Instagram is quickly becoming one of the premier social networks for both brands and individuals. This is even more true thanks to recent developments by the Instagram team, which include offering business profiles, added analytics, and opening up advertising. They also added a story feature, and most recently, live video.
We brought in an Instagram expert at the Social Media Breakfast of Houston to discuss how to build a relevant following on the platform, regardless of whether you represent a brand or as an individual. Not only does Jillian Goltzman have over 20 thousand Instagram followers on her personal blog account, Cup of Charisma, she is a Senior Account Executive for the Integrate Agency and works with clients to help build their following.
Instagram is for the visually inclined, so making sure your page stands out and appears curated is essential. This can be done through the use of bright colors, black and white, or some other pattern on the photos in your page. Regardless of the direction you choose to take your page, make sure it follows an appealing aesthetic you want your brand to be associated with. One tool that Jillian recommended was Planoly, a great tool that allows you to plan our your Instagram photos to see what your photos will look like in the 3 column layout. It also allows scheduling, though you will need to push your photos live on your phone. Instagram's IOS doesn't allow scheduling, though there are some tools out there that will allow you to do so. Here are a few Instagram scheduling tools I've bookmarked that might work for you.
Sometimes finding new content to post can be difficult, especially if you're attempting to post daily. One way to get around this problem, as our speaker pointed out, is by stockpiling images to use over time. Whether its original content or a throwback picture, followers of your page are likely to stay engaged if you post regularly. Even if it’s a picture your page has posted in the past, don't be afraid to repost if you believe your followers would appreciate the content.
Engaging your Instagram Audience
Stories can be another way to stay engaged with your followers and personalize your brand. Instagram stories bring in the best aspects of other social media's live engagement, as they allow live updates and direct messaging. Live updates can help personalize your brand in a more professional and engaged way than Snapchat, and direct messaging can help your audience automatically reach out to you if they have any questions or comments.
For those brands who are a lacking in visual appeal, quotes can be a great way to connect with an Instagram audience. Followers will love that you're staying engaged, and you can include a link to your other social media pages in the description. Cross-promoting can be an extremely powerful tool, don't be afraid to use it.
Finally, hashtags can greatly increase your following, especially in your early stages. One important thing to remember about your hashtags is to put them as your first comment, not in the description. Look at profiles of brands you like to source successful hashtags. . Those brands are successful for a reason, so don't be afraid to use their hashtags.
Tools for Success
One of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a successful feed is time management and pushing out posts regularly. Applications exist to help with this exact problem; Planoly and Later are both available on the App Store and Google Play store and allow users to store content and set reminders for content to be released for multiple Instagram pages.
Quote posts can be nice change of pace for your followers and allow you to express yourself in a way pictures cannot. Kwote is available for free on the Google Play store and for $.99 on the App store and is recommended by our guest Jillian Goltzman. In order to find out what hashtags you should be using, pay attention to other users who have similar profiles to yourself and what hashtags they are successful using. Hashtagify.me is a paid tool which more than covers the cost ( $59 to $299 a month) by allowing users to find which hashtags garnered both the most views and the most likes.
In conclusion, creating an Instagram feed that draws followers to your brand requires time and effort. Learn from those who have created successful followings and consider tools to streamline your efforts. In the end, your efforts can create a visual guide to your brand and provide your followers an insight into you.
Here is the full video of the conversation: