If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Instagram is a marketing tool small businesses shouldn't ignore. Recent studies show the popular image-based social media platform receives 25 percent more engagement than other sites. But Instagram can be tricky to master, and those pictures you are posting aren't really worth that much if you don't even have followers to see them. The key to building a successful Instagram campaign is to pretend it's not marketing at all, but simple social interaction with potential customers. That social interaction translates into online store traffic, and ultimately, more sales. Here are four ways how to get a huge following on Instagram.
Make posts valuable, but not perfect
In order to have a big following, you have to give them something good to follow—but good doesn't mean perfect. Studies have shown that simple shots get more engagement than perfectly planned ordeals. Instagram gives business owners the chance to show potential customers what happens behind the scenes. Shots of employees at work and what goes into the day to day of your business are more likely to have an effect then perfectly poised studio shots. Offer a reward to your followers to encourage even more users to follow your profile—posting things like coupon codes and contests tends to work well too.
Use the right hashtags
Hashtags help users find posts on a similar topic. Include at least one hashtag in your post. To increase your following, even more, make sure you are using the right hashtag. There's probably at least a dozen words or phrases you could use to describe the photo, right? Which one has the most engagement? Thankfully, you don't have to guess. Using Website will tell you how popular the tag is. For example, #shoes has 48,554,740 where #shoesoftheday has much less at 489,509. Use Website to find out the best hashtag to use, as well as to generate additional ideas. Don't forget to turn your business name into a hashtag as well.
Social media, by definition, is social—it's not a one-way street. One of the best ways to build a huge following on Instagram is to reach out to those followers first. Search for users with interests similar to your business, or check out who is following one your competitors. Follow them, then like and comment on their posts. Not all of them will follow you back, but a percentage of them will, and your number of followers will grow exponentially.
Where Facebook and Twitter posts see a drop in engagement when businesses post too many things in one day, a Union Metrics study showed that's surprisingly not the case on Instagram. However, the same study showed that if a business decreases their number of posts, their number of followers drops as well. Find a rate that works for you and stick with it. Most major brands post an average of 1.5 times a day. Engagement doesn't fall off if you post more, just make sure you choose a frequency you can keep up with.
Instagram offers businesses a chance to tell a story with a simple photo—making it an excellent tool for reaching out to followers. That huge following doesn't come overnight though, but with valuable posts, the right hashtags, frequent engagement and a consistent posting schedule, you can see your followers start a steady upward trend.