We already know that Instagram is a great place for posting selfies and photos of food but did you know that Instagram can be a highly targeted, visual advertising channel for your brand? In fact, a recent study found that Instagram provides brands with 25% more engagement over other social platforms. And like any other social network out there are right ways, wrong ways, and clever ways to use it. So how can you use Instagram to build an audience of customers around your business?
Here are three concrete methods that you can use to increase engagement and build a following for your brand.
Method #1 Use The Right Hashtags
Your goal on Instagram is to engage your current audience while also growing your following. Posting new interesting and engaging photos will satisfy the first requirement. But, to begin growing, you’ll find that hashtagging your photos is extremely important. This is because hashtags make it easy for people to find your photos when they’re searching for those specific terms. So which hashtags should you use?
Well, just like with Twitter and other social sites, users on Instagram use certain hashtags over others so if you want to tag your photos properly, you’ll need to find and use the most relevant hashtags. To find relevant hashtags, you’ll want to use a free online program like IconoSquare or Webstagram.
Try going through using different keywords that describe your brand and products, building out your hashtag keyword list as you go. Keep in mind that Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post.
Additionally, the popular words will change over time, so make sure you revisit your keyword hashtags every few months to make sure you’re using the best possible terms.
Now, here’s a trick you can try with your e-commerce businesses. For every product and product category you carry, do the keyword research to see which are the most popular Instagram hashtags around those product categories.
Come up with 15 to 20 popular hashtags for each category of products you sell, as well as a base of 5 to 10 popular tags that describe your brand and product offering overall. Finally, try creating a list of popular local specific hashtags that relate to your brand.
For example, if you own two men’s fashion brand and we’re posting a pair of socks you carry your hashtags might look something like this. Keep all of these groups of keyword hashtags stored in your phone using something like Evernote or your phone’s Notes app. This makes it easy and efficient when you’re on the go to post a new Instagram photo, optimise for the most relevant keywords. You can quickly open your Evernote for example and copy your hashtags to post with each photo.
Doing the work up front of researching, organising and saving the most applicable and popular hashtags will save you a ton of time down the road, increase engagement and helped garner new followers.
Here’s another quick tip. If you’ve been posting Instagram for a while and feel like you’ve missed out on all these opportunities to build your audience using keyword hashtags, fret not. You can still go back and post a comment with your new keyword hashtag list and watch the likes and followers roll in.
Method #2 Steal Your Competitors’ Followers
One of the best ways to find and attract new followers is by seeking out your closest competitors Instagram accounts and engaging with their audience. This method is extremely easy and effective.
The first thing you can do is find a local competitor whose followers you can target. You may want to add your city to your profile, to create a greater sense of familiarity between your brand and the people you are targeting.
Now, there are three types of engagement on Instagram. They are, follow a user, like a photo, and comment on a photo. These are all great types of engagement. However, the more effort you put in, the better the results. So, you can start by just following your competitors’ followers, and that will definitely get you more followers.
But if you want to make more of an impact, you’ll likely want to take the time to like or comment on a photo of theirs. This method is guaranteed to grow your list of targeted followers, as these people have already shown some level of interest in your products simply by following your competitors’ account.
Method #3 Sponsored Posts & Product Reviews
If you really want to make a significant impact, you’ll want to post your products to other, larger accounts in your niche so you can expose your brand to a broader audience. So how do you do that?
Well, first, unlike the other tactics to grow your audience this one isn’t free. However, if done correctly, it’s a great value. To get started to make a list of the larger Instagram accounts in your niche.
Now, you may already be following these accounts, but if not take the time to find them. One of the best ways to do this is to use Webstagram and search for the closest keyword hashtags you covered with your earlier research. When you do a search for your keywords, not only will it show you related keywords, but it will also show you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords. Try to look for accounts with the large following, usually between 20,000 and 200,000 followers. If there’s an email address in the profile, it usually means they’re open to sponsored posts. You can easily email them and ask them their sponsored post pricing.
In general, I’ve found the average rate to be between $20 and $50 per post, depending on the size of their audience. Additionally, if you carry an original product, you may want to consider sending them your product to get costomer reviews.
Muammer is a Marketing Analytics Manager at Turkcell. His mission is to empower entrepreneurs and to help them achieve their goals. He also has a passion for illustration.