It’s no secret that Instagram has become one of the most powerful marketing tools in today’s digital age. To get a clearer picture of just how powerful, here are a few stats we’d like to share from Wordstream:
- “There are over 25 million business profiles using Instagram worldwide”
- “Over 80% of accounts on Instagram follow a business, and over 200 million Instagrammers actively visit a business profile every day.”
- “60% of users say that they have learned about a product or service on the platform.”
Based on the stats above, it’s evident that this social platform is a marketing tool businesses should seriously consider for their social strategy (if they haven’t already) and it’s one that we often recommend to our clients (if it’s the right platform for their audience). Although many business owners don’t understand how the platform works or believe in it’s ROI (return on investment) or in our case ROR (return on relationship) once we present stats like the ones above, it doesn’t take much convincing.
Instagram really has the ability to make or break a business in terms of brand awareness. If your business isn’t on Instagram, those 200 million Instagrammers who visit a business profile every day won’t be able to find you. Consequently, they might turn to your competition. Similarly, if you have an account and are not using it to the best of Instagram’s ability then you’ll also be missing out.
If you’re looking to create an Instagram account* or currently reassessing your account strategy and need some tips on how to increase your following, here are 6 tactics that will knock your profile out of the park:
*You can only create a business account when you’ve reached over 100 followers.
Note: If you don’t have an Instagram business account, tactics 2 to 6 will still be applicable to your profile.
WRITE A STELLAR BIO, PROVIDE YOUR CONTACT INFO AND ADD A CTA ( Call to Action)
An Instagram profile contains your name, username, bio, and contact information. Your name and username should be easy to fill out as they’re the name of your business – but, your bio can be tricky to get right. Your bio is the first introduction to your brand that a user will see so take time to consider how you want to describe you and/or your business. You have 150 characters to nail this down and just recently Instagram updated the app to include hashtags which we recommend using. Fill in your business contact information which includes your URL, phone number, email, and directions. Do NOT leave these empty. This is prime real estate.
Now let’s talk about how your bio and URL can work together to bring in leads, leads, and more leads! When carefully crafting your bio, you can include a CTA where you direct people to the link below. This call to action could be to subscribe to your mailing list, redeem a special offer/coupon, enter a giveaway, download an e-Guide, register for a webinar, direct people to a new product/service, etc. Then the link (URL) below will take them right to the associated landing page. Voila! Your bio is now a lead-generating machine.
Note: your profile is constantly editable so nothing is permanent or can’t be edited. If your brand changes, so can your social. This is important to keep in mind if your a business looking to change its strategy and fear not being able to alter your previous content. Just keep in mind you don’t want to be doing this on a regular basis as you run the risk of confusing your audience.
FOLLOW THE RIGHT ACCOUNTS AND ENGAGE
There are 5 groups of people/accounts that you need to follow and engage and I break each one down for you below:
1) People in your community – This can include your friends, family, and coworkers. No one is going to support you more than your closest network.
2) Businesses in your community – Businesses that relate to your field but are not in direct competition with you or your business. For example, if you’re a restaurant that serves craft beer you would follow local breweries, if your a health coach you would follow local health food stores and/or local fitness studios, if you’re a real estate agent you would follow your firm, local painters, stagers, etc.
3) Local Media – This includes traditional media such as television, radio, newspapers, and magazines. It also includes non-traditional media such as online blogs. If you want your business to be seen, following and engaging with media outlets will help you get that notoriety you’re looking for.
4) Influencers – Local and global micro and macro-influencers. This group of people are your new best friends!
5) Your competitor’s followers – Find who your competitors are, visit their account and view who their following and who follows them and follow at your discretion* and engage. *Instagram will only allow you to follow 7,500 accounts.
POST QUALITY PHOTOS AND CREATE AN EYE-CATCHING LAYOUT
When taking photos for Instagram, you want to be conscious of the lighting. Bright, non-blurry photography performs the best on this platform as it’s visual. If you’re not a professional photographer, learn from a friend who is OR take an online course, apply for a program at your local college/University, hire a professional or find a friend who is willing to take the photos for you in exchange for photo credit or services of your own. Once you take or receive quality photos, maintain this photo standard across your grid. Meaning, don’t post a beautiful photo one day and a sub-par photo the next. Creating consistency throughout your profile is key. Furthermore, don’t just post a photo for the sake of posting and hope it receives engagement. Ensure there is a strategy in your posting schedule.
When posting photos, you want to be conscious of the layout. Take your time in creating an aesthetic that’s visually appealing, organized and different from your competitors. Keep a colour pallette/tone throughout your layout by choosing one filter to apply to your photos. Remember consistency is key so refrain from choosing a different filter every month. There are a variety of filter avenues one could take to choose the right filter. You can use the filters Instagram provides (very basic), VSCO (very popular), Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom (very advanced), purchase filters from advanced bloggers/graphic designers or choose from countless other photo editing apps available for iOS and Androids.
Your grid layout should also be well-balanced in terms of photo content. For example, don’t post 3 product photos in a row then post a meme. Blend your photos strategically. Like I mentioned above, establishing a photo strategy when scheduling will deter random posting from occurring.
BE AUTHENTIC, DON’T BUY FOLLOWERS
This one will be short and sweet. Don’t buy your followers. Why? Well, these accounts are fake. They’re bots or inactive accounts that won’t engage with your content. Users can also detect a fake following. How? By analyzing the follower count to the engagement rate. The numbers just won’t match up.
Creating authentic content will bring in authentic users and authentic users will ENGAGE. Hence, authenticity is the way to go!
ADD CAPTION, TAGS,LOCATION AND HASHTAGS TO EVERY POST
These are 4 small strategies you can use on their own but if used together they form a superhero team (think The Avengers or Justice League). Each one is broken down below:
Caption: Before posting a photo, Instagram asks users to “Write a caption…” which is highly recommended. What’s the point of publishing a photo without providing the user with some sort of context to what they’re viewing. There’s not. This is an opportunity to shine a light on your authenticity. Captions can also include tags and hashtags and as a result, the power of these captions are very strong.
Tag: Before posting a photo, Instagram asks users to “Tag People”. Consider tagging the following: people and products who are presented in the photo (business and non-business accounts) and the location of the photo ie., @fairmontvan. You can even take your tagging one step further and tag accounts that would be relevant to the context of the photo ie, local media.
Location: Before posting a photo, Instagram asks users to “Add Location” of where the photo was taken. Search to find the correct location. Once found, tap the location with your finger.
Hashtag: If you’re going to choose one of these 5 strategies to use on a daily/weekly basis, it would be this one. Hashtags are tremendously powerful as they have the ability to promote you and your business to those 200 million active Instagrammer’s. Thus, it’s critical to have a hashtag strategy in place before you post a photo. Here is a list of hashtag best practices:
- Create a branded hashtag for your business and consider posting in your bio.
- Look for branded hashtags from other businesses that are relevant to use in your strategy.
- Analyze your competitor’s hashtags and use if relevant.
- Take advantage of the search “Tags” tool to find hashtags for your strategy.
- Choose a hashtag that populated from the search “Tags” tool and look for the list of related hashtags.
- Follow a hashtag.
- Take advantage of the thirty hashtags Instagram allows. If you try to go beyond this number the caption or comment will not appear.
- Create lists of hashtags that you can alternate between to deter constant repetition.
- Hashtags can be placed in the caption or in a comment. I honestly can’t tell you what option is better, it’s really about preference.
- Know the list of 2018 banned hashtags and avoid like the plague.
GO LIVE OR POST AN IG STORY
Similar to Facebook, you can now go live on Instagram which, provides users another opportunity to engage with their community. A wonderful opportunity to be authentic with your audience and engage.
Similar to posting a photo, the location tag and hashtag options are provided for stories. Take advantage of these features.
Accounts with over ten thousand followers unlock a “swipe up” feature which, allows businesses to add links to stories. An extremely beneficial feature.
As Instagram grows and I can only image it will (look at how Facebook has evolved), so will the tactics for engaging community members and growing ones account. I hope the above tactics are helpful in either starting or reassessing your Instagram account.