Using Instagram to it's Full Potential

Valuable Pro Tips

Before addressing the 5 pro tips lets understand what the social media platform Instagram is all about and the what is the typical mind-set of the Instagram user and what you as a small brand needs to overcome.

“Instagram! Because you can’t see my mirror.” ~ Warren M. Walker

Instagram is a platform designed for a brand of some sort to post images or short videos about a topic they want the world to see. The platform has over 1 billion active users per month with on average half a billion daily active users. There are over 50 billion images posted to date and only 25 million business accounts. This means out of the billion accounts only 2.5 are business accounts. 56.3% of users are female and 43.7% are male. 30% are aged between 18 and 24 and 35% are aged between 25 and 34 leaving 35% over the age of 35. Instagram has dropped down to the 6th most popular social platform in recent years. (Ranked by number of active users – Statista)

Other than the business accounts the general trend and mind-set of the platforms user’s is a desire to be seen, loved and admired. The platform allows for an account to be followed without having to follow back which has the tendency to boost user’s ego with many followers and destroy user’s self-worth with few followers. The platform promotes the idea of a trend setter and or influencer guiding the active current trend. Most want to be followed by millions but follow very little in return. This gives the user a sense of worth.

With this kind of mind-set and so few in relation to total accounts being business how can you as a small brand grow and develop a true proper following that not only grows the brand but also is turned into active sales?

BIO and the Link:

While other social media platforms allow for clickable links in the post Instagram only allows for one, and that one is found in the BIO section of the user.

How do you make that clickable link work for you? As a small brand you naturally want to draw the follower to your website and other social media platforms alike. How can this be accomplished with only one link? The answer to that is a landing page. (See here for an example of such a page) On the landing page you create links to all your social media accounts as well as any products or services you want to give special attention to.

Hashtags:

Hashtags are a clickable tag which is used to categorize content and make it more discoverable when searched for. While the #are many ways to use a #hashtag the correct way will increase the #visibility of the brand and help #promote it.

How to you know what hashtag to use when making posts? To answer this you need to consider the category your product or service falls in. Let’s say you in a specific area link “Cape Town”. Using the hashtag #capetown will let the follower know your post was taken in Cape Town and that the service or product is available in Cape Town.

Let’s say the post is about a new summer bikini range you have just released. Using a hashtag like #bikini or #swimsuit will let the followers know the post is about the item someone is wearing. Remember to that #cutebikini or #sexybikini would also be great additives to the hashtag. By identifying the activity involved with a hashtag you categorize it as well.

You also need to remember that you want a branded hashtag to identify your brand direct. Let’s say your company is “Bikini Co” then a #bikinico hashtag would be a clear identifying hashtag.

Research:

Before you just jump into creating an Instagram account and posting content with hashtags first do a little research to single out who your direct competitors are. Observe the types of postings along with the text and hashtags. Notice how often they post and the content of the posts. Try and figure out the mind-set of both the person doing the posting and how affective it is. You should quickly be able to identify if they have built their brand with organic traffic or paid advertising.

If you find they have 500 posts with 500k followers then you know they have paid for their followers and the only way you can compete with them is to also pay for followers. Organic growth is extremely slow for most brands, unless your brand sells those bikinis and has beautiful young ladies showing them off at the beach or next to the pool.

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Outsource:

Now you may ask yourself; “If my brand is going to grow so slowly how can I compete and grow my audience quicker?” One of the best ways is to outsource to a greater audience through sponsorship’s. The problem is, just like paid ads the sponsorship’s can and will be expensive on your budget. To get several big ticket accounts to promote your brand on your behalf is a step in the right direction.

However there is a cheaper method of outsourcing to other brands. How? Competitions! By hosting a competition about your new summer bikini range you get lots of other Instagram accounts posting on their accounts with your hashtags and @bikinico account name attached. One of the rules of the competition is that you can then use their photos on your account as well. The prize is they get to come in and select any 5 bikinis of their choosing. What you effectively had done is create many models wearing your product for the cost of only a few products. This is a great return on your investment.

Paid ads (PPC):

With a platform like Instagram the most effective way of growing the followers are still running paid ads specifically targeting your customer style account promoting and growing followers. As a small brand this can be a drain on your marketing budget and even get you into financial trouble. If a minimal budget can be assigned to paid ads and slowing for gradual growth you can achieve the target over time.

Bonus: Be consistent:

Made sure you are not only posting once a day or at least no less than 5 times a week, but also the posts are styled the same. Decide on landscape or portrait style and stick to it. Even deciding on a standard colour to create uniformity will greatly improve your chances of growth.

To sum it all up:

As a small business without some clever marketing and paid ads it will be extremely difficult to grow your brand into the hundreds of thousands let along millions. Growth will be very slow and upsetting at times. As a personal account and if you willing to please the viewers with some skin then you have a greater chance of success.

The Instagram mind-set is to have followers and not follow in return. Don’t waste all your time and effort on a platform that is not designed for organic growth of a small brand. If you want others to value and appreciate your content you need to do the same for them. This includes liking their posts and commenting when applicable. Play nice!

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