Facebook and Twitter are old news; these days, if you want to make your mark on social media, you need an active presence on Instagram.
Over 200 million instagrammers visit at least one business profile every day. And 90% of accounts follow a business on Instagram
Getting on Instagram is just the first step. Modern consumers are more discerning than ever, so don’t expect to slap a low-quality picture on your Instagram page and call it a day. A polished platform is essential and can easily be achieved if you implement these simple suggestions into your social media strategy:
1. Use Branded Hashtags
Branded hashtags improve your company’s discoverability while also helping consumers connect over shared interests and values.
According to a notable study from Sprout Social, posts accompanied by at least one hashtag score more engagement than those without hashtags. Of course, the most effective hashtags are catchy and easy to use.
Ideally, your hashtag will serve as a mini call-to-action. The perfect example? The hashtag #OneChipChallenge created by the snack brand, Paqui – creator of the spiciest chip in the world. The #OneChipChallenge is a call to action daring brave souls to try just one of their black tortilla chips seasoned with the infamous Carolina Reaper Chili, film the experience, and post it to social media.
As you can see, the #OneChipChallenge ignited a craze among those looking to prove their capacity for pain. There are currently nearly 19k posts using the hashtag, some of them with tens of thousands of views. Here’s one video with nearly 300k views
2. Create a System for User-Generated Content
User-generated content feels more authentic to the average Instagram enthusiast and is therefore essential for building trust. Unfortunately, implementing a user-generated strategy can be tricky, as each user brings a unique perspective to the table – and not all are guaranteed to fit in with your established brand.
Ideally, you will develop a system early on that will ensure that all user-generated content abides by your standards and is posted free of hassles. Keep in mind that user-generated content must be carefully solicited, edited, and promoted to ensure that it actually resonates with followers.
Body scrub brand, Frank Body, uses the hashtag #thefrankeffect to collate user transformation stories, a strategy that has proven wildly successful for them with almost 50,000 on-brand user-generated Instagram posts promoting their body scrub:
User-generated content from Frank Body.
3. Work with Influencers
Millennials and Generation Z shoppers don’t particularly care about Hollywood celebrities. Rather, they turn to Instagram influencers for insight into how they should live their lives – and which products they should purchase.
Influencers can be one of your most effective resources on Instagram; statistics published on Social Media Today claim that influencer marketing provides 11 times the return on investment of other forms of digital marketing.
FIJI Water, for example, partnered with Instagram influencer @weworewhat to expand their brand reach using the hashtag #bodyworewhat. From a brand awareness perspective, this campaign has been extremely successful, attracting over 235,000 likes from 25 posts on Instagram.
4. Create a Brand Theme and Color Palette
Every aspect of your Instagram page should align with your brand and target audience.
The right brand theme can bring a cohesive feel to your page. A brand theme is essentially a set of guidelines that determine how your brand is represented on your Instagram page. It includes elements such as acceptable colors, tones, fonts, photo styles and more.
This theme is bolstered by your color palette, which should reflect your brand’s personality and values. For example, sleek neutrals such as black and grey reflect modern sophistication, while earthy tones can give your page a rustic vibe.
Mattress brand Casper maintains a consistent color palette of blues and whites paired with bright photos to establish a consistent theme on their Instagram page:
Casper’s brand theme on Instagram.
5. Use Calls-to-Action in Your Posts
Instagram users hold notoriously short attention spans. Once they’ve browsed your posts, they’ll move on to another page – unless you lead them on a worthwhile mission. This could be as simple as directing users to Instagram Stories, where they can see updates on special events or limited-time sales. Otherwise, request that users sign up for your email list, visit your YouTube channel, or tag a friend in the comments section – anything that will take them from being a passive follower to an active voice for your brand.
Check out this influencer post from Coco Chloe, who is running a contest for makeup brand Nomad Cosmetics. Engagement is encouraged by asking people to comment on the post:
An example of using a commenting call-to-action in an Instagram post.
6. Diversify Your Content
Instagram isn’t just about photos, although image-based content, of course, can be incredibly effective. Instagram is also an ideal platform for sharing brief clips of marketing videos. From there, users can be directed to your YouTube channel, where they’ll further engage with your brand. Also, don’t hesitate to take advantage of Instagram Stories, which is ideal for the type of time-sensitive, unfiltered content you might also share on Snapchat.
All of the big brands use video on Instagram, and there is a good reason. Check out this simple video from Pepsi that has almost double the views and engagement of any of their static images:
7. Hijack Trending Hashtags
Certain phrases can suddenly surge in popularity on Instagram – and when they do, you’ll want to be positioned to take advantage of the sudden interest.
You’ll find plenty of hashtag ideas on the Explore page or via specialized social media monitoring tools. The tricky part? Jumping on the latest trends for the sake of it and causing damage to your brand. Trend hijacking can go very wrong if you miss the sentiment of a trend and leverage it simply to get more followers. Be careful to use trending hashtags sparingly and in conjunction with your regular string of branded and industry-specific hashtags to avoid any backlash.
8. Run a Photo Contest
Contests are increasingly popular among Instagram users who love the idea of winning big despite exerting minimal effort. On your end, however, a photo contest can boost brand awareness while also increasing goodwill among existing followers.
Experts at Tailwind claim that Instagram contests generate a whopping 65 times as many comments as standard posts. As a result of this increased activity, brands that use Instagram contests grow 70 percent faster than those that neglect to capitalize on this essential social media marketing tactic.
Experts at Tailwind claim that Instagram contests generate a whopping 65 times as many comments as standard posts.
Before you launch a contest, be sure you’re clear on both Instagram’s rules and local laws regarding sweepstakes. You’ll need to identify the post’s status as a contest with a hashtag that includes ‘sweepstakes’ or ‘contest.’ Additionally, you should mention that your contest is not endorsed by Instagram and let participants know that they must agree to Instagram’s terms in order to participate.
Boutique bag designer Annie Unrein runs a monthly photo contest on her Instagram page, a tactic that has significantly contributed to her 28k+ followers:
An example of a photo contest on Instagram.
9. Automate and Scale Using Software
It takes considerable time and effort to build a strong Instagram presence – time that you’d likely rather spend elsewhere. Thankfully, you can automate much of this process.
Effective automation can ensure that new content posts exactly when you want, regardless of your presence online.
Here are a few software solutions you may like to add to your Instagram toolkit:
- Later for planning and scheduling posts.
- Linktree for managing your author bio link on Instagram.
- Boomerang for creating quick and beautiful videos.
- Foursixty for turning your Instagram content into shoppable galleries.
- Repost for easily resharing other Instagram posts – great for user-generated content.
- Social Insight for tracking key analytics.
Instagram doesn’t need to be intimidating. Combining with the right resources and a little planning can help you achieve the greatest possible return on investment for every post.
Your efforts will lead to new customers, greater engagement, and ultimately, the type of brand loyalty it might otherwise take years to build.