Instagram currently has 150 million monthly active users and 16 billion photos on the free photography app. However, Instagram has come a long way since its launch in November 2010. In its early stages, Instagram, and its users, were trying to figure out what the app’s identity was. What was its purpose? It soon became apparent that Instagram didn’t have an identity, but rather something that is completely transparent for each and every user that adds a filter to their latest post. Now Instagram is becoming an incredible marketing tool for both people and businesses alike. Whether an Instagrammer uses their profile as a selfie machine, picture book for your travels, or a DIY blog, the app is becoming as important of a social network than Facebook or LinkedIn.
There are a few tips you should be following if you are representing a brand or marketing your personal brand on Instagram. Employers and customers alike can use your account as a portal to who you are and the brand you represent. Whether it’s your personal or professional account, these tips should benefit your Instagram with more likes and more followers.
1. Allow people to know the person behind the camera
People like following interesting accounts, but they need to know who they’re following and why your account should be important to them. Make sure your profile picture and bio are authentic to who you are. Your image should either be a great picture of yourself or a logo of the brand you are representing. Spend time on your bio to ensure an instant connection with your audience.
Expert tip: Make sure that your Facebook or business’s website link is featured in the bio, as well.
2. Create a niched community that reflects who you are
Is your Instagram used for traveling? Follow travel accounts and double-tap their pictures. Do you use it for your business? Find local, national, and international businesses that are similar to your company and build a relationship with them by commenting and asking questions. In order to get quality followers you must create a like-minded community that is interested in what you are posting.
3. Don’t be selfish, get those fingers tapping!
Instagram is a two-way street. You can’t expect engagement if all you do is scroll through your homepage at 2 a.m. Instead of being selfish, waiting for likes to roll in, be nice! As stated above, liking people’s pictures is great, but go the extra step by commenting and interacting with the pictures you come across. Not only will you get more engagement from that account owner, but others will see your name much easier when it is in the comments rather than in a slew of hundreds of likes. This can draw attention to your account, which results in follows and likes.
4. To hashtag or not to hashtag, that is the question.
Much like Twitter, hashtags are helpful when taken in low doses. Participating in hashtags like #TBT and #FBF are always fun, but steer away from hashtags that are used in Instagram daily contests. Examples: #DailyInsta, #Instagood, #DogsofInstagram, etc. etc. These may generate some follows, but they are from spam bots that can quickly clog up your comments.
5. Create your own content.
A hashtag can quickly become a distinct logo that is specific for your brand. If you are a business or company, create a unique hashtag that people can search. If you are a DIY or fashion account, create a hashtag for contests and give-aways. This makes it easy for people to interact and comment on your photos.
This is where the men are separated from the boys. Do not post 10 times a day and do not post 10 times a year. People initially follow you because they are interested in your content. However, the days following that follow are crucial. No matter how cool you think you or your brand is, people don’t want it to be the only thing on their feed. You also don’t want to be forgotten about, which can happen pretty quickly in the Instagram community.
A general rule of thumb is to post once or twice a day, five times a week. Your followers will be excited to see your photo and won’t feel overwhelmed with 10 posts in a row.
7. Your Friday nights are meant for Snapchat, not Instagram.
If your goal is to market yourself or market your business, do not post photos that are time stamped after 9 p.m. Most of your followers keep up with you solely through Instagram, so don’t use Insta as a tool to remember your weekend by. If your personal life isn’t G-Rated on Friday and Saturday, let your Snapchat friends know. Snapchat is a much more selective audience that you have handpicked to view your images, but Instagram is not.
8. Take awesome photos.
Let’s not forget that Instagram is a community of people that enjoy photography. Any successful Instagrammer will tell you that they approach smartphone photo editing as meticulously as they would professional DSLR editing. Photo tone, contrast, exposure and filter can make or break your post. Download photo editing apps like VSCOcam and Snapseed to perfect your image before you post to Instagram.
In order to get any traction on Instagram, your photos must be crisp, clear, and memorable to each and every one of your followers.