Instagram is one of the best social media platforms for creating brand awareness for your businesses. The average Instagram user checks their feed more than 30 times per day. With over 600 million active users, there is no shortage of potential attention.
This guide will teach you how to build your audience on Instagram in the most efficient way.
How People Use Instagram
Instagram is similar to Snapchat in the way that it focuses on the mobile experience. While you can technically view an Instagram feed via a desktop web browser, very few people do this. People almost always access Instagram on their mobile devices.
Most people consume Instagram content during small moments throughout the day. They look at it while in line at the supermarket, in a waiting room, or sitting through commercials during a show. It is a convenient way for users to stay stimulated when their surroundings become boring.
This means that the best content is that which is easy to digest quickly. Your posts should offer a quick burst of entertainment or information and then let the viewer move on to the next post in their feed.
Content Marketing on Instagram
The cornerstone of your strategy on this platform should be content marketing. Find a style and theme for your content that appeals to your audience. Then, create a quality post at least once per day for several months.
Finding your niche may take some time. You can brainstorm a list of ideas about the kind of content that will appeal to your target audience. Look at popular hashtags to get ideas during this process. Then, commit to a week or two of testing. Repeat this process until you discover the type of content that resonates with your audience.
Identify Valuable Hashtags
Hashtags multiply the effectiveness of your content. Instagram uses hashtags to categorize content, thus hashtags make your content more discoverable and increase your chances of engagement.
There are two groups of hashtags: branded and community. Branded hashtags are specific to your company or campaign and are great for tracking the effectiveness of your social efforts. They also work well when working with either user-generated content or social media influencers. Community hashtags are more general and are great for creating more brand awareness. People search for community hashtags all the time; just make sure the hashtags you use are relevant to your content.
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, but that does not mean you should. We suggest that our clients use 10 to 20 hashtags per post. The key to Instagram hashtags, like most things on social media, is tracking your results. When you find the hashtags that drive the most traffic or the most engagement, stick with them and eliminate the ones that don't. This is a simple and free way to get more exposure for your Instagram posts.
Engage With Your Audience
If you post quality content every day, people will start responding to it. At first, this may only take the form of post "likes" with no comments attached. Likes are useful because they tell Instagram to give your post more prominence in the content feed algorithm.
Comments are even better than likes. When somebody responds to one of your posts with a comment, it shows they had a real reaction to it. They want to share their opinions because the post has inspired them to feel strongly about something.
Respond back to every comment you receive. You should do this until you have so much activity on your social media pages that you cannot keep up.
Collaborate With Other Brands
When two brands work together, their fanbases cross pollinate to a certain extent. Each brand gains some new followers from the other page's audience. When this process happens over and over again, the pages involved can pick up significant momentum.
It is not easy to find collaborations when you are just starting out on Instagram, so it is important to have a good content strategy in place before you move on to this step. Never let other people hold you back from creating and releasing several new posts per day.
Once you are good at executing your content strategy, try to work with other brands. Send them a direct message and offer to collaborate. The idea is to spread awareness as far as you can.
Prepare For a Long Journey
Success on Instagram requires a lot of patience and hard work. Most brands experience a slow growth curve for the first 6-12 months of seriously promoting their page. It is only after that first year that exponential gains start to stack up and more significant promotional opportunities become available.
If you are going to start using Instagram, commit to at least six months of it. Give the platform a chance to gain momentum for your brand. Businesses that develop a steady audience on Instagram now will be well positioned to keep growing in the future.
Originally published 12/06/17.