Instagram has more than 75 million daily active users, with a total user base of over 400 million. Instagram users in 2015 were sharing over 70 million photos per day. Given its growing importance we'll explore some easy tips that can help you with Instagram marketing.
Starting up with Instagram Marketing - Building followers
In case you are just starting up on Instagram and only recently have decided to market your product or service on Instagram, one of the first things you might want to do is to build a small but active follower base on Instagram.
You can start by inviting your friends on Facebook to your Instagram account. Instagram automatically notifies your friends if you've just created an account on Instagram. You get a notification saying, "You Facebook friend alpha is on Instagram as alpha" In this way Instagram assists you in starting up.
It is always a good idea to connect your Facebook account with an Instagram account.
Sharing Instagram content on your Facebook page
Let's say all this while you were busy engaging with your audiences through Facebook and built a decent following for your brand. You can tap in to that base by sharing content you are publishing on Instagram. For Facebook you simply need to copy the link and paste it on to your Facebook page. Instagram allows you to connect your Facebook profile and page with your Instagram account. This will allows your fans on Facebook to discover content you are publishing on Instagram. Since a lot of users are using Facebook on their mobile devices, it can be a good way to improve discoverability of your Instagram account. If you are just starting up, you can also publish a post that informs your users about your new Instagram account. Users on Facebook would be able to click on the link and would be directed to your Instagram post.
There is however one limitation of this approach. It is a good practice if you are just starting up on Instagram. However if you do it excessively, it can kill the engagement of your Facebook page. It is important to have the right balance.
Connecting Instagram with your Twitter profile
To boost discoverability of your Instagram account, you should try connecting your Instagram account with your Twitter profile. Before publishing content on Instagram you have the option to choose whether you'd directly want to post it to Twitter. This approach can promote your Instagram content to your followers on Twitter. Again, it should be used in moderation. Else it can impact your engagement on Twitter.
For effective Instagram marketing, you definitely should explore tapping in to your existing follower base as there will be a high overlap. In high probability some of your fans or followers on Facbook/Twitter would be active on Instagram. They probably haven't found out about your new account. It is a good idea to inform them about your Instagram presence and share your content on Facebook & Twitter (or channels where you have an active presence)
Promoting Instagram Notifications
Facebook has been working on the content users see on their home/news feed. To provide a better user experience, Facebook has put a few limitations on the reach of content organically. In case you've managed a Facebook page, you'd know that Facebook limits reach of content. The same can happen on Instagram any day. Instagram in fact has already informed users that it will be working on rearranging its feed. Instagram recently announced a change to how feeds in the Instagram timelines will be filtered i.e. through an algorithm, instead of a chronological order. Latest images won't always appear at the top. This could also mean that content for your brand can get hidden in the timelines of users.
To avoid this it can be a good idea to inform users about activating notifications for your account.
Your followers who have turned on post notification will get a notification whenever you post any content. This means higher engagement for you on Instagram. You can creatively inform your followers about turning on post notifications (Check out the example).
However post quite frequently can irritate your followers and they can disable notifications or even un-follow you on Instagram. If you are getting users to consume your content more often you should be extremely careful about what you are posting. Anything that is not good will be rejected instantly.
In case you want more of your followers to turn on notification on Instagram, you can run a sweepstakes campaign where a lucky follower who has turned on notifications can win a gift voucher. Going about a sweepstakes campaign to give a boost to your Instagram marketing efforts is quite simple. You need to ask your followers to turn on notifications. They can take a screen shot on receiving an Instagram notification from your account and can share it on their Instagram account by tagging you with a unique hashtag (let's say #InstaNotifyContest). You can then select a winner. The advantage of doing this is that you can easily engage with your Instagram followers and also increase the number of people who are following you and have notifications turned on. One disadvantage of this tactic is that once the contest is over, in high likelihood a few of the participants will turn off notifications.
Real pictures for effective Instagram marketing
Great content sells irrespective of channel. There is nothing new in this and you might have probably heard of this multiple times. Great content irrespective of channel makes users want to come back to your channel. It can be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, or even your newsletter.
You cannot get away by publishing poor quality content on Instagram. If your content makes your followers drool, they'll definitely turn on notifications for your Instagram account. This means they don't want to miss any content. It is always a good idea to publish real pictures on Instagram. Avoid using stock photos. Real high quality picture can drastically improve your engagement. Your content will appear more authentic and will drive higher engagement. Try avoid posting banners on Instagram. In case you feel the need of posting banners, it's better to again use real pictures.
Check out a few example of some high quality content from Instagram channels that are doing well.
Stay organized around a paricular topic
Consistency is very important in your content. It's a good idea to stay organized around a particular topic, while publishing content on your Instagram channel. Having multiple themes in your content can confuse your followers. It can also lead to them un-following your Instagram account.
Consistency in content over time will definitely lead to higher engagement and successful Instagram marketing.. Remember that your brand, startup or small business can benefit greatly through an engaged Instagram following. Users are not just engaging with your posts on Instagram but are also forming an opinion about your brand with every post they are consuming. Being consistent will help you build recall and the right association over a period of time.
Staying organized around a particular topic can lead to more people actually turning on notifications for your account. You wouldn't need to run a contest or incentivize users to turn on notifications.
Check out a few examples of brands who are consistent with their content on Instagram.
Content consistency will give your followers a reason to keep coming back to your account, which means higher engagement.
Use relevant hashtags
Hashtags can be a great way for boosting discoverability of your content. This is especially important if you are tight on your marketing budget or are not keen on advertising on Instagram.
Relevant hashtags set anchor for your content and also help people searching of similar content to discover your content (and your business).
Hashtags can be a great way to ensure that audiences outside your follower base are discovering your brand. However make sure to not over populate your post copy with hashtag. This can put off a lot of people. Having more than 5 hashtags can impact how people are perceiving your content. In case you are servicing to a particular locality make sure that you are adding the location as a hashtag (#Mumbai #NewYork #London etc.). Also if you are confused about which hashtag to choose among two or more similar hashtags, just search for them on Instagram. It'll help you understand which hashtag is being used more. It's relatively better to have a mix of popular hashtags and a few not so frequently used hashtags. Using a popular hashtag will make sure that you are reaching out to more people. However there'll be a lot of clutter. If you are using a hashtag that is not used at all, people may never discover your content.
Effective Instagram marketing requires tapping in to your existing followers, posting great content for driving engagement and loyality, and using relevant anchors or hashtags for better discoverability. These are of course only a few things among many others that can come in handy. There are many more tricks and hacks that haven't been covered that'll help you drive better recall, engagement and sales for your startup, small business or your brand through Instagram. I'll be taking those up in other sections.