Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms among younger users. Even so, “Gen Z” might still be ignoring your image feed. While this may be frustrating, it’s not an insurmountable problem.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to take a well-rounded approach to Instagram infamy. This means you can take advantage of the 200 million Instagram users who visit business-niche profiles daily — including the key 18–24 demographic.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes Instagram such a hot property for marketing right now. Then, we’ll show you how to create a strategy and highlight 17 growth tactics you can put to work. Let’s get started!
What Makes Instagram a Valuable Marketing Tool for Your Website
Given this, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using the Instagram app as a marketing platform:
- It’s visual. We all know the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” — it almost applies to Instagram itself. Your images can reach millions of people on the platform and can quickly deliver valuable visual messages about your business.
- You can start for free. You can jump on Instagram within seconds to start an account at no cost. While advanced features and Instagram ads have a price tag, you can still use the platform to build a following and post brand-relevant content.
- Integrations are easy. Integrating with other social channels (such as Facebook) is a snap. This means you can post to multiple platforms with a minimum of clicks.
Additionally, when it comes specifically to dedicated advertising features, you can also use Instagram’s popular Stories ads option. In fact, Clif Bar did this — and when they used quirky, memorable videos across all formats, it resulted in a 28-point lift in ad recall among followers.
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How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy
When it comes to marketing on Instagram, some best practices can help enhance your results. As a foundation, note that establishing a strategy is not the equivalent of posting pictures when you feel like it.
Some helpful starting points for setting your strategy include:
- Identify Your Instagram Goals. SMART goals are valuable when it comes to creating a measurable plan. In this case, it’s best to set your goals so they fall within the strengths the Instagram platform offers.
- Research Your Target Audience. The more you know about your potential customers, the more likely you are to deliver content they’ll be interested in. Google’s Consumer Insights tool can help you gather valuable audience research data.
- Set Your Instagram Theme. This should support your brand and overall business mission and vision. All of your content should then tie into that theme.
- Choose Your Growth Tactics. Keeping up to date with Instagram trends can help you implement your next steps with the platform. By doing this, you’ll be much better prepared to take the next level with Instagram marketing, when your business shows signs it’s ready to grow.
With the above in mind, some specific tactics can help you build a massive following on Instagram. After all, you want as many targeted followers as you can get for your marketing efforts to pay off.
17 Ways to Build a Massive Following on Instagram
Instagram offers some unique, visual opportunities that are not as prevalent on other platforms. Given this, here are 17 tips to help as you begin marketing with Instagram.
1. Use the Best Filters
Instagram filters are a way to apply corrective or artistic features to your images without the need to use editing software. These are applied before you post an image to your feed.
Instagram offers quite a few filters already built into the app. These typically play with the color and light in your images. However, filters can be used to help create a cohesive look for your feed. By including in-house guidance regarding which filters can and can’t be used by your marketing team, followers will begin to associate it with your brand.
2. Post Consistently
Posting consistently lets your followers know they can always rely on fresh content from you. This means they’ll also be more likely to make your feed a regular stop when they get online. One way to do this is to create a content calendar like the example Instagram provides.
When it comes to posting content, consistency can also help build trust with users. This is one way you can use Instagram to build and maintain relationships with your customers.
3. Use Relevant Hashtags
The “hashtag” — also called the “pound” sign or “octothorpe” — is used to make certain phrases or words in a post searchable. This helps categorize them and makes it easier for visitors to find the content they’re looking for.
Hashtags are meant to be used often, but you do have to watch for those not representing your brand well enough. For the right hashtags, using the same ones consistently can lead to higher rates of engagement with your visitors.
Additionally, if you use an Instagram business account, you can access data about your hashtags and see which ones perform the best.
4. Organize Your Stories into Highlights on Your Profile
Instagram Stories enables you to combine images and videos together into a dynamic slideshow on your feed. To give you more control over your stories and how viewers see them, Instagram introduced the “Highlights” feature.
Highlights remain visible until you take them down, so they’re akin to pinned posts on other platforms.
This is a dynamic way to make sure users who are new to your feed get the most critical information front and center — for example, Highlights relating to your brand story or goals.
5. Utilize Video
Overall, marketers overwhelmingly agree that video ads give them a worthwhile Return On Investment (ROI). It can also help you develop leads and directly increase sales. While your videos are limited to 60 seconds (with the exception of IGTV), you can enhance them with filters, hashtags, text, and location tags.
Although it started out strictly as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram quickly added the ability for users to share short videos. These videos can be used to leverage content such as influencer interviews or product demonstrations as a way to engage with your followers.
6. Geotag Your Instagram Photos
Instagram uses geolocation technology to afford users the ability to tag their posts with their exact location. This can be helpful when trying to build a following. For example, if your business doesn’t have a listed location on Instagram, you can use your connected Facebook account to create one.
Once you’ve done this, visitors to your business can tag their posts with your location. This gives you a lot of visibility throughout Instagram and also allows you the opportunity to use geotagging to run contests, promote events, or find influencers in your area.
7. Post at Ideal Times
Saying that there is one definitive “best time” for posting on Instagram is not simple. Data collected by different marketing firms shows a wide variety of peak times. However, collecting some of your own data is likely the best way to target the ideal time for your audience.
Instagram Business accounts can view insights for their account in three main areas. This includes content, activity, and audience. Keeping track of these stats can help you determine the best time to post so you reach more followers. Additionally, the days you post also have an impact on how well your posts and promotions are received.
8. Cross-Post on Other Platforms
Cross-posting is a technique used to easily push your Instagram posts out to other platforms.
For example, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable you to connect Instagram to your WordPress website using a plugin such as Blog2Social.
With this, you can send your blog posts to Instagram or vice versa. Even if you cross-post your content manually, it’s an excellent way to reach users who only use one particular platform and would miss out on your content otherwise.
9. Socialize With Your Followers
Instagram gives you a great way to connect with your followers. It has very few on-screen distractions, and you can guide the conversation with the imagery you use.
Even more importantly, customers want brands to connect with them — they’re more likely to purchase from brands with a strong social media presence. In fact, 76% of people said they are more likely to choose a brand they feel connected to over other choices.
10. Invite Your Followers to Share Posts With Friends
Whether you encourage your followers to share your content through contests or by simply asking them to, social sharing is a powerful tool. This is mainly because, unlike other forms of advertising, social sharing can grow exponentially.
For example, what if one of your followers, who happens to have 1,000 followers of their own, shares your post? Of course, there are additional views up for grabs — not to mention what happens if each of those users shares your post too.
This is a time-honored technique that’s tailor-made for social media. In fact, it should be foundational to your overall approach.
11. Share User-Generated Content
User-Generated Content (UGC) does what it says on the tin. This kind of engagement can be very exciting for loyal customers and employs simple hashtags, submission forms, and more.
One example of UGC is Wayfair’s #wayfairathome campaign.
With over 43,000 posts from users, you can see how UGC can be an effective way to fill out your content calendar and get your users excited to engage with your Instagram feed. With a concept users can get behind, it’s one of the more successful ways to build an Instagram following.
12. Collaborate With Other Users and Brands in Your Niche
When you reach out to collaborate with other users and brands in your niche, you can accomplish a couple of major goals.
- This is a good way to find a potential instagram influencer who might want to promote your business.
- Finding brands in your niche market not directly competing for the same customers can be mutually beneficial. You can essentially double your reach by joining forces with a complementary brand to market both products collaboratively across both feeds.
13. Engage With Your Competitor’s Followers
Contrary to what you may think, it’s OK to leverage your competitor’s followers. First, establish your niche and gather some valuable search data. To do this, you can use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner or your own Instagram Insights.
Once you know what to search for, you can begin reviewing your competitor’s feeds. The idea is to look for popular hashtags that are used by your competition’s followers and then follow their feeds. Many people have their accounts set to “auto-follow” their own new followers, which potentially means you’ll gain some new visitors.
14. Run a Giveaway
We’ve mentioned giveaways previously, but it’s worth dedicating more time to the concept. There are a lot of applications available to help you create and run giveaways on your Instagram account. Most require users to share the post in addition to either inviting a friend or reposting content.
There are plenty of steps to consider here. You’ll need to set a deadline and outline the actions the user needs to take in order to be eligible, before choosing a winner.
Overall, this method is a frontrunner for boosting shares, engagement, and visibility among your users.
15. Pay for Sponsored Posts
If you’re familiar with Facebook’s post-boosting options, you can achieve the same thing on Instagram. Sponsoring a post means you can pay to have it placed in feeds outside your follower list.
This means you won’t have to create new content to sponsor. Another benefit of using this method is that you’ll also be able to choose relevant targeting criteria to make sure it’s delivered to your chosen audience. This can include age, location, and interests.
16. Hop on Viral Trends
Making your own version of a popular meme is a fun way to take advantage of viral trends. One example of this is the celebrity reaction to the “Dolly Parton” meme.
Celebrities took up the challenge and posted their own versions. Brands can do this too, using sites such as Digg. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s humor in a way that can remain relevant to your brand.
17. Use Analytics to Measure Success
Remember those SMART goals we mentioned earlier? Don’t forget to use your data to measure your success and set your sights on where to improve.
Since it’s not really feasible to implement all of these tactics at the same time, you’ll want to monitor performance to see which ones garner the best outcomes based on your goals. You can use the built-in Insights option to collect data or try a free, third-party collection tool.
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Build Brand Awareness With a Successful Instagram Strategy
As you can see, there are many tactics you can implement on Instagram to create a strategy that will gain your target market’s trust and a massive following. It might seem overwhelming, but Instagram is also fun, engaging, and worth the effort to market to users.
A cohesive theme throughout your feed is one of the cornerstones of the strategy. Additionally, you can easily leverage concepts such as UGC, as well as collaborations with other brands in your niche, to gain followers. Ultimately, you’ll want to aim to create an attainable set of goals and make sure your tactics line up with those.
It can be easy to lose sight of your goals once you’re in the trenches using all the tools we’ve discussed. One thing you shouldn’t have to worry about, though? Your web host. Check out our shared hosting plans today so you can focus on becoming the next Instagram sensation!
Image credits: Instagram