In 2010, when Instagram was launched, it was merely a photo-sharing app that held its own well against other photo apps that were in vogue. So much so that Facebook bought it for $1 billion in April 2012.
Seven years later, Instagram dons a new avatar- one that’s packed with photo editing, automation, live video features, and filters. Instagram is today regarded as the ‘king of social media’ with everyone wanting to taste success by jumping onto the Instagram bandwagon.
1. Why do you need an Instagram account?
That’s a no-brainer- after all, you need to know what you’re going to use it for- pleasure or business. Your marketing goal needs to be specific and measurable because that’s going to determine how you’re going to use your Instagram account. Any step you take is going to depend on what you’re working towards – be it enhancing audience engagement or creating income from affiliate marketing. Whatever it is, you need a blueprint.
2. Your Instagram profile matters
People are interested in profiles and check out your digital billboard on Instagram. An interesting bio, a warm photo, a distinctive username, social media badges, builds trust and credibility. Make your business visible by placing your account handle on everything connected with your business. Connect with your followers on other social media platforms apart from Instagram.
3. Content and context- crucial for Instagram success
Remember, you want customers and more customers, not just casual visitors. The customer is ‘king’ and can make or break your business. Good content in the form of text, visuals and videos ups the ante on brand value, while context ensures that the right information reaches the right people at the right time.
Always be on top of content, interact and engage consistently, listen to the people’s voices and adapt to changing trends. Share quotes from thought leaders and happy customers, post ‘How-to’ articles and also post content by other users and experts. User-generated content has tremendous value in the eyes of customers and has been known to drive sales.
4. Post eye-grabbing visuals
After all, this is the heart of Instagram and photos, images, and impressive posts are always going to be focal points. Make your visual elements consistent across your website and social media platforms- that helps to reinforce your brand, creates trust and people identify your brand easily. Build familiarity.
5. Don’t forget your hashtags
Hashtags help to grow audiences; they help people find you. Instagram users live on hashtags and hop from one to another. Relevant hashtags describing your content help users navigate better and improve their overall Instagram experience.
6. Become an active member of the Instagram community
Follow people who follow you, comment on user views, and interact with those that provide value, encourage feedback- in short, and participate as much as you can.
7. Go where your users are
By this time, you’ll probably have followers. Identify Instagram users in your particular niche that have a big following, and you follow all of them. Repeat this weekly and build new followers each time. Soon you’ll have enough followers and more on your Instagram site.
8. Partner with relevant users
Choose the right partners (those with a history of cross-promotion) by searching through the relevant databases of influencers. This makes it easier to increase brand awareness and ramp up sales. Set clear terms to the partnership and take full advantage of the cross-promotion.
9. Run challenges and contests
Freebies may not be enough to attract new followers- though challenges and contests if done right, will help you gain momentum and traction. Link to the contest on your blog and announce it to all those on your email list.
10. Use offline interactions to grow online presence
Make sure you add your Instagram handle to product packages and also place a hashtag on the product itself- this is a golden opportunity that many miss out on.
11. Optimize your performance continuously
With Instagram constantly evolving, new strategies have to come into play. Monitor results- keep an eye on follower growth, traffic and number of interactions for every post. Identify what tactics paid off and what didn’t and adapt and change accordingly.
There will be times when you’ll feel like giving up and giving in; you just need to keep in mind that patience is the key – as long as you work hard, you’ll reap the rewards.