Instagram is by far the sexiest social platform on the mainstream market. Its entire design behind its existence is to expose content in its purest form with simplicity and consistency. Until just recently was it virtually free of sponsored ads, but even now that the floodgates have opened for brands to promote, the experience hasn't been rattled.
Sure, it has its bumps and bruises. Some seemingly intentional, others just plain frustrating (come on multiple account login and multiple hashtag search). But overall, Instagram has totally proven to be the purest social platform, especially for us visual learners.
As we've learned with being successful on social media, with great product comes great demand. And with great demand comes high competition. As the platform grows, the harder it is to be heard on it. And even if you do generate tons of followers, if you're a brand, the next question is, how do I convert and actually get a return on the time I'm investing in building this account? So, instead of giving up hope, thinking you'll never have an Instavoice, here are 7 steps to producing a stunning Instagram account that actually converts.
1. Produce extraordinary content
The first one is seemingly obvious, yet tends to be the primary component holding most brands back. Remember, social platforms exist under one purpose; to help one person deliver content they believe in, and to help another person consume content they are hungry for. If you're simply playing the quantity game, you'll never win. Make sure the content reflects your true character and nature, and that people feel an authentic connection and receive value when engaging in your content.
2. Raise the bar on quality
No, this doesn't mean that you have to go out and buy a $5000 camera, but what this does mean is learn some basics on photo composition
and prove to your audience that quality actually matters. Observe other accounts that are eye candy for you, and analyze what are the components that make you feel something about their photo style, and try to adopt some of their characteristics.
3. Be strategic
About what? Everything. Notice how on many successful accounts, there are photo style or color patterns that the human eye is actually attracted to, and begs to be scrolled down. Some accounts get creative with how they can post photos that will make you palm your head and say, "Why didn't I think of that?" Notice the @freedomshootingsports account below, how every other row has a longer photo stitched together to create a more aesthetically pleasing experience. Also consider product placement, hashtagging, account tagging; everything. Make sure there is a method to your madness before you start going mad.
Hashtagging. A very common and controversial discussion in the social marketing world. How much is too much? How much is too little? Which tags best fit my photo? Let's start with quantity. According to TrackMaven, small/mid-size brands who use 11+ hashtags on each post received an average of 77.66 interactions per post, while there were an average of roughly 30-50 interactions per post when using 10 or less hashtags. While it appears this way, this is not saying to go hashtag crazy on all your posts. What the data does show, though, is that the people who use 11+ hashtags on their content, care more about sharing stories and content rather than just mindlessly posting random photos. Now, let's talk about how to tag photos. Getting back to our strategy discussion, each hashtag should be something trending in that community, not necessarily just the one that has been used the most. For example, if I'm sharing content about my Dallas-based coffee shop, even though the tag #followback has been used over 70 million times, and there are people constantly viewing that tag, while you may get some likes on it, these people may not actually be in your community, and will most likely never convert. On the other hand, if you were to use #dallascoffee, #supportlocal, and #dallasbig, the people browsing through these tags will have a higher likelihood of coming to actually visit you, although your social engagement count may be lower. Spend some time discovering what works best for your brand and go from there.
5. Account tags
People love to know that the work they produce is something that matters. The best response any person can receive is knowing that someone thought of their work when posting content that supports the lifestyle or culture that the two of you share. When publishing content on Instagram, be mindful of other brands on Instagram that may be influencers of content you're posting. Also, product placement never hurt anyone. If you're a lifestyle photographer, taking a photo of a person walking the streets of San Francisco, clothe your subject in advertising. A hat from @jcrew, a sweater from @bonobos, a @filson1897 bag, a @bexargoods watch, some @footcardigan socks, you get the gist. Then, tag them all in your photo. For bonus points, do some research to see if they have any brand specific hashtags that their community uses and throw those on there to get some involvement from the people who already care about those brands.
6. Influencer Discovery
This is the most ongoing, timely process in extraordinary Instagram marketing, but will pay in masses in the long-run. Take some time finding Instagram influencers who already have an affinity for the culture you are in pursuit of, and begin following them and engaging with them. Like, comment, tag, massage the relationship, and make sure they know you're being a resource for them. There will be a day that comes where you can reach out to them directly and say, "Hey! We've been following you for a while and love what you're doing. Here's what we're doing and we'd love for you to be a part of it. Would you like to join us?" At this point, you can choose how you'd like to proceed with the relationship by following the next step.
7. Affiliate Marketing
If you're not already familiar with this term, here's what it means; reward people for organically marketing your brand. Once you've found your influencers, the next step is discovering how they can be an ambassador for your brand. Softwares like getambassadors.com will play a pivotal role in empowering third-party brands and people to promote your brand and help their community engage with you, without you ever having to enter the picture. Many of these softwares & tools will generate individual links to your website, specific to the influencer. They then promote your content and share a link for people to view your site. Each time that link is clicked, these tools will measure who's unique link it was, and depending on the reward system you have established for your affiliates, it will reward them monetarily, or with discounts to your products as people click and convert. Outside of affiliate marketing softwares, I always encourage people to step outside the box and create custom ways to reward their influencers, with the hopes that they'll end up sharing that on social. For instance, let's say you're a florist, and you want to engage your influencers with something tangible. A great idea would be to send them a bouquet of flowers that they are always posting about on Instagram, along with a lookbook for next season's flowers, and a guide on how to maintain these particular flowers. Again, people love to know that you have seen them and that you understand and connect with their passion.