Instagram is currently the fastest growing social media platform on the internet. There are well over 1 billion active users, and is the most actively engaged platform after Facebook. And it’s not just ordinary people logging on to the social media giant. As of September 2019, over 70% of US businesses have seen the power behind it and have begun driving traffic from it as well.
And because of it’s simple, easy to use interface which is essentially visual in nature, engaging with friends, followers and customers is literally a snap.
Thousands of companies use Instagram to showcase their products or services. In addition to all of these businesses flooding your Instagram feed, there are countless other so-called “Instagram Celebrities” featuring their products as well – and who make their living online solely from Instagram. Some of these savvy marketers make thousands of dollars for a single post!
But that doesn’t mean that everyone knows what they’re doing on Instagram. Just like it’s big brother Facebook, for every true social media success you find on it, there are a thousand others who are flailing and failing to get anywhere with their audience.
If this is how your experience has been on Instagram, or on any social media outlet for that matter, the remainder of this post will show you how to post, follow, like, engage, and cash in on Instagram for your business.
Instagram – Pulling Back the Curtains
In order to truly succeed on Instagram, we first need to understand how it works and – more vitally – how to get it to work for you.
For the average person, Instagram is a fun and creative way to share your daily experiences with “life snapshots” for your friends and family. They can get a quick snapshot of what life looks like in your world right now. Pretty cool!
But for business it’s a different thing altogether.
You see for a business your main goal is not just to post or promote your product everyday. Yes a lot of people will see it and probably buy it. But let’s face it, nobody likes to be bombarded with pushy ads. Isn’t that why we run to get snacks during commercial breaks?
No, your goal as a business on Instagram is to “sell your dream”.
In old school marketing, this was called your “value proposition”. In other words, why should your audience buy from you as opposed to your competition? What do you do differently that adds value to your customer’s experience?
Because Instagram is visually oriented this becomes so much easier for you as a marketer.Earning true fans on Instagram is hard work – the smartest way to do it is to consistently link a positive emotion to your brand. Click To Tweet
In the old days, linking happiness to your product and then using that link to sell your product was not only high-level marketing, but it was also very hard to do. Think of the old Coke-a-Cola ads you’ve probably seen from the early 40’s and 50’s. They linked happiness to their product and then sold the two together. It’s a very effective method that Coke-a-Cola still uses to this day.
But now associating your product or service with a feeling is as simple as posting a picture to Instagram of a person smiling or having a laugh and associating that with your product. That’s more effective than the old-school marketing campaigns because it doesn’t take market research, a budget, photographer or – anything at all really! And it’s free.
How can you beat that?
Selling Your Story
Although Instagram does have a feature called “Stories” that allows you to feature a photo or video prominently for the day, that’s not what we mean here. You will be using this feature a lot, but in the context of marketing, “selling your story” is really about portraying the feelings and ideals that you want associated with your product and brand.
If you want your product connected with feelings of happiness for instance, your post will be geared towards photos and videos displaying various forms of happiness.
The emotional content of your posts should by and large remain consistent.
So what does that mean for you?
Well, what it means is that you are going to have to take some time to determine which emotion is best associated with you and your product on Instagram. Ask yourself, does my product relieve pain? Does it solve a major problem? Does it promise happiness or riches?
Whichever emotional triggers are connected with your product, use those emotions to consistently tell your story, and how your product can meet your audiences’ needs.
If you enjoy photography you will want to use your own photos, at least in part. This alone sets you apart from your competition, as your audience instantly recognizes that you are showing them something that no one else has.Emotional triggers are an essential element of driving traffic on Instagram. You need to evoke appropriate emotions with your images… Click To Tweet
In addition to your own photos, feel free to search the web for “royalty free images”. Start collecting a personal folder of these photos for later use. As you begin posting, you may consider overlaying the images with a popular quote or a tweet from your business Twitter account.
You will need to mix things up a bit. Don’t always post the same type of content. Don’t always use the same hashtags. Don’t always include a link to click.
People are smart and can smell a marketing attempt a mile away. Remember that you are engaging with real people in real life. Do you always continue following a marketer if they only ever pitch their services to you? Didn’t think so.
Show your audience that, yes, you do sell things, but you are also a real person who lives life pretty much the same way everyone else does. One of the main keys to audience engagement is being genuine.
Starting the Engine
When it comes to building an engaged audience, you need to systematize your marketing. Like an engine that only starts when all the systems have been engaged in their proper order, marketing on Instagram must take the same approach.
As you begin posting to share your business’s emotional story, you may wonder just how many times a day you should be sharing content. Is once a day enough? Or five? Ten? Does it matter?
It absolutely matters, because unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram has its own audience type that has certain expectations. If it was Twitter we were talking about, fifteen to 30 times a day is actually ideal. On Facebook, once a day is fine, but two is probably the max and might even be overdoing it.
On Instagram you’ll want to post from 1 to 3 times per day to achieve the best audience participation. Additionally, posting at any time between 10 am to 6 pm works just fine. Not too difficult, not too pushy, just like Instagram itself.
Now whenever it’s possible you’ll want to post your images in portrait orientation. This is really just common sense because your image will appear broader and have more eye appeal to your audience. Every little bit of advantage helps on Instagram!Posting frequency matters on Instagram – get it right and you'll gain loyalty and trust; get it wrong and you'll get blocked accounts and crickets… Click To Tweet
When it comes to followers you’ll want to follow about 20 accounts per day that are related to your niche. Don’t expect all of them to follow you back; but many will, and you should look to engage with them by liking or commenting on their content as quickly as possible.
When a follower sees that you are engaging with them, they will return the favor in kind.
Finally, you absolutely must use hashtags. By now everyone should know what a hashtag is and why you want to use them. If you honestly don’t really know, just Google “what is a hashtag?” and you’ll be brought up to speed.
Instagram currently allows you to add up to 30 different hashtags for your posts. And you could conceivably use 30 hashtags on your posts.
I don’t know about you, but when I see 10 or more hashtags on an Instagram post, I immediately think: spammer!
Most marketers and regular folks would agree.
Save the over-hashtagging for the teens and the soccer moms. As an Instagram marketer, never use more than 5 or possibly 6. But, unless you have a good reason not to do so, never post to your Instagram feed without at least 1 hashtag. 3 hashtags is just about right.
Now what hashtags do you use? I would say that, first of all, make sure that your hashtags are related to your post. If you decide to use only the popular Instagram hashtags because you want more people seeing your post, your hits will certainly go up, but your engagement level will be close to zero.
This is akin to the old “keyword stuffing” technique used on the first search engines in the early 2000’s.
If you find a hashtag that is relatively popular (over 100,000 posts) and it fits your content, by all means use it. But just remember that if you only ever use popular hashtags, your content is going to be diluted by all the other posts using the same popular hashtag. And if your chosen hashtag is insanely popular (1,000,000 posts or more) they essentially become useless.Too many hashtags on your Instagram posts? Be prepared to be unfollowed. What is the ideal number of hashtags anyway…? Click To Tweet
Hashtags are so important to your marketing efforts on Instagram that I don’t want to steer you wrong. Since there isn’t the time or space to cover proper hashtag use in this post, you’ll want to read HubSpot’s excellent guide called “The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags 2019”.
Additionally, check out this free online hashtag generator at All Hashtag.
Instagram is a fun and powerful way to find followers, engage with them, build their trust, and ultimately drive highly targeted traffic from.
But it’s not a “one and done” type of marketing.
Taking full advantage of Instagram is going to require some planning and some well thought out execution on your part.
But as you can see, it’s not complicated or exhausting. So follow these general guidelines, create a basic daily action plan, and start driving web traffic from Instagram.