Your Instagram profile isn’t just another social media platform — it’s a living, breathing extension of not only your voice but also your visual brand.
With more than a billion active monthly users and 25M business profiles, it’s a rich medium for drumming up interest in your business at the price of a little planning.
In short: check out these six key ways to successfully grow your business on Instagram…
Build a Strong Network
Following influencers and, yes, even rivals can be a smart move. It not only puts you in the industry network and silently positions you as a contender, but you’ll also be one of the first to know about relevant news and innovations. For example:
- If company X is talking about rolling out a product/service, maybe you should too.
- If influencer Y is complaining about an industry issue, you can engage them to help with a solution.
- If company Z is talking about something you both make, there’s a potential for a headline-grabbing (though good-natured!) meme war.
You will, at some point, be defined by the company you keep on the platform, so make sure you’re digitally hanging out with personalities that add to your brand and mission.
Be Interactive and Engaging
Reach out to influencers and show interest in what they have to say. Engage them at a personal level before a marketing one.
No one likes to be lured in with the promise of friendly, open conversation just to find out there are ulterior motives or a sales pitch.
Be consistent and know what you’re talking about — it’s worth digging through said influencer’s past posts to make sure you aren’t putting your foot in your mouth by accident.
Here are a few ideas you can adopt:
- Offer swag to influencers who give your brand a shout out.
- Run an exclusive giveaway pushing people to follow you for a chance to win.
- Swap places with another like-minded brand and implement an Instagram takeover.
Encourage User-Generated Content
While you should endeavor to turn the heads of potential customers already on Instagram, don’t neglect the rich pool of current customers in the process.
Encourage people to share their experiences with you on Instagram using a branded hashtag. If people already love your product/service, channeling that loyalty into your social media can only help you in the long run.
Run a Contest
While off-platform contests and discounts are a great way to encourage existing customers to join Instagram, they also work wonders on potential customers already on Instagram.
Create a hashtag-linked contest and encourage users to send stories and pictures of themselves using your product/service or demonstrating an aesthetic closely tied to your brand. The reward can be anything from a gift card to a prize pack, but make sure whatever you’re offering is worth the effort.
You can also offer to send a number of small, inexpensive brand products/services to the first 100 people to use the hashtag and follow your account. You’ll get new followers, contact info for future promos, and happy images associated with your brand — it’s a win-win-win.
Have a Consistent Look and Feel
If your account is where your brand lives, make sure it’s a welcoming place to be. A surprising number of companies miss typos in their text or use profile photos that end up looking cut off or smooshed by Instagram’s circular image display.
Your page should look as clean and tight as a well-made brochure — think of it as your visual elevator pitch. Your aesthetic — essentially your layout colors and the grid of recently shared images on your main page — should be as cohesive as possible to provide an appealing experience that converts browsers to visitors.
Leverage Relevant Hashtags
Staying on top of popular hashtags is crucial for your relevance and interest on Instagram. Using at least one hashtag can increase your engagement to nearly 13%. Put in time to research trending hashtags to ensure you are utilizing the right ones and that you’re diversifying each time you post.
Some cautionary notes to also consider:
- Using the same hashtags over and over again could yield your profile as being spammy.
- Use hashtags for more than just vanity metrics like getting a like or a comment, but to actually have people take further action such as visiting your website.
- Check out this awesome post by Later where they have a deeper guide on the use of hashtags on Instagram.
Wrapping It Up
Social media moves at a furious pace, and Instagram is no exception. Taking a week or two off between posts is a fast way to shed followers — people follow brands for engaging content, not anticipation.
Make sure you’re posting multiple times a week at the very least. When in doubt, match the posting frequency of your aspirational rival and check your results and engagement.
It’s also important to remember that potential customers could be reaching out with a problem or question through Instagram, either directly or implied, and you can’t offer a resolution if you aren’t present. In fact, a whopping 80% of Instagram users follow a business account — and you should do what you can to make sure you’re one of the ones they follow.