Instagram now has over 600 million active users who are scrolling their feeds, liking comments and responding to posts on a regular basis. Since more consumers are also engaging with their favorite brands on social media, having a strong presence on Instagram is a smart move to bolster your strategy, connect with your audience, and grow brand awareness.
As you're developing your social media strategy, improving your Instagram marketing will likely yield favorable results for your overall business goals.
Regardless of your practice or small business, these five tactics will help you effectively leverage Instagram to boost followership, increase exposure, heighten engagement and improve your productivity.
1. Host Instagram Contests
One way to improve your Instagram marketing and get followers interacting with your content is by hosting contests. Not only does this generate buzz around your name but it also shows a fun side to your brand.
Instagram contests can be simple to execute and can be held weekly to grow your followers, boost exposure, and create the expectancy to keep your audience coming back to you.
Here are a few ideas to get you rolling:
- "Like My Post to Win" - Perhaps the easiest to facilitate, participants can simply double tap your post to enter - and of course, they must be following you. Encourage your audience to "repost" your content on their news feeds to foster more responses
- "Selfie" Photo Contest - Have clients take a selfie after having a great appointment with you. Get them to briefly share their experience with your brand, using your company and contest hashtag in their posts
- Photo Contest with Voting - Take your selfie contest up a notch by adding a voting element to the competition. The image that receives the most votes is the winner.
For your contest giveaway, be sure that it's something your audience would enjoy winning - make it enticing and exciting enough to compel followers to join.
2. Hashtags are a Must
Using hashtags on Instagram is vital because they enable others to find you, even if they've never heard of your brand before.
You're able to reach a larger audience, increase content exposure, and open doors for new connections to be made. Including hashtags in your posts is a must if you want more eyeballs on your visuals.
Two cool tools to consider for discovering which hashtags are trending in your niche are Top-Hashtags.com and Hashtagify.me. Through these apps, you can learn the highest rated hashtags, how many posts are currently using them and see examples of how they're being applied.
Also, check out the hashtags your influencers' and competitors are including in their posts. Find out what's working by viewing the level of engagement they're generating.
3. Engage Your Followers with Instagram Stories
A recent study showed that people will watch live videos longer than one that has been prerecorded. With that knowledge, leveraging social video can be a huge asset to your business, and certainly provides another outlet to connect more deeply with your followers.
Instagram Stories is one of the platform's newer features, and brands are also now able to "go live" to get their message out using video on the platform.
A great way to utilize this is by hosting live Q&A sessions where you answer your followers' and clients' questions in real-time. This is a great way to gain feedback into what your audience thinks of your products, and can provide fresh content ideas to share in your next blog post. These responses can also be used to tweak and adjust your current program or products.
Another way to engage your followers is by taking them behind-the-scenes to get a glimpse of how you operate. Invite them to the next company event, staff meeting, or simply show them a typical day at the office. These personalized expressions can create memorable experiences that will help separate your brand from competitors.
Finally, be the first to report breaking or trending news by broadcasting it live on Stories.
4. Leverage Instagram Tools
There's a plethora of apps on the market to help improve your productivity and efficiency in Instagram marketing, ranging from better photo filter options, analytics and scheduling your posts, to finding your key influencers.
You can maximize your time and marketing efforts by adding a few of these tools to your kit:
- Crowdfire - A popular app for Instagram, Crowdfire provides a list of new followers, those who have unfollowed you, gives suggestions of other users that may be interested in your service, and recommends the best times to schedule your content
- SnapWidget - Embed your Instagram feed onto your website or blog for more visibility
- Repost - Build relationships with followers, highlight influencers in your niche, and initiate new conversations simply by reposting their content
- Social Insight - Your all-inclusive analytics tool to monitor engagement, follower growth, interactions, and overall progress to gauge your Instagram marketing success
5. Know When to Post Your Content
Posting your images at the right time will help boost engagement with your followers.
According to Hootsuite, the best time to post on Instagram is between 12pm-1pm, Monday-Friday. However, the real success lies in discovering when your unique audience is most responsive to your content.
There are several social media management tools like Buffer and CoSchedule that have built-in analytic features giving you the optimal times to post on Instagram for better engagement, while Instagram also has it's own business analytics tools which provide insight into when your followers are most active online.
Individual results will vary, so while it's great to get an understanding of generic posting recommendations, nothing beats learning about your own audience habits.
Instagram is an excellent platform to help boost your social media marketing strategy and bring more awareness to your brand. Consider implementing some of the tactics outlined above, test your results, and ramp up from there. The key is to implement and discover what resonates most with your audience.
This post originally appeared on The Fried Side blog