Brandstagram: a word I just made up describing brands’ Instagram accounts.
It’s no secret that Instagram has not yet rolled out a marketer-friendly ad platform’s similar to Facebook. Perhaps they are still riding the high of its coolness, which appeals to its chief users: Millennials and younger. While they have been playing with Promoted Posts for big brands like Taco Bell and Levi’s, they haven’t rolled out to the small businesses yet. That means that in order to increase your Instagram engagement and community, you have to rely on organic (non-paid) content and tactics. Here are five tips you can use to achieve these goals and more (without looking like a spam account).
This is the golden rule of social and hasn’t changed since its onset. In order to get attention, you have to give attention. Follow popular accounts relevant to your industry and audience, comment on photos, respond to others looking for advice and generally give lots of kudos.
Pro tip: You can also use the Repost app or something similar to repost someone’s Instagram photo (with credit applied, of course) to give your highest social endorsement.
Unlike on Facebook, hashtags are still very much in-use and not annoying on Instagram. You can use lots or little, but they’re a great way to generate new audience members. Many people click these hashtags in Instagram to see others’ photos about the same content. For example, if a blogger posts a new outfit photo, you might see #OOTD. This means “outfit of the day,” and if you click the hashtag, you will be taken to thousands of pictures of others’ OOTD. Instagrammers use this tactic to find people to follow those whose style they really like.
Pro tip: If you’re sharing an Instagram photo on another platform like Twitter or Facebook, keep the hashtags in the photo caption to a minimum. It looks amateurish to upload a photo to Facebook (even from Instagram) with 10 hashtags in the caption since Facebookers generally don’t utilize hashtags as a search tool. You can go to the picture on Instagram and comment with additional hashtags after your upload (or even edit your caption later).
Instagram does not allow you to put live links in your captions, which can be very annoying for marketers and retailers who want people to be able to click a link to find the item at which they’re looking (easier path to purchase). But there are a few ways to get around it. Many people put “link in profile” to indicate that you can get to the site just by clicking to the profile. There are also apps many retailers and bloggers use called “Like to Know It” which allows you to shop your favorite Instagrammers’ looks. The user simply likes the Instagram and then they are sent an email with the “ready to shop” look with links. The users have to opt into this service, obviously, and authorize the API to be used in Instagram. But it is worth it to see those sales!
Though people love to see your storefront or your mannequins, what people really want on Instagram is a personalized experience. They want to feel as though they are getting a glimpse behind the brand name. Therefore, we recommend featuring teammates, designers, shoppers, and asking for lots of feedback. Asking questions and voting is also prevalent on Instagram and people like to participate, so don’t be afraid to integrate some more direct call-to-action language into messaging.
Engage with customers who say they love a product, ask a question about sizing or usage, ask about availability, etc. People expect to be talked back to on Instagram and they don’t have to be followers for you to do so.
Putting up a post about a new product or service offering? Offer some real-world advice on how to make the most out of it. If it’s an Instagram post from an airline about a sale geared toward business professionals, talk about ease, traveling light, comfort or even suit jacket storage. Next time you post about vacation, gear it toward families and affordable pricing, visiting grandparents, etc. It’s important to branch out with different messages and audiences to see who your best “target” is on the platform.
Happy ‘Gramming! (Oh, and shameless plug! Follow us: @matchsticksocial)