Any brand worth their salt knows that a social media presence is integral to success. If you can’t captivate people online in 2017, you don’t have an audience. Unfortunately simply registering profiles on the leading platforms and plugging your products and services is not going to cut it. You need to target the right the users, utilise the right techniques and tools and share the most engaging content.
Different social networks also have their own pros and cons. Instagram, for example, is a completely different animal than Twitter and requires a unique strategy. The popular app focuses on imagery and video instead of text, which can often be daunting for the traditional marketer – especially if their business is not visually appealing. There’s a reason why brands like Nike and Victoria’s Secret dominate the platform because they have shiny fashion items to show off. However, with a little creativity, any business in any industry can generate leads.
In fact, if you have been avoiding Instagram there’s no better time to get things rolling. Since being acquired by Facebook in 2012 its user-base has jumped from just 30 million to over 600 million, with 300 million active every single day. This puts it ahead of Twitter. On average users are also more engaged than they are on Facebook and Twitter; meaning they like, comment, share and otherwise interact with more posts per person.
Furthermore according to data gathered by WebsiteBuilder.org for their new Instagram Facts infographic, half of Instagram users follow at least one business profile and at least 5% are taking action when they are inspired, such as purchasing a product or sharing a post with a friend. By then end of 2017 70.7% of brands is expected to be using the platforms as part of their social media marketing campaigns. If you’re not one of them, you’re going to be missing out.
Below are 10 top tips to ensure you stand the best possible chance of gaining targeted followers and generating leads on Instagram:
Branded and Persuasive Profile Page
Your Instagram username should be the name of your business (or at least reflect the brand) and your business name (which appears under the profile picture) should also be your business name.
Your profile picture is one of the first things users will see, so a high-quality version of your company logo is important. Note Instagram crops this image into a circle so make sure it is the right size.
Until shoppable links are fully rolled out for all users, currently the only place you can leave a direct link to your website or other pages is on the profile page. Here you can also write a 150 character bio, which should describe your brand and prompt users to follow the link.
Remember to track this link so you can monitor traffic coming from Instagram. You might also decide to change it regularly to point directly to your latest content or offers instead of the homepage.
Don’t Shoot With a Potato
Instagram is also about visually appealing content, so nobody wants to see photos and videos that look they’ve been shot with a potato. Thankfully smartphones now do a lot of the work for you and Instagram has a lot of filters and effects as well.
On your profile page, the images and videos you have posted are displayed in a feed of thumbnails. These are cropped into a square, so when you shoot remember to centre things as much as possible.
Personable and Creative Posts
If you don’t have physical products or products that are exciting to look at, that doesn’t mean you can’t utilise Instagram. You can always post relevant memes and turn text and quotes into vibrant images. Think outside the box!
One of the most successful approaches is to portray the personable side of your brand. Instead of focusing directly on the products and services you offer, go behind the curtain and show followers the office, your staff, your latest events, and meetings, or funny goings-on in the workplace.
Any business can be captivating if the people behind it are enthusiastic. Developing your brand image this way lays the foundation for leads and sales later.
Use Hashtags Correctly
Hashtags are still one of the most misunderstood aspects of social media and different platforms use them in different ways. On Instagram, if you type a word into your caption preceded by the hash symbol #, that word becomes a hyperlink when the post is published. If a user clicks that link they go to a feed of posts that have used the same hashtag. Some users follow hashtags to stay up to date on certain subjects and niches. Furthermore, when a user searches on Instagram the results are drawn from these tags.
Therefore using hashtags that are relevant to your post and business allow you to reach targeted users and gain new followers. Of course, for this to be effective the tag has to be something users are searching. A wise strategy is to use highly targeted hashtags alongside broader and more popular tags, or those currently trending. For example, you might glom off #USElection on Election Day.
Cross-Promote and Interact
Audiences are no longer passive; they want to be your friend, so you can’t be passive either. In order to grow your brand on Instagram, you need to interact with your followers, competitors and the wider industry. This means responding to comments on your posts and highlighting followers that post about your brand; commenting on and liking and sharing your follower’s posts and following potential customers and even rival businesses. This will all help get your brand in front of new eyes and create a buzz.
You should also leverage your existing partnerships with cross-promotions. Follow your existing contacts and partners and offer to promote their content if they will do the same.
Partner With Influencers
An influencer is anyone within the niche or industry of your brand that has a following and authority. For example, if you are in the travel industry an influencer might be a travel blogger. Approaching influencers with paid promotion opportunities or offering them free products and services, in turn for reviews and promotion, is a great way to reach new eyes.
Pay For Advertising
Instagram now has a full range of premium advertising options, including sponsored posts which take your regular post and inserts it into the feed of the users you target based on age, gender, location, interests, and lots of other parameters. The company claims that 70% of these campaigns generate statistically significant increases in online conversions, and so far 500,000 advertisers agree.
If you’re new to Instagram and want to kickstart to your follower count and get instant results, setting aside an ad budget may be the way to go.
Use All Post Formats
Instagram is no longer just about photos and images. You can post video clips, animated gifs, stream live video, and share Snapchat style ‘stories’ that expire after 24 hours. Soon retailers will also be able to make Shoppable posts that include links to buy products directly.
Utilising the full range of post formats will keep your users intrigued and your creative juices flowing. Each can be leveraged for their own benefits, for example, an animated gif is a good way to inject some humour into a post, whereas a live stream is ideal for covering a trade show or event.
Schedule and Plan
Leading brands on Instagram don’t post blindly. A lot of planning goes into each piece of content, including the time of day to publish it and even how many times to post in a week. To keep users engaged but not annoyed, top brands post an average of 4.9 times a week.
Furthermore, Wednesday at 5 pm is when the most Instagram users are active – a generally opportune time to publish important posts. However, depending on your location and target audience, you may discover an even better time.
After you have been active for a number of weeks you can use Instagram’s analytics to see which of your posts and post times were the most popular and tweak your campaign accordingly.
Adding value by offering perks and freebies is a tried and true method of gaining customers and building brand loyalty. Social media (especially Instagram) is prime for doing this. Perhaps you instruct followers to use a certain hashtag and share a certain post in return for a coupon code? From a simple image promoting a SALE to a full blown contest or giveaway, there are many creative ways to reward followers and benefit from the buzz.
To learn more about the rise of Instagram, its statistics and various facts that can aid your social media marketing campaign – be sure to check out the full infographic from