With over 700 million active monthly users (500 million are on the platform daily) Instagram has solidified itself as a major force in the social media sphere since being launched in October of 2010.
How major? Over 20 billion photos have been uploaded onto the platform in just over six and a half years--and it's not just a bunch of brunch snaps and selfies, either. Over one million advertisers are on the Instagram platform as are established brands such as Chanel and Nike, all of whom recognize the power of the platform and are using it to engage existing fans, acquire new ones and boost their businesses.
Here are 13 ways for you to do the same.
Pay attention to your photo and bio
Toss the cryptic and low res photos and make sure your bio is clear, informative and offers relevant information. Activate the platform by adding a link to your website, portfolio or a recent blog post to your profile.
Know Your POV
What mood do you want your feed to convey? What are the brand values you want to showcase? Will this be a branded account or more personal? What is the "voice" you will use? You need to have an understanding of what your platform message will be and what angle you'll be posting from. It is important to remember that, as a brand owner, you need to be showcased in your posts. Invest in professional-looking photos of yourself taken and short, fun videos are a great way to engage.
Showcase beautiful imagery
Instagram is a visual platform that should be inspiring, interesting and show off the best parts of your brand. Think your layouts through and upload clear, beautiful images that highlight various elements of your brand in a way that looks cohesive and pleasing to the eye. Translation: Posting the same kinds of images over and over is boring and a bunch of photos with different colors look garish when placed side-by-side. If you're going to post photos from other pages, give credit whenever possible. Tag the actual photo when other people and brands are involved.
Add a line or two of editorial.
Tell your followers a little about the image. Make them think and/or laugh. Point out something you want to make sure they notice and add a call to action whenever you can. Example: Tell followers to check out your latest blog, product, website or video by clicking a link to it that you have placed in your bio. You can also use clickable links in stories.
This is one of the most valuable ways for brand owners to engage their followers and Instagram has just begun to allow users to add clickable links. Post photos and videos and take your followers on your journey. Be sure to engage other brands through this feature as well. It's an excellent way to connect.
Giveaways, special VIP access and/or discounts are great ways to gain (and keep) followers.
Stop stuffing your hashtags
Use the right ones instead. There are a number of experts who will tell you to use up to 30. You can stuff your posts with as many as you'd like, but I personally think it is much better to find 10-12 (max) that are appropriate and relevant to your post. Posting the same hashtags over and over won't do you many favors and posting every last word and phrase that relates your brand (however loosely) is an amateur move.
Get your team and customers involved
One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is not asking their teams to follow, engage and tag them in relevant posts. This is a great way to showcase your passionate company culture and introduce the people on your team to followers. It's equally important to ask your clients to follow you as this often leads to testimonials, loyalty and great reviews (if you're doing a great job).
Check your messages and be sure to thank followers for comments/feedback. If there is a valid criticism posted, do not delete it. Address it diplomatically and showcase your diplomacy and great customer service. Then DM the person and find out the best way to contact them directly.
It's nice to follow your friends, but this isn't a private Facebook page. Think about brands, companies and individuals you admire and want to work with and follow them. Look at who they follow for more inspiration. As with all platforms, this is a community. Get involved and show authentic support. This is how you will gain followers and potential partnerships and cross-promotional opportunities.
Aim to post 2-3 times a week.
This advice goes for all channels. Be informative and engaging. Think 70% engagement, 30% sales.
Remember to showcase you (or your brand's) personality and don't be too serious with it. You want it to look polished and professional, but it should also look like you're inviting your followers in to have a good time.