At RiseFuel, we place a lot of focus on inbound strategies and a big part of those strategies is creating a social following for our clients. I often work closely with clients who have devoted a lot of time and energy into growing their social presence but in the end, don’t have a whole lot to show for it.
Of all of the social media platforms out there that you can focus on, we often find that Instagram delivers the best results to our clients.
It’s a visual platform that makes it easy to put your personality on display and connect on a personal level with your ideal audience.
Here are a few key stats that show you just how much of an impact Instagram can have on your business if you are able to grow your following and presence on the platform:
- There are 1 billion total Instagram users and more than 500 million people use it every day.
- Instagram users tend to skew young. 59% of U.S. users are under 30 years old.
- Instagram is growing at a rapid rate. We have seen the number of daily active users more than triple between 2016 and 2017.
But it’s a tough egg to crack. Growing your Instagram followers can be difficult and requires a well-defined strategy and understanding of your audience.
There are a few recommendations that I typically make when I begin working with a new client to help them gain traction on Instagram and use it to measurably grow their traffic and sales.
These tips include:
Consistency is Key
No one is going to follow an account that is only updated once every few months.
If you want to gain traction on Instagram (or any social networking platform for that matter) you have to be active.
Preferably very active, without drifting into that grey area of being so active that your followers begin to find your presence annoying.
There have been a number of studies that have looked into the importance of consistency.
Visual marketing tool Tailwind conducted a study of more than 100,000 unique Instagram accounts in 2017 in an effort to understand how posting frequency affected an account’s Instagram followers and engagement rate.
The results? The more often you post, the more followers and likes you receive. Seems easy, right?
Still, many companies miss the memo or have an initial flurry of activity before seeing it fall by the wayside.
Videos Grab Attention
Instagram might be known as a photo-sharing platform but it has rapidly grown beyond that to encompass other types of content like videos, live broadcasts, and stories.
Brands should be leveraging these different types of content to mix things up, increase engagement, and speak more directly to their Instagram followers.
The average engagement for videos is growing at a much higher clip than other types of content. More than 400 million people use the Instagram Stories platform every single day.
Videos are just a more personal medium. Viewers connect with videos more readily than they do with pictures and it helps to keep your account fresh with new, interesting content.
When we try to create a social following for our clients, short videos are always part of our larger strategy.
Research Hashtags that Your Audience Uses
We’ve all seen annoying hashtag usage. You know — someone posts a picture and includes dozens of semi-related hashtags, inter-mixed with hashtag jokes and memes, that you probably don’t pay any attention to.
This trend in hashtag usage can lead to some overlooking their importance, and that is a point that we always stress to clients.
Hashtags can greatly increase the visibility of a post on Instagram and help it to get in front of would-be followers that enjoy the content that you have to share.
There are numerous tools that you can use, for free, to find Instagram hashtags that could help you to grow your Instagram followers:
Genuine Interaction is Required
While it might be tempting to automate your Instagram account in full (and there are plenty of things that can be automated without worry) no one wants to interact with an account that doesn’t interact back.
For success on Instagram, there has to be an element of genuine interaction between you and your followers.
While you can automate routine posting of pictures, make sure that you are carving out some time to answer and speak with people that interact with the content that you create.
At the very least, brands should respond to customer service requests that come in through social networks.
Finally — my most important tip to any client that I am consulting on growing their Instagram followers — be personal. Don’t just share run-of-the-mill content.
People want to know that the brands that they follow on social networks have real people behind them controlling the content that they post and interacting with their following.
Make sure that you are sharing things that are more personal. Share pictures of your office and the people that work within it.
Share videos or short interviews with employees. Make it clear that your business is one that cares about your customers and is a fun place to work.
The more personal that you can be on your social media accounts, the more readily real people will follow you.
An account that looks automated and never shares the more personal side of their business will have a hard time garnering an Instagram following.
A Long-Term Asset
The main point to take home here is that Instagram growth is a long-term strategy, but investing in it creates a long-term asset for your company you can continually use to connect with customers and debut new content and information about your company.
It can be finicky. Brands have a tougher time than individuals when it comes to growing a following.
But with a little foresight, planning, and strategy design — brands in almost any industry can use Instagram to their advantage to connect with new customers and develop deeper connections with existing ones.
The biggest challenges with online marketing are most of the time misaligned efforts and outdated practices.
RiseFuel can help solve this as part of your overall marketing campaign. Contact us to discuss.