Growing Your Following
Instagram is highly powerful and an amazing tool for growing your brand and getting more attention for your products, services, and ethos.
What Instagram is not though is magic. In other words, this isn’t a case of ‘build it and they will come’. If you want to grow your audience and if you want to expand your reach, you need to put in the time and effort to get more people to find your account and to get more people to follow.
The first way to do this is by using the right tags and by posting regularly. This way, you’ll create more opportunities for people to find you on Instagram and you’ll bring more and more people on your page.
At the same time though, you can also rely on a few smart tricks to bring in even more viewers…
Your Target Audience-Know them
The success of your channel is largely going to come down to how ‘on the money’ you are with your tone, message, and photos. In other words, are you uploading the kind of stuff that your target demographic want to see? Do you ‘get’ them?
The key to getting this right is taking some time to do the market research up front. In other words, you shouldn’t just ‘guess’ who your audience is and what they’re interested in: you need to get out there and do the research.
There are a number of ways you can accomplish this. One is simply to poll your customers and to get them to tell you what sort of things they like. Another useful trick is to look at popular Instagram accounts of your competition.
What are they posting that’s helping them to do so well? Likewise, which other Instagram accounts are your customers following? This can also lead you to some tips and suggestions you can take on board.
Another big key to success is to stay consistent with your message and with your content. In other words, if you have decided to make your Instagram account a place where people can pick up fashion advice then keep it that way.
Don’t suddenly veer into new territory by uploading a picture of you out with your friends or on holiday. Likewise, if your account is all about fitness, don’t upload a picture of your beer.
It’s fine to reach out from your direct niche from time to time but does keep in mind that you should always keep your target audience and your message in mind when deciding whether or not to upload any new content.
Integrating Instagram With Your Website
You can promote your Instagram account through your website in a number of ways. The best way though is to consider adding a widget to your website which will show your most recent Instagram images. This has numerous advantages.
For starters, it provides your website with a stream of regularly updated content that will ensure that it always looks populated and doesn’t become a ‘ghost website’ (it’s highly unprofessional to have a website and then never update it). At the same time, it provides your site with something visual and personal – again great if you’re promoting a personal brand.
Moreover, though, it can lead to people who visit your site directly following you on Instagram. This is highly valuable when you think of your website like a sieve: all those people who visit, leave and don’t come back are effectively lost to you forever and you can no longer market to them.
But when you have them following you on some kind of social media, you’ll then be able to approach them again giving yourself multiple opportunities to turn them into leads and customers.
You should also include a link to your main Instagram account somewhere on the site. Many WordPress themes come with buttons linking out to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube along with the top portion of the site.
Instagram and Other Social Media
Likewise, you can also integrate your social media accounts with Instagram and you should. Luckily, Instagram makes this very easy by allowing you to tick the other accounts you want to share to when you upload.
This way you can easily have your Instagram posts appear on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. as well. When writing your description and tag, think about how this will play on your other social media.
For accounts that aren’t integrated with Instagram, you can use the awesome tool ‘IFTTT’. IFTTT stands for ‘If This, Then That’ and it allows you to link all kinds of different social media accounts, mobile apps, and web apps so that an action on one leads to a result on another.
So for instance, this might mean that when you upload something to Instagram, it automatically gets uploaded to your WordPress site as well as a new post. This can also be useful for a host of other things – for instance, you can get all your Instagram images to be added to DropBox as well so that you have them backed up.
So sharing across accounts is easy. At the same time though, you should also think about updating your various social media profiles so that they all feature consistent branding. Make sure that on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn etc. that your cover image and your profile image are consistent and that they include your logo. Likewise, use the same username so that there’s no confusion.
Finally – and this is something that will work on your website too – don’t be afraid to outright ask your followers on other social media to start following you on Instagram too.
At the end of your next YouTube video for instance, just mention to your viewers that you have an Instagram account and they should follow you because of XYZ. On Facebook, likewise you can structure a post like: enjoy this content? Then you’ll love our Instagram account!
Getting People Involved
Another strategy that businesses use to increase their follower count on Instagram is to try and get their existing audience to help them attract more people. There are a number of ways that this can be done
One great way to do this is to run a contest. Here, you will simply offer a prize for people taking a certain picture and uploading it with a tag. If you have a product such as a smartphone for instance, then you can ask your followers to post photos of themselves on your smartphone.
If you have a certain item of clothing or a pair of shoes, then you can have a ‘fashion contest’ and get your followers to post their outfit combinations that revolve around the item that you sell. They then simply tag your brand in the picture, or they use a particular hashtag and you assess the winners and award a prize.
This is fantastic for you because if you get lots of people to join in you can gain huge exposure across the participants’ networks. At the same time, they will be engaging with you, they’ll be showing off your product in dynamic photos and they’ll generally be acting as ambassadors for your brand – it’s the perfect scenario!
Featuring User’s Images
Another option is simply to occasionally feature the images of other customers. This way, you just say that the best images that you are tagged in that have a certain tag, you will ‘regram’ for your audience. This is fun exposure for them but for you, it means you’ll consistently have a large number of users engaging with your brand and linking to it. This is a little like a low-level contest that will go on continuously.
Caption contests are a great way to get people to engage with your photos and comment below, which in turn will help to make your account look active and will get you more likes. Just take an obscure picture and then add ‘Caption contest!!’ in the description.
As a side note, getting likes (which look like a heart on Instagram) is a powerful strategy on Instagram as it will help you to get seen by more people. That’s because there is a section on Instagram where you can see all the content that your friends on there have liked. This means that if people like your photos, they will show up in that section for more other people.
Commenting, Liking and Following
If you want to take a more active approach to grow your network, then another thing you can do is to comment on other people’s images, like them and follow people. Remember earlier we said that 65% of Instagram users find this flattering? This also plays to one of the big strengths of Instagram in particular – which is its highly narcissistic nature.
That is to say, that if you should like a picture someone has taken on Instagram, they will almost always be at least intrigued enough to look into your username and see what you have on your account.
If they like what they see, they might just follow. The same goes for commenting (especially if you say something kind and/or witty) and for following (which works best if that person is clearly directly in your target demographic).
So an active form of marketing you can do on Instagram is simply to browse through images that have been recently uploaded by looking for hashtags relevant to your brand and then to comment, like and follow the people you find that way. As a result, you’ll find that you generate some interest and some significant new followers.
Double Tap If…
Want to get more likes? A smart little trick you can use is to upload an image and then add the text ‘If…’. For instance, a picture of Bruce Lee with the text ‘Double Tap if You Think This Man is a Legend’ is likely to get you a huge amount of likes!
The above strategies can be used to try and help you get a large quantity of new followers but this is really just one of two big ways you can work with other users on Instagram. The other big way is to stop focusing on quantity and to instead narrow down and focus on quality.
This is what’s known as ‘influencer marketing’. Influencer marketing means that you find someone who already has a large following on your chosen social platform and who has established themselves as an authority.
These people will have the ability to sway the opinions of large groups of followers – which is where you eventually want to be. Instead of spending months or years trying to reach this point then, instead why not piggy back on the success of someone who has already gotten there?
In other words, why not see if you can’t get someone to post on your behalf to their audience? Of course there needs to be something ‘in it’ for them and this could mean that you pay them, that you promote them in exchange for them promoting you (like an adswap) or you could just try targeting influential members of the public and hope that they’ll like your brand enough to do it for free.
One tool you can use to this end is Instagram Direct, which is essentially a way of sending a picture to an individual user. This is a great way to show an influencer something that you’ve done that they might be interested in, or that you think their audience might be interested in.
If you’re lucky, they may give you a shoutout!
Real World Networking
Very often social media marketing can become even more effective when you combine it with real-world networking. This is certainly true of LinkedIn and it’s very true of Instagram.
A great example of how this can work comes not from Instagram but from Twitter. Do you know what the most retweeted tweet of all time is? That would be the selfie that Ellen Degeneres took at the Oscars and which featured the likes of Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey and Angelina Jolie.
Why was this picture so successful? No doubt because each of those stars would also have retweeted it and that this would then, in turn, have been retweeted by many of there collective millions of fans.
What does all this have to do with Instagram? Simple: if you can bag a selfie with yourself and someone who has a fair amount of clout, then you have a legitimate excuse to tag them and to include them in your marketing.
As a result, your content will then be seen by all of their followers which can then lead to lots more people following you. This is one of the few ways you can almost guarantee that you will get to partake in influencer marketing and it almost doesn’t require their actual participation!
This is a very big and important reason to go to networking events if you aren’t already! If you go to events where you’re likely to meet lots of other marketers, you’ll potentially be able to gain access to all their followers through social media!