Fifth in a Series
Engagement with plenty of followers is key to a successful Instagram account. So how do you grow your following and increase engagement? Read on for some tips.
- Always Use Hashtags, and Even Use Trending Hashtags
Hashtags – words or phrases that begin with the “#” symbol – are integral to Instagram and can get you a lot of attention. Anyone searching for a hashtag will be able to see all the images using that tag. Keep track of your most popular hashtags. If you save them to Evernote, you’ll be able to access them on any device.
Don’t overuse them, and only use words relevant to the photo you are tagging. Keep your eye on trending hashtags that both describe your brand and match what people are searching for on Instagram. For relevant hashtags, use online apps such as Websta. Track Maven recommends four to five hashtags per post. Instagram allows as many as 30. You can find Instagram’s top 100 hashtags here.
- Get customers into your marketing funnel
Instagram allows a clickable link only on your profile. Use it strategically to connect to a landing page that reflects the look and feel of your Instagram account. The idea is to capture your followers’ email addresses. So post an image with a call to action; ask users to click the link in your bio so they can download an ebook or sign up for your newsletter.
Once you have that email address, you can take your connection to the next level.
Try shoutouts and cross-promotions with companies that share your target market. A shoutout draws attention to another company, exposing it to a group of potential followers it wouldn’t have reached on its own. If you do this for others, they are likely to return the favor. Or contact the company directly and arrange cross promotions where you share one another’s content and encourage your followers to follow the other account. In return, you both get more recognition, increased traffic – and increased sales.
Ask questions in your captions and respond to followers’ replies. Be sure you include their handle, so they receive a notification. Keep an eye out for your own notifications, too, so you can respond when others mention you in their captions and comments.
- Follow and like
The best way to find followers is to follow others. Search hashtags to find likeminded friends. Follow those accounts, then go to their photo feeds; like several of their recent photos and comment on one or more of them.
You can also search a competitor’s Instagram account and follow that company’s followers. Like and comment on some of the photos. Put some thought into your comments to encourage the recipient to check out your account. You want to reply with something relevant that keeps the conversation going. Do this consistently, and people will start following you.
An app like Crowdfire can help. It allows you to scroll through any Instagram user’s followers. This way you can find your competitors’ followers quickly, and use them to build your audience.
Keep an eye on who is following your brand, and follow them back. Take note especially of Instagrammers who post great content using your hashtag. Comment on and like their posts.
- Post at the best times
A tool such as Iconosquare can help you determine the best times to post. Iconosquare lets you know the demographics of followers, when they are most active, and which posts receive the most engagement.
You want to post when your audience has down time and will likely be checking their accounts. If your target audience is high school students, for example, post when you expect high schoolers to be on their lunch break. If you have lots of followers in New York City, consider posting at rush hour, when people will be stuck on trains or buses and will likely amuse themselves by checking their phones. Of course, if your audience is nationwide, be cognizant of time zones.
Don’t post in the middle of the night because your photo will end up buried in followers’ feeds.
- Host an Instagram contest
Hosting a contest can boost engagement and secure new followers quickly. Create a hashtag, and ask users to submit content under that hashtag. Be sure to set up guidelines, such as what to include in a photo, what your prize is and how many winners there will be. Some brands ask people to enter by leaving a comment tagging a friend – a method that helps your business connect with new people.
Social media is a two-way street. To encourage engagement, you have to engage. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to Instagram success.