With a user base in excess of 500 million and a significant influence among the young, Instagram is today one of the most influential social media platforms. It has begun to give very serious competition to the platforms that have so far occupied the attention of brands and businesses - Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter due to its sheer size and presence.
Unlike the other major social media apps, Instagram is unique because it has been designed to be used from the smartphone without any web version. What could have been thought to be a disadvantage was transformed by the stupendous growth of handheld internet-connected devices that allowed their owners to click and upload photographs in an instant. This permitted users to connect with others directly and spontaneously while brands were able to engage with their audiences in real-time.
Building up your follower base and engaging with them in a meaningful way can be quite difficult for brands unless they approach the issue in a strategic way. Some tips that are likely to be of help:
Network with Players with a Large Circle of Influence
While this is a very effective strategy for all social media platforms, it can assume special importance for businesses operating on Instagram. Depending upon the sector you are in, it will be easier for you to build up your own set of followers if you get associated with influencers who have already a substantial number of followers and are perceived to have great authority in your domain. It can be quite a task to identify who these influencers are. Generally, the best way to do this is going through the posts on Instagram and seeing the quantity and quality of the comments being left by their followers. Since a manual approach can be quite time-consuming, you can take the help of the many online tools to locate the best influencers.
Once they have been identified, you should start liking their posts and posting your comments so that you can engage in a fruitful relationship with them. Generally, once you start following influencers, they will also follow you in a reciprocal gesture and with time acknowledge your posts and start mentioning you. This will attract the curiosity of the influencer’s followers, many of who will also start following you, thereby increasing your circle of influence. If you don’t to want to take so much trouble, then seek out professional social media marketers to get your follower base to the next level.
Instagram contests are almost always very effective in getting follower attention and engagement. You can run a contest where you invite your followers to like a post and select one or few lucky winners. You can also promote a particular hashtag by telling your followers to post their own images on a particular subject with that hashtag and then award prizes to the best posts. The keys to a successful contest are to make them simple to participate in, making the subject as interesting as possible and giving away prizes that will make the participation rewarding.
Use Appropriate Hashtags
As far as Instagram is concerned, hashtags are of paramount importance as it is only possible to search for pictures using hashtags. However, you need to conduct a detailed analysis of how and what hashtags are appropriate. Even though Instagram does not impose any limits on the number of hashtags you can use, anything beyond seven or eight is largely superfluous. Use one of the many tools available to find out the most popular and trending hashtags being used in your sector. Be sure to stay clear of them because your post will in all probability get completely lost in the mountain of search results turned up when a user searches with a popular hashtag. Instead, take the time to see if you can create a unique hashtag that is relevant to both your business and your audience so that you can achieve superior search visibility. You also need to verify that you selected hashtag does not have a double meaning that can lead it to be banned.
Synergize Instagram with Web Content
If you are intent on boosting your SEO, then you need to focus on your content. However, the photo-sharing nature of Instagram does not lend itself very well to conventional article syndication. What you really need to do is to make sure that your audience can switch freely between your Instagram profile to your blog and vice versa. This can be done by embedding the Instagram feed into your blog and mentioning your blog in your Instagram posts, whenever possible. Use the two platforms synergistically, so that you followers always know what you are offering.
A Community Focus
Local businesses, especially, can benefit a lot by getting involved with the local community. Make it a point to participate in local festivals and exhibitions and post the pictures on your profile to show the extent of your involvement. If your business is spread over a few towns there is a good opportunity to use location-specific hashtags to build up the initial set of followers that you can leverage on to build your influence.
Using the above strategies consistently you can move your business’s Instagram account from a standstill to one that’s buzzing with activity, engaging thousands of followers. You will need to have lots of patience and a plan in place so that you can schedule your activities appropriately and leverage them to give you SEO a big boost.