As a visual marketing channel for brands, Instagram is a time-tested platform capable of building loyal communities of shoppers while also tapping into new market segments. After all, with more than 500 million users browsing the app each day, there are few parallel platforms with as engaged an audience as Instagram has.
Likely with any social media platform, however, there are ways to be strategic in its use. Here are three tips for increasing a brand’s engagement, and building a genuinely active following over time.
Post at the right time
One underrated strategy on Instagram is the deliberate timing of posts. A targeted approach means analysing what has, and hasn’t worked for a brand in the past.
Analytics firm Iconosquare, for example, provides clients with a detailed analysis of their posting history against actual engagement. With this report in hand, brands can get an idea of the best times of the day and the week to publish their posts. Similarly, Instagram Analytics for Business accounts also provides valuable insight.
Social media scheduling apps can be used to automatically publish posts at the optimum times, even if they are outside the brand’s formal operating hours.
Poach competitors’ followers
A great way to build a brand’s following is to seek out competitors’ Instagram accounts and engage with their audiences. These users have already shown some interest in the relevant products or services by following a brand’s competitors, and provide a soft target for brands looking to build a truly engaged community of followers.
There are several ways to draw the attention of Instagram users, and the more work a brand puts in, the more followers they are sure to draw in. These actions include:
- Following a user
- Liking a user’s photo
- Commenting on a user’s photo
Some brands use an automated service to carry out this tactic, but users should note that such automation is against Instagram’s terms of service.
Pay for product reviews and sponsored posts
Optimized posting and strategic Instagram engagement is a great start for any brand, but most strategies are sure to hit a wall if they fail to utilise influencer marketing. While this tactic isn’t likely to be free, it can be the one with the most value.
Brands looking to make the most of influencer marketing should do the following:
- Seek out prominent accounts in their niche. For example, beauty brands should compile a list of popular beauty bloggers; surf brands can do the same for athletes in their field. A following of between 20,000 to 200,000 is a great start.
- Ensure the user has an email address in their profile. This typically indicates that they are open to sponsorship partnerships.
- Request information of their sponsored post pricing. The average rate at present is around $20 to $50 per post. Requesting a review is also a good strategy, as this can mask the advertisement element of a post.
As with any social media platform, using Instagram to its full potential shouldn’t be viewed as a numbers game. The trick is to build a genuinely engaged audience around a brand, and that can only be achieved through consistent, authentic online communications.