- Posted by Adam Smith
- On 20/11/2018
Everyone is talking about Instagram and how huge it is for brands, but so few people know how to really use it to their advantage.
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platform out there. It hit the one billion users mark earlier this year and it’s growing every month.
The question isn’t “should I be using Instagram?”, it’s “how can I use Instagram?”.
Topline PR’s Vicky Smith uses her own Instagram account, www.instagram.com/themummybubble, to connect with brands as a micro-influencer.
If you’re confused about how to use Instagram for your business, or looking to up your game, here are her top tips for growing your following and getting noticed:
1. Create original content
Instagram is, at its very heart, a creative platform. It’s a way of sharing images and thoughts from your life with others.
Of course, we’re all pushed for time and so using stock photographs is sometimes necessary. But if you really want Instagram to grow for you, creating original imagery that represents you and your brand is the way to do it.
Pick recurring themes and a colour scheme that will use on your grid. If you are a clothing brand for example your recurring shots might could be:
- Pretty flatlays
- Funny/inspiration quotes that represents what the brand is all about.
- Close ups of clothing patterns/fun slogan tees
- A full length shot of models in clothes
- You do not have to use a filter, but when you do edit the pictures you need to aim for a consistent look so that your pictures sit together nicely when viewed as a grid.
2. Polish your profile
Your profile is where people will most likely land when they are considering whether to follow you. That makes it pretty important!
Be clear about what you do, who you are and what you offer to your followers. Instagram can’t be all about the hard sell, it’s about making genuine connections with people.
Start with thinking about your actual Instagram handle (or name). Make it something that will be easy for people to recognise as you, preferably your business name.
When it comes to describing who you are, keep it brief because there is a character limit but also make it fun and engaging.
Instagram only allows you to drop links in stories when you have more than 10,000 followers. You can’t have links in your captions. This means you need to make good use of the link in your profile.
Generally speaking you should use your core business website, but you can also change it depending on whether you have a particular product or page you want to direct your audience to. Reference to it in your caption or story, then direct your audience to the “link in bio”.
3. Write a witty caption
Content is king. It’s not just about taking a beautiful picture, it’s also about engaging people with your words too.
The Instagram algorithm works on how popular your posts are in terms of the number of likes AND how long people spend looking at your images. If you have written an engaging caption that prompts the reader to write a comment, your post will do far better.
Don’t just sell to your audience, engage with their interest. To do this you really need to understand who your core audience is. What do they like? What are their interests? Do they have any problems/things they need help with?
If you’re a fashion brand you’ll be trying to inspire your audience with your clothes. If you are a financial adviser, you should be giving out top tips for saving money.
4. Use hashtags
This is where you can get your posts noticed by people other than your actual followers.
The maximum number of hashtags you can use on a single post is 30. You should aim for at least 10.
You can research the hashtags before posting the picture. Check out how many posts feature in each hashtag before using. If a hashtag is popular, with more than one million posts, then that one will be difficult to be noticed in as it will be so fast-moving. However, if you go for a hashtag with less than 1,000 posts then it may be too small and not have enough people interacting.
Go for hashtags with around 5,000 posts and above.
Do not use the same hashtags with every post as this flags up your account as spam to Instagram and your posts will be shown to fewer people.
5. Create fun and insightful stories
Instagram stories is such an important tool. The Insta-famous Mrs Hinch grew her following to more than one million followers in less than six months by using stories to connect with her following. She has fewer than 500 posts on her actual Instagram grid, but uploads 20 to 30 stories a day.
Instagram stories has so many cool features that you can use to your advantage and to engage your audience. You can post video, simply type out a message or ask a question or start a poll. This is a brilliant way of doing quick fire market research.
Think of your stories as being like the behind the scenes bit of your Instagram profile. This is where your audience can get to know extra bits of information about you and what you do.
Don’t forget to use hashtags in your stories too!
6. Plan your grid
Once you have a theme and colour scheme in mind for your grid, then it’s a good idea to plan it out.
You can use a free app, such as Preview, to lay out your grid before posting.
Think about how pictures will sit next to each other. A good system is to alternate light and dark pictures to give balance. If you use text images occasionally, space these out in a regular way, say every sixth post. Play around with it and see what works best.
7. Engage, engage, engage
It’s nearly impossible to be a success on Instagram without engaging with your audience. When someone writes a comment on your post, reply to it. If someone sends you a DM, reply to it.
Hop on to hashtags you have used and comment and like on other people’s posts. If you have been tagged in another post, go over and hit like and leave a comment. If you share the love on other people’s profiles, then they are likely to return the favour. Instagram is a community, so get involved with it!
We hope these tips are useful as you look to grow your brand on Instagram. If you would like a free chat about what we could do for your business on Instagram, do get in touch with us!