Why Instagram?

Long story short: Instagram is the best social and mobile platform for brands to reach out to audiences who are willing to engage. If you're not on Instagram, you should be.

Organic reach is possible and can be massive for you. If you're looking to engage with your customers, build an audience, and insert your personality into your business, then you have to get in. It's still ripe for the taking.

Here are the top twelve ways to grow your business using Instagram:

1. Connect It to Your Other Social Channels

You’ll get more bang for your buck — and more followers to boot — if you connect Instagram to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. That way, any image you share on Instagram will automatically post to those profiles, and people can click to see your Instagram stream, like an image, comment on it, or follow your brand.

2. Be clear about your brand and create content your customers love.

It's up to you to figure out what your customers want to see. Are there themes or styles that resonate? Once you know what works, populate your account with images, quotes and promotions that tie into your business.

(A good way to find out what your customers are looking for is by scoping out what your competition is posting. If you're way ahead of the game, then look to popular blogs and websites in your space.)

Always remember... Engagement is king.

3. Post images that attract people's attention and make them want to share.

How to get active audience engagement?
The key is to make sure that you're offering both great design and value.

A picture is worth a thousand make sure you're saying the right ones!!

I like to use apps like Canva, WordSwag and Typorama to create all of my posts. No need for expensive designers, these tools make your stuff look completely professional for absolutely no cost (and they're EASY to use.)

Note: Follow Rule Of Thirds

In order to convey a balanced message to your followers and not be overly promotional, it’s important to pay attention to the rule of thirds, which includes:

  • Promotional Posts – this includes product posts or anything that is company-related.
  • Conversational Posts – this includes posts that encourage your audience to engage in a conversation, it can be anything from asking your followers a question to giveaways and contests.
  • Sharing Posts – this includes sharing industry news or cross-promoting with bloggers, your audience, or other companies.
4. Use strong Calls To Action (in your bio, images, and comments).

A lot of companies are starting to post on Instagram. Unfortunately for them, they never tell people what to do or where to go!

You can make use of the bio section in your profile by using a strong "call to action" that directs viewers to your sales page. You have up to 150 characters, so a fun snappy CTA works best.

If your business sells physical goods, then posting photos of what you selling is an obvious strategy. But less obvious is using the comments section to tell people what to do! If you're selling the item on your website, mention it! And direct them where to go!

Lastly, you can make use of the images themselves to drive up engagement. Tools like WordSwag make this so easy, a first grader can learn it.

And remember ... You don't always have to push to sell. "Warming up" your audience is a long term strategy to sell. Have some fun and it'll pay back!

5. Post all the time.

Instagram is a volume game.
The company hasn't released statistics to confirm or deny this, but experience tells me it definitely favors accounts who post more regularly.

I know a business that was posting between 5-10 times per day, with about 2 hours between each post, and it grew from 0-10,000 followers in its first month!

6. Post What People Want

Don’t feel like all your images have to be polished, professional product shots. In fact, your audience might prefer the rough smartphone pictures with filters. Or behind-the-scenes shots of you preparing for an event or product photo shoot. Your stream should deliver value in visual content that followers can’t get anywhere else.

7. Don’t Overlook Video

Not to be outdone by Vine, Instagram also allows users to upload videos. Keep them short and sweet; your audience’s attention span can’t take more than a minute or so as they’re scrolling their stream. You can also embed your Instagram vids on your website or blog.

8. #Hashtags!

Hashtags aren't just for teenage girls! (No offense to all three of you reading this...).

Hashtags can be extremely powerful for creating awareness of what you're up to. Think of them as a "search" tool that helps viewers find topics and ideas they're interested in.

So how do you use them?

Every time you make a post, write a caption before posting up the photo. Then, AFTER you post it, go to the comments section and attach your #hashtags you've very cleverly saved on your phone... More on that below :)

Attaching hashtags to your images allows your content to be found easier from people who don't already follow you. Instagram allows for 30 hashtags total per post.

Pro trick: Put some time in and research the most popular hashtags in your niche, and then compile them together in 'Notes' (for iPhone users) and save them. From there, it's a simple copy and paste into Instagram.

9. Respond to Comments

Your followers love it when you respond to their comments, so make a point to check in several times a week and reply. Follow people back, and then try to connect with them on other social sites.

10. SFS ("share for share").

SFS is a tactic whereby you share and promote other partners work on your page. Look at other players in your space with similar sized (or slightly larger) accounts.

You can start by reposting their images and tagging them in the image and then, over time, they'll start doing the same for you as the number of your followers increases.
(You can DM their account to expedite this process after you've shown some love.)

Having other accounts share your content is huge. Creating a team (or 'syndicate') of partners all cross-promoting each other's work is great for exposure, brand awareness, and building authority in your space. And it'll grow your account ... FAST.

11. Pay Attention To Analytics

A simple review of your analytics within Instagram gives you useful information that you can use to increase engagement. Under the audience tab you can see when your followers are on Instagram, down to each hour, and then plan your future posts at peak times to get the most mileage out of them.

Also paying attention to which photos get the most likes gives you insight into what your audience prefers. You can use this information to post more of what they want and increase engagement that way.

12. Engagement Is The Key

Commenting on other people’s posts, expecially those of your target customer often leads to them visiting your page. Likes are a dime a dozen, but engaging in a more meaningful way gets attention.

If you engage with your target clientele, they will often check out your page, reciprocate likes or even start following you.

Purchasing likes or followers is not in your best interest. While it may seem like a quick fix to get your metrics up, in the long run you could be doing more damage than good. While Instagram announces algorithm changes, they don’t reveal their criteria for suppressing or deleting accounts. It’s safe to assume that accounts with high numbers of followers and low engagement would be an obvious red flag and could have negative impacts. With Instagram’s priority being an excellent user experience, fake accounts or accounts that have purchased likes or followers are likely to be shadow-banned - meaning photos or accounts are suppressed.

If you're looking for ONE strategy to grow your audience, make more money, and directly engage potential customers or fans, then Instagram is your next step.


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