In today’s social media landscape, Instagram is hard to ignore. Founded on the basic concept of sharing images and getting people to like them, it has proven to be a powerful business tool (as well as a great place to showcase baby animals and young girls doing yoga). Even more than other channels, Instagram is driven by one fundamental metric – the size of your audience.
Admittedly, growing an Instagram audience can be daunting for business users. How is one to compete with all of those baby animals? But, creating a business presence can happen quickly and painlessly by following some basic concepts. With 600 million users worldwide and the highest engagement rate of any social media platform, you simply can’t afford to skip Instagram.
Create strong content
This should go without saying, but it still needs to be said. Rather than posting whatever images come to hand, take the time to generate effective content that will elicit an emotional response from your target audience. You can often use metrics tools to evaluate your competitors’ posts and then use their most effective themes to shape your own.
Your content needs to be relevant and coherent. It should be something that your audience will resonate with and that makes sense in the context of your marketing goals. Do not post the last cute thing your toddler did unless you are a baby clothing company.
Your content should be useful to your followers. Even if what your business creates is photogenic, posting non-stop images of what you do or make is boring. Intersperse that type of post with humor, inspiration and education that might enrich your followers’ lives or prompt them to share your content.
Your content should elicit engagement. Images that trigger emotion, thought or response are the holy grail of Instagram. Calls-to-action are extremely valuable and can be a great way to branch out beyond just showcasing your product. Consider calls to action about relevant issues that you know you and your audience share an interest in.
Don’t forget, posting is branding. In the rush to get something up, many social media managers lose sight of the fact that their posts are still a branding activity. Don’t forget the little things. Format your photos and other images so that have some visual similarities. You can use cropping, filters, colors, and other tools to create a look that defines your brand.
Use “keywords” in the form of hashtags and emojis. Hashtags aren’t just for teenagers, they are the way that Instagram sorts posts and makes them searchable. Hashtags are a requirement if you are using Instagram as a marketing tool, and yes, emojis are also keywords on Instagram. They are searchable and they show up in more than half of all Instagram posts. Bite the bullet and use them.
Make sure your website is in your “Bio”
One little know fact is that the only way to drive traffic to your site from Instagram is to include your website address in the “Bio” section of Instagram. HubNami offers excellent Instagram tracking through our ROI tool, but unless your website is listed, you won’t be able to capture the metrics to begin with.
Consistent posting gets results on Instagram. Whether you are posting every 3 hours, once a day or once a week, consistency builds followers. Do not dump multiple images at once and don’t pad your posts with unrelated images just to have something to put out there (see above). The ideal frequency of posting on Instagram (usually multiple times per day) can seem daunting to the busy social media manager. However, apps like JustUnfollow, Hootsuite and Latergramme can help you batch and schedule posts.
Follow other people
Social media is biased toward users who are social. Follow other people. Take the time to share and comment on posts that are attracting an audience like the one you want to grow. Make yourself part of a community. This kind of interactivity will demonstrate your own engagement and inspire others to engage with you.
Tell your existing business “followers”
It’s always a good idea to let the other people who support your business know that you are on Instagram. You can use retail signs, email and postcards. You can mention it when speaking to the press. You can use any other social media platforms you are active on, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
In short, growing your Instagram audience is refreshingly simple. The true keys to success are inexpensive and should be second nature to the savvy social media manager. Once you get used to the platform, image-centric posting will give you a whole new palette to work with. You are sure to benefit from joining the vast Instagram world.