Would you like to get your products and brand seen by more people, grow a strong following of customers who really relate to your brand, and get paid? If so, then Instagram is your magic spell.
Now that Instagram has over 300 million monthly users (that’s more than Twitter!), many brands are finding ways to interact with the Instagram community and earn personally invested customers who keep coming back for more.
But it’s not just the numbers you should care about. It’s the people using Instagram.
Instagrammers are shoppers. Iconosquare’s 2015 Instagram study shows that 70% of IG users report having already looked up a brand on the platform. Plus, 62% of users follow a brand just because they like it!
If you post the right Instagram images, consumers soak up your marketing message without any hard sales pitches from you; hence, your magic spell for appealing to customers without “selling to them.”
Design your Account for maximum User engagement
The first thing you’ll need to do is to create an Instagram profile that people will be interested in.
This matters. Your picture, your name, profile name, and your description are your digital billboard on Instagram. People will look at it, browse your photos, and check out your website.
Everything starts here.
First, here’s the rundown on how to optimize your professional Instagram presence for greater customer appeal.
- I recommend using your personal name.
- Your username needs to be unique. If your name is already taken, add some words or phrases that make it distinct.
- Include a Link to Boost Traffic to Your Site
- Stay Recognizable with a Consistent Name and Photo
- Include an Informative and Interesting Bio That Hooks Followers
Promote Your Products with Creative, Professional Photos
Instagram is all about the pictures. In this step, you need to build a collection of attention-grabbing posts.
You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s use this power to its full, customer-hooking advantage.
Post original photos
No one likes to see an Instagram account that is stacked with stock photos or reposted viral pictures. Use your own photos.
Make sure your photos are relevant
Whenever you post a photo, think about the group that you want to attract. Who are these people? What will grab their attention? I’ll provide some examples of relevancy below.
Add a location
When you add a location to your photo, you’ll get more visibility. Why? Because your photo “lives” in that location. Anytime someone searches for photos taken within an area, they will see your photo.
Size Your Photos for Professional Quality
Avoid an awkward crop or blurred image that loses you professionalism points.
Instagram’s format automatically makes your images square, within a 612 x 612 pixels frame. Consider the square shape when choosing a picture, or the whole appeal of the photo might be lost (i.e., cropped out!).
Use Instagram’s Editing Tools to Stand Out
Instagram offers a range of in-app filters to enhance the colors and moods of your photos. Just stay consistent so your photos can instantly be recognized as fitting your brand’s style.
Avoid Hard Selling to Appeal to Instagram’s Social Culture
Buyers report strong influence from social media when considering a purchase. While the number one influencer is their friends’ social media shares, a solid 38% say they’re influenced by a brand’s social media, and 35% are influenced by retailers on social media. So your brand has a lot of sway here!
Offer Promotions and Exclusive Announcements to Followers
Pump up your followers’ feeds with bonuses, special offers, and insider announcements. Since 41% of Instagrammers state that they follow, or would follow, a brand to take advantage of perks and giveaways, give followers that incentive.
Add a long image caption to the post
This is one of the most overlooked tactics in sharing photos. You should add several paragraphs of valuable written content to your post.
You’re allowed to write 2,200 characters. That’s a lot! For reference, 2,200 characters in this article will take you from the beginning all the way down to the paragraph that ends with “curated groups.” (CTRL + F to find it, and see how long 2,200 characters can stretch!)
Reach a Larger Instagram Following
Even if you’re posting awesome images, you need a strategy to get people to even see them and start following you. Here are some techniques to grow your followers list and show off your brand to more potential fans:
Include Hashtags to Widen Your Discoverability
You can Instagram all day long, but if you’re not using hashtags, you won’t grow your audience.
It’s that simple.
Hashtags give you visibility. Instagram users hop around on hashtags like a bored person channel surfs. They click from hashtag to hashtag to hashtag, occasionally stopping in to check out an interesting user.
But which hashtags should you use?
Add hashtags in a comment, not in the actual photo
I recommend putting your hashtags in a comment on your own photo.
Why? First, it looks a little bit nicer. Your image caption should be clean and nice-looking. Hashtags tend to make things look messy.
Second, it keeps your caption distinct. Hashtags aren’t for people to see. They are for people to find you.
Third, you can add more hashtags. If you’ve filled out your image caption at the character limit, don’t worry. You have more room in comments.
hashtag that relates to your industry or audience
Go ahead and type a broad hashtag that is relevant to your audience.
Use 30 hashtags
How many hashtags should you use?
Here’s a good rule of thumb: No less than 5. No more than 30.
Create a posting schedule
If you don’t post on Instagram, no one is going to bother following you.
Here is what I recommend:
- Post 1-2 photos or videos per day.
- Add 5-30 Instagram stories per day.
- Post 1 live video per day at the same time each day.
Find your target users, and begin following them
Believe it or not, everything we’ve discussed up to this point has been simple introduction.
You may be thinking what?! What about the massive amounts of followers?
If you follow the steps above, you will be attracting users at a rate of 20+ per day, and probably more.
Follow 50 users per hour
How many users can you follow and at what rate?
Nobody except a few select Instagram developers know the exact numbers.
Obviously, Instagram wants to keep users from abusing the system by spamming people with useless information. Therefore, they have some restrictions in place that keep you from following too many people.
The limit seems to be 7,500.
It’s going to take you a long time to reach 7,500. So what should you do?
Follow at least 50 users per hour. If you try to follow too many people within a certain amount of time, you’ll no longer be able to follow people.
Instagram won’t ban your account. They will simply prevent the “follow” button from working.
What should you do then? Wait an hour, and try again. Most likely, you’ll be able to follow more people.
Repeat this process as often as possible.
Become an active member of the Instagram community
Instagram isn’t just a broadcast platform. It’s a community of people who are helping each other, providing value, learning, and growing.
Here are the things that you should do in order to become an active member of the Instagram community, and to grow and cultivate your audience at the same time:
- If someone follows you, follow them back. Obviously, you want to avoid following spam accounts.
- If someone comments on your photo, reply with a comment directed toward them. Mention them, using @, in the comment.
- Like the photos that have hashtags that you’re interested in.
- Comment on the photos that contain hashtags you’re interested in.
- Like other people’s comments on photos that you’re interested in.
- Send direct messages to people who you’re interested in, or who provide a lot of value.
- In your photo, tag users who you know personally, or with whom you’ve formed a relationship on Instagram.
- Ask questions or invite feedback in your posts.
There’s a difference between being a publisher on Instagram vs. being a participant.
I encourage you to become a participant.
Instead, they’ll tell other people about me, and my following will continue to grow.
Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you won’t have to follow other users as aggressively. Instead, people will start flocking to you.
By that point, all your hard work has paid off, and you’re well on your way to becoming a powerful Instagram brand.
Remember that Instagram’s social nature works to increase the more intangible aspects of marketing, such as buyer loyalty, brand equity, and lifetime user value.
The community and associations of your brand are just as important as your products, and Instagram is the tool to promote that brand identity. Soon, customers will be coming to you, not the other way around.