Instagram, once a humble platform for individuals to share personal pictures with their followers, is now a mammoth, lucrative social media platform that individuals and businesses use to establish their own brand, attract customers, receive feedback and even sell products. In a way, it has become a marketplace in its own right. As such, it should no longer be treated as just a frivolous pastime especially by entrepreneurs who need to establish a personal or company brand. An extremely effective engagement tool that is frequented by hundreds of thousands of potential customers everyday, growing ones IG following should be an ongoing goal for every business entity. The following are 5 key ways you can attract a sizeable following
As a new business (or even an established one), followers won’t flock to your page straight away (you are not Jennifer Aniston). The most effective and beneficial way (for both you and your target audience) is to build an organic following over a period of time through consistent content creation. Ideally, you should post at least two pictures every day in addition to a ‘Story’ as well.
The nature of this content depends on your business but that doesn’t mean poorly shot pictures or an image of some text will retain your followers. Instagram is all about aesthetics and your content will need to cater to this taste. If possible, incorporate recent trends, ‘memes’ and humor in your content (notice how popular certain fast-food businesses are on Twitter owing primarily to their interaction and humorous content).
You can ensure consistency by preparing posts in a bulk and using a service like Buffer to schedule and plan your posts.
Interact interact interact
Instagram is a user engagement haven with its 1 billion+ users. Leverage this in-built utility and keep up regular engagement sprees. This is not restricted to simply replying to comments on your pictures. Go a few steps further and comment on your competitor’s pictures as well. Look up relevant tags and leave a ‘Like’ on pictures that are related to your work.
You can even repost pictures from other accounts with proper credit and permission from the owner. This sharing of ‘user-generated’ content allows you to seamlessly enter the circle of your target audience without coming across as too ‘corporate’ or automated.
Perhaps the most effective way to enter user circles in your niche, using tags is a surprisingly underutilized method to boost interaction. Instagram allows you to put 30 hashtags under each picture. Use this limit to push your picture into the most populated tags you find related your content (the application shows you how many pictures are posted on the platform under each tag). Create a mix of both generalized and specific tags.
Contests are free to enter and have the allure of a possible ‘reward’. Make them simple for your followers and audience by setting easy prerequisites (being your follower, ask a thoughtful question that they need to answer, ask them to post something relevant to your business on their stories/accounts, etc).
Attract more entries by promising something worthwhile for the participants. Perhaps a free product or goodie box. If yours is a service providing business, perhaps offer a month of free services or a discount on them for the winner.
Link your blog
If you have a blog on your website (and it is highly recommended that you do), link it in your IG bio section. Post a picture with a content-rich caption that is comprehensive and simple to read but engaging and thought-provoking enough for your followers to not only comment on their viewpoints but also visit your blog to read the full article. This way, you can channel your IG following to your website while enhancing engagement on both platforms.
Hire a social media manager: It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to neglect social media duties while they are busy with more official and important business matters. For such companies and individuals, it is crucial to hire a social media manager, either in-house or online. Recruit someone with decent picture editing and content creation skills with the instructions about your business and the goals mentioned above. People adept at social media will actually find it fun and easy to do this work for you while also taking the burden off you.
The takeaways are simple enough: Post good quality content on a regular basis while keeping up interaction with others. As obvious as this may seem, a lot of accounts miss out on building a decent following only because they fall short on one of the tasks above; be it consistent content generation or user interaction. If you find it tricky to manage your own social media, a little help from a dedicated social media manager can translate into very fruitful market outreach and client acquisition.