There are many layers of the Instagram ecosystem. Many brands have a surface understanding of this platform, but few know it on a deep level.
The basic concept is that people post photographs and videos, then other users can like or comment on that content. The deeper layer is that Instagram allows everybody to be their own media company.
You can publish as much content as you want and then market it via grassroots and influencer outreach. Comments and Direct Messages (DMs) are the tools that make this possible.
Why Comments and DMs Matter
Few brands max out the value of their comments and direct messages. This is the extra step that can give you a competitive advantage on social media.
Posting content is how you show your fan base what you are up to. Marketing with DMs and comments is how you amplify that message. You can use DMs and comments to reach fans, interested spectators, and influencers alike.
Never spam somebody with DMs that only exist to promote your content. Instead, use the tactic in the next section to reach out.
How to Use DMs to Signal Boost Your Brand
When you want to spread your message on Instagram, start by thinking about how people discover new content.
By far the biggest way to get new attention on your brand is to get mentioned by popular Instagram pages. This can be tricky. If everybody is trying to get mentioned by everybody else, how can you break through the noise?
The key is to offer something valuable to other people. Here’s a simple strategy for doing that:
Identify 100 other Instagram channels that have a fan base size and engagement level that are similar to your brand.
Send a DM to each one offering to trade promotional posts. You will post about them, and they will post about you.
Add everybody who says yes to your “Instagram Promo List” for future promo trades.
Don’t reach out to random accounts. You’ll get the best results if you reach out to people who are in the same industry as you.
How to Use Comments for Stronger Fan Relationships
When you do these post trades, you generate new attention for your Instagram page. People will be clicking on your username in other pages’ posts and seeing what you are up to.
If one of these new potential fans leaves a comment on your post, this is your chance to engage them one-on-one. Always respond to comments on your posts. Do not ever be shy about this.
Even introverts can learn to do this. All it takes is a simple “Thank you!” response to let somebody know that their comment has been noticed.
When a user gets noticed in the comments, they become more inclined to keep engaging with you. At first, this is a slow process, with one or two comments per post. Eventually, it can blossom into a vibrant fan community that gives your brand new legs.
Patience and Hard Work
Like most things in life, getting good results on Instagram requires a lot of patience and hard work. You need to put in the hours now and then be willing to wait months for exciting things to happen.
The most common social media mistake is to give up early. Posting great content and engaging every day is hard when you are starting out.
It can feel embarrassing when your posts don’t get a response. Don’t let these fear-based mental roadblocks get in your way. Trust yourself, trust your brand, and keep pushing.
Originally published 09/25/17.