Set your goals for Instagram.
Before you start posting on Instagram, ask yourself (or your team) one thing: Why are you on Instagram? As popular as the platform is, your answer shouldn’t be, “… because everyone else is.” To be successful on Instagram in the long-run, you must have a set purpose and goals so you can justify your time, energy, and monetary investment.
Determine your Instagram audience.
Determine the audience you want to reach before you begin marketing on Instagram. If you have other marketing strategies in place, draw from those to keep your efforts consistent. Don’t forget to consider factors like age, location, gender, income, interests, motivations, and pain points.
Don’t know where to start? Monitor popular event and interest hashtags related to your business. See who’s using and engaging with these hashtags and check out their profiles. You can also take a look at your competitor’s followers. Instagram makes it easy to define your audience.
Conduct a competitive analysis.
After you determine your Instagram audience, do a competitive analysis to see what other marketers in your field are posting.
If you already know your top competitors, start by reviewing their Instagram profiles. If not, search for terms related to your business and industry to find similar accounts.
Conduct a quick audit of related accounts to see what posts are getting the highest engagement, what popular hashtags they’re using, what their captions are, how often they post, and how quickly they’re growing. This information can serve as a benchmark as you start growing your own account.
While auditing your competitors’ content, take note of any opportunities they might’ve missed. Adding unique content into the mix will help your business to stand out from the rest.
Configure an editorial calendar.
On average, brands post about six images per week on Instagram … which is over 300 posts per year! At that frequency, it can be difficult to keep track what you need to post and what’s already posted.
Creating an editorial calendar can help you save time and manage your Instagram presence. Fill in your calendar with some Instagram post types discussed earlier and plan your captions, hashtags, and posting times in advance.
Your editorial calendar is also a great place to record any key events to highlight on your Instagram account, such as new product launches or special offers. With an editorial calendar, you can keep an eye out for real-time opportunities instead of scrambling for last-minute posts.
Build a consistent brand on Instagram.
Random or disjointed content confuses your audience and can cause you to lose followers. To prevent this, maintain a consistent brand aesthetic on your Instagram account.
Determine what this looks like by thinking about your brand personality. What are your brand values? How would your customers and employees define your brand? Are you bold, playful, gritty, or adventurous?
Apartment Therapy‘s brand personality is bright, clean, and organized, and its account reflects all three of those traits. Ideally, brand aesthetic helps your brand become recognizable, meaning someone could see your picture in their feed and instantly know it’s yours … without seeing the name.
Grow your Instagram follower base.
Growing your following takes serious time and energy. You may be tempted to take the easy way out and buy followers … don’t do this! Purchasing followers won’t actually drive engagement, which is really what you need to ensure your posts are being seen. (Also, Instagram’s recent API changes will automatically delete those followers!)
Here’s what you can focus on to build a following the right way.
- Make sure your username is recognizable and searchable. If people can’t find you, they can’t follow you! Fill out your bio. It’s the last thing someone sees before they make the decision to follow you so be sure to include who you are and what you do.
- Once your profile is optimized (which we talked about in this section), start posting. It’s a good idea to populate your feed with ten to 15 high-quality posts before you really start engaging people. If users visit your profile and find it empty, they probably won’t follow you.
- Then, start following accounts that interest you and relate to your business. Think of Instagram like a community and look for other businesses in your area or influencers who might enjoy your product or service. As you follow accounts, Instagram will suggest related ones that you can follow, too.
- After you follow an account, interact with their content. This is the most natural way to draw attention to your own Instagram account without being spammy. When you follow or interact with an account, the account owner will get a notification. This could prompt them to check out your account and start following you. Always appreciate your followers by responding to their comments and engaging with their content.
- Encourage others to share your content. Invite brand ambassadors to share your account or collaborate with similar accounts.
- Lastly, be sure to promote your Instagram on other channels. Include an Instagram social share button on your website and share your Instagram on other social platforms. Sometimes the fastest way to gain more followers is to simply ask for them!
Convert your Instagram followers into customers.
Once you establish a dedicated follower base, you can start converting those followers into paying customers. Here are some strategies.
- Promotions: Deals, discounts, BOGOs, and other offerings are a great way to drive first-time sales with your Instagram audience. Be sure to include what your followers need to do to receive the offer, and mention a deadline to create a sense of urgency.
- Contests: What better way to make someone a customer than by letting them try your product? Run contests that require someone to follow your account or post with a hashtag to enter.
- Charity: 81% of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to charity. Doing so can build affinity for your brand and help turn followers into customers.
- Teasers: Instagram is a great platform to show your audience glimpses of new products before they’re available. While you don’t want to spam your followers’ feeds with only product photos, a few images can build excitement.
- Live launches: Consider showcasing a new product or service using Instagram Live. Then, drive users to purchase by including a purchase link in your bio.
Also, don’t forget to leverage the link in your Instagram bio as well as your Instagram Story Highlights as these can connect followers to your website, blog, and product pages.