Unless you have been living under a rock since 2012, you know just how much Instagram has changed and how it is now a major player in the world of social media. From its humble beginnings in 2012 to the powerhouse it is today, it is safe to say Instagram has completely changed. Instagram now has over 500 million monthly users. So if you have ever doubted the power of this social media platform, you shouldn't.
Social media in general can be a tricky way of reaching a desired audience. That is why some businesses don't even give social media a chance. It is important to at least give it a red-hot go. There are so many active users on social media, it is unlikely that none of your consumers or potential consumers are online.
When it comes to social media, it is all about knowing your target audience. If you do your research and find that the majority of your consumers aren't on Instagram, then don't waste your resources there; go to another platform where you are more likely to find the type of users you are looking for.
If you have found that Instagram is a likely place for your potential consumers, then great! Set yourself up a business Instagram account and wait for the followers to start rolling in ... if only it were that easy. Building a solid Instagram following will take a lot of work and effort, so make sure you are realistic with your goals and the amount of time you dedicate each day to Instagram.
1. Complete your profile properly.
It is important to create a profile that people would actually be interested in. Things like your name, profile name, picture and description must be optimized for full engagement. This is because users will look at this and then decide whether to browse the rest of your photos or even visit your website. Your profile is the starting place and sets the tone for everything to come, so it must be of high quality.
If you don't have an Instagram account already, don't worry. It is free to sign up, and the process is fairly quick and easy. Even if you have set up an Instagram account, you can still change your profile and username to make it more effective if needed. It is important that your profile details accurately represent who you are and the value of your business. You should always include a URL to your website in your description; this is the only place you will be able to add a clickable URL.
2. Post high-quality photos.
On Instagram, the most important thing is the photo. The caption is secondary (still important, though). When using Instagram, you will have to think of ways to create attention-grabbing photos.
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Every single photo you post must be of high quality. It helps if it is an original photograph, not one you got off Google or any free stock image websites. It is also a very good idea to make your photos relevant. For example, if you are posting about something newsworthy, don't wait until it is too late. If people are talking about an event and you have a photograph of it, you should share it as soon as possible.
Make sure you add a location when uploading images. This is important because it means more visibility for your post. When you add a location to your image, all users who search for that location will see your photo and other photos taken in the same place. For example, if you add a location to your photo post at Greg's Coffee Shop, then when someone searches that location, your picture will come up.
3. Use high-quality hashtags.
On no other social media platform are hashtags more important than Instagram. If you find the right type of hashtags, you are opening up your photo to a larger, more targeted audience. With hashtags, it is important to be specific, but not too specific. For example, if you're selling beauty products, it is important to include more than just the hashtags #beauty and #product. Also, don't use hashtags that are too specific, like #facescurbcleanporesbeautyproduct, as you can see this is too long. When you are captioning your photo and using hashtags, Instagram will come up with suggestions, as well as show you how many posts are using the hashtag.
A lot of users on other social media platforms tend to get sick of so many hashtags, but this is certainly not the case for Instagram. In fact, hashtags may be the best way to grow your Instagram following. You are allowed a total of 30 hashtags when captioning a post, and I recommend you use all of them (or at least 25). In case you are having trouble thinking of some, there are plenty of hashtag generators out there. My personal favorite is All Hashtag.
4. Interact with other users.
If you interact with another user, they are going to receive a notification from Instagram that you liked, followed or commented on their post. Showing up in more users' notifications means you will be more noticed. A user may click on your Instagram to find out more about the person who has interacted with them.
A lot of users tend to return the favor as well, so if you follow them, they may follow you back. The same goes for liking and commenting. I find that if I do all three (like a photo, comment on it and follow a user) with a client's Instagram, there is a greater chance that the user will return the favor somehow. Therefore, the more effort you put into interacting with other users, the more you'll get out of it.
The process I usually follow to get more followers for a client's Instagram is "follow, like, like, like." I go to a common hashtag for the client – so if the business is selling stationery, I'd search for #stationeryproducts. When you see the recent pictures, click one of them and follow on to their actual page. Once on their profile, follow them and like their three most recent photos.
5. Create (and actually follow) a posting schedule.
Posting content at regular times will assist you in building a following. If you don't post anything, then there is nothing of value on your page and users have no reason to follow you. Creating a posting schedule is one thing, but actually keeping to it is an entirely different story. Posting consistently is important because your followers will know that they will always be getting something interesting from you. It also means you are at the top of their news feeds, and yours is one of the first pictures a user sees when they search for a hashtag you have included in your post.
Many experts will tell you different things when it comes to your posting schedule. The truth is that there is no best posting schedule that applies equally to all businesses. First of all, it is important to understand your own situation. Consistency is key here, so know your limits. Don't go off the guideline to post three pictures a day if you know you don't have the time to maintain this for the long term. Try not to push yourself to the limit; you have to make posting on Instagram a fun and light experience for yourself or you won't want to continue.
Once you have a good understanding of your limits, you can have a look at the following guide, adjusting where you feel is necessary. These are general suggestions, which I've expanded on below:
- One (or maybe two) posts every couple of days. I usually aim for one post every day, but if you are running your own Instagram, that can be difficult to manage. As a business owner, you have a lot of other jobs to do, so every couple days may suffice.
- Five to 20 Instagram stories every day. That may seem like a lot, but Instagram stories aren't actually like a proper post, more like a Snapchat.
- Two or three live videos every week. Videos are a relatively new feature for the platform, and I'll explain more about live videos later.
1 or 2 posts a day
Look at all the major players in the Instagram game, as well as your major competitor. You will find that these users post very regularly, usually upward of three posts per day. If you are a small business, you probably don't have the resources for that many posts every day. However, it is important to at least try to post once a day. This is because there is an association between the number of times you post and the number of followers you have. Again, posting regularly increases your visibility. The more visible you are, the greater your chance of getting more followers. If users can't find you, how are they supposed to follow you? Posts shouldn't just include photos; you should spice things up with a video every now and then. You might also polish your images with some social media tools designed for images.
5 to 20 Instagram stories every day
Even though this seems like a lot, it probably will take the same amount of effort as creating one or two posts every day. Instagram stories are similar to Snapchat posts, so you don't have to think of a long caption with lots of hashtags or spend time editing the photo.
Instagram stories are always found at the top of the news feed, and your place in the pile is based on how recent your last picture is. So, if you always want to be No. 1, you will need to add lots of photos or videos every day. The story will usually only last 15 seconds, so it's important to stock your story with lots of photos and videos to make it last longer and leave a more powerful impression on your followers.
2 or 3 live videos every week
A lot of businesses tend to steer clear of live videos because they don't understand the feature or don't want to do a live video of themselves. Live videos are a great way of attracting attention and communicating with users. Also remember that you don't have to be in the video; you could be showing something else. The video doesn't have to last very long, although you have to keep the video going long enough that people have time to join in and listen.
When you start a live video, your followers will receive a notification, giving them the chance to listen to what you are doing. To capture the most followers, you should always go live at the same time when you know most of your followers are active. Also, if you post a photo of the time you will be going live, users will be ready to click on straight away. It is important for your live video to seem natural and not too much like you are following a script. You are not producing a drama or sitcom; it's a live video, and this means people don't want to see forced acting.
Instagram is a powerful tool and, if used correctly, can be very beneficial to your business. One of the most important purposes of your business Instagram page is to get followers. The more followers you have, the more people will see your posts. Getting more Instagram followers isn't as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of hard work and continual effort. If you follow the above five points, though, you have a better chance of getting the followers you deserve.