It is no secret that you should have some form of presence on Instagram by now. You may be a business, personal brand, client based service or online publication – you need to be on there. If you are not on Instagram you are missing a big opportunity.
Instagram currently has 600 million monthly active users, 400 million daily active users, 150 million daily stories users and 20% of internet users are on the platform.
Organic reach on Instagram is good, you can still start gaining organic traction and grow well without needing to make significant financial investments in the platform.
What Instagram growth relies on is a consistent approach with high quality content. Here are some ways you can grow your brand on Instagram straight away and at little to no cost.
Upgrade To A Business Profile
When you join Instagram you have a standard profile by default. Last year Instagram rolled out business profiles which work by connecting to a Facebook Page.
The Instagram business profile has several advantages over the standard profile. It adds a call to action “contact” button which allows users to call, email or text you from the Instagram profile.
It also opens up analytic tools which Instagram calls “insights” giving you access to impression and engagement data. This gives you the chance to understand how people interact with your content and allows you to adjust your style of content based on the data through insights.
Cross Promote Instagram Posts
This is the only platform where you can really get away with cross promoting and not look completely lazy. Cross promoting to Facebook allows the content to appear on your feed and reach your audience on a different platform.
The only thing to be cautious of is cross promoting to Twitter. If you are cross promoting to Twitter you should consider using an IFTTT recipe which will allow your Instagram post to appear embedded in the Twitter feed. If you do use an IFTTT recipe then you don’t need to select Twitter as a sharing option in Instagram when you post.
If you do use the Twitter sharing option in the Instagram app then it will share as a link in your Twitter feed and yes, that does look ugly and lazy!
Consider Stories And The Feed As Separate Places For Content
Look at Instagram stories and the main feed as separate places for content. I have always said that Instagram is like the museum when it comes to the main feed. You want the best looking content to appear in the main feed for engagement and likes.
I have seen people remove content from the main Instagram feed because it didn’t get as many likes as they wanted it to. The awesome looking shots should go into the main feed and the more relaxed on the fly content fits well in stories.
Stories is very much in the moment and on the fly, it is for the right here and right now. Stories also allows you to push lots of content over a short space of time without cluttering the feed.
Use Hashtags, Lots Of Hashtags
Hashtags are key on Instagram, they help your content get discovered and allow your presence to grow through visibility. Load up on ideally 20-30 relevant hashtags, the main point here is to keep them relevant to your content. Don’t load up on hashtags for the sake of more exposure, make sure they have something to do with what you are posting.
Now, many people like to keep a neat look to hashtags on Instagram, you can do this by posting hashtags as the first comment after you post an update. This means the comment with the hashtags will get buried from visibility in the main feed on Instagram.
Another option is to leave some space on the main post and then add hashtags afterwards, I personally use bullet points to leave a gap of five spaces which buries the hashtags under a read more button. It is personal preference if you want to do this or not, if you can get hashtags in the first post it means Instagram will index them straight away on posting.
Interact With Others
Something that gets overlooked so much on Instagram, interact with others. Jump into the comments and talk to other people. Like any other social platform it is not all about you and on Instagram you may be pleasantly surprised.
The majority of conversation is pleasant and friendly. Tag people in your Instagram posts to get attention from them, maybe they will re-share you content, give you a shoutout or get the conversation going on your posts.
“Tag three friends who would like this” is also another smart way of exposing more people to your brand and because they are introduced to you via a friend it means there is less friction in getting them to follow you and like your content.
Think about how you can make shots look…different. Stand out from others on the platform by mixing it up. If you are a wine buff and you like posting photos of the wine you are drinking through the week then mix it up with different shots. Use Instagram’s layout app to to mashup a photo of the glass of wine, bottle of wine and a selfie. Use the slow motion capture feature on your iPhone when pouring your first glass.
Think about how you can represent what you are sharing int a different form, a way where people will look at it and be impressed that it is different from the norm. Instagram is all about creativity, that is why some people struggle with gaining traction but still love the app regardless.
Use Different Editing Tools
Instagram’s editing tools are fine, but that is about it. There are much more powerful mobile editing tools out there to make your photos really shine. I personally use either VSCO or Snapseed.
VSCO is my personal favourite, there is a great range of filters and for a few euro you can open up a massive selection of filters in the VSCO app, they look fantastic and really add to any photo.
Similarly Snapseed has powerful filter tools and you get all the usual sharpening, contrasts, saturation, colours and all the usual fare. Just remember, if you edit in VSCO then you don’t need to edit again in Instagram – its overkill and takes from the editing done elsewhere.
A Marathon, Not A Sprint
Remember as always when trying to grow on social media, its a marathon, not a sprint. We all start at zero but deploying some or indeed all of the tips above will put you on the right path to being seen on Instagram and exposing your new account to different people on the platform.