Say cheese! Everyone is taking photos these days with their cell phones, and it’s a good bet that a lot of those photos end up on Instagram. Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app and social network that allows users to add funky cool filters to their photos. It now has more than 300 million users and sky-high user engagement levels, making it an attractive brand promotional tool.
As a marketer, every promotional angle must be explored, and Instagram with all its users definitely presents unique marketing opportunities. With the announcement that it will open up its photo feed to advertisers and is testing a “Shop Now” button, the app becomes an even more attractive marketing space.
To begin your push at building a presence on Instagram, you first need to build an audience and learn how to promote your business without turning people off. Here are seven ways to build your Instagram audience and get your business seen on this growing social network.
1. Understand and Use Hashtags
I’ve talked about hashtags before, but nowhere in the online social world do they play quite as important of a role as they do on Instagram. The right hashtag can expose your photo to a large and targeted audience, even if those users don’t follow you. Hashtags are used on other social networks like Twitter, but Instagram users don’t seem to mind hashtag stuffing like they do on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to load up on relevant hashtags that your target audience might be following. Instagram allows up 30 hashtags per photo. Many power-users take advantage of this and max them out.
2. Follow Similar Users
In addition to using hashtags to attract attention and new followers, you should follow and engage with targeted users. Instagram is a social network, you’ll do better when you comment and like other photos instead of just posting and being silent.
One strategy to gain followers is called “follow, like, like, like.” You search for specific users using hashtags that relate to your business and your customers. Follow the users of the top photos you find and then like the last three photos they posted. This shows the user that not only did you follow them but you dug a little deeper and like what they are all about. This strategy helps you engage with users that might be interested in your brand and you could earn a few new followers in the process.
3. Post Consistently
Being consistent with your messaging is a key to success in marketing, and that holds true when growing an audience on Instagram. Research says that the average Instagram user posts once a day. It also states that users with the highest number of fans post 2 to 3 photos per day. This data suggests that if you want to gain more followers then you should post with higher frequency.
Instagram is one of the only social networks with no algorithm that filters your feed. This means that there is no drop-off in engagement or reach for posting more frequently. So feel free to post more quality photos consistently, it will help you gain more followers and brand exposure.
4. Use The Right Filters
Instagram is famous for its fun and inspiring photo filters. They make ordinary photos look interesting and dramatic. But did you know that using the right filter can actually lead to more views and engagement? Research says that filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on than unfiltered ones. Filters that create high contrast, warm tones, and higher exposure tend to inspire more engagement.
5. Use Emojis
Depending on your target buyer personas, the use of emojis may be a way to build Instagram engagement and followers. An emoji is a tiny image that is often placed in text. You’ll often see smiley faces, hearts, and other small images that convey an emotion. They are becoming a universal method of expression. Instagram reports that nearly 50% of all captions and comments on their platform have at least one emoji. If it’s right for your audience, try adding emojis to a few posts and see if they help earn you more engagement.
6. Host a Photo Contest
Planning and implementing a photo contest is a great way to bring followers, engagement and exposure to your brand on Instagram. The use of specific hashtags dedicated to your contest makes it easy for people to enter and easy for you to manage the contest. During the photo contest, ask the people to comment on their entry and tag one other person that should also enter. Doing this drastically increases not only the contest's reach but the reach of your brand.
7. Utilize Video
Instagram allows you to upload short videos up to 15 seconds long and not too many brands are taking advantage of this feature just yet. Statistics say that only about 10% of all posts on Instagram are videos. This means there’s plenty of room for growth and experimentation with this feature. Becoming more comfortable with video will allow you to take advantage of it as a marketing strategy, and you’ll be ahead of the curve when it becomes more mainstream.
Marketers are just now beginning to understand the usefulness of using Instagram when promoting brands. It’s not fantastic for driving people back to your website or converting leads, but it is great for brand awareness and positioning. I would love to hear about your experiences or strategies for marketing on Instagram. Leave a comment below and tell me how you were able to grow your audiences and make an impact on Instagram.
For more information on how to use social media for business, download this free ebook.