In 2013, Nathan Chan launched Foundr Magazine, a digital publication for entrepreneurs who are in their startup phases. Some friends encouraged him to begin his marketing on Instagram, and he, in fact, focused primarily on this platform. Within six months, his following grew to 180,000. At this point, Chan has over 200,000 followers and between 3,000-5,000 likes per post. Obviously, Instagram can be an amazing tool for business branding and marketing, if it is done right. So, how does a “newbie” to this platform get to this kind of success? Here are five tips/steps that may get you started.
Steps For Your Strategy
You have several decisions to make as you design your Instagram strategy:
- Content theme
- How to engage your audience with interaction
- How often to post
- What time of day to post
- Setting a content calendar
Because Instagram is visual, you will want to develop a content theme. To get ideas, you can certainly look at your competitors’ posts. Even better, do some research on the type of content your target audience would like. What kind of humor do they enjoy? What might inspire them? Chan of Foundr decided on inspirational and encouraging quotes, often against a cool photo background. ModCloth, a clothier for millennial women uses photos of its own models and those that customers send in, with short statements. Some businesses use short videos.
The point is the same for Instagram as it is for your presence on all social media platforms. You are not selling your product or service. You are engaging your audience with a great visual and perhaps a short statement – something humorous or inspirational perhaps.
Some businesses can develop content themes based upon their target audience lifestyles. if this doesn’t “work,” businesses can focus on their environment and culture, posting photos of their team members, their team members’ pets, and perhaps events in which they support charitable causes. You can tell your company’s story in many ways.
User-generated content is also a great, engaging format. ModCloth does this, as mentioned, but so does a company like Sharpie. Eliciting user-generated content through an Instagram post is something that can be done on a regular basis.
Engaging Your Followers
Every post is a chance for engagement. There should be some type of invitation, giving your followers something to do, perhaps in your post description. Most invitations should be simple. Ask a question – do they agree with the quote you posted? If so, they can “like” the post or tag a friend or share it.
And every so often, insert a CTA – offer something for free or highly discounted in exchange for their sharing the post, for providing their email address, etc. Run a competition for something valuable – your followers can enter the competition by liking the post, by tagging 2-3 friends and by reposting. ModCloth, for example, runs competitions to name a piece of clothing. The winner gets the item.
How Often To Post
If you are really going to commit to Instagram, you need to commit to posting a minimum of 1.5 times a day or more. There does not seem to be any decrease in interest with multiple posts. Chan began posting every 3-4 hours and still tries to keep that schedule. This will mean that you will need to develop a huge repertoire of photos/visuals, statements, and descriptions. It is not easy, but it will pay off.
As you determine how often you will post, you will also have to commit to consistency. If you plan to post 3 times a day, then you do that every single day.
Time Of Day To Post
There are tools and research that will inform businesses of the best times of day to post. One excellent tool for Instagram is Iconosquare. This tool will provide information on when your followers are engaged and what times of day are the best for you to post based on that engagement. Then, you can develop a posting calendar and, using a tool like Hootsuite, you can schedule your postings in advance.
- Be certain that your photos are good for mobile devices (high resolution), because most Instagram users access the platform via their phones. Resolutions of 240 X 320 pixels is considered standard for phone and tablets. And most devices support both portrait or landscape orientations.
- Cross-post your Instagram posts on your other social media channels and even on your blog.
- Instagram now supports video with or without sound. Videos from 3-60 seconds can be posted.
- Use Hootsuite to monitor, search streams and monitor hashtags.
- Engage with everyone who comments or shares; follow them. The more interaction you can foster with other Instagram users, the more your brand can be spread.
- S4S: this means “share for shares.” Search for other accounts that will post an image of yours, tag you and mention your account in the description. This will allow people to link to you and become a follower. Of course, you will reciprocate.
At times, it feels as if we are all experiencing social media stress. It is such a noisy “world” out there. And because it is so noisy, businesses must be careful not to bombard and harass potential customers and to reach those potential customers in simpler more entertaining ways. Enter Instagram – a visual channel with short, sparkly text. This is one reason why it has become such a fast-growing platform. In fact, Forrester recently conducted a study, finding that Instagram is getting companies 58X more engagement than Facebook and 120X more than Twitter. Spending time and effort to develop a strong presence on this social media platform just seems smart.