Instagram is a big player in the social media market. With over 400 million active users, and sporting the third highest growth for mobile apps in 2015, it’s a network that has come a long way since the early days of users simply sharing their food photos. For individuals it’s great for easily sharing their everyday experiences. For businesses it gives them a platform to communicate their brand and message to a potentially massive audience, especially with the advertising options that were launched in 2015.
Sure you could throw money at growing your following with advertising. You could even buy followers but those won’t add any value in terms of engagement. A good way of finding out what will work for your specific niche is by creating the right king of content and growing your account organically. Let’s see how you can achieve this.
Improve your content
High Quality Images
The most important aspect of any social media account is the content they share with their followers. If it’s not of value and worth sharing then you should rethink your content. Are your images of a high-enough quality? While it’s not necessary to buy a high-end camera to ensure success on Instagram, you should have a phone with a mid-to-high quality camera.
Which look works for you?
Be sure to experiment with all the Instagram filters and effects in order to find a look and feel that will resonate with your audience. Instagram have other standalone apps which you can integrate to create different kinds of content for your account:
- Layout – Combine images using various custom layouts
- Boomerang – This allows you to record a short video snippet that plays forward and backward
- Hyperlapse – For iOS only, this app captures time lapse videos
Remember to tag / mention other users (companies or individuals) that are relevant to your post. That could potentially boost engagement.
Find Your Audience
People use hashtags to search for content relevant to themselves. Include about 3-5 hashtags with each post but don’t use hashtags that are too general as people search for specific terms. For example, you’re posting an image of a Ferrari. Along with the obvious #Ferrari hashtag, you want to include tags to describe the car further. If you’re thinking #red and #car, rather combine those terms to form #redcar.
When entering hashtags, Instagram will show you how many posts are available with that hashtag – use this feature to see which hashtags people are the most popular. Instagram also has some specific network hashtags like #Instafood, #Instagame and others that you can incorporate into your content. Ensure that the hashtags you use are relevant though.
It’s important that you regularly post new photos, or else people might feel that your account has been abandoned. Post on a daily basis, start with a post early in the day, then later on (see the next point below to decide the exact times). When you get into the flow of posting regularly and your follower base grows, you can add even more posts to your daily schedule.
Post at the correct time
Timing of posts are crucial. You’ll need to post at various times to see which time slots work best for you in terms of engagement. Alternatively you could use a tool like Iconosquare to assist in finding the best times to post content.
Engage with your audience
When your likes and comments start coming in, be sure to join in the comments. Sharing quality content and talking to your audience helps build trust. Also, use the hashtag search function to search for similar content on other accounts and engage with them, you could potentially gain followers with this method.
Tools of the Trade to…
Produce quicker written content
If you’re posting a lot of images, it goes without saying that you’ll be writing a lot of content to accompany those images. If you’re using your desktop and scheduling your posts via Hootsuite, then you can type your content easily. But Instagram is mobile-focused so you’ll be posting from your phone frequently. If you’re not the quickest texter, there is Swype, an app that enables you to type words by simply dragging your finger over the letters in order in one continuous motion. Swiftkey is a tool that learns your writing style and predicts which words you would use next. It even picks up on your slang, nicknames and use of emojis.
Add graphic elements
Are your posts lacking something? Over is a mobile app designed to enhance your Instagram posts with text and other elements (logos and artwork). Import images from your device library or via Google Search, or buy artwork from the Over store. Each element can be tweaked further – size, shadow effects, opacity, blur, tint, and more.
It’s a fantastic app that allows anybody to create professional images via their mobile device, and share to any network.
Schedule your content
Hootsuite is an online tool to schedule your social media posting. They added Instagram to their platform in 2015, making it easier for users to schedule content and share account access to multiple users. Once setup via your desktop, notifications will be sent at the scheduled times to the Hootsuite mobile app on your mobile device. Simply confirm, pick your filters and other edits, and post.
Iconosquare is a dedicated Instagram analytics tool that gives you access to a large variety of information such as:
- Which filters work best for you? Which hashtags have gained the most engagement?
- Your Optimal posting times. Your most engaging posts
- Who your best followers are, and which followers have been gained or lost
You can use this relevant information to optimise your content for better engagement.
If you have other social media accounts, promote the details of your Instagram account on those on a regular basis. You can also directly post your Instagram images to linked social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Follow this guide and you will start gaining followers, but to reach a massive following is going to require a lot of time and effort. Keep consistently posting and you’ll find out which methods suit your industry the best.