It’s a pretty good time to get to know Instagram. With over 400 million monthly active users, your ideal customers are already there waiting for you – why wait for customers to find your website when you can literally have them at the fingertips of your smartphone? With great content, almost anyone could build a strong following and gain popularity on Instagram. Sadly, this won’t come naturally. You need to be tactical – think outside the box.
Firstly – let’s strip it down to the basics. Launched in October 2010, it’s one of the biggest photo and video sharing social platforms in the world. So – how do you use Instagram? You can use it to take pictures on the app or use photos that already exist in your camera roll. Then go on to create a caption, which can give the picture a bit of personality, help others gain a better understanding of the post, and create a story and brand voice. A cool feature making Instagram as interesting and popular as it is, is the fact that they have 24 different filters which makes any of your photos look like they’ve been taken by a pro.
Instagram like any other social network is based around having an audience. On Instagram you ‘follow’ people. You’ll see the username, profile picture, number of uploaded photos, number of followers they have and how many accounts they follow at the top of someone’s profile. You can ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on their posts. People ask questions in the comments, like ‘where is this’ or ‘how much is this?’. Once you get into using Instagram, you’ll see people are pretty laid back – it’s a fairly friendly online community.
But – how can you use Instagram as a business? Follow these 16 simple but effective tips to greaten your following:
Tip 1: Like photos in your niche
Start from the very beginning. If you’ve got great content people would want to see, you need to let the right ones know you’re there – but how can they do this if they don’t even know you have an account? How do you expect people to read your content if you act practically invisible on social media?
First things first – get yourself noticed by the correct audience. By following, liking and commenting on posts by other businesses, people and influencers in your industry, you are not only humanising your brand, but you’re also telling them you exist. Neil Patel tried liking hundreds of random photos within his niche, and concluded that for every 100 likes, he generated 6.1 new followers and 21.7 likes, without even following back. You also want people to think you care and have an interest in the industry – commenting on their stuff does just that. This is also a great way to begin forming your brand voice – if you are a milkshake bar attracting young people and want to appear friendly and modern, make sure this tone is present throughout any posts and responses. Why would you not want your audience relating to you?
Tip 2: Make sure your bio is complete
It’s always useful to include relevant keywords and hashtags, and a link back to your site in your Instagram bio. It is also important to not appear spammy or annoying; this is a guarantee that no one who reads your profile is going to want to follow you. Keep it short, interesting and attention-grabbing.
Tip 3: Think of a good theme and stick to it
Give brainstorming a try – think of a few words or phrases you want your audience to think of when they think of your brand. Once you’ve settled with your theme, make sure you stick with it. Example: a clothing brand may want to be seen as colourful, summery and bright, which could reflect the audience they want to attract. Always take your target audience into consideration when deciding on a theme – would they be attracted to the style, colours and types of photos you’re going to post?
Tip 4: You need to give a lot before expecting anything back
So when it comes to what you can get out of Instagram, you need to understand that a lot of people solely use it for entertainment – they don’t want to see tonnes of ads about products. Instead, they want to be amused with great content. So, you need to cover your Instagram with things like fun tips, quotes and funny photos before you start thinking about posting a picture of your products or begin selling to people. You need to bring value in order for people to trust and want to buy from you.
Tip 5: Follow people who may be interested in what your posting
Follow all your Facebook friends on Instagram. All you’ve got to do is go to your Instagram profile and click on the 3 dots icon on the top right of your screen. Go to the ‘Find Friends’ button and then click ‘Find friends on Facebook’. There is a good chance many will follow you back so it is definitely worth doing. If they are interested in what you’re posting on Facebook, there’s no doubt they’d be excited to see your Instagram content too. Connect your contact list with your Instagram account too by and then go to ‘Find friends’ instead, to connect it to your email contact list. It is also worth looking into following your suggested users. To do this, you go to ‘Suggested Users’. They’ve been suggested for a reason – they may have a keen interest in the industry you specialise in.
Tip 6: Keep a good balance between business-related photos and fun images
You don’t want to bore your audience with product after product. It’s common that businesses receive more likes and comments on entertaining posts as opposed to work-related ones. Make sure you spend some time thinking about what types of posts your audience likes and dislikes. This will be easier to do once your follower count expands and you’ve got a large number of posts. Look at which types of photos got more likes and comments than others, and try to figure out what it was about these that was popular, making sure you use this whenever you can in future posts. It’s also worth sharing behind-the-scenes photos. These show personality behind your brand, which really helps to show there are real people behind your logo.
Tip 7: Have a think about the frequency of your posts
You want to post frequently – this can be at least once per day, but as long as the content is somewhat useful, entertaining or serves purpose. Avoid spamming people’s feeds with annoying, unnecessary posts – this will only result in losing followers. Don’t start up an Instagram account to only drop it months down the line; not only will you lose massive numbers of followers but it doesn’t look good on your brand.
Tip 8: Consider your captions
When it comes to captions, make sure they’re interesting and serve a purpose. Don’t just write something for the sake of it; keep it funny, interesting or useful. A great way to increase engagement, especially once you have a decent number of followers, is to ask questions in your captions. Chances are many will want to respond. Use your image captions to tell an engaging story, as this helps to create an emotional connection to your product or brand, so including a deep-filled emotional story will probably end up with better engagement and follower levels.
Tip 9: Instagram is still a social network – don’t forget to socialise
Why be a part of a social network if you’re not going to socialise with people? Always try to reply to comments left on your photos and direct messages, whilst also commenting on other people’s posts. This two-way communication is crucial as it not only humanises your brand, but it shows that as a business you care about your audience’s thoughts and opinions, alongside with taking a keen interest in what they post too. This could also strengthen your customer service – if customers have any queries regarding your products, this would be one of the places they’d voice their opinions.
Tip 10: Link your other social network accounts
Instagram offers the option to push content to other social network sites: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and Swarm. Take advantage – not only will it save time posting the same photo to multiple channels, but it also helps grab followers from site to site. When you push the content to other networks, it shows that it’s coming from Instagram and links to your Instagram page, which is an easy way to leverage followers without looking desperate or as though you’re begging for followers. Linking your different social network accounts is easy to do – all that’s needed to begin pushing your great content is your login details for each site.
Tip 11: Ask influencers for some help
Do your research – find influencers with a load of followers in your industry, who generate high levels of likes and comments, who other users would listen to. You can reach out asking for different forms of help. This can include anything from asking them to feature you in a post, to asking if you could take over their Instagram for the day as a guest or vice versa. This is great as it increases your brand awareness and would generate a whole load of new, interested followers with a genuine passion for the industry. Even if you just feature them in a photo, try letting them know as they might like/comment on the post. If you have connections with an influential Instagrammer, think about asking them to guest post on your account. This will send engagement and follower levels through the roof; not to mention just increase brand awareness too.
Tip 12: Use #hashtags
For those of you that don’t know, a hashtag is used to mark keywords about a specific topic, allowing you to easily find posts on it.
It’s also a good idea to use niche specific and trending hashtags. This can put your photo in front of a large, highly engaged and interested audience. Instagram doesn’t show which hashtags are trending, but Twitter and Facebook do. To find hashtags specific to your niche, take a look at Iconosquare, which helps find you the most popular hashtags relevant to specific words and topics.
Tip 13: Ask users to get involved
Encourage users to tag their friends. This is a great way to get followers and increase your engagement levels. However, they’re only going to do this if the content is engaging, funny or serves a purpose. In other words, there’s no use asking users to tag friends in content which is irrelevant to them – they need to relate to it.
Example: it would be a good idea for a local bakers to post a photo of one of their best-selling cakes with the caption ‘tag a friend who would demolish this in seconds’, or for a makeup brand to post ‘tag a friend who would master this makeup look’. It’s useful to keep it industry related, as the users will obviously tag their friends who the post best describes, letting you find people who have a keen interest in your services or niche too.
You want to make sure that the people who will be getting tagged in these photos are interested in the industry you specialise in, otherwise the engagement you receive would be nothing more than a vanity stat – so keep the content very niche-specific.
Another useful way to gain followers on Instagram is to hold a contest. An example could be to post a photo and encourage users to like, comment and follow for a chance to win, or ask them to post a certain photo, and the best one will win. Contests are great because offering an incentive will result in more people taking part. After all, they’ll want to get something out of what they are doing for you.
Tip 14: Geotag your photos
Its also worth adding your location to your photos. This is because it means that if any other user searches that area, they’ll be able to find your post and then your page pretty easily. Anyone who searches the location could be either visiting or actually living there, so whoever comes across your photos could be potential customers.
Tip 15: Use the right filters
Although filters are used to enhance photos and help them appear more professional, overdoing it can look way too edited. This can actually result in it looking completely unprofessional so ensure you use them appropriately. Also, try filters and colours that are similar, so they don’t clash and so they complement the theme of your page well if you use one. The better your photos look, the more people will like looking at them, and then the more people will want to follow you.
These are just some of the many useful ways to increase your brand presence and following on Instagram – give them a try and see which ones work best for you and your business.