Let’s admit it. It’s impossible for any business owner to ignore a marketing network that has over 400 million active users from around the world. With online marketing getting more competitive by the day, it becomes absolutely crucial for online marketers to look out for potential platforms to increase their reach across the Internet.
Small businesses have started leveraging the benefits of Instagram marketing and gained a loyal following for their promotions. If you haven’t jumped in yet, now is your turn. Here are some useful ways to help you gain decent followings and turn them into potential customers.
#1: Build a community around an actionable hashtag
Think of a hashtag as a magnet that brings folks together.
To help bring about a sense of community on Instagram, create a unique, actionable hashtag, encouraging customers and clients to use it. When customers start using that hashtag, make sure to like and comment when they use it.
✔The great thing about this strategy is that it can be leveraged across other social networks like Twitter and Pinterest, but works so well on Instagram and is the perfect way to get your audience to engage with your brand.
Here’s a great example of a small brand leveraging the hashtag #EEEEEATS. This hashtag was created by the guys at Infatuation to create an online food community for “anyone who is serious about food, but doesn’t take food too seriously,” according to their site. And it’s worked absurdly well with over 1.1 Million posts shared using the prevalent hashtag for foodies all over the map.
Another excellent use of hashtags from jeffbullas.com is to:
- Follow conversations within your niche
- Discover customers who’d be interested in your brand
- Search hashtags to find people who are already talking about your brand online and have a large following in your niche.
This will help you identify Instagram influencers within your industry and begin growing your Instagram following.
#2: Create content that relates to your followers while staying relevant to your brand
While cat pictures are a great part of Instagram, each business that uses social media and Instagram needs to make sure its photos are relatable. Knowing your customers can help with this, giving your business a good direction to go in.
✔One of the important things about creating relatable content is to ensure that your business stays genuine when creating it.
(a) Would your audience relate to these cats?
(b) Would your audience drool over a picture of your lunch time special?
#3: Don’t over post
This tip is pretty self-explanatory, but for those new to Instagram please note thatover-posting is a big insta-no-no!
✔Even if you have several great photos to share – don’t! Instagram is one of those channels that shouldn’t have too many posts in a day due to how it can overwhelm followers.
One more cat picture as a reminder:
Pro tip: Use a tool to automatically schedule your Instagram posts.
#4: Promote your Instagram everywhere
This one is also somewhat self-explanatory, but you need to leverage Instagram in the same way you do your other social networks.
Getting followers on Instagram might be difficult in the beginning. Because of this, it is a good idea to promote your Instagram account everywhere – on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and even include your Instagram name on your business cards to hand out near the register.
- Do you have social icons on your homepage or product pages connecting visitors to your social channels? An Instagram icon needs to be added as well.
- Encourage your employees, especially those frequently communicating with customers, to add a link to your company Instagram in their email signatures.
- Add an icon of your Instagram handle to your LinkedIn profile and business card.
- Repost your Instagram photos to your business Twitter and personal accounts.
The opportunities are endless, but once your Instagram is enticing, get it in front of people and start building your follower base.
#5: Find the beauty in your brand (even if your offerings are ugly)
A lot of businesses rule Instagram out as an unusable platform for their business. Their mindset being that they don’t sell food, beer, or clothing; their products are either unattractive or intangible so why would they use a photo-sharing application? Think again!
✔Don’t rule Instagram out altogether because there are so many other ways to build your brand without directly showcasing photographs of your products – Tell A Story!
- Take photographs in the office or of your work environment to give your followers a sneak-peak into the day-to-day of your company’s unique culture.
- Get your employees involved; create a unique hashtag for your company and have all of your employees add the hashtag to the pictures they take. Show your personality!
#6: Utilize all the tools Instagram has to offer
Instagram itself is a great resource. Make sure to subscribe to and use the tools in their Instagram for Business blog.
✔Explore how businesses are using Instagram through tips, brand spotlights, API examples and news from Instagram HQ.
#7: Get inspiration from others
“Steal ideas from other companies”
When it comes to using Instagram, one of the best ways to get incredible images is to follow other brands and get inspiration. Inspiration is a major part of Instagram marketing, and there are several incredible brands out there with excellent Instagram social strategies that can be inspiring.
✔Inspiration means that a business can get ideas on what and how to post, but no business should ever copy what others do. Going for a unique approach will be a great way to increase engagement with clients.
#8: Showcase beautiful experiences relevant to your brand
General Electric is a pro at this. You wouldn’t think wind turbines were photogenic but look at this stunning photograph below. According to the Instagram blog, “Show how your company sees the world and make it meaningful to people.” Not a photographer? Not all of us can be Annie Leibovitz. Instead start a hashtag campaign (see tip #1) and post photographs that your fans capture.
#9: Interact with Others on Instagram to Grow Your Following
We’ve talked a lot about promoting your Instagram, posting engaging, quality images, using hashtags to create buzz, and gaining inspiration from others, but another critical step in the process is interacting with your followers and the people you want to follow you.
If you’re already posting follow-worthy content then start liking, commenting and following others.
“If you expect people to engage with your posts, they expect the same as well,” writes TINT CEO, Tim Sae Koo. “The more active you are, the more exposed your username/account is to the owner and owner’s followers.”
✔So search popular hashtags and like away! Write complementary comments on peoples post and #regram images while giving credit to the original post.