Personal branding and advertising a business have become synonymous. Personal branding is the art of making yourself so well known for something that other people spread the word for you. Who doesn’t aim for that lofty aspiration? Instagram has become the mecca for all things personal, business and the beautiful mixture they have become. While it may seem that nothing could be easier than posting a few well-focused photos a day on your Instagram account, there is more to it than that. Like all social media sites, Instagram is a highly intuitive set of algorithms that work in a specific way. While social media marketing has become the new norm businesses are still finding it harder to get some foot traffic. To get the most out of your account, you must know how it works. Learning what causes users to follow others, what causes them to like images, and how you can get more people to find your images is imperative to your success.
I know. When hashtags first made the scene, we were all wondering just what good they were. It didn’t take long to figure out that anyone wanting online attention from a specific audience could highly benefit from a few well-placed hashtags. If your mind automatically went to the reams of vapid Insta hashtags like #nofilter, #selfielove, #getit, and #iwokeuplikethis, you’re on the wrong track. Hashtags are not just for the 20-something crowd. In fact, whole communities are built around specific hashtags. These hashtags work like small forums where people can join in the conversation and ask questions. It is your intended demographic at your fingertips. If hashtags make you uncomfortable there is help for you.
Use the autocomplete feature
Stick to the subject
Look for the communities
Use popular tags
Instagram has an autocomplete feature that helps you choose the best hashtags for your goal. Selling handmade bath bombs? Type in the hashtag symbol and place in words relevant to bath bombs. Many different variations will pop up along with the number of users associated with them. You can see where your demographic is looking for such products. You’ll also want to be as specific as possible. Thinki.e. #handmadejasminbathbombs. Take a look at what comes up. You don’t want a tag with billions of users. That is way too much competition. You’ll never stand out. Instead choose a tag with less followers. Don’t forget about the communities that follow these tags. Go for their attention with tags like #bathbombcrafters ,#jasminelovers , and even #pamperedbaths. It is also useful to throw in some of the most popular tags of the moment. Tags like #love #instadaily, and #picoftheday are always helpful for a few extra views. Hashtags have also been used a lot in promoting retail brands and retail clothing and they are godsend if you are doing ecommerce SEO.
Connect Your Accounts
This may seem like common sense, but people often forget to connect their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. As much as 20% of Instagram users are also on Facebook. Once all your accounts are linked, followers on other social media sites will click over to see what you’ve got going on at Instagram. An immediate 3% increase in Instagram followers is normal. Making a cross post to ask for Insta followers can raise it as much as 5%. For businesses this is where you really capitalize on mobile SEO with a bit of understanding of cross channel promotion.
They don’t call it social media for nothing folks. Putting up some great photos and then sitting back for a few days won’t cut the mustard. You have to get out there are be sociable.
• Like others posts and comments – You have to put in the work on Instagram. That’s just all there is to it. Check out others posts that relate to your account and like their posts. Like their comments. They see these actions and it registers. In turn, they like your comments and posts. Others who follow them see that and they take a look at what your offering too.
• Make comments and conversation – Clicking that heart button is not the end of the road. You should also make a short comment about why you like the photo. Ask questions, even. Act as if the poster is right in front of you asking your opinion. If someone comments on your post, reply! It is rude to leave a commenter hanging on your post without at least acknowledging their presence.
• Tagging others in posts and comments – Tag friends and family you think would be interested in a post. Tag others in your own posts and comments. Instagram is very circular and once names start getting mentioned, more people take notice. It shows you are active and you know your audience. Instagram users love that feeling of camaraderie.
• Embed, don’t link your photos – If you have a website or blog and your showing your beautiful Instagram photos there, embed them. Linking them can send viewers to the wrong page or any number of cyber-flubs that end up with you losing views. Unfortunately, you can’t do this from a mobile device. You must use a desk top or laptop machine. Expand the photo you want to use and click the ellipsis to find the embed button. Click it and you will have the code to embed the photo into your website. Its much easier than it sounds.
Make Your Photos Look the Best
Not all Instagram users are professional photographers, and they don’t need to be. There are tons of great photo editors for every Smartphone imaginable. Not only that but Instagram has its own set of filters, some more popular than others. Chose a filter that is popular on Instagram and even hashtag it. Filters like Hefe, X-Proll, Earlybird, Aramo, Rise, Valencia, and even normal are all eye catching and draw in users.
Timing is Everything
Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly what time most of your followers get on? You would be able to post your best shots and know that the users you need are seeing them. This information isn’t secret. Using a service like Statigr.am can tell you if you should be posting at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday or 10 a.m. on a Sunday. Photos are the most active on Instagram during the first three hours after you post them. You want to make the most of those hours while they’re hot.
Be Authentic & a Little Showy
People who post generic memes, stock photos and random, irrelevant shots get 10% less views that those who show snippets of their real life. Don’t be afraid to post that photo of your brand-new corvette. Don’t be shy. Show off the new beach body you worked so hard for or that stunning diamond engagement ring that was just slid onto your finger. People love to get glimpses into each other’s lives. It makes us feel closer to each other in this vast universe.
Collages and combined images are fun. Users get more bang for their, so to speak. Its like viewing a few seconds in someone’s life when you see a series or group of photos of a single event. Use Instagram’s own Layout feature or find one of the many free programs in the iPhone or Android stores. Posts like those get an easy 20% more likes and comments than one shot wonders.
Develop a Niche
A niche is a very specific part of something. You may think you have a niche. Your life and daily doings is no niche unless it’s all about your unusually entertaining pet, children, or hobbies. If you are a great cook, lets see some of your greatest creations. World traveler? Show us what you’ve seen in impeccable, one-of-a-kind style. Are you a writer of true crime or a police detective? Show us all the behind the scenes goodies we would normally have no access too.
Work it Like a Job
If you want results, you have to put the work in, just like a real job. A loyal following comes from a strict schedule. Users like to know that they can expect a new post from you every day. Decide on your schedule and stick to it. Alternately, posting a weeks’ worth of photos in one day and disappearing for a month wont help either. Make sure it is a schedule you can stick too. You may even want to plan your photos ahead of time to avoid getting into a pinch with nothing to post.
Stay Away from Predictability
Your followers follow you because you are giving them something they don’t see anywhere else. The trouble with being great at your niche is that you eventually run out of ideas. It happens to us all eventually. You look at your feed and suddenly you can’t come up with another idea about your gap-toothed dog. No more costumes, no silly jumps. Its all been done. That is when you have to think outside the box. Whatever you do, don’t get boring.
Picture Quality Matters
This one should go without saying. Instagram is about sharing your world via pics. This isn’t to say they must be of a professional quality or that you need years of training behind you. Anyone can take a good picture with enough knowledge and practice. The keys to taking a good snapshot are fairly easy. When in doubt, take one of the many free online photography classes available just about anywhere.
The one big goal we should all have as Instagram users is to be featured in one of three ways.
Get on the Find People to Follow List
Be Placed on the apps Blog
Get on the Explore Page
Finding your snapshot on any of those pages is a good thing. It will quickly boost your follower, likes and comments astronomically.
Take Cooler Selfies
Just because your makeup looks good today, or you shaved your stash perfectly symmetrical is not a good enough reason for a selfie. Use your imagination. Stick your head under the waterfall or look out through the bars of the monkey cage. Use natural moonlight and sunlight to cast crazy colors in a real-life filter. Use your surrounding to enhance the photo and tell a story you couldn’t otherwise tell. Several polls and surveys show photos tagged with #NoFilter get more views, even if they have a filter.
Nice, Clean, and Appropriate
Unless your niche happens to be porn, alcohol, and/or drugs, those types of hashtags can backfire on you. Photos with #drunk get fewer viewers, according to poll results. Instead focus on the happiness and joy you can bring to the world with your Instagram account. You may have the occasional cocktail photo but keep it as classy and fun as you can.
Cross Promote Dedicated Hashtags
Use a hashtag that is dedicated to your work. Just as you cross promote your Instagram on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter, you should cross promote your dedicated hashtags as well. Anywhere you post or comment should have your dedicated hashtag in it. Doing so will lead all viewers back to you. They will find all your social media accounts, including Instagram, with one simple click. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to see your competition and those who are also vying for that same niche or some variation of it.
Go live on Instagram with you have something relevant to share. Followers love to get to know you and going live is a great way to do it. Don’t hesitate with a lot of ummms, and ahhhs. Make sure you know what your going to say and how to say it.
Getting more likes and comments on Instagram takes time and a lot of dedication. It can happen overnight but not very often. Take the time to plan out the best niche, photos, and hashtags to fit your style before you post the first Instagram pic. You may even have o delete your account and start over, especially if you can’t get above 100 followers.