Facebook and Twitter are often perceived as the top two in social media, but Instagram is fast becoming a new contender. The visual platform has already surpassed Twitter in terms of monthly active users (over 300 million as of July 2015), and its growth rate continues to rise. Based on these figures, Instagram may soon be considered one of the top two, along with its parent company in Facebook.
Despite its growing user base, many business professionals struggle to grasp the value of Instagram. There's a lot that brands just don't understand about the network, so they either avoid it or treat it as a side project and don't give it much effort. As time goes on, priorities will likely shift as mobile continues to dominate, and with this, the perception of Instagram will also likely change.
Every social media platform has a community, and Instagram is no exception. There are tons of articles about community management for Facebook and Twitter, but not as many for Instagram. Managing a community on Instagram is different than managing a community on other platforms, but it's nothing to fear.
Here are six essential tips for community management on Instagram:
1. Check Your Notifications Often
Once you post your content, be sure to keep an eye on your notifications in real-time. Most people will see and engage with your photos when they are first posted. Currently, the notifications pane in Instagram only shows you the eighty most recent comments, so be sure not to miss anything below the fold once your content goes live.
2. Reply to Comments
Writing back to your community in the comments is important on any platform, but on Instagram it's often ignored. Get conversations going, ask questions, and engage. Make your followers see your brand as accessible and willing to listen. Personal connections and loyalty will follow. And be sure to begin all of your engagements by tagging the person's username so he or she will be notified. An easy way to do this is to swipe left on the comment and then tap the reply button.
3. Encourage Users to Tag Their friends
Depending on your content, you may find that most comments are people simply tagging their friends. This can be a little discouraging since you can't engage much with just a username, but you should encourage it. More eyes on your content can result in more engagement and followers.
4. Use Iconosquare
What throws most people off about Instagram is that it's mobile-based. Its current desktop version doesn't allow you to post photos or even see your notifications. Third party web-based services such as Iconosquare can be of major benefit, making it easier and more convenient to check your notifications via PC.
5. Use Instagram Direct to Run Giveaways
Run a comment-to-win sweepstakes (making sure to follow FTC Guidelines). Comment-to-win sweepstakes are great for boosting comments. You can then select your winners and then tell them you'll reach out via Instagram Direct Message (Instagram's version of a Facebook private message or Twitter direct message). Then you can privately request their email address and pass along the prize.
6. Check Hashtags for UGC
Depending on your brand, your fans may be posting content on Instagram about your products. This is almost always a given for food-related brands. Try searching a few hashtags and see what's out there - or better yet, search a hashtag of your brand name. Engage on their photos with likes and comments, they'll probably be thrilled to see the recognition (and they're likely to follow your brand if they don't already).
Also, showcase your community by featuring user-generated content. Use Instagram Direct to reach out and get permission, then regram or post their photos - just be sure to always give credit.
Do you engage with your communities on Instagram? What takeaways do you have from your engagements? Let me know in the comments below.
This post was originally published on Likeable Media.