Founded in 2010, Instagram is one of my favourite social media channels. Instagram is a visual platform, and boasts of over 300 million active users a month. When Instagram introduced video on its platform within 24hours over 5 million videos were uploaded. With those sort of credentials it easy to see why this is the platform I spend most of my time on social media nowadays.
Over the last few months I really began to fall in love with Instagram. Noticed a few strategies separating the successful and the unsuccessful on this platform. I decided to test my theories when I began the BusinessOwnerToEntrepreneur Instagram handle. Didn’t link it to my Facebook account and started from scratch. By my 20th post I had received almost 1,000 followers and also received 2 emails from social media marketers on taking things further and offering to help me grow at a faster pace.
I was using the same strategies to help my wife grow her Instagram influence. With 50 new posts she grew, Mercado Destination Jewels 2.2 times of what it was. She received over 25 inquires about her silver jewellery products, both in the form of comments and through direct messages.
These are the strategies that I began to use to achieve the success for both Instagram handles.
1. Produce Native Content
The key is in understanding how the platform functions. Instagram is not only visual but also attracts the more creative side of your company. The demographics of Instagram are younger with about 50% of people on it below the age of 30, with most of them living in urban areas with some college degree. The audience on it are well exposed to the world, and want share creative ways of seeing the world around them.
People on Instagram are not interested in advertisements. This is one of the biggest mistakes companies make; they show their ads on Instagram and wonder why it doesn’t resonate with the audiences. Uploading images fit for a brochure will not attract an audience on Instagram.
Just look at the most popular post on Instagram of 2015; it was Kendall Jenner’s post of her lying on the floor with her hair forming heart logos. 3.5 million people loved it and over 160,000 people commented on it. Perfect for Instagram, creative content in line with what her audience wants to see. Eventually it goes viral.
2. Use Awesome Content
Instagram is a visual platform; it goes without saying that photos and video are everything. Photos that are advertisements and not creative will never get the traction, period. Instagram uses a square format of 612×612 pixels, so if the images you use that are not of this format with have the edges cut off and look just sloppy. Photos taken either from a DSLR or our smart phones, blurry photos are a definite no. Another tip is going easy on the selfies; even Talyor Swift who has a following of 80 million doesn’t flood her followers with only self absorbed shots.
3. Understand The Reasons Why People Follow You
There are 2 types of Instagram accounts, personal and professional. Understanding the difference between the two is very important. Personal accounts are when the face or personality is driving force of the account. This pertains to celebrities, coaches, and various other personas. People are following them because they want to get a sneak peek into their life. Behind the scenes, selfies, dinners and parties all appropriate when the account is personal.
The professional on the other is where people are coming to get the content. Photographers, marketers, visual artists and whenever a product is sold are perfect for these accounts. People follow these accounts for something they like or aspire to have, product or a service. I’m not saying that you should not show behind the scenes if you are a professional account, but if the account has 10 continuous selfies posts with no information for the audience, followers will leave.
Deliver content most suited for the audience who have taken time to follow you in Instagram.
4. Use Hashtags
If you thought Twitter was crazy about hashtags, Instagram has taken them to another level. In fact, the more hashtags are used the more your post will be seen on Instagram. Instagram not only doesn’t penalise you but actually rewards you for using more hashtags. Instagram is also a platform where an entire caption or conversation can be entirely in hashtags. Using particular hashtags regularly will start to give you an authority over a particular topic or niche. I found using hashtags in the comments just as discoverable as the caption. This way if you want to link Instagram to other social media account, the caption looks more native to that platform.
Using hashtags in the comments has the same effect as adding them to your post caption on Instagram.
5. Track & Engage With Your Audience
Ultimately, Instagram like all the other social media platforms is all about being social. Take time to thank the people who have left you comments. When people like your post, see their profiles to see if their content resonates with you and follow them as well. Build relationship over pictures. If you like someone post leave comment for them, or better yet share that image with your audience and give them credit for the image. It is a sure shot way to impress not only the person but also your audience.
Each social media platform has certain strengths; it is only after understanding them that you can use them to your advantage. One of the best ways to do that is by being consistent on any platform, get the insights from your content and rework the strategy if needed.
Instagram is simply a way for your audience to consume your content. On Instagram move people with your content, convince them to make an action towards your product. The action doesn’t always have to be buying your product; it can be simpler like commenting or liking a post, sometimes it about just taking time just to notice your photo.