With over 400 million users, Instagram is a social platform that just can’t be pooh-poohed any more. Sure, it’s just images and video. You have to make sure you get your message across without using many words, because there’s just enough room for a short comment and a few hashtags. How can you possibly build a brand on this network, however popular it might be?
As with any marketing tool, your strategy is important to your success. If you’re willing to work hard—something that most people don’t equate with social media—then you’re more likely to experience success. What do you have to work so hard on? Let’s take a look.
Study Your Audience
The average age for Instagram users is growing, but it’s still considered a social platform for younger audiences. It’s important to understand your target audience, most notably their ages and interests, before starting an Instagram account. A small percentage of Baby Boomers may be using Instagram, but it might not be the best way to reach them with your marketing message.
By determining how much of your audience is on Instagram, you can better target your messaging. Attacking a new Instagram strategy without knowing your audience sets you up for a really flashy and cool collection of pictures but not a lot of marketing success.
Grow Your Audience
When you’re starting your new account from scratch, watching your follower numbers struggle through the single and double digits only to hit a wall before you can climb over three and four-digit levels, well, that can be disheartening. What’s the point of pushing your brand on a platform without followers?
You don’t want to plump your numbers with paid followers, because those fake accounts will definitely come back to bite you. A little patience and hard work will give you greater numbers without any sort of trickery. Find brands and Instagram users that match your branding vision. Discuss trading shout-outs to reach a wider audience and watch your numbers grow.
If you have the money for a social media budget, you might consider paying for sponsored posts. These will target your ideal customers and place your Instagram images and videos in their feed. If you touch them with the message, they just might reward you with a follow.
Encourage Cross-Channel Subscription
Don’t waste your bio space with trendy mumbo jumbo that might make followers smile but not do much else. Instead, provide your website address and give an offer of better and more informative material through various other channels. You may invite followers to sign up for your newsletter in exchange for a discount or special gift. Meanwhile, those who receive your newsletter but aren’t following your Instagram can receive the same offer. Maybe you encourage followers to join in a scavenger hunt that requires following all of your social channels, which will result in audience growth over every one of your platforms.
Use Text in Images
There is plenty of room for sharing a message under your images and videos, but are you sure your followers will take the time to read it? You may want to make use of text over images to get your point across. With beautiful imagery and clever taglines, you could inspire anyone who sees your message to share with others. Just be sure any message you share matches your brand seamlessly. Don’t forget to mark your images with your logo so that you can enjoy brand recognition as that image reaches ever wider audiences.
Engage Your Followers
All of these tactics will help you grow an Instagram following, but nothing keeps those followers around better than engagement. By showing your Instagram audience that you know who they are and you appreciate their attention, you convey how grateful you are. You don’t have to use the words “thank you” either. Answer their questions, tease back if you receive funny comments, and compliment your followers’ cleverness.
The whole idea of social media is to be social. Yes, you’re talking to your audience, but that doesn’t mean you’re on a stage with a silent crowd in chairs. Talk, listen, laugh, share, encourage, and cheer together. That’s how to build a solid, well respected brand on Instagram.