With so many websites to start a blog for free available, building a web presence for your business has never been easier. But a blog or website is just the start. The next step is to set up social media accounts that let the world know who you are and what you can offer.
Instagram is the platform of choice for many marketers, but it’s competitive. With millions of accounts vying for attention, you need to stand out from everyone else. Here’s how to connect with your target audience and grow your brand.
1) Always place your audience first
No one wants to scroll through an endless stream of dry, promotional posts. When you browse Instagram, you probably prefer to follow companies that make you think, make you laugh, or inspire you in some way. Before making a post, ask yourself whether it’s educational, fun, or (ideally) both.
Get the right tools, and learn how to use them
Brush up on your Photoshop skills. Try to make every post as aesthetically pleasing as possible. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or graphic designer, but taking a few online tutorials in design principles is a great investment of your time.
Post every day
Posts with generic hashtags will get lost in the crowd. Use branded hashtags that promote your brand. However, don’t overload posts with hashtags, as this looks unprofessional. As a general rule, use no more than ten per post. Invest in an analytics solution that lets you track how well each hashtag is performing.
Keep an eye on your competitors, but don’t copy them
What kind of content do your competitors post? What colors do they use? How do they engage your target audience? What hashtags are they using? Don’t duplicate everything they do, but learn from their successes.
Show people what really happens in your business
A look behind the scenes at your company makes you more relatable. Post a few images or videos that let your followers meet the people behind your brand.
Get influencers on board
Look for users with thousands of followers, an engaged community, and interests that align with your company. You can search for influencers in your niche via a manual hashtag search. There are also lots of tools out there that can bring up a list of influencers that might be a good fit based on their hashtags.
Show real-life people using your product or service
Promotional photos and videos are great for showing off your products, but your audience will find it easier to relate to “real people” just like them. For example, if you sell jackets, ask existing customers to upload a selfie and tell the world what they love most about their purchase. Always ask permission first before reposting someone else’s content.
Make sure your content includes a call to action
Plan your content, so it compels followers to engage with your brand and take action. For example, if you post about an upcoming promotion that is available only to your subscribers, you should encourage your followers to visit your website and sign up.
You cannot add links to your posts on Instagram, but you can post one in your bio. Don’t just provide a link to your homepage; direct your followers to your latest content or promotions. For example, if you make a post about a new product line and announce they are ready for purchase, you could post a bio link that takes visitors straight to the product’s page in your online store.
Experiment with different types of content
Instagram is a fun, informal platform. Even if your brand image is reserved, try livening up your account with videos, highlights, or even create long-form vertical videos using IGTV. Instagram Stories are particularly useful for audience engagement. Try using a poll to ask them questions about what they would like to see on your account, or get their opinion on an interesting topic.
Don’t worry too much about your follower count
The most successful Instagram accounts aren’t necessarily those with the most followers. Your goal is to build an engaged community who care about your brand because they are more likely to spend their money on your products than users who casually decide to follow you because they like a few of your posts.
Instagram takes a while to master, but the results are well worth the effort. Building a following and sharing useful, beautiful content is rewarding, both financially and creatively. It’s the best free marketing opportunity of the 21st century, so start making use of it.