistake of thinking that once you acquire followers they are there to stay. If you fail to engage with your current audience, they will definitely start unfollowing you, and following other brands, that make them feel appreciated.
Posting interesting, engaging and new photos will only satisfy your current followers. However, if you want to grow your brand on Instagram, you will realize that hashtagging is very crucial. Once you hashtag your photos, people will find you easily especially when they search for certain terms. This implies that if you make use of the right hashtags, you will have higher chances of reaching a new audience, which translates to more followers.
If you look at popular hashtags on Instagram, you will realize that none of them mentions a certain brand or product. They are personalized just like photos. They are humanized and something that people can relate with. It is one thing to use hashtags, and a completely different thing, to apply the right ones. Popular hashtags such as #love, #instagood, #me, #follow, #tbt and #like among others, have a higher chance of bringing you additional likes and engagement. What you should note is that they will not give you new interested followers, increased long-term engagement and sales.
The question is, how do you go around this? If you are looking for proper means to tag your photos, you will need to make use of relevant hashtags. To do this, you will have to conduct a simple keyword research, to ensure that you are applying the most relevant hashtags. On top of describing your brand, relevant hashtags are continuously being searched on Instagram. You can use tools such as Webstagram, in order to identify relevant hashtags.
That said, you should add at least 3 hashtags for every photo that you post. If you use too many, it will look like spam and most people don’t like that. Once you use the relevant hashtags, there are higher chances that your photo will be found, and the interaction will be much higher. The more the interactions, you have higher chances of people visiting your profile and following you to get more great photos.
Filters are among the things that popularized Instagram. They give uniqueness and beauty to each photo. Once you make your photo inspirational, memorable and breathless, it will have a higher engagement, which increases your followers. More people will want to follow you, since they expect you to keep releasing beautiful photos. Currently, the ten most popular filters on Instagram are:
– Early Bird
– X-Pro II
According to a study conducted by TrackMaven, Mayfair, Inkwell and no filter produced the highest number of interactions. You should also know that the most popular filters on the overall Instagram community tend to be the most popular with your audience. There are free tools such as IconoSquare which you can use for reviewing the performance of your Instagram account, in order to determine what is working, and what is not working. All those filters provided on Instagram are not just for fun. If you choose the right ones, you can have more views and a higher level of engagement.
A Call to Action is Key
Most brands have learnt the importance of call to action on Instagram, and have included it when posting photos in a subtle way. This is not the traditional call to action, which requires you to call or sign up to a newsletter or something. The call to action on Instagram will be something like, double tap or share if you smiled’.
The minute you lay out clear instructions for your audience, you double your chances of engagement. Once a photo has been shared with a call to action, it is likely to spread to a higher audience. With the increased number of shares, there are people who will visit your profile, like your photos and follow, in anticipation of similar content. As always, more exposure leads to more exposure, which translates to a higher potential of getting followers.
Product Reviews and Sponsored Posts
Optimized posting is great for your account. However, if you want to make a sounding impact, you need to reach out to other large accounts, which are in your niche. Once you do that, you will be able to expose your brand, to a greater audience. One thing you should keep in mind is that, unlike the previously listed tactics that are free, you will need to invest in this one financially. If you do it right, it gives value for money.
The first step is listing down all the large accounts in your category or niche. Like, if you sell health products, you will need to identify a prominent account, from health bloggers. Chances are very high that you are already following these brands or accounts on Instagram. If you are not following them already, you need to identify them. A very useful tool to use is Webstagram.
Using the popular hashtags that have been listed earlier, you will be able to locate related keywords, as well as the top Instagram accounts, which are using those keywords. Once you identify the accounts, look out for those ones with large followings of 20,000 to 200,000 and those ones with an email address on the profile. If an account has an email address, it implies that they can work with sponsored posts. Send them an email, so that you can determine their pricing, when it comes to sponsored posts.
Costs will depend on the amount of followers. However, if your product is original, new in the market and unique, you might give them a free sample, so that they can review and post. One thing to remember is that, if your product image is posted naturally, with less advertisement. You are most likely going to good response and higher engagement. Like previously indicated, use of sponsored promotion will lead to good traffic on your Instagram account, if done correctly.
Timing is key
Regardless of how beautiful, emotional or intimate your photo is, if you share it in the middle of the night, it will receive very few engagements, if any. If you follow Instagram trends carefully, you will realize that most people are on Instagram early in the morning after waking up, or during the evening, once they get home from their day commitments. What does that tell you? When you share an image during this time, you are more likely to get a higher engagement. The main reason behind this is that, during these times, the mind is tired, and you want to see something inspirational, which can refresh your mind, without thinking or reading.
You should also remember that the lifetime of a typical photo on Instagram, is around 3-4 hours. Once that time has elapsed, it is pushed further down to the feed. Additionally, there are more than 1 million photos shared on Instagram every hour. If you exclude the times when people are sleeping, the engagement window becomes even smaller. Using a tool such IconoSquare, you can easily determine what works and what does not. Once you determine the right time and days when the number of active users is high, you can then schedule your posts accordingly.
When it comes to content marketing, you need to be fully aware of what is happening around you. You need to know the kind of content that your customers are sharing and the nature of photos that your competitors are posting. The same applies to Instagram marketing. You can copy the success a certain brand had with users, and apply it to your own Instagram marketing, using the right tools. One great tool for such a job would be Crowdfire. With Crowdfire, you can see the type of people that are following a certain brand.
Once you identify the users, you can then proceed to follow them. With Crowdfire, you can also unfollow those users who did not follow back, after a certain period. The reason why you should use such tools is that you are able to identify large groups of people, with the potential of following your brand. Once you follow someone on Instagram, they immediately receive a notification, linking them to your profile or page, with the potential of following you.
Due to Instagram restrictions, you are only allowed to perform 400 follow and unfollow actions in a day. Therefore, observe that or your account will be banned or suspended. For example, you can set like three days of following interested brands, and three days of unfollowing those people who did not follow back. Once you do that, you will be able to build your brand around people who are interested and remain within the restrictions of Instagram.
Networking can do wonders both in the social media realm and in your real life. Numerous accounts on Instagram are ready to do a share for share’. This means that your content will appear on other pages, if you are willing to do the same. There are such pages in every industry and you can find them through a quick search. Once you have found them establish contact, and you are ready to position your brand to a wider audience.
There is also a huge network of entrepreneurs, with over 20,000 followers. Such networks will be very crucial, in sharing out your content. As long as you return the favor, people are always there in every industry, who are willing to help. Always remember that you can help people and not expect anything back. It always comes back to you ten times. Therefore, don’t approach this strategy, thinking all about you, and how much you stand to gain. Instead, think of it as helping out others.
You never know whom you will meet on those encounters, and your brand will never be the same again. If you produce content and you don’t engage with others in the industry, you are surely headed for failure. You will not get far. Therefore, if you are always willing to share others content to your network, then your content will also be shared, giving you a wider reach, which might translate to more followers.
Contests and campaigns
Running contests and campaigns on Instagram can increase your brand engagement, drive traffic to your blog, and even increase your product sales. If you want to run a contest, you can request people to share your content, follow you, like your photos, use a certain hashtag or even share your photos. With encouraged user-generated content, you will be able to reach more people as part of your contest.
Brands or individuals who are not following you already, will get to know about your Instagram account through a post shared by shared by one of their followers. This creates a very effective way, of building trust, with your new followers. If you successfully run an online campaign, you are likely going to benefit, through the following means. First, you will be able to showcase and promote your products. Secondly, it will act as an incentive to give you new followers. Additionally, you will be able to reward your online community, for doing something natural, without appearing too promotional, pushy or needy.
Apart from contests, campaigns are very essential. If you incorporate Instagram into your marketing campaigns, you have higher chances of gaining new followers as well as connecting the online and offline experience for your customers. You can also use Instagram to cover live events such as in-store promotions and live events.
Engage with Your Followers
Getting followers is one thing, keeping them engaged and happy is the most important thing. This is crucial, if you want to establish a relationship and extract the most value out of Instagram. Always ensure that you post regularly. Once you do this, people will not forget who you are. If possible, share your photos daily, and ensure you do that at the appropriate time when there are a high number of active users on Instagram.
If you share daily, you are going to establish a large and responsive community, who are always looking forward to engage with your content. On the other hand, you don’t want to be posting a photo every second. Sharing photos too often is discouraged, since they tend to consume a significant amount of space, on your followers’ feed. Imaging posting three photos continuously and someone does not like them. You will end up losing followers. The recommended frequency is once after six hours. For example, if you post a photo at 7am, the next one should be around 5pm or 6pm thereof.
Once you do that, your followers will not feel suffocated, and you will allow enough time for people to engage with your photos. While still on that, it is nice being nice and polite to your audience. People like feeling appreciated. It is human nature. Therefore, it is advisable to respond to questions and comments posted by your followers. A simple thanks’ will endear you to your followers, and keep them engaged and happy. If you do this, you will be able to build lasting relationships with your followers, which is very rewarding.
Make Your Account More Visible
If you are finding it hard to attract new Instagram followers, a simple solution that most people overlook is making your brand more visible. Have multiple ways through which people can find you on Instagram. For example:
– If you have already established a following on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Snapchat, these are ideal platforms to announce your Instagram account. Consider boosting your posts with paid advertising. This makes sure that more followers from your other social media accounts can find you on Instagram.
– Consider linking your website to your Instagram account. Other avenues that you can use include newsletters and email signature.
With more than 40 million daily photo shares, 100 million monthly active users and 8500 likes per second, it is very clear that Instagram has a very huge community which your business can tap into. The audience you get and the attention you attract on Instagram will see your conversion rates skyrocket, leading to more sales, and overall business growth.