In many aspects, Instagram has truly revolutionized the internet. The network got 1 million users after only three months of its release, and its user base has grown steadily since then.
There are currently about 700 million people who are using Instagram, and the number is still climbing. All things considered, the platform has changed quite a lot, in order to both better accommodate old users, as well as to attract new individuals. If we were to compare the app since it was first released and the one that is currently available, we would discover that Instagram has not only become more powerful, offering more capabilities in order to cater to the needs of a very diverse user base, but also much more flexible in terms of business opportunities.
This is one social platform that should not be overlooked, regardless of the fact that Instagram users may or may not be part of your target audience. In lesser words, the user base is too big to simply ignore.
You need several things in order to be successful on Instagram, such as followers, likes, comments, and mentions.
It is equally important to remember that Instagram is quite personal to many of its users. You must find ways to engage your audience on a deeper level, in order to have a successful social media marketing campaign. Connect with other users in a way that is meaningful to them, and you will win them over to your side.
The following guide will effectively teach you how to get over 300 targeted Instagram followers each day, through step-by-step instructions that are both easy to understand and to follow.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is, for those who do not know it, a mobile app that revolves around sharing photographs. It was launched in 2010 when there were already several similar apps on the market; however, it managed to be more successful than all of its competitors combined. The media channel grew so quickly that it got the attention of Facebook, which bought them for $1 billion, in 2012.
Instagram has hit its 700 million users mark as of April 2017.
Instagram started out as a basic app that lacked many of the features that it has today. Users would take pictures, choose filters to apply to them, in order to make them look more appealing, and then share them with their followers. The system was quite simple, with no bells and whistles. However, this has changed.
The application has since received a large number of upgrades which have added everything from automation features to more filters. Instagram’s developers have analyzed the source of the success that Snapchat and Periscope were having, and have found ways to implement similar features into their app.
As a result, the app currently offers the ability to use photo editing features that are close to what you would see in image editing software, instead of relying on its filter system. Also, users now have the ability to post “Stories”. These photos and videos appear at the top of your followers’ feeds and disappear after 24 hours. Those who want a little more privacy also have the option of sending their Stories to specific groups or people.
One of the features that Instagram has taken from Snapchat is editing pictures with text, drawing, and various special effects. Users can also broadcast live videos, however, there is a catch: the videos are not stored, they disappear after the broadcast ends. This pushes people to tune in at various hours in order to watch live streams while they are being filmed.
Having said that, this article will not explain all the app’s features but will teach you how to get a large number of followers. This does not mean that you should ignore the tools that you have at your disposal, as they will come into play when having to grow your audience.
How to identify fake followers
Some individuals attempt to artificially increase their reach (and influence), by purchasing followers and likes. There are sites that have built their services around the idea of directing fake followers and likes to their clients’ accounts, in order to make them more appealing to various brands. While many do it in order to get better deals when it comes to affiliate marketing campaigns, there are also users who simply do it in order to create the illusion of fame.
Fake followers are usually bots designed to simulate users. They do not have any real use except distorting the statistics of various accounts. Furthermore, they have a detrimental impact on both user experience, as well as on the way brands chose potential affiliate program partners.
Consider the following. These bots cannot “Like” a brand. As a result, they don’t impact your business except for the fact that they prevent you from building a reliable marketing strategy. Without the ability to spend money or to effectively spread the word about your products or anything else that your brand may offer, they are unnecessary complications.
Luckily, there are ways through which users can identify and eliminate fake profiles:
- Establish the general purpose of your Instagram account.
This step is vital to those looking to use the platform for marketing purposes. Keep in mind that more than half of the total number of users follow their favorite brands. Your goal is to set your marketing goals in order to become one of those brands. Knowing what you must achieve will enable you to effectively track your progress, measure your results, and calculate your return on investment.
Build an effective marketing campaign by discovering what works for your followers and create a content strategy from there. As for your goals, they can be anything that the platform can offer and you need. A few examples would be :
- Improving audience engagement;
- Generating a consistent income from affiliate marketing programs;
- Increasing sales;
- Increasing the traffic on your website;
- Connecting with influencers belonging to the same niche as you;
- Create hype before launching a product;
- Grow your email list;
- Raise brand awareness and attract influential individuals;
Do your best to be as specific as possible when it comes to setting your objectives, however, keep in mind that they should also be somewhat flexible.
If you do this at the start, then you will see that they will change as your business grows, in order to suit your vision. Be ambitious, but do not set unrealistic goals for yourself as these will prevent you from accurately predicting the outcome of your projects, and will also damage your self-confidence.
- Create an effective, well-thought-out content strategy
The next step is to figure out how your content should look. This is a vital part of having success on Instagram, so be careful and give it as much thought as possible.
Now, “Content” is pretty much everything that you post on Instagram, through any means that are permitted by the platform. This is why you need a clearly defined vision when it comes to what content you want to feed to your followers.
If your content is random, then it will randomly attract people. They will not perceive your account or brand in any way, shape or form, and will simply drop an occasional “Like”, but they won’t be a real audience. You certainly won’t be able to target a certain category of people.
If you want your Instagram account to affect your business, then it is imperative that your content is strategic and targeted. Doing so will enable you to target the followers that you like, and will help your business grow. Furthermore, they will be interested in your products, so they will engage with your calls to action more easily, thus making your overall job simpler.
Start building a content strategy by taking into consideration the business goals that you have set in the previous step. Try to find impactful ways of using the time that you’ve given yourself to meet a certain goal.
Do not ignore Context. The most important element when it comes to posting content online is “Context”. Each social media network has a particular context that users must obey in order to successfully draw the attention of other people.
If you are not familiar with the term, then think of it like this: Content refers to everything that you create and post online. Context is the meaning attached to your content.
You basically have to make sure that your content is meaningful and that you deliver appropriate information, at the right time. Context is tied to content. It is important to define the context that your content must follow, in order to satisfy the needs of your targeted audience.
One way to do this is to encase the content, which is basically information, in a story that represents the context. Think about the “What?”, “Who?”, “When?”, “Why?”, and the “Where?”. These questions will guide you to developing effective ways to deliver your content to audiences. However, do not forget about the importance of choosing a good method to transmit the information.
When it comes to Instagram, the platform revolves around the concept of sharing images, so the user base is extremely visual. So you need to post photographs, videos, and stories in order to get your audience’s attention.
The difficulties of developing a good content strategy appear when having to cater to the needs of a growing audience. In essence, different people will like different things, so if the number of followers grows, your audience is bound to become more fractured in terms of preferences.
The best way to proceed is to do everything in your power to keep your followers engaged. It will be easier for you to post content that people like if you constantly keep an eye on how they react and change your context accordingly.
Feedback is extremely important to any marketing campaign, so as long as you create ways for people to give you their opinion, you should be alright. This, however, requires that you monitor the conversations that your followers are having, and that you become a part of the communities that form around your brand.
Familiarize yourself with the different types of content
Once you have your goals figured out, you must also start thinking about what content you must post in order to be successful on Instagram. There are several types of content, and each one is important if you want to get a large number of followers.
Post content that revolves around human beings. Instagram users are a sensitive bunch, and you need to humanize yourself and your brand in order to win their approval. A good way to do this is to post photos that contain human faces. These have been shown to receive 38% more likes than the ones who are missing this element.
Use this type of content as a tool to popularize your company culture, provided that this is one of your goals. Show your followers behind-the-scenes looks at your company, give them a glimpse of your work process, and of how you interact with those you collaborate with. You will find that doing so will get people emotionally and personally connected to your business, which will, in turn, also make them become more engaged.
If you don’t know what people-centered content looks like, then consider the following:
- Photos of your employees while they are working;
- Casual photos of employees and team members while they are outside of work;
- Photos of your employees while working in order to support a social cause;
- Behind-the-scenes looks at how your products are manufactured;
- Photos of pets at the office;
Also, consider allowing your employees to take control of the Instagram account every once-in-a-while and post content from their perspective. Employee-curated content is extremely effective at evoking an emotional response, and it simply requires that you let those in your company do your posting for a bit.
Product or Service Focus
You can also publish product-specific content in order to increase your sales and familiarize your audience with what your company has to offer.
This should include photos of people using your products or services; however, try not to appear overly promotional. Your content should tie a narrative to your products and your services, essentially showing people why they should use them and how the things that you have to offer are helping others.
A good example of this strategy is Nike who advertises products by honoring athletes. This is a great way to balance branded content with human elements.
Here are a few great ideas that you can use to present a product or service-related content:
- Share sneak-peaks of upcoming products or behind-the-scenes content of a product release;
- Show your followers how your products are manufactured;
- Share photos of people using your products or services;
- Those whose businesses revolve around providing services can show their work equipment (cameras, tripods, etc.)
Those who want to post content that revolves around text will be happy to know that quotes are actually a really big thing on Instagram, regardless of niche or type of business.
It is, in fact, recommended that those who are just starting out on Instagram post quotes. These are simple to create, they do not require too much thought or time, and have a large impact. Furthermore, you can find an endless supply of apps that can help you design them. Just keep in mind to add popular quote hashtags to your posts.
If you don’t know where to start, then try to:
- Share quotes that are tied to your brand message;
- Select and share quotes posted by other influencers in your niche;
- Post interesting facts that people are unlikely to know;
- Share quotes about your business from various customers;
- Show others interesting information about your business;
- Post How-to videos and pictures that are important to your niche;
Consider the fact that platforms such as Instagram revolve around the experiences of its users, so it is a good idea to:
Publish content created by other users. You can choose to share things created by customers, other influencers, website visitors, or by your followers in general. This will not only help you increase your sales but also grant you greater SEO visibility. This strategy will also increase engagement, as you will be involving your followers in your content creation process.
Convincing others to create content for your account is not too difficult. Just be as clear as possible when it comes to what content you want them to come up with, in order to keep it centered on your brand or products. However, do not restrict them too much as this may result in bland material.
Also, think about the overall purpose of your Instagram account and keep in mind that this content must take you a step closer to your goals.
Give credit to your content creators and build working relationships with them. This will have a positive effect on your audience and will inspire other individuals to create content tied to your brand.
You can also try to give incentives for content creation. For example, you can organize a contest where the best creators will win one of your products or something tied to your brand.
Organize “User Action” campaigns. These are good ways to increase engagement with your audience. The core concept is that you include calls to action or questions in the captions of your content.
Here are a few great examples to get you started:
- Landscape photographers: post a photograph of a scenic location and write “Tag a friend who would want to visit this place” in the caption.
- Food bloggers: you can post a recipe and write “Tag someone you would like to cook this with”, or a picture of a dish, with a call to action to tag someone who would enjoy eating it;
There is an endless number of possibilities, all of which will engage your audience and enable them to easily spread the word about your blog or your products.
The types of content mentioned above are only a part of what you can publish. Do not feel constrained to only create material that fits in these categories. You can essentially design the content however you see fit, just remember what we said about context.
If you feel lost and do not know where to start, here are three tips that will always help you figure out what and how to publish on Instagram in order to satisfy your audience:
- Pick a theme (Choose between things like product sales, engagement posts, content to share company culture, etc.)
- As mentioned above, think about the Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How of your content
- Design and publish more than one type of content, based on your theme and ideas.
- Ensure that your profile is as engaging as possible
In order to achieve this, you must create an Instagram profile that will spark the interest of other users. This means that you must be extremely careful when you choose your profile picture, your name, your profile name, and your description. These give other people the details that they need to know about you. Think of them as a business card. Your profile should contain all the information that someone needs in order to decide that they should become your followers.
Regardless if you are a new user, or already have an Instagram account, most of these details can be easily changed in order to suit your needs. You may find yourself wanting to change them several times over the years, whenever your business goes through a change in direction
In order to make these changes, tap on your profile icon at the bottom right corner of your screen, and choose “Edit Profile”. This will enable you to change: Your name (It is always better to use your real name), your profile photo (choose a photo that others will consider approachable), your username (this one must be unique. Unfortunately, this means that if there is another account with the same name as you, you will have to choose another one that is not already taken), your bio (write a warm, engaging description; you may also want to include a few emojis, considering Instagram’s user base), and you will also be able to add or modify a URL that will show up on your profile page (write your website address here).
Increasing the visibility of your Instagram profile
Usually, carefully designing your profile is not enough to ensure that you will have a considerable number of followers and a high level of engagement. You must also use other tools that you have at your disposal in order to draw attention to your account.
Promote your Instagram account through as many means as you can, in order to ensure that you reach all the members of your general audience who may have an account on this social media channel.
Do this by:
- Using your email list. You can include a link to your Instagram profile in every newsletter that you send. If you don’t think that would be enough, you can also include it in the email signature of your personal and business email accounts;
- Making use of social media badges. You can place these on your websites or blogs in order to let users know of the social networks that you have accounts on.
- Business cards, and other such company printed material. You can even place your account handle on anything from stickers and brand-related objects, to your business cards. This will ensure that the more these objects circulate, the more people will come into contact with this information.
- Asking your audience to also follow you on Instagram. Those who already have an audience on other websites can ask their followers to also connect with them on Instagram. Furthermore, you have the option of posting content across several platforms. For example, you can sync your Facebook account with your Instagram one, in order to ensure that your posts appear in both places at the same time.
- Grab the attention of other users
As stated above, Instagram has been built around the idea of sharing photos, so sharing great visuals is essential. This is unlikely to change in the future, so everything that you post will still help you in the long run.
You must follow a few steps in order to generate enough interesting content to turn your account into a magnet for other users.
Choose and create a visually appealing theme for your account.
The human brain has evolved to process images about 60.000 times faster than text, so you need to create impactful content in order to grab the attention of your followers. The best way to do so is to first develop an overall theme for your account.
This will not only project the image that you’ve put a lot of effort into making for your account, but also that you offer high-quality things, and that will certainly increase the chance that people will follow you.
Furthermore, your brand will stick in your followers’ minds, and the use of consistent visuals will reinforce your brand image. This will practically help your content stand out among 4.2 billion posts that users publish each day. The better you design your account’s overall theme, the more it will have a positive impact on your followers and on how they perceive your business.
Also, be consistent. Keep to the theme and you will inspire trust. If people know what to expect from you, they will not only trust you but also establish a personal connection with your brand or company.
While it may sound difficult to choose and create an overall visual style for your profile, here are a few tips & tricks to make your life easier:
- Be consistent when it comes to the brand elements (fonts, logos, colors, writing style) that you use on your website and other social media channels. This will give your followers a feeling of familiarity;
- Try out various patterns and shapes until you’re happy with your layout. The checkerboard layout of the Instagram feed is popular, however, you can make it even better with a little customization;
- Use only one color palette. Nobody is saying that you should only post in one color. A little variation is always welcome, however, make sure that “variation” only refers to different shades, not to entirely different colors from one post to another. While it may seem boring, the result is amazing. Having said that, if you don’t like the idea of using only one color, you can use a combination. Just don’t change it every couple of posts. Choose one and stick to it.
- Choose a dominant filer. The idea is to choose one filter to use on most if not all of your posts, just as you would include a signature. This way, all the images that you post will have a consistent hue. Using different filters for every photo simply looks messy when a user looks at your content as a whole.
- Use motifs for your content. Many may recognize that this is a literary technique usually seen in movies and literature; however, it does also have a place in your Instagram feed. You can integrate into the way you create and post content by choosing a particular pose to hold in all of your photos, a prop that is always present in the background, a symbol (a logo most likely), or a particular environment. There are many ways to choose and use a motif when it comes to the content that you create for this platform. Use your imagination and be consistent. This is a great strategy due to the fact that you can use motifs to tell your brand’s story in an organic way.
These are the tips that you can use in order to successfully create content for your Instagram account. Now let’s look at some useful tools that will allow you to put them into practice without much effort:
Pay attention to what are the best practices when publishing your content
The most important thing is also the most obvious: post original content. Instagram users are a fickle bunch and will lose their interest in you if the only things that you post are stock photos or old viral images. It is essential to use your own photos if you want your followers to connect with your content.
Another important thing is to ensure that your pictures are relevant to your audience and what they like, as well as to your brand.
Make use of calls to action, as these will drive your audience in the direction that you want them to go. Write engaging messages or questions as captions for the photos that you post.
Geotagging is also extremely useful if you want to gain more visibility. You must simply add a location to the photos that you post, in order to have it be associated with that place. Whenever someone searches for photos taken in that location or in close proximity, they will see your photos. Doing so can raise the engagement level of your posts by 79%.
Using this feature is easy, just tap on “Add Location” on the new post screen and you will be shown a list of locations to choose from. However, if you want to choose a place that isn’t on the list, you can just type it.
- Add long captions to the content that you post
Most Instagram users tend to miss this very effective tactic. Every time you post a picture, you can add up to 2,200 characters as a caption. This means that you can practically write a few paragraphs every time you post, allowing you to share both images, and text, at the same time. Don’t worry that this may scare away users who may not be in the mood to read. The app will only show the first three lines of the caption in newsfeeds. So you have three lines worth of text to grab followers’ attention.
However, there is a catch. Instagram does not have many features in terms of word processing, so you won’t have an effective way of using line breaks. A good way to bypass this is to write your caption in another application and then to just copy and paste it into the appropriate field when you post the content.
If you want to make things even easier for yourself, then use a service like Evernote in order to sync documents between your phone and computer.
As long as you copy and paste the text, the line breaks will remain intact.
While it may seem counterintuitive, long captions will not make people ignore your posts, but comment on them and also leave a “like”.
Some other things that you can do or pay attention to when writing captions are to:
Ensure that your lead doesn’t get lost in the text, 2,200 characters means that you have a lot of room for almost anything that you want to include, however, make a habit of writing the important things at the beginning. Users who aren’t particularly patient won’t like it if they have to go through the whole text in order to get some essential info.
You should also include a call-to-action. This can be done by asking users a question or suggesting that they do something after reading your post. Encourage people to share, or to do something that can be related to your brand.
Although Instagram revolves around pictures, this doesn’t mean that your writing shouldn’t also be well written. Think of it like this: everyone is already posting pictures, however, few people pair them with great writing.
- Make proper use of hashtags
It doesn’t matter how good your content is, you cannot be successful on Instagram as long as you don’t use hashtags effectively.
Luckily, doing so isn’t difficult. Hashtags enhance your visibility in the sense that they act as search tags. Users can use them in order to find similar or related content. Usually, people just move from hashtag to hashtag out of boredom until they come across something that catches their eye.
If you’re a beginner, don’t use short, bland hashtags like #selfie or #party. While these will draw some attention it won’t be the kind that you are looking for.
Before moving forward with the tips, let’s first clarify what a hashtag is and how it works on Instagram. You may think that Twitter also uses hashtags and it may be similar, but this may lead to mistakes. Instagram hashtags are basically a cataloging system. When you post content, you can use a hashtag to describe it.
This will register it and link it to the hashtag that you’ve used. Now, every time a user wants to see specific content he can just search for the hashtag and he’ll find all related posts.
Hashtags come in many shapes and sizes. They can designate locations, they can be lifestyle or brand specific, they can be subject specific, etc. You can make a hashtag out of almost anything, as long as it is relevant to your content and it fits.
When it comes to using them properly, make sure that you add them in the comment, not in the actual image. The system will not recognize hashtags inserted into an image. Also, if you write them into the image’s caption, you may spoil it. Keep the caption clean and write the tags in comments. This will also enable you to add whatever hashtags you like, without sacrificing a number of characters from your caption.
Try to be specific when writing the hashtags. The generic ones may have more reach, but they lack engagement. Consider the fact that they have to attract a more targeted audience, and they must evoke a strong emotional response, not an instinctive one.
As for the ideal number, you should probably have between 10 and 30 hashtags. If you add any more, then the system will not let you post your comment. Also, statistics have shown that anything above 11 will usually give you more engagement. Although, make sure to balance the length of the captions with the number of tags. If you add 30 of them, then try to use all the available characters for your content’s caption.
Finding relevant hashtags
A first step would be to create a file on your phone where you will store all of your hashtags, in order to have quick access to them when you need to post something. The list can be as long as you like; however, do not forget that you will not be able to add all of them if you have more than 30. Also, spend a little time to build this database. It will be easier to work only once, for a few hours, than to lose 10 minutes looking for individual hashtags every time you post something.
Next, do some research. Type a broad hashtag that is relevant to your niche or audience and click on “Search”. This will enable Instagram to give you a list of popular tags, and will also show you the number of times each one of them has been used. Choose the ones that best suit your content and purposes, and then add them to your database and to your posts. This is a simple way of doing research, but it is essential.
You should usually keep all the tags that have been used a large number of times. If you’re not satisfied with the results, then search for another hashtag and see what you get.
The third step that you must take is to pay attention to your competitors. Others are bound to target the same audience as you, and you can bet that they will look at your content and use the hashtags that you’re using. So you can always do the same. It’s not forbidden in any way, and it can do wonders. Just go through their feeds and save the tags that they’ve used in popular posts.
While you do have access to an unlimited number of hashtags, it doesn’t mean that they will all be as efficient in getting people interested. Unfortunately, the only way to see what works and what doesn’t is to experiment. Add various tags from your database, to your posts, and delete the ones that don’t keep up with the rest. Keep an eye on the number of comments, likes, follows, mentions, and shares that you get on your content, in order to determine which tags should go.
The next step is to set up a posting schedule. You have to post daily in order to keep your followers engaged. If you skip a few days, then people are bound to look somewhere else for interesting content.
A good rule of thumb is to post a couple of photos daily, then between 5 and 30 Instagram stories, and a video, weekly. Additionally, make sure that if you do a live feed, it is at the same time consistently; it will allow your followers to develop the habit of opening Instagram only to tune in to see your broadcast.
This may seem like a lot, especially if you consider that it is on a daily basis; however, it is easier to do than you think. Posting 1 or 2 photos isn’t particularly difficult and will help you get more visibility as time passes(as long as you post daily). The number of stories may scare some, but keep in mind that it only takes a minute to share one.
Find a balance between photos and videos and you’ll be alright. As for the live video, this is still a relatively new feature on the platform, but it has proven to be extremely powerful, especially if you are consistent with the schedule. As an added bonus, remember that you can always post a photo to let your followers know the hour when the live feed will start.
You can start a live video by tapping the camera in the upper left corner, and then swipe left in order to enable the “Live” option. A 3-second timer will start and then you will be live.
While it is recommended that you post a live video at least once per day, the more the better. These have proven to be great when it comes to engaging audiences. As for the best hour to do so, this depends on your followers. Experiment for a few days and see what works best for them.
If you use the information above you will get over 20 followers per day. However, there’s more to do until you can reach 300+. If you do all of the above, you will see that the rate at which you get new followers will increase with each passing day. Once the speed increases a bit, you have to start locating your competitors. Look for other Instagram users that already have a large following in the same niche as you, and start following their followers.
- Increasing the number of followers
To do this, tap the find icon on your feed screen and you will be shown a display of popular videos and pictures. If you tap the search bar at the top and then select “Tags”, you can begin searching for term tags that are relevant to your industry.
Once you click on a term, you will see the “Top Posts” (they have been posted by individuals with a large number of followers, comments, or likes) for that hashtag. Tap on one of the posts and then look at the user who shared it. If you click on his or her name, then you will see how many followers they have. Tap the actual number of followers and they will be listed. You can then follow them by tapping next to their names.
It may take a while until you find the influencer with the most followers; however, once you do this, you will be able to interact with the followers of other influencers, getting them to engage with your content. This is also a great way to retarget audiences if you ever change the direction of your business. Below, you will find all the actions that you must perform in this step, in case you ever need a quick reminder.
Search Icon -> Search Bar (at the bottom of the screen) -> Swipe to tags -> Tap a relevant tag -> Tap a post -> Tap on the account that posted that content -> Tap on the number of followers -> Follow them.
You can look for any tag you want. Just think of anything that may be relevant to you and to your target audience and you are bound to come up with a few ideas. Experiment for a while and see what leads you to someone in the same industry that has a large number of followers.
It’s equally important to take a look at the “related” tags that you can see at the top of the screen. Some of them may prove to be useful and usable when you post next time.
Now that you have a clear idea about how you should execute this step, let’s talk about how many people to follow.
- Start following people
The best rate at which you should follow people is 50 per hour. There are no statistics that explain this; however, the general consensus is that 50 is the right number. Now, the system has a defense mechanism designed to prevent users from uselessly spamming people. The upper limit of how many people you can follow at any given time is 7,500. You won’t be punished in any way if you reach the limit and then try to pass it, the system will just give you an error message.
Having said that, it will take some time to reach the limit. If you start following at least 50 users per hour, you should be able to hit the 7,500 mark in no time.
You may think that 50 followers per hour will take too much time, but you will be able to do this in only a couple of minutes. You just have to navigate through a couple of pages and you’re done for the hour.
If you keep following users, you will see that a large portion of them will begin to follow you back. If you’re also actively posting, then you will be able to keep them interested while you gather more.
- Be active in the community
While the app has been designed primarily to allow users to share content, Instagram is also a community of people which behaves like any other. Its members are constantly helping, sharing stories, live events, and learning from each other.
It is a place where one can find interesting people who are willing to help others in any way that they can. You must become an active member of this community in order to make a name for yourself among its followers.
In order to simplify the process, here are a few things that you should keep in mind, in terms of Instagram etiquette:
- Follow those who follow you;
- Respond when someone leaves a comment on one of your photos. Be sure to mention them by using @, followed by their name;
- Contribute to the system by linking the photos that have hashtags that you are targeting;
- Leave comments on the photos that have hashtags that you are targeting;
- Like other’s comments;
- Tag the people you personally know, in your photos;
- Communicate with other users through direct messages;
- Give feedback and ask that others give you their opinion regarding your content;
Many of these things are similar to those required in a forum. In the end, you can look at it just like that, like Instagram was a forum. The only way to truly be a part of the community is to interact with the other members.
- Collaborate with other users
One of the things that will help you increase in popularity the fastest is collaboration with other users. Look around and find other users who are open to collaborations, and ask them if they are willing to partner up with you. This practice enables you to tap into their following, and vice versa.
If you team up with another user, you will essentially be cross-promoting. He will promote things on your channel and you on his. This offers several advantages:
Peer recommendations are more easily accepted that raw advertising;
People tend to listen to the decision or advice given by the majority when it comes to purchasing products or services, but also who to follow online.
There are a few steps that you should follow in order to ensure that your team project goes as planned:
Do your homework and make sure that you choose someone that is not a direct competitor, but has a following similar to your target audience. This will ensure that both of you will have something to gain in equal measure. This can be done in several ways:
The first is to take the time needed to manually go through hundreds of profiles, which is great if you have a small budget (or no budget at all). Also, keep in mind that you can use Instagram’s search feature to only select posts with a lot of engagement. However, always look for someone as big or as small as you are. If you find a user that has done collaborations in the past all the better. Identify them by looking for content on their feed that is attributed to another creator.
You can also go to websites that offer access to databases of influencers (such as Iconosquare, Revfluence, InfluencerDB). There are quite a few sites that offer this functionality and can make it easier for you to find a suitable partner for a collaboration. This method is usually chosen by those who want to increase brand awareness or sales. Also, keep in mind that these users may ask you for money in exchange for their influence.
- Think about what you can do for your partners. Most of those that you will approach will probably be ahead of you in terms of following. This means that they have the leverage and expect to be offered something of worth to them. You will have to consider what you can bring to the table, in order to match whatever they’re offering. Think of what you can do in order to make their jobs a little easier. Also, don’t approach them out of the blue. First, make them notice you.
- Set the terms of the collaboration. Communication is extremely important when it comes to this kind of project. Aim to establish long-term partnerships, or you may find yourself in an endless loop, looking for new influencers to work with. Although, make sure that both of you are clear in terms of what is being exchanged, any deadlines that you may set, and do your part.
- Take full advantage of the project. Go the extra mile and promote your upcoming collaboration on other social channels and through your email list. Also, ask users to engage.
- Organize contests and challenges
You may have already thought about this; however, there is more to this strategy than meets the eye. It’s not as simple as announcing that you will give something away and then do so.
A lot of thought goes into preparing these kind of projects, and you may find yourself quickly overwhelmed if you don’t plan things ahead. If you take care of the details and do everything right, you will be amazed by how useful it is to increase your traffic and follower count on Instagram.
Go through this list, if you want to make sure that you don’t forget anything important when it comes to contests and challenges.
Think about what type of contest you want to organize first. This will determine how people participate in it, and also dictate what you must do next.
Types of contests:
- Follow to Win – Users have to follow your account. The downside of this one is that most people will unfollow you after the contest ends;
- Like to Win – People must like one of your photos;
- Comment to Win – People have to leave a comment on one of your posts in order to participate;
- Enter email to Win – Participants have to submit their email in order to enter the contest. This one isn’t great if you want more followers. This type of contest may help you expand your email list, but not many people will follow you;
- Participate in the challenge to win – You ask your audience to post a specific type of photo and to use a specific hashtag in order to participate. This one can last several days, time in which you ask the participants to do various things. This type of contest offers the highest level of engagement.
- Mix and match methods – You can ask participants to perform various actions in order to enter the contest. Take any of the requirements listed above and combine them. It’s up to you to devise a captivating event, and you can do anything you want. However, make sure not to make the conditions too difficult as you may find yourself lacking participants.
Next, you should establish the rules of the contest. This will ensure that you can easily take care of any problems that may arise. Also make sure to include details such as the duration of the contest, the prize, the methods through which users can enter and win, and an acknowledgment that the content isn’t sponsored or affiliated with the platform (Instagram).
If you’re not sure how to choose the winner, or what prize you should choose, then think about what would attract people in general, not just subscribers. These contests are great ways to engage people who simply want to win something and are not necessarily interested in what you do. It is usually best to choose a prize that is closely linked to your brand and business goals.
For example, if you own a self-improvement blog, then the natural thing to do would be to offer something inspirational as a prize, possibly some self-improvement books. Or if you own a fiction blog, you could give away some of your published work.
This way, you can integrate your Instagram content into the contest, and participants may still follow you after someone has won.
You should next think about how you will promote the contest.
These projects require a lot of momentum in order to effectively raise awareness enough to have a considerable number of contestants.
This can be done by:
- Creating a potentially viral hashtag which participants would then be required to use, thus spreading the word regarding your contest;
- Promoting the contest on other social media platforms;
- Placing a link to the contest on your blog;
- Informing people of the contest through your email list;
- Writing blog posts in which you talk about it and then spend money to increase their visibility on Facebook;
- Allow people to refer others to participate;
- Enter your contest in a contest listing.
Once the contest is done, you might want to post some content about the winner and the prize that he has received. This way, others will see that the contest has had real results and that they might win the next one.
- Instagram Ads
Since Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012, ads have found their way on Instagram. This is somewhat beneficial, as they are controlled using the same ad manager as the ones on Facebook. Those who’ve used them before becoming an Instagram user will know what to do, however, the following steps are for those who may not have been involved in this kind of monetization before.
- Link your Instagram account to your Facebook page. Once you’ve done this, you can go to “Settings” on Facebook and then click on “Instagram Ads”. Next, click on “Add an account” and you will be asked to enter your Instagram credentials. Once you’re done, you will have to choose the Facebook ad account to use for your Instagram ad campaign.
- Next, go to Power Editor or Adverts Manager in order to create your Instagram campaign. Having your two accounts connected means that you will be able to run your Instagram campaign from your Facebook account. To do so, you will have to first select “Create Campaign” in the Ad Manager or create your ad in the Power Editor.
- Choose your campaign’s objective. Choose between Awareness (increasing brand awareness, reach, etc.), Consideration (This is used to drive traffic, increase engagement, etc.) and Conversion (Self-explanatory, this is great for conversions, store visits, or product sales). Once you’ve clicked on the one that is best suited for your purposes, set a name for your campaign and click “Continue.”
- Create your ads and set your ad audience. Choose your ad placement, your budget, and the duration of the ad set. Next, you have to format your ad. Select the images that you want to use, write your caption and you’re done. You can also preview ads in order to ensure that everything is OK. Once everything is done, click on “Place order.”
- Retargeting campaign. If you want to set up a retargeting campaign, you will have to go through similar steps; however, this time you will have to target people who have already engaged with your brand (people who haven’t finalized their purchase, or who are not sure about buying more from you. You can find these people by using Facebook Pixel. This tool enables you to track what people do on your site and to measure how effective your ads are. You can install the app on your site either by manually running through the installation process or through the use of a WordPress plugin.
The manual installation requires that you go to the Adverts Manager and find “Pixels” in the “Assets” category. Those who have run Facebook Ads in the past will already have created a pixel, those who have not will be asked to make one. Name your pixel and select “Click Pixel”. You will then get a code that you must paste into the header of your website.
The simpler version is to install a WordPress plugin called PixelYourSite. After that, you just have to go into the settings of the plugin and enter your Pixel ID (Which can be found in the top-right, on the Ads Manager dashboard).
Once the software has been installed it will start collecting data. You can then create a custom audience that consists of those who have visited your website, or specific parts of it, and use it in order to run a retargeting campaign.
All the other steps are the same as those presented above.
- Connecting your Instagram account to offline customers
Few entrepreneurs realize that whatever they do online, using their social media accounts, can also affect offline individuals. Here are a few great ways to use Instagram in order to interact with customers that are offline:
Attach your Instagram handle on the packaging of all physical products. A large number of customers pay attention to how their purchases are packaged and there is a good chance that they will not only notice the handle but also use it in order to stay connected with you, to some degree. You can also place a hashtag on the box or even on the product itself. There are several companies who have been doing this in the last few years and their results have been quite positive. Also, offer some kind of incentive to push customers to join your online following and to promote your brand.
You can try to run monthly contest and ask customers to take a selfie with the product that you sold them, and then to post it on Instagram. Also, instruct them to tag your Instagram page and add your hashtag. The contest can be organized on a monthly basis and it will constantly bring followers, and increase brand awareness.
Another efficient method that you can use is to ask your customers to post a video explaining why they decided to buy your products and to include the same tag and product-specific hashtag. You can reward them by giving them a coupon that they can use the next time that they buy something from you. This will have a positive impact on the number of followers that you have, and will also increase your sales.
- Continually analyze what’s working and what isn’t
Follow these steps; however, keep in mind that both social networks, as well as audiences, are constantly changing. This means that your strategy will have to change as well. Consider this guide a starting point, not a universal strategy that cannot fail.
You will have to keep an eye on how your audience is reacting to your content and efforts, and be prepared modify your approach when you see that your Instagram popularity is in decline. Learn as much as you can from others, but also try to do your own thing. Strategies that work for others may not work for you or for your target audience.
Also, do your best to keep your followers engaged. Hundreds of thousands of users who do not actively interact with your brand won’t be of much use to your business, and your sales will take a hit.
You should also go through this guide step by step and analyze the results of each step that you implement. If you consider that your results could be improved, then optimize your strategy.
Here are some important indicators that you should look at when it comes to monitoring your progress:
- Click through rate – observe how many people are using your links. If they’re too long, then you can use URL shorteners. Some of these tools will also allow you to monitor the links.
- Traffic – Look at how many unique visitors are directed from Instagram to your website.
- Changes in follower numbers – Take a note of how many followers you gained or lost, after you’ve put various tactics into practice.
- The number of interactions per post – This one is self-explanatory.
- Growth in popularity of hashtags linked to your brand or to your products – Again, this one speaks for itself. Monitor how your hashtags grow in popularity in order to determine how they affect your visibility and reach.
Being successful on social media may sometimes feel like it will cost you an arm and a leg; however, once things pick up momentum, they will get somewhat easier. You will also get used to many of the things that you have to do when it comes to posting content.
Remember that as long as you concentrate on posting and sharing quality material, your followers will appreciate you and will take an active interest in your brand and products.
Also, Instagram may very well be one of the most effective online marketing tools in existence. Its potential for engaging people and raising brand awareness is only limited by the number of users. Develop a good strategy in order to gain followers and to keep them interested in what you post and they may also connect with you on other social media channels.
Instagram is one of the biggest social media networks ever. Building an online presence on it is a difficult, demanding process, but it is within anyone’s reach, as long as they are willing to work hard for it.
Furthermore, the changes that have been implemented since the platform was acquired by Facebook offer great options to earn money by simply catering to your audience’s needs.
As for the guide, the strategies found above have been tried and tested. They are effective, regardless of niche.
If we are to consider the platform’s user base, people that are active on Instagram are as loyal as they come. If you take care of them, they will take care of you. This also means that they will spread the word and help you and your brand grow.
You will see that once you reach a certain point, people will come to you, and you won’t have to spend as much energy pursuing them!