Posted on Dec 20th 2016 under Social Media
While social media today encompasses numerous platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on, more and more are tuning to Instagram as their primary marketing channel, and it is easy to see why.
Recent research has labelled Instagram, as the "King of Social Engagement", with many brands reaching as much as a 2.3 percent per-follower interaction rate. When you contrast that with the 0,2 percent typical of Facebook, and the 0,02 percent on Twitter, you can clearly see why Instagram is becoming the platform of choice for businesses.
With more than 500 million active monthly users, combined with those high engagement rates, this is a platform that is perfect for ensuring your campaign success.
7 ways to build your Instagram following
To take advantage of those Instagram benefits though, you need a good Instagram following, but if yours is not quite at the level you want it to be, there is no need to worry. We have seven top tips for really growing your Instagram audience.
1. Create a structured, detailed Instagram strategy
This may seem obvious, but it is surprising just how many people think they can just start posting things and then hope for the best. It will never succeed, the platform has matured and today, you need an actionable, detailed plan to get any kind of return on your investment in time, money and energy. Lay out a strategy that illustrates what you want from Instagram, and what you need to do to gain more followers.
Whether you are just starting out on Instagram or trying to improve on previous performance, there are three aspects to improving your Instagram strategy:
Understand the Competition
Look at what others in your field are doing, how they approach Instagram. This is a good way of understanding four different things
- See what the Industry average following is, so you can realistically gauge where you are and what you can achieve
- What content your competition uses, and how successful it is
- Post frequency, how often is the audience expecting content
- How the competition interacts with the audience that you are seeking to gain
Create Your Story
Whatever your business, whatever industry or market you are in, you have a story to share with your Instagram followers. You need to provide content that interests them, keeps them engaged and coming back for more, and importantly, provides value of some kind. Whether that is inspiration, information or something else, it is value and interest that will motivate your audience to spread your message and broaden your brand's reach. You can give them the story behind your business, how you create the products they buy, showcase customer's achievements and so on. Always look to inspire and motivate your audience to spread the word and grow your following.
There's no reason to limit this Instagram strategy to one or two groups. In fact, the successful brands will tell their stories simultaneously across various social media channels.
Set Your Goals
For a successful strategy you need your goals clearly laid out and defined. You need to know where you are going to know how to get there. Try setting goals for your Instagram strategy that combine with your overall business and marketing strategies to ensure you are moving forward in a single direction aiming for targets that can be reached.
2. Have A Visible Instagram Account to Attract More Followers
When businesses are having trouble gaining new Instagram followers, they often overlook the simplest remedy to the problem. Make it easier for anyone to find your Instagram account. There are several ways to do this:
- Promote your Instagram account to your audience on other social media platforms where you do have a sizable following.
- Use paid advertising to boost individual posts to gain visibility and followers.
- Ensure your website links to your Instagram account (and all your social media accounts, this is an essential part of your web design).
- Put a link to your Instagram account on your email signature when contacting your list or sending out a newsletter.
- Use hashtags correctly so that your content shows up in searches
- Embed Instagram photos into your blog posts
- Interact with the community by liking other posts, commenting on pictures and so on
3. Develop the right, high quality and relevant content to attract more followers
Like all social media, content really is king on Instagram. Better content quality really does mean more followers, so ensure that the quality of your posts remains high at all times. Out of focus images, or images that are not relevant or interesting to your audience will have the opposite effect. You need to give people a reason to follow your Instagram account, and high quality, interesting and relevant content is the best reason to have. Think about your content strategy and how you could improve it, here are our best tips:
Finding the best time to post
Use the information you have collected about your customers to find the best time of day to post on social media. If you are marketing to professionals with positions of responsibility, they are not likely to be checking out their Instagram feed during office hours, rather they will be looking early morning over breakfast, at lunch time or in the evening.
Similarly, if you are marketing to students, parents or weekend workers, the times would change accordingly. Of course, knowing broad demographics such as those is only a guide, you will still need to test out different times of the day to find exactly when the best responses are achieved from your own audience, and then stick to that schedule.
Exactly how often you should post to your Instagram account is open to debate, research shows that 75% of leading brands post at least once a week, however the important point about post frequency is that your audience sees your posts in their feeds. Irregular post schedules mean less engagement and an audience that can quickly become disassociated from your brand, the exact opposite of what you are after, the interaction with an engaged and interested audience.
If you are struggling to find the time to post on a regular schedule, it is well worth investing in scheduling software like Buffer or Hootsuite, that post Instagram Photos and captions for you, all to your timetable.
Effective use of hashtags
Make sure that every post you make has relevant hashtags attached, as this is the primary way your posts will appear in searched from the wider audience on Instagram that are not currently following you but are looking for content about your industry or brand.
For those new to hashtags, here are some points to consider when using them:
- Always look for what is currently popular — Tools such as Picodash can search for popular service, product or industry related hashtags for you.
- Be original — While including popular tags is important, you can also be original and create your own. If your followers use a unique hashtag when discussing your product or service, it can help form a more cohesive community around your brand, while also allowing others to discover your posts.
- Avoid excessive hashtag use — Endless lines of hashtags can be distracting for your audience, and your message can be lost in the confusing jumble of words.
- Avoid using hashtag tricks – Hashtags such as #follow me or #likeforlike may see a brief increase in follower numbers, but it would likely be temporary, and often attracts spammers and those looking for followers themselves, so offer little value to you as prospects. Focus on hashtags that are relevant to your activities and build a community that are interested in what you do.
- Use your captions properly — Always remember that Instagram is a visual platform, so captions are a vital part of capturing that new audience and finding new followers.
- Ask questions — Interaction, the two-way conversation, is an important part of every social media campaign and Instagram is no different. Asking your followers questions in a post encourages responses, which in turn add to your post visibility.
- Use tagging where appropriate — If you have other Instagram users in your images, tag them in it using Instagram's tagging tool. Research from Simply Measured shows that posts that mention other users bring 37% higher engagement. You can also ask your followers to tag others they think will enjoy the content, increasing awareness of your content as well.
- Use Location Tags — For businesses with a physical location, tag it into your photos, and ask your customers to do the same. Others can then click on the location and find more content that relates to your business, again increasing visibility for your account.
Use video to be creative
Instagram is a great platform for video content, and this is best illustrated by the increase in video use right across Instagram, which is showing no signs of slowing down. However, to get noticed, your videos need to be informative and entertaining, and above all unique, so get creative and grab your audience's attention.
4. Run Contests and Campaigns to build your following
Running a contest through Instagram will bring more traffic to your account and increase your audience, providing a larger base to potentially market to. You should always ask contest entrants to follow your account, like and comment on a photo, or use a specific hashtag. This increases user generated content associated with your account and can quickly grow visibility.
Instagram should always be an integral part of your marketing campaigns to increase your follower base, and that includes both online and offline strategies. Instagram is the perfect place for a teaser campaign that slowly introduces a new product for instance, as well as the perfect platform for offering live event coverage of your offline promotions, such as in-store events and so on.
5. Help others grow their following
Like any social media network, Instagram is community based. Following others, helping them to grow, can quickly see your own following grow as well. Sharing material and liking their posts, making comments and participating in the community will see others do the same for you in return.
Create Instagram search streams to locate, keep an eye on and participate in communications with users. If you see somebody that's posting content that's relevant to you, leave a comment and ask them if you share the picture on your account. If they agree, always ensure you give proper credit to your sources.
Do this with the more popular Instagram accounts in your industry, and you can quickly gain audience. A good tool that offers insight into the top influencers in any niche is Ninjaoutreach, which can also highlight the most popular content they are sharing.
6. Use Instagram advertising to gain followers
Everyone should have a social media advertising budget. If you do not have one yet, create one. One of the most efficient ways of attracting more followers is to use Instagram sponsored posts, though the ad-buying tools that are offered by Instagram's partners. By logging into any of these third party sites, you can produce and place ads on Instagram, and according to a Nielson Brand Effect study, these ads offer close to three times the recall of other forms of online advertising. A&W Restaurants ran an Instagram ad campaign and saw a 39-point life in their ad recall with a four-point lift in their message association, as just one example.
7. Assess the results of your Instagram account performance
If you have not achieved the Instagram following you want, you need to understand where you are going wrong, and analytics can help you identify where problems are occurring and what you need to adjust within your strategy.
Sometimes, analytics allow you to see a link between what you post, when you post it, the kind of hashtags being used and any associated spike in followers. When you identify a successful strategy in this way, you should focus on repeating these moments to quickly gain followers.