Instagram has over 500 million active users and is arguably the fastest growing Social Media platform out there. I want to teach you how you can succeed on there in easy to follow steps. This is a brief guide aimed at start-ups and SME’s.
Instagram is developing massively and there are more and more features that you can use to your advantage, such as the new Instagram live video and the Stories element and even the relatively new Instagram advertising. This is going to be a quick guide and I wont be teaching you how to use these features, or to spend any money either with advertising, I am here to help you get more followers… for free!
You may have noticed that after signing up for our dashboard that we cannot offer an Instagram scheduling service, trust us this is not because we don’t want to do it but it’s because Instagram will not allow 3rd party applications to schedule content directly to the platform. What you can do though is utilise our Visual Composer to create stunning Instagram photos for you to then upload to the platform. So I thought I would help you grow your Instagram with some insider tips
Anyway lets get to the point why you are all reading this and it is obviously because you are desperate to get more targeted followers and help your business grow…
Step 1 – Profile.
We need to start with your profile. Its so surprising to see so many businesses using Instagram and social media in general who have a really poor profile. You need to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers who have never heard of you before. First, will they know what it is you do? Second, will your message be strong enough to keep them on the page and ENGAGE? and thirdly, is your Instagram attractive enough to gain attention?
To make changes to your profile you will need to click the ‘edit profile’ button. First of all make sure your account is set as a business account as you will have access to tools and insights as well as having an easy to contact button.
Make sure your profile picture is relevant and professional. Your branding here is fine or maybe if its a more personal brand then a good headshot, but please try not to use a selfie for your business profile!
Bio. Now the bio is the most important part of your page before the user reaches your content/images. I always say that you need to have a short ‘what & why’ and then a call to action. The what & why needs to explain what you do and why that person should follow you. If you have a look at our bio here, you can instantly see that if you land on our page, you know we are a social media agency (what) and you can see that on our Instagram we inspire entrepreneurs and provide value to their businesses (why). Value is the key word here and such a massive thing and I will get to that shortly. A clear call to action is then needed to get that person to do what it is you want them to do when visiting your Instagram page. That may be a visit to your website or maybe sign up to your newsletter or maybe even to point them to the great new blog post you have written so they can gain further value. Try to use Instagram as a tool to generate an awareness of your brand rather than constantly trying to sell to your visitors.
Step 2 – Photos and Content.
As you know Instagram is all about photos (and videos) but the point is, it is a visual platform. The content you put out needs to be well thought out and also attractive to the visitor. It’s always difficult to know what to post but a good tip is to come up with 3-4 categories and post 1 image from each category and then repeat. So for example if you owned a fitness apparel brand then you could choose the categories – products, fun, tips and inspiration. In fact these will work for most businesses. Let me break it down further:
1. Products – This will be an image of a product that you sell.
2. Fun – This can be an image that entertains your audience such as gym fails for example.
3. Tips – This could be gym plans, nutritional tips or fitness style advice- Value!!.
4. Inspiration – This could be quotes to encourage people to work out or images of achievements within the fitness industry to inspire others.
You then keep repeating 1- 4 on rotation. Make sure everything remains relevant to your products/service/industry. This rotation system then nicely sets you up with a clear plan and you will find it easier to post. Try and stick to original photos as much as possible as no one likes an account full of unoriginal and reposted, old viral photos.
Lets touch briefly on the value element I mentioned earlier. In order to get someone to engage with you then you need to give them something and provide them with great value. Why should they follow you? they probably don’t care about your brand and your awesome new collection… yet. So what can they gain?. Yes, I know and you know that your products and service is the best out there and nothing comes close, but your visitors who have never heard of you don’t know that and trying to bombard them with how good your product is and trying to get them to purchase, purchase, purchase will only lead to a poor Instagram account that no one wants to follow and ultimately do business with. Patience is key and by producing value, you are providing trust, authoritativeness within your industry and also likability. “So how do I add value Steven?” – I hear you ask. It’s simple, you help people with the knowledge that you hold. No different to helping people in everyday life. What happens when you help someone?… They are appreciative and engaging (most of the time). Thats what you want happening on your Instagram account. A bunch of appreciative people that shout about your business to everyone because you are helpful and provide great value. Right?
Lets use the Fitness apparel brand example again and I will give some examples of value.
If you are in the fitness apparel industry chances are you are familiar with fitness, maybe you are a PT (personal trainer) who set up their own brand. Use that knowledge!!! You can provide work out plans or maybe some nutritional advice. Its all relevant to the industry and you will be gaining followers who need this advice, oh and guess what!?… You will also be exposing these people to your awesome fitness apparel brand. So whilst they are doing the workouts you have provided on your page they will want to wear your gear. If you are not a PT or have no knowledge of this type of thing then find someone who is and get them to collaborate on your page. This can be a local PT or a friend of a friend. You will provide them exposure and you will be adding value to your followers. Oh, and throw them some free gear for their efforts, which they will wear in their posts.
There are so many possibilities regardless of what industry you are in – you could be an electrician with an Instagram page and your value is providing basic diy video guides such as re-wiring a plug or maybe a car sales garage providing tips on basic maintenance of your vehicle or a restaurant that provides easy to follow home recipes etc etc. All of this is exposing your brand to a wide audience.
Everyone likes freebies and insider knowledge. Don’t be scared of giving your knowledge away… for free! Look, the sale will come eventually but work on building your brand and giving away things/advice in order to get exposure to your service.
Step 3 – Using relevant hashtags gets you noticed
Regardless of what anyone tells you hashtags on Instagram work! Instagram allows 30 hashtags per photo, but I have to agree there is nothing worse than seeing an image and in the image description there are 30 spammy looking hashtags… But fear not as there is a workaround and I am going to teach you how to do it.
First of all you are going to need to do a bit of research and find out the best hashtags to use for your industry. There are some tools out there that can generate these for you but I think the best way to do this is manually.
Click the search/explore icon in Instagram and in the search bar at the top, start writing a broad hashtag related to your audience. So in this case I started writing ‘fitness’ and it throws up lots of relevant hashtags related to fitness. It also shows how many posts there are with that hashtag.
You will need to write down 30 hashtags but the trick is to get a good mix. You can see that these hashtags are extremely popular so I would consider using a few of these but not too many or your posts will quickly get lost amongst all the photos and will be hard for people to discover you. Try and find hashtags that are popular and get a good level of engagement. Also use hashtags related to your area to get discovered locally. So for example we are based in Norwich, Norfolk. So instantly there are two hashtags there #Norwich and #Norfolk.
Spend some good time to find a decent 20-30 that you are happy with.
Once you have your hashtags I would save them to a note on your phone so you can simply copy and paste them and not have to write them out for each and every photo/post.
Now go and create a post and add a good description about that photo. Now before you post your photo to instagram open up your notes and copy the hashtags. Go back into instagram post the photo then immediately add the hashtags as a comment. Try and do this ASAP within seconds of posting.
Step 4. Interaction
Now you need to start interacting with other accounts. I would search one of the hashtags you are using and start going through the photos and liking and commenting on the ones that appeal to you. Try to personalise the comments as much as possible as anything too general such as “nice post” is not really going to make you stand out. Say why or what you like about the photo. Remember if they have used the hashtag then they are wanting to be found so don’t feel afraid to comment on the photos.
Step 5. Following
The last step I would recommend is to start following a targeted audience. The best way to do this is to find your competitors or businesses that are similar to yours. Then click on their page, click on their followers and start following them people. The rationale here is that if those followers are following your competitor its because they are interested in their service and as you provide a similar service but with more VALUE then they are probably going to follow you too. I am not 100% sure how many people you can follow at once before you get temporarily blocked from following as it may be seen as spamming. So I would stick to around following 50 people per hour to be safe.
After following the steps above you will start to notice a higher engagement from your posts. You will also start to notice the followers slowly come in. Try to post at least 3-4 times a day to get a good rhythm going and set some time aside every day to like, comment and follow. 200+ is an achievable target but you will need to put the work in. You may only start getting a few followers per day to begin with but stick with it and you will soon see high amounts coming in. The beginning is tough but like with anything, providing you really put the work and efforts in I guarantee you will see results.
Let us know how you get on, maybe even message us on Instagram
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