Though Instagram is only 7 years old, 6 of every 10 adults who use the internet have an Instagram account. Among teenagers, one third consider Instagram to be the most important social media network. Over 700 million people use Instagram each year, and that number is growing by about 15% year over year.
If you haven’t thought about how to get the most out of Instagram, now is the time. The platform has helped a number of brands grow from relative anonymity to household names.
It can do the same for your brand as well. This article will show marketers, entrepreneurs and business leaders how to skyrocket Instagram post engagement and profile growth through 25 proven tactics.
1. Create Clear Marketing Personas
Think of a marketing persona as an archetype. Marketing personas help marketers make informed decisions about how to better reach, engage and convert a target audience. For example, Hubspot’s CTO brings a teddy bear named Molly to important meetings as a way of reminding attendees to focus on their customer. Molly is provided with attributes that represent the ideal Hubspot customer.
By creating clear marketing personas, social media marketers will be able to build a more effective Instagram marketing strategy. Understanding a prospect’s demographic and psychographic makeup can help to clarify decisions about content, posting schedule and more.
2. Incorporate Video into Your Content Strategy
According to data cited by Buffer, 43% of respondents in a recent survey said that they wanted to see more video content from marketers. Some of the most successful Instagram accounts, like ESPN, The Dodo and Tasty, are sharing more video content this year than last.
The biggest brands already know that video content is a good way to increase post engagement. It’s time for you and your social media team to start incorporating some type of video content into your long-term Instagram strategy as well.
3. Use Instagram Stories
Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month, which is 40 million more people than Snapchat’s total user base! Stories is quickly becoming one of the most popular aspects of the Instagram platform, and it is one that should not be overlooked.
The former VP of Growth at Hubspot, Brian Balfour, notes that growth marketing is about discovering novel tactics, optimizing them and moving on before the tactic is adopted by the majority. For the time being, Instagram Stories is a novel tactic that can help to improve account engagement (among other metrics). Embrace it now, before the majority of brands jump on the bandwagon.
4. Linked Articles to Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories provides social media marketers with a new way to drive users to a brand website. In the example below, Reebok posted an Instagram Story and linked it to their ecommerce store. Fans of the CrossFit games could easily navigate from the Reebok Story to the Reebok store with a simple swipe.
5. Invest in an Analytics Platform
With an Instagram analytics platform like Owlmetrics, Instagram profile owners understand which content is resonating with followers and potential followers.
Armed with this knowledge, it is much easier to recognize which content should be shared moving forward, and when it should be shared based on historical data. Investing in an analytics platform can help to skyrocket Instagram engagement by making it easy to make data-driven decisions.
6. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile Optimized
Instagram, like its parent company, Facebook, is a mobile-first company. That means that the vast majority of Instagram users will be engaging with your profile on a smartphone. If your goal is to drive followers to a brand website, be sure that the website offers a seamless mobile experience.
According to a study conducted by Google, an astounding 53% of smartphone users will abandon a website that takes 3 seconds or longer to load. Test your website to ensure it is mobile optimized, otherwise all of your hard work on Instagram could be for nothing.
7. Build an Instagram Direct Messages Strategy
The world is already embracing messaging apps. Over 1 billion people use WhatsApp, another billion use Facebook Messenger and an additional 1.9 billion use the other 3 platforms in the top 5. Instagram Direct Messages will likely grow in popularity as well. After all, Instagram updates have been coming at a fast clip. It’s only a matter of time before the platform creates a more robust direct-messaging experience that brands can tap into.
Think about how your brand can use Direct Messages today, and how it might be able to benefit from Direct Messages should the feature be improved. Doing so can help you to engage followers and potential followers today and in the future.
8. Amplify User Generated Content
Ad Week reports that 93% of consumers find user-generated content (UGC) helpful when making a purchasing decision. Consumers are interested in UGC because it acts as social proof and helps them to make a more informed purchasing decision. Brands that engage UGC on Instagram, such as Mercedes-Benz, TAG Heuer and KFC, have embraced this phenomenon because it boosts engagement and brand reach.
9. Identify Possible Instagram Influencers
Influencers of all types can help to boost your brand’s reach on Instagram, and can help you create more compelling content. According to a study conducted by Linqia, 94% of marketers who use some type of influencer marketing believe that the strategy works.
While it can sometimes be a challenge to determine whether influencer marketing had a direct impact on the bottom line, the beauty of using influencer marketing on Instagram is that an influencer campaign can be more easily measured there than on other platforms. For example, if post engagement or follower count grows during an influencer marketing campaign, it is a good sign that there is some sort of positive correlation.
10. Link Instagram Performance to Company Goals
Those who are using Instagram as part of a larger business goal should be sure to link an Instagram strategy to the bottom line. Metrics related to website visits, purchases or leads generated from Instagram are all good ones to watch. This will ensure that your Instagram strategy is aligned with larger company goals.
11. Learn from the Best Brands on Instagram
Creating an engaging Instagram strategy can be a challenge involving plenty of trial and error. To accelerate your way through the learning curve, consider analyzing what the best brands on Instagram do to create engaging content.
Brands like Chanel, Salesforce and Taco Bell have all created unique Instagram brand voices that have resulted in high engagement and fast follower growth. Take a look at leading brands on Instagram for strategic inspiration.
12. Attend a Social Media Marketing Conference
Want to learn Instagram best practices in just a few days? Attend a world-class social media conference. Events like Social Media Marketing World bring the best Instagram marketers together under one roof. There, you can quickly learn industry best practices and network with experts to learn how to create more engaging content.
13. Interact with Your Account as a Follower Would
If you’re interested in skyrocketing Instagram engagement, it’s important to give followers a reason to engage. One way to do this is to consistently reply to comments followers post to your account.
14. Boost Reach with Instagram Ads
Creating an effective organic Instagram marketing strategy is a creative way to build a highly efficient channel by keeping customer acquisition costs low. That said, it can also make sense to incorporate Instagram ads into the mix to amplify content that is already performing well organically.
Instagram offers many of the same powerful targeting options that Facebook does, meaning that savvy Instagram marketers can create highly relevant content for a specific group of users.
15. Provide Followers with Behind-the-Scenes Content
As social selling expert Jeffrey Gitomer says, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.” Creating an Instagram strategy that has an element of transparency can help to engage prospective customers more effectively.
16. Master the Art and Science of Instagram Hashtags
Hootsuite reports that posts with at least one hashtag average over 12% more engagement. Hashtags are a vital part of content discovery. Instagram marketers should get to know the popular hashtags in their industry, and should be sure to use them consistently without being spammy. There is a fine balance between using hashtags well and overusing them.
17. Reply to Mentions ASAP
Users who mention a brand are often expecting that brand to reply to them quickly. Doing so is a great way to improve brand sentiment and eventually post engagement as well. A study by Convince and Convert found that 42% of consumers complaining about a company online expect a response from that brand within 60 seconds.
18. Use an Instagram Profile Tracking Link
Most readers will already be familiar with the fact that Instagram only allows users to share one link, which is located within a user’s bio. In order to determine if Instagram content is effectively driving followers to your brand’s website, you need to use a tracking link. Owlmetrics can help you with this.
The link can help marketers track visitors from Instagram to website to purchase or form submission. Doing so makes it easier to understand if your Instagram strategy is serving larger business goals like lead generation or sales.
19. Find a Unique Brand Voice
Social media networks are based on a few psychological principles that are highly captivating, if not addictive. One principle is related to the fear of missing out (FOMO). FOMO is the urge to see the latest interesting content. Instagram marketers should bear in mind that users are interested in discovering new content rather than more of the same.
Brands with successful social media strategies, like Slack, have worked hard to develop a unique brand voice that makes it easier for them to develop engaging content. Follow suit to boost your Instagram account’s engagement.
20. Give Away Swag to Boost Reach
Giving away swag is a great way to boost reach brand reach and grow followers. InVision does this to great effect. In the example below, the SaaS company sent a care package to a loyal customer featuring branded stickers and notebooks. In return, the customer shared an Instagram post that received 51 likes and a few comments.
Providing swag to loyal social media followers, customers or prospects is a good way to build brand sentiment while improving performance on Instagram.
21. Try an Instagram Competition
Hubspot reports that 70% of big brands will use some sort of gamification in their social media strategies. Creating an Instagram-based competition is a great way to incorporate an element of gamification into your Instagram marketing strategy. Doing so can help to lift post engagement and follower count if done well.
22. Experiment with Live Video
Instagram Stories allow users to share live video streams. Videos can be as short as 60 seconds or as long as one hour. Unlike with other content mediums on Instagram, when a user goes live, Instagram will send a notification to followers encouraging them to tune in. For this reason alone, Instagram marketers hoping to improve post engagement should give live video a try.
23. Hire a Skilled Social Media Manager
Social media marketing requires time and skill. It may be best to consider hiring a seasoned social media manager to ensure that Instagram (and other social media platforms) are used to their fullest potential. Social media managers will be able to create a detailed strategy that complements your company’s biggest business goals.
24. Set S.M.A.R.T Instagram Goals
Speaking of business goals, it’s important to create reasonable Instagram goals that encourage innovation while discouraging disappointment. Using the SMART framework to set goals is a great way to determine an ambitious yet achievable goal.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-bound. This framework can be used for many areas of business, but can be especially effective for those interested in improving Instagram performance.
25. Share Progress to Hold Everyone Accountable
A great way to hold the people managing Instagram accountable is to encourage them to share regular progress updates with senior management or with others at the company. Doing so helps everyone understand how performance may have impacted other areas of the business, and helps employees to remain accountable to themselves and to others.
Instagram can be a hard nut to crack. Your brand will be competing with the accounts of many other brands, influencers and celebrities to engage followers and potential followers. The tips outlined in this article should help Instagram marketers to create better, more engaging content that contributes to larger business objectives.