Jump on-board one of the fastest growing social media platforms around and learn how you can increase followers.
Instagram has over 800 million monthly users and over 500 million daily users with 80% of accounts following at least one business account, enabling many small businesses to break free from just their local markets to create global success stories for themselves on this social platform.
With the popularity of Instagram stories and the expansion of advertising opportunities, now is a great time to be utilising this social media tool to boost your business profile and with the number of current active users, this platform is one of the best places to reach and engage with your target audience.
Obviously if you don't have a business account then the first step you need to take to get started is to create one, however a business profile is going to be different to your personal one. So let's take a look at a few things you should be aware of when setting up your account.
1. Make sure the name you choose reflects your other branded social media profiles. Your headshot should be your company logo and use your bio to tell people a little bit about your business and what they can expect from you.
2. Your website address should be added to your bio and you can change this to reflect any campaigns you run or any new blogs you may have written online. This is the only area where you can insert a clickable link. You can also convert the URL in bit.ly or goo.gl form, and get real time statistics of the CTR, from these free URL shorteners. In this area you can also add any branded #hashtags you want your followers to use.
3. Now that your profile is set up, your next step is to start following some people. Look for influencers in your industry, customers, and other people relevant to your brand. You can also search industry hashtags and start commenting on photos and following people who participate in discussions to make your presence known. Social media is all about connecting with people and Instagram is no different.
One of the most effective ways to reach higher engagement and follow back rate, is to comment + like + follow the person. This kind of tactic has shown on average an almost 20% higher engagement rate than just following a bunch of Instagrammers.
Another good way to find relevant people is to research your industry #hashtags and use these hashtags within your own posts.
4. Lastly, make sure you also add your Instagram profile to your website and other social media profiles to help with cross-promotion of your brand.
Use these great tips to utilise your bio and captions
Male sure your bio is informative and interesting to hook your followers. Check out some great tips on how you can get more out of your Instagram bio and captions below:
1. Embrace the emoji and save up on some characters. The right emoji can replace words and that means more space for you to write about your business. Using emoji can also set the tone and the atmosphere of your page.
2. In your bio, make sure to highlight what makes your business special and unique. Tell your audience what you can do for them and why they should care.
3. Include line breaks in your bio and captions. Huge blocks of text can be hard to read or skim. To avoid this add line breaks, however this can be a bit tricky to achieve on Instagram. For iOS users, create your bio and captions in your notes or a different app, copy and the paste it. If you are an Android user, tap the return button on the mobile keyboard to create line breaks.
4. Get more out of your bio and captions by including a call to action.
5. If you have a brick and mortar store, add your contact information, location and opening hours.
6. Are you a local business? It is trendy to be a local business, so stick that into your bio and if you produce ethically and sustainably make sure you mention that as well.
7. Last but not least, add your branded hashtags to promote your brand. This will allow Instagrammers to use your hashtags on posts related to your industry. It will also help your organic campaigns gain more visibility and furthermore, you can pick up some of the nice photos and stories from your followers to repost on your feed since it has been proven to be very effective to post or re-post user generated content.
SET YOUR GOALS
All of your marketing efforts should have a set of goals including your social media marketing. Ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve for your business on Instagram?
Some of the most common strategic goals are below:
• Increase sales
• Drive traffic to your website
• Create and build brand awareness
• Demonstrate your company culture
• Showcase your team and attract talent to your business
• Increase customer loyalty and engagement
• Introduce and promote your products and services
• Share news and knowledge
• Connect and network
• Establish relationships with influencers in your industry
Your goals will need to be clear, measurable, attainable, and relevant. And do not forget to include a timeframe for achieving them as well.
If you are not already using Instagram for your business, then we think that you should seriously consider giving it a go. After all your competition is most likely slaying the Insta-game already, which means they already have a head start.
What is your content strategy for Instagram?
To have a successful brand on Instagram it takes more than just publishing attractive images. You need to implement thoughtful and creative content to help develop a well-defined brand identity.
Your content should consist of four key components:
a. How often and when to post?
b. What themes to use?
c. What are your style guidelines?
d. And lastly, what are your engagement guidelines?
Do your research and start posting at different times and different intervals. Then carefully examine all of your results and create a report of the engagement statistics. Now, we know that you can find lots of information from the internet about the best times to post on Instagram but we still suggest you do your own field studies, as there are lots of factors that affect these ratings, such as the geographical locations of your target audiences, time zones, different cultures, career paths of your target audience and the list goes on. After you have tracked the results and drawn up your conclusions it is time for you to create a content calendar.
In a content calendar you will carefully plan your posts, what to post and when to post it to achieve the most desirable responses from your Instagram community. However, there is nothing wrong with a bit of spontaneity and will in fact be some of your best Instagram content, especially if you highlight company culture and events.
You should be rotating different kind of themes in your Instagram to keep things interesting for your customers. You could for instance have themes where you create brand awareness, attract new customers by having contests or sweepstakes, sharing discount codes or exclusive offers to your Instagram followers, tell stories, and share amazing visuals with your product or service to introduce them to life with your products or services.
3. Style guidelines
You want your Instagram feed to reflect your brands personal style, so that your customers can distinguish easily between your brand and your competitors. Brand features like fonts, colours, and logos are important tools for creating brand recognition and recall. You need to use these features consistently, enabling your followers to identify your posts more easily in the feed.
To set up your style guidelines, ask yourself some of the following questions.
a. Are you going to use emojis?
b. What type of language will you use? Grammar guidelines or more informal language (which is recommended when it comes to Instagram).
c. What will be the style of your photos and images (colour pallets, saturation, exposure, composition, filters and so on)?
TIP: In your feed, you should have consistency throughout your photos, as this has shown higher engagement rates.
d. What kind of hashtags are you planning to use to differentiate your brand, or are you going to use branded hashtags?
e. What is your image aspect ratio? After years of only standard square images and videos, Instagram has now finally opened up their platform to allow for portrait and landscape orientations, which allows for greater versatility. Most users don't care to much about their Instagram picture size but for businesses promoting their brand online, this can open up a whole new world where you can create a more diverse stream of visual content.
TIP: The full vertical aspect ratio (4:5) has shown the highest engagement rates.
There are some things you should consider when engaging with your audience.
It won't matter how well you interact with people if you are not providing high quality content on Instagram. Create edgy captions to match your image and reveal the personality behind your brand. Also keep it simple and avoid anything that looks too busy.
Instagram is a "social network" for a reason, so the way you interact with your audience will help or hinder your engagement. Ask questions and start conversations. By being active and having fun with everything you do, people will respond to your personality and will want to engage with your brand.
TIP: Know your audience. You won't be able to interest someone in conversation if you don't know what they like, so try to understand who you are speaking to.
How will you optimise your strategy to create more engagement? Track your competitors, followers, fans and customers and adjust your strategy according to their movements. The elements of your strategy need to be as measurable and specific as you would for any other marketing platform to get sustainable results. Instagram is no different from any other marketing channel you are using when it comes to optimisation.
Hashtags and Offers:
Hashtags help your content get discovered by more people, so you need to effectively use them to skyrocket your post engagement and increase your followers. Check out trends, create a unique hashtag for your brand, create contests and deliver offers that are unique to your Instagram audience.
There is not much popint having great content, if not enough people are seeing it. Cross promote on other social networks, look for influencers within your industry and run Instagram ads. With a community of over 400 million users, Instagram is one of the world's largest mobile ads platforms.
Compelling visuals may be what Instagram is all about, but an effective Instagram caption will push engagement with your audience even further.
When writing Instagram captions you have 2,200 characters to use with an ellipsis after three lines of text and while some users may omit captions, your brand never should. An image alone can be great, but one with a story is even better.
A few of things to keep in mind are to try and include the important part of your message within the first three lines, and use your captions to keep your audience's attention and inspire them to take action.
What are good captions made of?
Good captions, adds context, shows personality, entertains the audience, and prompts your audience to take action.
Check out some great tips below to help you improve your captions:
1. Know your audience. Build audience personas by outlining the basic details about your target customers, and their goals and pain points. If you know your audience, writing captions to your specific target market and building engagement with them becomes much easier. This will eventually lead to more engaged followers and that will lead to more sales.
2. Identify your brand's voice. Make a list of your strongest qualities and values that you want to reflect through your brand and make sure you reflect these values and qualities in your posts.
3. Know when to use short captions. Give context only where needed. If your post is very clear, it will speak for itself.
4. Like with all your marketing messages the most important piece of the information should come first. Instagram is no different, as you only have a few lines to grab their attention.
5. People love stories, so tell your brand story within your posts.
6. Us your captions to ask questions, opinions and get followers to tag friends on your posts.
The Power in Audience Personas
The value of knowing your audience results in a better engagement rate. Higher engagement rates equal stronger relationships, which in turn leads to more sales. Knowing your audience also enables you to provide better customer satisfaction and fulfilment of their wants and needs when you have a clear understanding of them.
Everyone has a persona, including your customers and these personas are generally made up of things we like and don't like, career goals, dreams, the struggles we have and any pain points we may have gone through. This information creates a very valuable snapshot of the people you are trying to reach.
To create these personas you will need to do some research, have a bit of intuition and creativity. Creating these personas may take some work but it will be worth it.
1. Research your customers thoroughly. If you can, find out their gender, age, income, employment, location, and education. Any data you can get your hands on.
2. Then look for similar trends between your customers For instance, you might notice that they have similar careers or occupations, live in the city or rural areas, similar age group and so on.
Most often, once you've done your research you will find 3 to 5 major groups. Let your imagination go wild and create imaginary characters out of these 3 to 5 groups. Give them Names, jobs, marital status, careers, living areas, families etc.
3. Next you want to learn their goals and aspirations. Find out what motivates them and what their ultimate dreams and desires are? Once you have identified what drives them, look at what you can offer them and how you can provide value in their lives and how you can even help them reach their ultimate goals. Then you want to find out what their pain points are and what's holding them back from reaching their goals. Finish off by gaining understanding of how your product or service can solve their problems or ease their struggles.
By now you have come to know your customer well. However, you can dive deeper and find out if they have pets or if they prefer cats or dogs, where they buy their groceries, what car they drive or what car they want to drive? What sports they play and any hobbies they have... you get the picture.
Remember, the better your personas are, the better you will know what they have, what they want to have, who they are, and who they want to be and how your brand can fit into their lives.
Instagram is a great way to promote your brand online and reach new audiences. It's social nature works to increase the more intangible aspects of marketing, such as building reltionships and buyer loyalty, as well as brand equity, and user value. So if you are not already giving Instagram a go then now is the time to start.