Social media marketing has a new king—Instagram. With over 400 million users and a rate of engagement trumping that of both Facebook and Twitter, it’s not at all hard to understand why. If you’ve visited your Facebook newsfeed lately, chances are you were flooded by so much noise that you forgot why you opened Facebook in the first place. However, thanks to Instagram’s easy-to-use, single purpose platform, users are able to access what they’re looking for with just a few taps. There’s also less competition among marketers on Instagram than Facebook. And, users are willing to spend more. Shopify puts the average order value of an Instagram follower at $65, versus Facebook’s $55.
So, there’s an opportunity for your brand on Instagram, but how do you begin building a following?
Have no fear; we’re here to help with that! We’ve got 7 tips on how you can start building your brand’s presence and get more Instagram followers.
1. Invite Your Friends
You want people to know that you’re now on Instagram, so get the word out! When you first sign up, you’ll be given the option to follow and share your newly created account with your phone contacts and Facebook friends. You should also be promoting your Instagram account on your other social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter. Add the Instagram Follow Button to your website. And let your newsletter subscribers know with a quick email blast.
Remember though, it’s not just about telling people that you’re now on Instagram, it’s about giving them a reason to want to follow you on Instagram (more on that with tip 2).
2. Clearly Define Your Purpose
When creating your account, you should clearly define your purpose to your followers. You should define who you are and what you do. What sets your brand apart? Think through who you’re targeting with you social media strategy on Instagram when creating your brand page. It’s ok to be playful and creative in your description, especially if it makes sense to your audience. GoPro’s Instagram shows off a creative, yet informative bio. “We make the World’s Most Versatile Camera. Wear it. Mount it. Love it.” In addition to your bio, you can also include one link. This is an important piece of real estate, so think through where you want your audience to go. GoPro opts for engaging their Instagram followers by sending them to the landing page for their upcoming Karma drone.
Think about what unique images or short videos your brand can offer to attract Instagram followers. Perhaps you want to feature your product, like Warby Parker does. Maybe you want to give a “behind the scenes” experience, like American Express. Or feature images and videos that highlight the principles your brand stands for, like Lululemon.
Whatever you choose, if you can clearly articulate what your account is all about, the better chance you’ll have at getting more Instagram followers.
3. Be Social
Like Twitter, Instagram uses hashtags for organization and search purposes. Unlike Twitter, you can use up to 30 different hashtags. ShortStack recommends using at least 11 hashtags to get the highest level of interaction. Look for trending hashtags by using sites like Top-Hashtags and join in conversations happening on Instagram. This will help you to get new eyes on your Instagram account.
It’s also important to remember that social media is not a soapbox. You should make sure that you interact with your audience by liking and commenting on other people’s videos and pictures. Did someone post a picture of your product? Reach out—like or comment on that post. Also, don’t forget to monitor and like brand mentions. And remember, human connection should always be at the core of any social media strategy.
4. Collaborate with Influencers
Collaborating with other Instagram influencers in your industry can be a very powerful way to promote your brand. For example, Cathay Airlines teamed up with travel blogger Jessica Stein for a campaign called #lifewelltraveled. You don’t always have to pair up with someone in your industry. Bonobos sought out promotion from a comedic personality to gain more Instagram followers for their brand.
When you reach out to an Instagram influencer, you’ll want to consider what you can offer them. Some ideas include offline exposure, a product sample or free merchandise. Whatever it is, you’ll need to address their question of “What’s in it for me?” before you ask them to do anything for you. As for finding influencers, you’ll need to search for popular users on Instagram. Rolling Stone’s got a great list of Instagram influencers to get you started.
5. Encourage Engagement
Entice users to follow your brand on Instagram by hosting an activity that encourages engagement, such as a photo contest. Lancome’s #bareselfie campaign is a great example. They created a specific hashtag and image criteria for the contest: post a picture of yourself wearing no makeup. The contest was a hit with a ton of engagement during the campaign.
CLIF Bar is another company that used a photo sharing campaign to increase engagement among its community. Drawing on its popularity among outdoor enthusiasts, CLIF Bar launched the #MeetTheMoment campaign. Every time someone shared a picture of their outdoor adventures with the hashtag #MeetTheMoment, CLIF Bar donated $1 to one of their nonprofit partners.
6. Test Your Posts
Not all pictures or videos will garner engagement. Sometimes it has to do with the time of day or even the day of week you’re posting. Other times, it has to do with the actual content of the posts, the hashtags, location tags and description text. You should consistently be testing which posts work best for your audience and what days and times will posts garner the most engagement with your Instagram followers.
According to Kissmetrics, pictures get more engagement than videos. They also found that the best time of day to post is 2am, 6am, 5pm and 10pm EST, and the best days of the week were Wednesdays and Thursdays. Buffer recommends posting at least once a day. However, accounts that are growing are posting multiple times a day. And Hootsuite recommends consistency with your posting. If you set a posting schedule, stick to it.
Test out different days and times to see if that affects your engagement rate. You may find that tagging a different location will get you exposure to a new audience. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid of trying out a post more than once, experimenting against a specific variable—especially if it flops the first time.
To measure and keep track of your engagement rate (the number of likes and comments divided by your followers) on each of your posts try an analytics tool like Iconosquare.
7. Pay to Promote Your Posts
As with all social media, there is always a paid promotion route you can take to gain exposure for your brand—and Instagram (especially post Facebook acquisition) is no different. By running sponsored ads, you’re guaranteeing that people will see your posts—and if they like what they see, chances are they’ll follow you. Moreover, a huge benefit to boosting your posts on Instagram is the ability to go after your brand’s ideal target audience.
However, be aware that unlike other platforms that allow you to pay based on engagement, Instagram’s paid advertising is based on CPM (cost per impressions). You’ll want to make sure you put some thought into defining the right audience to target to ensure that it’s money well spent.
Instagram is an increasingly popular platform with enormous potential for brands. It’s visual, single-purpose use allows for your brand to express a personality. Additionally, it allows you to attract new customers and connecting with brand enthusiasts due to its high levels of engagement. Like with launching a new profile on any other social media channel, it’s hard work to get it up and running. But, if done successfully, it will be worth your time.
Start growing your followers on Instagram by adding the Instagram Follow Button to your website.