I love Instagram, it’s grown from a collection of pretty photos to a community-based marketing machine.
Instagram is a photo-sharing app. It relies on an algorithm to help connect networks and communities and people to brands.
This is a great platform if your product is visually stunning but can also be used for promoting services or educating an audience around your product or knowledge niche.
I use this to find everything from meal inspiration to local business services.
If you don’t exist on Instagram, it’s going to take me a lot more effort to find you. For me, it’s the place to be.
Recently the algorithm seems to have changed (as it usually does!), so some accounts aren’t being found and losing out on potential customers and followers.
There are four key areas you can utilise within the platform to help build a community around your product and services. Main feed, Stories, Direct Message and IGTV.
If you’re new to the platform I would focus on Stories.
It currently has quite high engagement, and it’s easy to get creative – as it hosts a series of tools, gifs, video, buttons and filters.
You can then use your main feed for more curated content, such as mini-blogs.
Direct messaging is similar to Facebook Messenger, and pops up if you swipe right in the app, or click on the paper plane in the corner (I’ll mention this more below).
IGTV is for long-form video, similar to Youtube. You can upload existing video content or use the tool to record live. These videos also feature in your main feed to encourage more views.
Here are some tips that I have found really helpful.
Three things you need to keep an eye on.
Instagram wants to keep you and its users on the platform. So, the more content you create, the longer your captions, the more content there is to interact with the better.
But think about the quality of the content you are creating; how much value are you giving to your audience?
Instagram is getting tough on bots and spam accounts, so if your content just seems to be automated generic rubbish, it might not fare too well.
Create meaningful, selfless content with the intent to help, educate, support and grow others.
Create an audience and encourage a two-way conversation.
If you are a business, this gives you direct access to your customers, what better way to find out what they really think of your products and services.
To add to this, as you are working to inform a very clever machine with your actions. The algorithm is looking to understand who you are, what you do and who to connect you to.
- Make sure you ask and answer questions
- Direct messaging people helps build relationships
- Create quality meaningful content that suits your niche
Are you posting when your audience is online?
If you are using a business account you can view insights, which will give you an idea when your audience is online. These are the best times to post your content and to engage in the comments.
Think about your audience, if your ideal customer is a parent posting content when they are on the school run or putting the kids to bed might not be the best time to engage with them.
Similarly, if you are also a parent and your ideal customer is a parent, it might be worth showcasing real life, it is ‘insta’-gram after all.
Showing real life as it happens might be a great differentiator and might help your audience too. It’s all worth experimenting with and seeing what results you get.
- Look at your insights, when are your audience online?
- Are you capturing ‘insta’ life? Capturing real life in real-time
Stop sitting and waiting for people to come to you – seek out similar accounts or accounts of your ideal customer and make a real connection.
Go and find them, and bring them to your content.
Using the Discover tab, search on of your most used or relevant hashtags. Go to the top 9 accounts. What do you like about their content? Can you add to the conversation? Can you add any value?
You will help to get your account name seen, which will allow users to find your content.
Once your content has been found, get people to engage with your posts by asking questions, using the polls/questions within stories. This is popular at the moment. Give it a try. Even if your first few weeks, you don’t get any answers, keep going. You never know who is watching, or what they will deem interesting.
- Be active on the platform, both as a content creator and consumer
- Comment and like other contents that are similar to your account or niche
I would certainly recommend the Gary Vee $1.80 strategy.
When I have time I make the effort to reach out to other similar accounts, or accounts of interest and like, comment or direct message them.
Now these are some tips, and some explanations on how to train the algorithm. Give them a try for a few months and see how you get on.
Pay attention to your insights and tweak as you go to get the best outcome for you.
The most important thing is just to be yourself and true to your knowledge and niche.
Add value to the platform, educating and sharing, don’t focus so much on the likes and follows – pay attention to what you add to the conversation.
If you have a business, Instagram is just for getting attention, to help customers understand what you offer, what you know and what you can provide for them. It isn’t for mass selling, its for growing a community around your product or services.