How To Master Your Instagram Game
There’s no doubt that Instagram is a powerful social media platform that can be a real game-changer in your business. But with 500 million active profiles on the network, how do you stand out and make your profile one that speaks to your potential customers or clients and, ultimately, works to build your brand awareness and make those sales? Well, first off, there’s no easy answer. If I come across a secret formula, I’ll be sure to share it with you, but in the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re bringing your A-game to Instagram every time.
For starters, your profile needs to look its absolute best when somebody lands on it. Obviously, this means all your relevant material needs to be filled in: Name, bio, profile pic and web address. It’s a good idea to include a call to action here, too.
The website section can be changed to link to different posts or promotions when you direct people to a particular page from your captions.
Follow, follow, follow
Go through your contact list and start by following your friends and then use the ‘discover people’ tool to follow profiles that have content you enjoy. You can also use Facebook to find profiles to follow by connecting the two platforms in ‘settings’.
Another way to draw in followers is to engage with others and comment on their posts, where appropriate of course. It’s one of those tasks that we're often too busy to do, but taking the time to reply to comments on your own images and commenting on other posts will increase awareness of your profile.
Ideally, you want to add something of value in your comments and strike a chord with viewers in your target audience. A great way to engage your followers is by asking them a question. It might give you great insight into what you should be posting.
It’s also a common courtesy to follow back those who follow you as it creates a connection and shows that you value creating a community, especially when you’ve just started to grow your account.
Create amazing content
Maybe you want to go with a particular colour theme that reflects your branding or perhaps you want a lot of white space around your images, but don’t be afraid to experiment.
There are loads of apps and tools that you can use to create fantastic pictures that tell a story, extend your brand or simply look stunning. So start playing around and see what you come up with.
It’s all about timing
Post often and be consistent. While this may seem pretty obvious, posting regularly is the best way to attract interest and followers on Instagram. The ideal amount of posts varies, depending on your audience, but Nathan Ellering from CoSchedule analyzed 10 different studies, and “found that 3 posts per day should be the max amount of daily posting, while 1-2 daily posts is the recommended amount”.
Make sure what you do post really speaks to your niche, and don’t continually repost your own images. The Instagram audience can be fickle and will unfollow in an instant if they don’t like what they’re seeing. If posting so frequently doesn’t suit your brand, keeping your posting low quantity but high quality is the way to go.
There are several apps, both paid and unpaid like Hootsuite, Buffer, Later and ScheduGram, that can help you keep on top of your posting schedule.
One way to get yourself noticed on Instagram is by tagging other profiles in your posts. According to an article by Ashton Hauff for the CoSchedule blog, “Simply Measured found that posts that tag other users in the caption average 37 percent higher engagement! When you’re creating your Instagram post, anyone that should receive credit or a mention should get tagged in the final editing screen. This can be both people or brands.”
And you can also tag your location. You have to give the app permission to do so in your settings. Once you’ve tagged your location, people can come across your profile when they search by location. It’s also great to use this function if you’re at events, on vacation or even in your office – if you want your address to be shown.
Hashtags make your images searchable, therefore the more hashtags, the better. Use tags that suit the kind of audience that you are after and what appeals to them. It’s also a good idea to use already established hashtags like #fitspo, #businesstips or #ThrowbackThursdays.
You can add up to 30 hashtags per image but make sure they are relevant to the image; if you don’t need 30, don’t use 30. It can come across as spammy. There’s a great app called Grama that allows you to type in a keyword to search a list of relevant hashtags that you can copy and paste into your post. Check out what hashtags other influencers in your niche are using and test them out to see what works for you.
Another idea is to use a branded hashtag so users can find you. Make it an interesting slogan or something related to your brand that no one else is using and use it to grow your audience.
Cross-promotions and collaborations
It’s time to promote your profile outside of Instagram. Let people know you’re on Instagram via your website, email newsletter and other social media accounts. This will help your followers on other networks discover your Instagram account – and vice versa. When posting a photo or video on Instagram, you have the option to also share the post on several other networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. It’ll save you time posting on your other accounts and shows followers on other networks that you are active on Instagram rather than the pushy “Follow us on Instagram” kind of posts. Linking your accounts is easy – you just need to enter your login and password for each account.
Next, reaching out to popular Instagrammers in your niche and asking them to promote your products or services can be really beneficial, especially when starting out. You could ask them if you could “take over” their account as a guest contributor, start an Instagram challenge with daily hashtags or simply repost each other’s images. There are lots of creative ways to work with influencers, just make sure it’s something mutually beneficial that you are both comfortable with.
Advertise to increase your reach
Got great content? Why not put a little money behind it and boost your reach. Advertisements also give you the option of using a single image, carousel images or video to get your message across. By promoting your posts, they reach a little further and you can target a refined audience to reach your ideal client.
Not sure where to start? Social Media Examiner has a great post on how to use Instagram ads by using the Facebook Power Editor.
Know your numbers
Recording your data is so important to make sure your strategy is working. If you don’t know those figures, you won’t know what content works best for your audience nor will you be able to measure your growth.
In a post on Social Media Examiner, Writer and Editor Ana Gotter says, “it’s important to use analytics tools to see which portion of your Instagram audience is interacting with what content, what content is performing best, and which audience segments you may be missing. As you learn from these analytics, you can create stronger and more relevant content that your audience will be more receptive to.”
Make sure your profile page info is current and filled in
Follow all the profiles that you love and continue to follow on a regular basis
Make your content fabulous – choose a colour theme or posting strategy that will make your page unique
Post frequently and consistently
Tag other businesses and brands, your location and use hashtags
Cross-promote on your other social media platforms and collaborate, where appropriate
Try your hand at Instagram advertising
Consider using an analytics app or tool (or Instagram’s own analytics) and record that data so you can measure how your strategy is going
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