Instagram is by far one of the most popular social media networks on the internet today. Small businesses should consider including it as part of their strategy simply because it doesn’t have the competition you’ll find on Facebook, and there are much higher engagement rates. If the idea of getting started on the platform is overwhelming, use these tips to help.
- Resist the Urge to Fake It.
It can be disheartening to get started on Instagram because no one knows you’re there. Many brands have made the fatal mistake of trying to buy followers to make themselves look good. Having thousands of followers does you no good when they are taking the time to like or comment on your posts – and if they’re not targeted to your niche – that is, at least interested in what your selling, then they serve no real purpose to you anyway. Plus, Instagram doesn’t like it, and they’re cracking down on fake followers, anyway. Do it, and you’ll likely see your account suffer.
You’re far better served by taking the time to build those followers on your own. Yes, it will take more time, but in the end, you’ll have a targeted audience of potential customers you can build a relationship with. That will be far more valuable than an artificially inflated number.
You can still use automation services, which is equivalent if you buy real Instagram followers, to help you build that authentic audience in a fraction of the time. These Services allow you to find accounts to follow based on hashtags and other parameters. Some of them will also allow you to automate liking and commenting on Instagram posts so that you can foster engagement while focusing on creating the stellar content your audience wants and needs.
- Build a Strategy.
You should never jump into anything related to your business without some sort of strategy or plan in place. Think about what you want for your Instagram account. Obviously, you want growth, but think about how much growth you want. What does that growth mean to you? How long would you like to take to achieve the goal? what experiments are you willing to try? Are there any techniques you want to try to put your own spin on to get results faster?
For instance, you could plan to follow 100 new accounts a day, post three new images to your own account every day at various times to track when the most engagement happens, like and or comment on at least 25 posts from other accounts every day, and try experimenting with the number of hashtags you use on each post to see what works best for your audience.
Then, based on the results of those experiments you can adjust accordingly to see how that helps improve your numbers.
- Piggyback on Other’s Success.
Nothing online these days is completely original or brand new. No matter your niche, or the product you’re selling, someone is out there doing it already. While this competition could be seen as a bad thing, it’s also a great thing for you because you can take the success they’ve already built and make it your own. Find those competitor accounts and take a close look at their followers. This can help you determine more about the type of content you should be posting on your own Instagram account.
Chances are, those are the same kind of people you want to be following your account. Go through their list of followers and follow as many of those accounts as possible. Also, take the time to engage with their posts and see what you can learn about them from their Instagram profiles. You may find common elements to help you improve your target customer personas that you didn’t consider before.
- Post Great Content Every Day.
You can’t just snap pictures with your phone and expect that to be good enough these days. People want quality visual content, so that means putting time and effort into your posts. Vary your filters. Try creating graphics. Use the multiple image post, also known as the Instagram carousel.
The best way to handle this is to use an Instagram scheduling tool, which many social media automation tools offer. This way, you can focus on batching your content creation and schedule the posts to go live at the times you know your audience will be there to engage with it. Plus, you don’t have to worry about taking time out of your schedule every day just to make sure you post to Instagram. Instead, you can use that time every day to focus on engaging with your audience.
- Create and Promote a Branded Hashtag.
Hashtags are how content is categorized on Instagram. Hashtags help people find you, and creating a branded hashtag can help you see how much reach and engagement you have on the network. It gives you a chance to establish brand permanents and can be used across social media on Twitter and Facebook as well.
For your hashtag to be effective, it must be short and easy to remember and not easily confused with any other hashtag on the network. Generally speaking, #yourbrandname is good enough.
Once you have your hashtag, you have to promote it so people know to use it. One of the best and fastest way to do this is to lunch and Instagram contest where you ask entrance to use the branded hashtag.
Once you find something that works well for your Instagram strategy, stick to it. However, don’t be afraid to continue experimenting and spice things up. If all you’re doing is posting the same variations of a single image or theme, it will get stale quickly and your audience will respond accordingly. Keep an eye on your analytics and always be testing.