Since its inception, Instagram has pioneered the visual appeal of social media. Its visceral platform has resonated with a younger demographic, which still accounts for the majority of its users.
Fast-forward five years, and Instagram's growth has garnered the attention of those who are supposedly "not spending their time on social." It is the fastest growing social media website, especially amongst 40-60 year olds. If you think your prospects and customers aren't hanging out on Instagram, think again.
So why aren't more marketers using it?
There appears to be a cognitive bias when it comes to "selling" on Instagram. Their advertising platform was only recently introduced, and you can't use clickable links any images. In fact, the only place where you can put a link is in the bio section of your profile.
These features suggest that Instagram is strictly a content-based platform that's not a viable source for ROI. However, looks can be deceiving.
Each social media website has it's own unique appeal to the user. Far too often, people try to leverage each platform as a method of distribution for their brand. If you duplicate the same content through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it will save you time and energy. You won't have to manually log into each website, and you'll end up reaching just as many followers.
But social media isn't just about "reach." It's about engaging within the context of each individual platform. If you treat Instagram like email marketing or Twitter, then you aren't going to generate much revenue into your business.
Instagram has a visual appeal unlike any other social media channel. Their users are drawn to images, which takes them longer to absorb each post.
If you want to build a massive presence on Instagram, then you need to capture the attention of your audience. With over 400 million users, this is going to force you to step up your game. Focus on sharing the personality of your brand, along with the unique benefits that your products and services offer.
Here are 7 techniques that you can use to start increasing your engagement levels on Instagram:
1) Build A Portfolio
Before you focus on building your fan base, you need to optimize your Instagram profile. The first step is to ensure that your profile is public. Simply go to your profile, tab the "Settings" icon on the top right of the screen, make sure the "Private Account" slider is turned off.
Once your profile is visible to the public, you need to start building a portfolio. Nobody wants to follow someone with only a few images to display.
If you want other people to notice you, then upload 20-25 captivating photos. If you take photos with your iPhone, there are several ways to crop and enhance the overall quality of your images.
Make sure that your photos are relevant to what your followers want to see. If you are in the fitness niche, then you shouldn't be posting pictures of sunsets and beaches. Put yourself in your ideal prospects shoes, and create content that is aligned with their core desires.
For each photo, write a short, compelling description that would motivate someone to follow you. Before you post your content, use hashtags to accurately reflect each image. This is one of the easiest ways to get your brand in front of other people. Focus on the overall quality of your content, and refrain from using irrelevant hashtags that can be perceived as spam.
2) Cross-Promote Your Social Profiles
I'm willing to bet you have profiles across multiple social media channels. If so, then there is no reason why you shouldn't cross promote your Instagram profile.
Instagram gives you the option to post your images directly to Facebook. So why not ask those same Facebook fans to go follow you on Instagram? You can utilize this same strategy with Twitter and LinkedIn.
Just remember that you want to gain followers, not lose them. Asking all your social media channels at once to follow you on Instagram isn't an effective approach. For optimal results, focus on cross-promoting only one network at a time.
3) Leverage Other People's Audience
Every social media channel has its authority figures. Regardless of what niche you're in, there will always be people who want more followers.
If you want to build a sustainable presence on Instagram, then you need to network with other users and encourage them to promote your profile. Always lead with value, and figure out a way that you can help them first.
This is a great way to build an organic source of traffic to your channels. If for any reason it doesn't work, then don't hesitate to employ this strategy with Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social networks.
4) Engage With Your Followers
Unfortunately, most marketers glance over the most important aspect of social media. ENGAGEMENT! There's no point in having a massive Instagram following if you aren't actively building a relationship with them.
The first step is to create compelling content on a consistent basis. You don't want your followers to forget who you are. If you constantly go on social media hiatuses, then people aren't going to want to follow you.
Taking the time to respond to your followers will make you stand out on Instagram. When your audience sees that you're engaged, it will increase the chances of them sharing and commenting on your images. A simple reply of "thanks" will keep your followers happy and content. Remember, the goal is to build a responsive audience that you can convert into prospects and potential customers.
5) Quality vs. Quantity Content
You can't expect to get massive amounts of traffic by posting only a few times per week. You also don't want to flood people's newsfeed by sharing multiple photos at once.
Your level of engagement will most likely increase if you spread out your posts. An optimal strategy would be posting every 3-4 hours. Always remember that quality beats quantity. Instead of analyzing the frequency of your posts, take the time to create content that resonates with your audience. It's always better to share great images, even if that means posting less frequently.
6) Time Your Posts
If you want your followers to be engaged, then they need to actually see your content. This may sound intuitive, but you need to find out the best times to post on social media. Instead of relying on arbitrary data, you need to make an effort to understand your followers at a deeper level.
There are various free tools that help you measure the engagement levels of your audience. Once you know the optimal times to post, you can tailor your best content to peak times of the day.
7) Mention The "Link In The Bio"
As I mentioned, Instagram prohibits the use of clickable links in the images. However, you can put a link in the bio section of your profile. It may seem difficult to optimize your content for lead generation, but I assure you that's not the case.
Here are some tips to build your email list through Instagram:
The link in your bio can direct users to your blog. From there, you can use an array of pop-ups, banners, and widgets that entice your readers to subscribe to your list.
In the description of your image, reference the "link in your bio" as an opportunity for your audience to learn more from you. Keep in mind that you can modify your bio link at any time.
Your bio link can direct your followers to a high converting landing page. Offer some of your best content for free, and make sure that it's digestible for your followers. They aren't looking to spend hours of their time "learning" from you. Instead, they are looking for succinct content that delivers immediate benefits.
When used properly, Instagram is a platform that can generate qualified traffic to your website. If you consistently provide value, then your followers are going to naturally want to learn more from you.
Instagram's unique visual appeal has modified the behavioral trends of social media. As it continues to grow, it will appeal more and more to an older demographic. Don't make the crucial mistake of thinking that your customer isn't hanging out on Instagram.
If you implement these 7 tactics, you'll notice an immediate increase in your engagement.
What are some strategies that you use to grow your Instagram following?