Social media app Instagram is a real contender in the marketing world. These statistics from Hootsuite don’t lie. More than 1 billion users are on Instagram every month. Instagram is incredibly popular with users under the age of 35. Even more startingly, Search Engine Journal recently reported that 54% of users surveyed bought a product after seeing it on Instagram.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean every business should jump onto the Instagram bandwagon. To the contrary, businesses should carefully consider their options for social media sites and ask two key questions:
- How much time does the business have to devote to social media?
- What social media site is our target audience using?
Essentially, these questions drive toward an important point. It’s better for businesses to have a solid presence on one social media site than it is to have five social media profiles that are not being updated.
Simply, the decision to choose what social media site (or sites) should be strategic to ensure optimal results. Businesses should decide what social media site (or sites) they have time to effectively use and devote to those efforts. If there is a discrepancy between that list and staffing time, businesses can outsource the efforts to an online marketing firm that can assist with marketing efforts.
In the same way, businesses should never put all their proverbial eggs in one basket. The best online marketing strategies are composed of multiple tactics (i.e. website SEO, local SEO, email marketing, social media, etc.) This online marketing checklist and guide can help businesses develop and follow an effective marketing plan.
If part of that plan is Instagram, use these ways to get more real Instagram followers. Unfortunately, Instagram is full of fake accounts and unscrupulous users who buy fake Instagram followers to boost their numbers. It’s a vanity effort, but not one that generates results and sales. Instead, use these legitimate ways to gain real followers and get results from this social media site.
Decide on and plan for the content that followers want.
Before posting any photos, businesses need to set a strategy with content produced specifically for the target audience. Simply, ask “what does the target audience want to see?” Businesses need to ask this question continually when setting goals and drafting a plan with content produced specifically for the target audience.
While high-quality content is optimal, even those “amateur photos” can get results. Businesses need to keep in mind that the target audience usually cares more about the content than the quality. While that doesn’t excuse poorly-produced content, this fact should not keep businesses from posting to this photo-sharing social media app.
Research and produce a creative hashtag.
Besides photos, hashtags are the bread and butter of Instagram. Hashtags are the way to participate in conversations, engage customers in brand discussions and contests, and make posts infinitely more entertaining. Hashtags that fit into the first two categories are the ones that engage, but don’t dismiss those creative hashtags. Creative hashtags show personality, and leave a lasting impression on followers (who now want to share those clever posts).
Creative hashtags can also be the foundation of a solid, branded campaign. When drafting creative hashtags for brand campaigns, carefully research the hashtag to ensure that is not already being used. Businesses should also be conscientious of the tone to ensure that all communications are consistent across promotional channels.
Promote, promote, promote those hashtags.
The saying, “nothing exists in a vacuum” has never proven truer than for Instagram hashtags (as well as for other social media campaigns). Before and during a branded campaign, promote the hashtag on all other marketing materials as much as possible. Businesses should consider promoting hashtags in emails, on the business website, on signs, on postcards included in shipments and bag, and in any other branded communications. Cross-promotion yields results. Businesses can gain Instagram followers through a well-executed brand campaign.
Join relevant conversations.
Conversations are the heart of social media, and should play a prime part in business social media strategies. Whenever possible, start conversations that are relevant to the business and community (the latter is especially true for brick-and-mortar businesses). For brick-and-mortar businesses who draft a community-based strategy, location-based hashtags and the places tabs should play a key role in the marketing strategy. To engage in industry-relevant conversations, follow accounts and hashtags specific to the industry. Both of these efforts are integral to engaging and gaining more Instagram followers.
Use effective call-to-actions.
No business Instagram strategy is complete without consideration of the customer experience off-app. When drafting a strategy, businesses need to draft effective call-to-actions that spur customer action and review customer pages for an optimal customer experience. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t reach marketing goals because of website pages and menus that are difficult-to-use. In these cases, businesses may gain more Instagram followers but lose sales and miss those important marketing goals.
Business social media efforts are a marathon, not a sprint. To reach social media goals, businesses need to post relevant content consistently (or outsource the effort to professionals that can assist with regular and relevant posts). This Business2Community article answers the question spot on. There is no clear-cut answer for how often to post to Instagram; the answer is different for every business and industry. Businesses should draft a plan and adjust efforts to find the right frequency for posting to Instagram, and the right times when followers are online. Regular Instagram posts at the right times are the key to gaining more (real!) Instagram followers.