Even if your business had an endless budget for digital marketing – and let’s be honest, no business has an infinite pot of money at the end of the rainbow – all that money would not guarantee Instagram success. The platform’s constant evolution and growth means that what worked in the past, when it first started, isn’t going to grace your brand with the same level of engagement today.
So, although cash can help, being creative when promoting your business on Instagram is probably more useful.
To understand how far Instagram has come, it now boasts 1+ billion monthly active users, positioning the social network as the second biggest social media platform in the world – behind only Facebook, which takes first place with over 2.7 billion monthly active users.
I have been working with brands and influencers creating content for Instagram since 2010, and the platform never stops to amaze me. Over the last 10 years, it has never stopped driving us all crazy with algorithm changes and new tools popping up without any prior notice.
Let’s learn from creators, marketeers and business owners not afraid to try different ways to grow on Instagram. Their experience-based advice is crucial, as Instagram is a platform showing no signs of slowing down and is forecasted to reach over 126 million US users by 2023.
1.Create powerful visual content
“People like to feel like they belong in certain groups. So, if you can create the right feeling with your imagery, you will gradually build a deeper connection with the right people. When it is time to sell, you’ll already have a far more engaged and connected audience that want to hear what you’ve got to say.
“Spend time to really get to know your target audience so that you have a deep understanding of what is important to them. I find that if I stray too far away from my audience interests, the engagement drops quickly.”
Connor Mollison – Full-time commercial photographer at www.connormollison.co.uk
2.Purposely outreach to niche influencers
“As a small business, our approach to Instagram marketing with influencers is a tad different than larger businesses. We DM (direct message) influencers with followers between 2k to 20k and ask them if they’d like to receive a free gift in exchange for a shoutout. We keep the process simple and short and, while we explain the ethos of the business, we do not impose strict guidelines on how and what they post.
This is cost-efficient, as we only provide a gift. Though, sometimes we might provide additional compensation if the influencer pitches a larger photoshoot or a blog post. We found that many influencers were happy to post a quick shoutout on their Stories and provide a post in exchange for a product — as the time taken for them to post an organic, casual shoutout is much less than larger companies who need to proofread captions and have tougher brand guidelines.”
Jaron Soh – Co-founder & CEO at online marketplace www.artisanandfox.com
3.Explore the power of storytelling
“People are used to seeing ads on Instagram and, no matter how pinterest-y it looks, people don’t have the attention span for that anymore. It is better to create a story that will prompt people to follow your brand, whether it be through Instagram stories or feed postings. Let a story be the click-bait for your followers to keep on following you and eventually purchase a product from you.”
Robert Johnson – Founder at www.sawinery.net
4.Invest in Influencer Marketing
As our target audience includes fashion-oriented people who attend music festivals and enjoy electronic dance music, we engage in influencer marketing in a variety of ways.
Oftentimes, we will send one of our products to an influencer for free, in exchange for an honest review that is posted to their blog or social media channels. We measure our return on investment based on the number of new followers we receive, the number of impressions we receive, how much referral traffic we get, and of course – how many sales come as a result of the collaboration. The beauty of using social media and influencer marketing to generate sales is that this marketing can be utilized in just about every industry, whether you’re selling a physical product or a service.”
Brian Lim – Founder at /www.iheartraves.com
5.Engage with your competitors’ followers
You can have significant brand growth by ensuring you are followed by the people that are aligned with your business.
To do this, go over your competitors’ pages and look at the people who comment on their posts. These are your obvious targets, and the fact that they comment means they are interested.
Follow and engage them. More importantly, make sure they find better-than-your-competitors’ offerings when they land on your page.
James Jason – Financial Analyst at www.mitrade.com
6.Use graphics to grab people’s attention
“A great way to promote your business on Instagram is by creating eye-catching, unique graphics that attracts the attention of your current & future audience. Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, so making your brand stand out with graphics is the perfect cost-effective tip. If budget allows, you can hire a junior graphic designer, recently graduated from a design school (you can find one at www.upwork.com). Or, if you want a cheaper option, use www.canva.com.
Keith Gradowski– Social media & digital strategy consultant
7.Shareable content will go a long way
“Create shareable content, that’s watermarked, and let users promote your brand for you. Think infographics, tweets, quotes, and even breaking the main points of a blog post into a carousel how-to guide.
Rachel Ritlop – Blogger, Podcaster, & Business Consultant at www.theconfusedmillennial.com
8.Get your pets involved
“If you’re looking for a low-budget way to get more post and story visibility on social media, particularly IG, maybe it’s time to pull out your furry friend. Nothing gets more views than cats and, if you can find a non-tacky way to include your pets in your social media marketing, go for it.”
Daniel Juhl Mogensen – Co-Founder at tech property agency www.Kodyl.com
9.Buy a celebrity shoutout
“I like to find suitable celebrities on www.cameo.com to do a shoutout for our brand, then I can post the video on Instagram as a highlight. Cameo is an online marketplace where people can book personalised shout-outs from celebrities. For example, we found fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff and successfully grabbed some attention in the media. It is very cost effective as it only cost us 20usd to do this.
Rico Kan – Startup founder Hong Kong leather goods brand at www.moonshaft.co
10.Advertise on IG stories
“Instagram Stories is one of the best ad deals going. User growth is outpacing advertisers, which means you pay less. Place ads specifically on Stories using your Facebook Ad Manager. Make sure your artwork matches the vertical orientation that is native on Stories. Video works best but, if you do not have a video, use the slideshow builder in Facebook’s Ad Manager.”
Tracy Hoeft – Founder at digital marketing agency www.amplify11.com
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