Building a large Instagram following can often be quite challenging for brands. To date, the photo sharing super-network is almost completely a mobile one, and to further the challenge, Twitter recently cut off Instagram users from being able to find out which of their Twitter friends are also on Instagram.
Instagram is tough, but it is worth it. Images are such a gigantic part of social content sharing these days and Instagram does a great job at simplifying the process. If you have a visual story to tell, Instagram should be part of your digital marketing playbook.
So how the heck do you build a following on a network that is so tough to find people on? Here are some of the basic components of a successful Instagram community building campaign. Master these and you are on your way to Instagram success.
Hashtags are a critical component of building an Instagram following. They are a great way to find users that share the same types of content as you do as well as a great way for those users to find you.
You always want to include one or more hash tags in every photo you upload. Just as important as including the hashtags is making sure that they are tags that are commonly used. After all, what good is tagging something if nobody is ever going to search for that tag?
A great way to find trending and popular hashtags is to use a third-party tool like Statigr.am. You should never mislead users by loading your post up with unrelated but trending hashtags, but trending hashtags lists are usually diverse enough to include one or more related to your photo. For example, if your picture is of the front of your new office building, your company name may not be the best hashtag, but #architecture or #building maybe better for attracting more eyeballs to your image.
On the flip side, you should be actively seeking new followers by searching on the hashtags most related to your brand. There is a great deal of reciprocity on Instagram so if you find someone who looks like they may be interested in your brands, follow them. Look through their images and like and comment on the ones that have relevance to your brand. You should see this outreach pay off in reciprocal follows, likes and comments.
To build a solid Instagram community, you really need to post regularly. As with just about any social network regular, smart network activity results in a larger following.
Try to post daily and at different times of the day. Instagram is an international mobile network, so it is generally more difficult to pin down a time that is best to post at. In building a following, you don't want the same people seeing your photos every day. Mix it up to broaden and grow your audience.
Use your existing digital properties to promote your Instagram photos. As with any new social account, you need to let your base know that it exists. One way is to create your own hashtag and promote it offline and on. You should also connect your account to your social networks to amplify the reach of your account. Currently, Instagram allows users to share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and foursquare. Use your success on these other networks to your advantage here.
Unless your brand is top of mind for the average consumer, Instagram isn't the easiest network to build a large community on quickly, but the value it offers to your digital marketing campaigns makes it an important tool. The good news is that just about every other marketer out there is up against the same challenges. With knowledge of the tools available and a little creativity, you should be able to build a solid, engaged community for your brand.