Instagram advertising isn’t what it used to be. Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, has updated its algorithms significantly over the past few years, making it less of an effective channel than before for marketers who don’t know how to use the platform effectively or who don’t have the time to do so.
That said, even though you shouldn’t solely rely on Instagram marketing, it can still be an effective way to connect with your audience and boost brand awareness and engagement if done right. The following 10 Instagram marketing tips will get you started on the right foot.
1) Try Instagram Ads
Instagram offers some really powerful advertising tools for small business owners, and it’s easy to integrate ads into your Instagram marketing. This video breaks down how to get started with Instagram Ads.
If you’re looking for inspiration on what kind of photos work best in your ad campaign, try searching Instagram hashtags associated with your industry to find which photos are performing well.
You can also run a few different types of ads within one campaign: For example, test out boosting posts that already have a lot of likes or running an ad targeting people who follow a competitor’s account. Once you decide what works best, your followers will start engaging with your content—and seeing your brand—even more often.
2) Use Visuals
Visuals help create an impressionable experience. Take your audience on a journey. Instagram users come to enjoy content that includes breathtaking photos, engaging videos, and thought-provoking quotes.
Make sure you have captions on all of your images so they stand out among other content on Instagram. Consider adding hashtags to further increase your chances of being seen.
For example, if you own a bakery, include tags like #bakery and #pastries in your images and captions to increase engagement with those interested in similar topics or businesses like yours. You can also add location hashtags if it’s relevant; for example, #denvercoffeeshop might be appropriate for a coffee shop in Denver.
3) Use Hashtags
While hashtags aren’t a new phenomenon, they’ve become more and more important over time. Hashtags make it easy to find new content and help drive engagement; in fact, posts with at least one hashtag typically see 12 percent higher engagement than those without.
Before posting to Instagram, take some time to do some research on which hashtags are most commonly used by your audience so you can easily reach them with relevant content.
Hashtags also offer an opportunity to link back to an existing or related piece of content—just be sure not to overwhelm your audience with irrelevant information. When using hashtags, try using 2-5 relevant tags per post and only use relevant terms that match your niche or target audience
4) Interact With Your Followers
Instagram is a visual-based social media platform. If you want to attract new followers and keep them, you must visually engage with your audience. Hashtags should be fun and complement your content, but most importantly, they should help people find you.
Since Instagram only allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, choose words that best fit your content. For example, if you’re posting pictures of food at a holiday party, choose #foodie or #thanksgivingrecipes instead of #marketingcampaigns or #brands.
5) Tell Stories On Instagram
Stories are Instagram’s newest feature, and it’s taking off like crazy. As of April 2017, over 400 million people were using Instagram Stories daily. In comparison, Snapchat saw its user base grow to 166 million daily users just three years after launch; that is remarkable growth—that’s almost a 10x increase in just three years! With such high usage, there is no denying that Instagram stories are an effective tool for businesses who want to connect with their customers on a more intimate level.
6) Use Influencers To Promote Your Brand
If you’re trying to grow your Instagram, I cannot stress enough how important it is to utilize influencers. They can reach an audience that you likely can’t, and they’ll post your product with their stamp of approval because they know that their followers are more likely to be interested in what they’re posting.
It doesn’t matter if you have a business page or personal page; both platforms have benefits and drawbacks when it comes to working with influencers.
The important thing is not just having one but tracking your results so that you don’t waste time on influencers who aren’t willing or able to promote your brand effectively. Here are a few tips for getting started:
7) Create Advertorial Posts
If you’re selling a product or service, advertising on Instagram is easy; all you have to do is create an ad and select your target audience. What if you want to promote something that’s not yours? Then you might consider creating an advertorial post, which is essentially an advertisement that resembles editorial content—so much so that Instagram requires it be clearly labeled as an ad.
Advertorial posts typically take up one or two full-screen photo and video slots in users’ feeds, but some creative marketers get away with more by using text-heavy images instead of videos or photos. Make sure your captions are written like headlines (read: attention-grabbing) and always include a link back to your site/blog/store.
8) Run Giveaways Or Contests
Instagram is a highly visual platform, so creating an Instagram contest or giveaway can be a great way to boost engagement on your brand’s page. The key is creating an engaging experience, rather than just asking users to like or comment on a photo.
Make sure you’re offering something unique and valuable to your audience, not just free products. (That said, don’t be afraid of giving away free stuff!) Try offering discounts and exclusive access in exchange for following your Instagram account or mentioning you in a post.
9) Create a Branded Hashtag
Hashtags are an excellent way to reach new audiences. Be sure to create your own branded hashtag that you can use throughout all of your content to help users find and engage with your brand on Instagram.
Your branded hashtag will also become an easy way for users to remember and reference you, as well as provide a consistent look and feel across all of your posts.
Make sure that any hashtags you include are relevant and on-brand—for example, if there’s a trending hashtag related to real estate but isn’t relevant to what you’re selling, it doesn’t make sense to use it in your post. In fact, using irrelevant hashtags can actually cause a decrease in engagement by up to 20%.
10) Stay Consistent
Consistency is a major component of any social media strategy, but it’s especially important on Instagram. Unlike platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where brands can post at their leisure, Instagram users must take a photo with their smartphone whenever they want to post something.
This makes it easy to post things in bulk, but it also means that you can’t just go dormant for three months and expect your audience to remember who you are or care about what you have to say.
Build up a strong following and then make sure that your followers know when to expect new content from you (daily? weekly? monthly?). If people don’t see posts from you consistently they will unfollow; there are plenty of other accounts vying for attention after all!