Growing Your Audience On Instagram And Turning Them Into Subscribers
Instagram is a fast-moving mobile photo sharing, video sharing, and social networking service that allows users to share anything they want any time day or night about their own life. Normally, Instagram users like to share awesome pictures and videos with hashtags that help those with link interests find each other easily.
Using hashtags is easy to do and anyone can get started fast, build up a loyal audience and turn them into subscribers and eventually sales. The biggest difference with Instagram and other social media is they ask that you don’t share other people’s images, photos, and videos. With over 300 million active users, it’s an important social network in which to be involved.
Getting Started On Instagram
When you first open an Instagram account you’ll need to download the app on your mobile device. You can’t really use Instagram on your desktop. It’s specifically a mobile app. There are some applications that can be used on a desktop but you must finish everything on your mobile device for now. We’ll talk a little about that later.
Download the right Instagram app for your mobile device. Once the app is installed, tap to open it. Then sign up by entering the email address that you want associating with your Instagram account. You can also log in with your Facebook account. You can connect Instagram with Facebook, Tumbler, Flickr, Twitter, and Swarm.
When you choose your user name, choose something that’s easily remembered by your audience but also that means something for your business. Keep it short. Try to keep the same one on all social media to make it simple. Also, consider whether or not it’s easy to read or not. For example sometimes if the same letter is together it will make it hard to read. You can use underscores to fix readability issues. You may have to get creative.
Your bio is very important to ensure that people want to follow you. Often your profile is the first thing people see, or they might see images that you share and then click through to see your profile. Having a good profile will be helpful in getting more followers.
Use your real name along with your user name in your profile. If you can fit a search term in there, that’s even better. Within the profile tell them what you do, using keywords. Make it interesting and different from other social media accounts. Space out your bio using bullets and spaces by editing it using your personal computer instead of a mobile app if you want to make it look the best. Don’t forget to include a link to your website.
For any profile picture, but most especially Instagram where all images are supposed to be special and beautiful, the first thing you need to do is start with a high-quality photograph. You can take high quality photos with your phone camera these days. Ensure that you have good lighting, keep the camera steady, and take numerous images so you’ll have a lot to choose from.
It’s tempting to want to change out your profile picture often, but it’s best not to for marketing purposes. People get to know you from your face, so keeping the same picture is important. Keep your picture for a long time, six months or more for consistency. Ensure that you rescale it to the right dimensions for Instagram and don’t just reuse an image from another network in the wrong size. It’s okay to use the same image, but always customize it for the platform in question.
You’ll need to set up your Instagram to have push notifications on or off. You can adjust these settings in the profile area of the people you follow. Just go to their profile, and then turn on or off push notifications. Remember that you’ll get a lot of notifications if you choose to turn them on. It’s recommended that you turn them on for profiles that you really want to know what’s happening. Be sure to check the settings in your phone to ensure that you’ve got it set up to receive push notifications globally.
Once you get everything set up, it’s time to start following people. There are some strategic ways to follow people using Instagram to ensure that you are following the right people who will then follow you back and like and comment on your shares. You can follow your competitors, but even better, you can follow your competitors’ followers.
It’s also important that you use the right hashtags in your postings. To get the right followers, you can essentially take followers from your competitors. You can follow them directly, like a photo of theirs, and also comment on one of their photos. This is a good way to find just the right followers. The best thing is to not follow every single one of your competitors’ followers all at once, instead pick and choose to add a few each day or week.
Posting & Engaging
The best way to get followers and engagement on Instagram is to follow new users, like photos, and comment on photos as well. Ensure that you make intelligent comments so that people will want to click through to your bio and read about you and follow you too. Since Instagram doesn’t want you to share what others do, it forces engagement and it’s very effective.
It’s important to include clear calls to action, add geo-location if you are trying to attract local people, use relevant hashtags, give shout outs to others, use the caption space allotted creatively by varying the amount of content you put there. Above all, interact with other users’ content on a regular basis and as normal promote your account on other networks.
Develop Your Instagram Strategy
You need to create an Instagram strategy based on your goals for the particular campaign. You may want to build brand awareness, create more sales, and create a loyal fan base or something else entirely. How you proceed depends on what your goals are and what you want the end results to be.
Know Your Reasons
As mentioned, you need to know your reasons for doing anything on Instagram if you want it to work for you. You’ll need to set up a plan of action based on your goals. Some of your goals may be sales, traffic, building trust, inspiring customers, building brand awareness, getting increased mentions and call outs.
How to Set Goals
One of the best things you can do for your business is to learn proper goal setting techniques. This isn’t a goal-setting manual, but let’s go over a basic method of setting goals called SMART.
All about SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-Bound
Some definitions use various words but they mean the same thing. You want a goal that spells out exactly, in a measurable way something that you know you can achieve, in other words, is possible to achieve, and relevant to your needs long term.
Plus, you want to set a deadline for the goal so that you know when to measure. So, as you get started with Instagram, be sure to make goals using this acronym to ensure that what you want to do is possible and something you can measure.
Optimize Your Content Strategy
One of the things you want to do, regardless of your goals, is to optimize your content strategy. You’ll need to figure out how often to post, what time of day is best, as well as pick content themes and ideas. It can help to create a content calendar to help you get organized.
- How Often to Share – On Instagram, the best way to determine how often to share, is to experiment with different times. If you have plenty of high-quality content to share, you shouldn’t hold back with Instagram. Go ahead and share it. Remember, on Instagram the content you share needs to be high quality, so if you have plenty of high-quality content, go ahead, and share away.
- Best Time of Day – Believe it or not Later.com did a study to determine the time of day that a share got more likes and engagement and determined it to be 2 am and 5pm EST on Wednesdays. But, pretty much everyone read that and probably once they tried to replicate it, it didn’t work. The best way to know what time of day to send shares to your audience is to try out different times and see what works best for you.
- Create a Content Calendar – One way to ensure success is to plan everything out in advance by creating a content calendar. You’ll need to figure out what type of content your audience likes viewing and engaging with, and compare that to your promotions, events, and the time of year to coincide with holidays if that’s relevant. Once you have the ideas generated you only need to create the content which you can do yourself or you can, now that it’s organized, outsource it.
- Picking Content Themes/Ideas – There are many ways to pick content themes and ideas for Instagram. But, one of the best ways to do it is to consider what’s interesting to your audience and tie that into what you want to promote.
If you really want to build a strong brand on Instagram, this is a great way to optimize your content strategy to get the results you want in the short and the long term. Remember that social media marketing is a long term marketing strategy and you’re often not going to get results overnight. But, if you stick to a plan you will achieve success.
Building Your Brand
With Instagram, you have to remember that it’s truly all about the visuals. Your images need to be sharp, clear and well-made for sharing on Instagram. The users on Instagram expect a higher quality, sharper, upgraded experience with the content they view and engage with on Instagram. If you want to build your brand on Instagram, you’ll need to keep that in mind.
- Create Amazing Visuals – This is time to up your photography game or outsource the creation of the content that you want to share. You can use software like Photoshop, or Gimp to help you improve upon your images for use on Instagram. You can also hire people on platforms like Upwork.com or Fiverr.com.
- How to Find Your Voice – One way to build your brand on Instagram is to find your voice. Who are you? What personality do you want to project to users? Fun, formal, irreverent – are all ways you can be seen on Instagram. Find a way to match your voice with your brand and the story you’re wanting to tell over time to your followers.
- Paid & Unpaid Shout Outs – You can pay people to make a shout out with your user name, which is a very effective way to start to build up your followers fast. If you ask someone with a large following for a shout out you want to be sure to have more to offer than just paying them. You also want to provide excellent content for your audience.
- Strategic Partnerships – You can form strategic partnerships with companies and even other Instagrammers who have a large following. You can pay for these partnerships and you can be paid for them, depending on the situation. The best way is to contact them and make an offer or find a way to attract their attention so they may you an offer.
- It’s all in the Bio – Because Instagram doesn’t allow links in photo descriptions, you’ll need to focus greatly on your bio to convert. You can change and update your bio based on what your goals are. If you want people to subscribe to your email newsletter, you can use one link there to send people to your sign up form. If you want them to buy something, you can link to a sales page.
Building a brand requires a lot of study into your audience, your niche, and yourself. You need to know what story you’re telling over the long haul so you can keep it going. You need to know what sort of feelings you want to evoke in your audience and what type of action you want them to take and how to get them to do what you want. That takes a study of the audience and a great understanding of your niche and the type of business you want to build.
Analytics & Metrics
When it comes to getting Instagram right, you need to eventually start looking at the numbers. As they say, “nothing is done until the paperwork is done”. This is true when it comes to growing a loyal audience on Instagram, too. If you want to convert, you need to attract the right followers, engage with them, and know if what you’re doing is working. The only way to do that is to study the metrics available to you.
- Followers – How many followers are you getting each period? Do you notice which types of shares get the most followers? When you cross promote, which social media cross posts work to help you get more followers?
- Top Followers – Who are your top followers, and how can you engage them more and get them to promote you more? When you know how those top influencers and engagers are, you can use them to your advantage by sharing more content that they’d like with them, and by shouting out to them on occasion.
- Engagement – Which followers engage with you most, who are their friends and what type of content do you share to get more engagement? You should notice a pattern in your study of the metrics that you can use to reproduce the results that you want to do.
- Posting History – You can see all the posts you’ve ever liked, see the posts your friends have liked, and so on. There is a lot of information that will help you with your analytics within posting history for yourself, those you’ve followed, and those with whom you want to engage.
Studying your analytics and metrics will help you improve upon your interactions on Instagram so that everything you do is effective in building that loyal and responsive audience.
Advertising on Instagram
Running ads on Instagram is a great way to build up followers. You can add a free give away link in your bio, and then run an advertisement on Facebook to build a following, build your email list and more.
- Connect Instagram With Facebook – To run ads you have to connect Instagram to Facebook via your settings on Facebook. Once you connect them, via Facebook in your settings you’ll see a heading called Instagram Ads. When you connect Instagram there, you’ll be able to run ads using Facebook’s power editor.
- Choose Which Type of Ad You Want To Run – You can run an image, video or carousel ad. Choose the ads you want to run depending upon your goal. Ideally, you’ve already created the advertisement and understand what you want to accomplish.
- Choose the Right Audience – You can use Facebook’s targeting options for your Instagram ads but not all of them. You’ll be able to choose location, demographics, interests, actions and more. This is the same way that you would choose a target for Facebook ads.
- Create Amazing Visuals – We’ve discussed the importance of visuals before, but in ads it’s even more imperative that you create attention grabbing images for your ads. Instagram is known for beautiful imagery and visuals and you can’t skimp now on advertisement creation.
- Remember The CTA – Nothing is more important than your call to action. Right now you can include text in photos for Instagram ads, which can help you make a very text heavy advertisement if needed.
- Don’t Forget the Hashtags – You can locate the popular Hashtags within your niche or you can make up one of your own to put on the advertisement. One way is to use hashtags that your influencers are using. Use a hashtag you’ve discovered on Hashtagify.me.
You can run a relatively inexpensive Instagram advertisement via Facebook’s editor that gets results, but you need to ensure that you have a plan in place for the campaign. For example, you may need to redo your profile to add a special notice for your freebie if you’re building your list or a link to your website if you’re trying to get readers. It all depends on the goals of your campaign on how you proceed.
The following examples are Instagram accounts that sound out for various reasons. Some made this list because they’ve managed to have a lot of followers and engagement. Others made this list due to their creativity.
- Drinkwel – They have supplements for people who like to party and they have a very engaging way to share with their followers. They often run contests and do other promotions to get more followers and to get a buzz going.
- Grand Central – They are great at encouraging user generated content using their hashtag #ShareGCT. Because of this, they get amazing participation from their almost 70K followers and amazingly creative images associated with their account for this 140 year old landmark.
- Socialglims – Socialglims offers information about how to build a social media following and how to use social media properly. They have a lot of good content and images that are helpful to anyone who wants to know how to use social media for business.
- Content Marketing Institute – Everyone who is anyone on the net knows that they need to engage in content marketing. This is a great account to follow and engage with because they have the best and most updated information about content marketing.
- Edelman – This global PR firm has some great examples of what you can do with Instagram as a business engaged in PR. But, their shares are also useful for other types of businesses, because you can learn about what makes an engaging post on Instagram by observing their actions.
- Social Media Examiner – You probably already read their blog posts because they’re full of useful information that keeps ahead of trends. But, their Instagram is a real treat. You’ll be glad you’re following them because you’ll learn even more about social media.
To find more relevant accounts to follow look for people that you know are your competition. Just do a search on either Google, or right on Instagram for the business or person in question or look on their websites or other social media to find out what their Instagram user name is.
Common Mistakes Made on Instagram
One of the reasons Instagram is so popular for promoting business is because it encourages engagement above all else. In fact, Instagram has more engagement many times over Facebook or even Twitter.
- Not Using Instagram – This is an obvious mistake but needs to be said. So many people are unsure of Instagram and how they can use it for their business. But, if your audience is there, you need to be on Instagram. It’s a fast way to build a loyal audience and convert sales.
- Creating a Private Instagram Account – No, you want your account to be publicly visible because people who want to follow you aren’t going to want to wait around for approval. You want everyone to be able to see your photos and videos without being blocked in any way.
- Posting the Same Thing on Every Social Media – You don’t want your shares on social media to all look the same. You can repurpose and alter them, but don’t share the exact same thing at the same time via all channels.
- Posting the Same Type of Content All the Time – You want your Instagram to be interesting to your followers, so you need to change it up a little. Use different types of images, different amounts of text descriptions, and so forth. Change it up with video, interactive calls to action, contests and more.
- Posting Content Too Often & Quickly – Give each image or video that you share time to resonate with your audience before you send out another. If you share too much too fast you’re likely to get unfollowed because people get irritated.
- Not Engaging With Commenters – Instagram is about social engagement and if someone comments, you need to respond back. You’ll get a notification that someone comments, and they’ll get one back when you comment back to them with their @ tag.
- Not Using Relevant Hashtags – Too many look spammy but not using them will make you miss out on important followers who are searching for that hashtag. You can add the hashtags as text overlay on your images or within the comment section. To find good hashtags for your industry, try checking with your competition to see what hashtags they like to use.
- Not Creating an Optimized Profile – On Instagram the only way that people can get to your website, sign up for an email list and so forth is by going to your profile. First, your content should be amazing to get people to look at your profile, and then you need to ensure that your profile is optimized.
- Not Creating a Telling Profile Picture – What is meant by telling is that your profile picture should tell a story about you and it should be a good one. You need to keep your profile picture the same for a long period of time. It’s how people know who you are and if you change it too often it may confuse them. Don’t change it more than once a season.
- Not Learning to Follow Others Strategically – When someone follows you, follow them back. When you want to follow someone think about how it will help you. Are they someone in your niche that would be interested in your updates and will you want to engage with their updates? Because, social media, Instagram more than most, is all about engagement.
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to Instagram or have been using it a while, you can use these tips to get started off with a bang or to improve the way you currently use Instagram.
Best Practices for Using Instagram for Business
In order to use Instagram in the best possible way there are some tips that are important to consider that will make your Instagram work best.
- Use High Quality Images – You can’t use poor images on Instagram. The better quality you can create; the better the engagement you’ll have on Instagram. You want the clarity of the image, plus the creativity to show in every single share that you have because it represents your brand.
- Tell Your Brand’s Story – When you first start your account, consider taking some time to share what your brand story is on each update. Tell a little bit of the story with each share so that your audience can get to know you.
- Interact With Your Fans – Instagram is very social and because of that it’s necessary to interact and engage with your fans. When someone comments, comment back using their @ tag so that they know you commented back.
- Use the Right Hashtags – Study which hashtags you should use to attract your audience and use them. Try to find at least 20 to 30 hashtags that you can rotate on a regular basis through your updates so that you can find all of your audience.
- Provide Value – When you share something on Instagram, ensure that it provides value to your audience. Don’t just share anything, be strategic and plan out what you will share so that they are engaged, fascinated and want to follow you and tell others about you.
- Share Daily – Don’t let your Instagram go dark for even a day. You can come up with interesting things to share, and even schedule them using software like Later.com so that on your off days all you have to do is push them out when reminded on your mobile device.
Using Instagram is a great way to build a following, provide value to your audience, get more subscribers and make more sales. But, you need to create a plan of action based on your goals, and not just do it without any destination in mind.
Top Tools to Use with Instagram
There are many apps and tools coming on board to use with Instagram. New ones are created every day. You likely already know about hootsuite.com and others but here are some you may not be aware of to help you build your brand on Instagram.
- Layout from Instagram – This app allows you to combine several photos into one for a great layout that looks fabulous.
- Canva.com – This cloud-based software lets you create a lot of images that look great using their professionally made layouts. You can easily add your own photos into their templates to look really good.
- OverQuick.com – This is an easy and fast way to put text on any images for Instagram. You can download this software on your mobile device via your app store depending on which type of mobile app you have.
- Superimpose – This app is amazing in its ability to super impose images on top of other images. For example, you can put a puppy in the hands of a child and more. It can make for some whimsy pictures.
- Later.com – This cloud-based app used to be “latergramme” and is used for scheduling via your PC images and updates to appear later on Instagram. You have to push them out via your mobile, but you’ll get a message on your device alerting you to push the update out.
- Lapseit.com – With this app you can create time lapse videos to share right on your mobile device. It works on all Android and iOS devices.
- Have2Have.it – This is an app that allows you to earn revenue from Instagram. You put your Have2Have.it link in your profile and then they can buy the brands you show on your Instagram feed.
Instagram is a powerful social media network that has a lot of promise. You can use it no matter what type of brand you’re building to build a loyal following, get more subscribers, and make more sales.
Now that you have an idea of what type of things you can do on Instagram you should get started. Create a profile, and start putting updates, and then in the meantime create a plan of action so that you can make it work for your goals.