Instagram, the photo-sharing app that debuted in 2010, which Facebook acquired in 2012, currently boasts more than 500 million users. Its popularity has caught the attention of more than 200,000 businesses, which are successfully using the social media app as part of their marketing strategy
Here are seven ways you can optimize Instagram to gain new followers and market your business on this ever-growing, image-sharing network.
1. Optimize Photos
Take Good Photos
Your photos should be interesting, clear, and attention grabbing. While Instagram provides an array of filters to adjust your photos, other photo-editing apps, such as Afterlight and the VSCO Cam, can improve your pictures even more. Available on iTunes and Google Play, each offers better alternatives to the default Instagram filters.
The color of your photos plays a significant role in garnering attention. Aditya Khosla, a doctoral candidate from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, conducted a study regarding what captures attention when it comes to online photos.
According to his research, photos that used reddish tones were more popular than photos with a greenish tone, which ranked second, or photos with a bluish tone, which came in last.
Additionally, Khosla wrote an experimental algorithm that can predict how popular your image may be on social networks.
2. Maintain Posting Frequency
The consensus to publishing on Instagram is that you should post at least two times per day or more.
To get the most engagement, choose the times when your posts will see the highest amount of activity. Simply Measured offers a free Instagram tool that will provide you with a report identifying the best time and days to post, based on your account activity.
Instagram does not allow third parties to schedule posts directly to the platform, which means that you have to remember to post manually. Later, an Instagram scheduling and management app, will remind you to post on Instagram at the times you specify.
3. Use Hashtags
Using hashtags when you post can help increase the number of followers. For example, if you post a photo of sugar cookies and tag it using #sugarcookies, your image will appear to anyone who has clicked on or searched for the sugar cookies hashtag.
Follow these tips for effective hashtag use.
Keep Hashtags Relevant
Only use tags that are relevant to the image you are posting. If you're unsure as to what hashtags to employ, look at what other businesses similar to yours are using.
You can also utilize the Tags for Likes app that helps you find popular hashtags for various industries. Tags for Like also allows you to save custom lists; you can copy and paste hashtags to use in an Instagram post. Users can create one custom list for free but must upgrade to keep additional lists.
Tag Your Location
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, tag images with your location. Instagram users can click the place and see photos that others have posted of your business.
Consider Popular Hashtags
Websta, an Instagram web viewer, will show you the top 100 popular hashtags, which you can use in your posts.
4. Include Post Captions
Use Simple Captions
Use captions to let your followers know what is taking place in the picture, but keep them short and to the point. If you want your followers to do something - like visit your website or store - tell them in the caption.
As an example, Gary Vaynerchuk recently posted this photo letting his followers know about a new episode.
The caption lets you know that the image pertains to his most recent video and includes a link. Since Instagram does not allow hyperlinks within captions, Gary points out that the link is clickable in his profile.
Prompt User Action
Additionally, ask your followers to tag their friends, which may result in more Instagram followers for you.
5. Run Contests
Encourage your followers to enter a contest by using a unique hashtag specifically associated with it.
For example, you could run a contest asking users to post a picture of themselves wearing their ugliest scarf and use the hashtag #uglyscarfcontest for a chance to win a prize. You can also ask Instagram users to "like" a photo to win. Those who do will be entered into a drawing to win the item pictured.
Various companies exist that can help you run your Instagram contest. Here are a few:
- Vortigo - pricing begins at $29 per month;
- Wishpond - offers a free version; premium prices start at $44 per month;
- Iconosquare - pricing starts at $39 per month
Iconosquare also lets its users view currently open Instagram contests, which may give you some ideas for running your own.
In the example below, Thermador, a kitchen appliances company, is running a contest where Instagram followers can enter to win a "Great American Spice Gift Basket."
6. Generate New Followers
Find and follow other Instagram users, and then like, share, and comment on their photos. Many will follow you in kind.
Instagram recently opened up advertising to all businesses, large and small, and is gradually rolling out this option to everyone.
You will need to use Facebook's ad platform to advertise on Instagram. The platform presents you with various options based on your objectives, including App Engagement, App Installs, Brand Awareness, Clicks to Website, and Video Views.
Facebook requires you to use Power Editor, a browser plugin, to place an ad on Instagram and offers a walk-through on how to use the tool to create ads.