Ready to take your Instagram game to the next level? Boost your Instagram marketing with these 4 power tips for increasing engagement, growing your followers organically and authentically connecting with your dream audience.
In 2017, Instagram saw the fastest user growth in its history, and it provides a powerful platform for small businesses, creative entrepreneurs and brands. But gaining traction on the platform can be tricky if you don’t know where to start.
I get asked about Instagram a lot, and have helped several clients develop winning strategies for the long haul. I also have an average 10-12% engagement on my own account for @moondogmediapdx, which is a lot higher than the 3% average! And it’s not because I have loads of random followers—it’s because I have the right followers. Followers that become clients.
That’s why I’m sharing 4 power tips for growing your Instagram, increasing engagement and connecting with your dream audience.
But First… Why Instagram?
While Facebook is used for everything from political debates to sharing links with friends, Instagram is heavily used to follow brands and companies that resonate with user desires. Users want to be inspired, motivated and connected to a greater community who shares their ideal lifestyle and passions. This makes it invaluable for businesses looking to create intimate, authentic connections with their ideal audience!
According to a study by Brandwatch, Instagram has 10x the user engagement over Facebook, 54x the user engagement over Pinterest and 84x the user engagement over Twitter. And engagement is the key to converting followers to customers.
Instagram marketing is especially vital to any business selling visual, digital or tangible products that can be strongly conveyed through images, but it can also effectively sell other business products and services when you effectively create your brand story based on your ideal customers and clients.
So if you’re ready to ramp up your Instagram marketing, let’s get started!
1. Define your audience.
For your Instagram marketing efforts to be successful, you must first define your ideal customer. You must know WHO they are, WHAT their passions and lifestyles look like, WHY they want to connect with your brand, and WHEN they are engaging on Instagram.
If you are marketing to “everyone” then you are marketing to “no one”. For Instagram marketing to succeed, you MUST narrow your focus to your true, ideal customers. Create an avatar of your ideal customer. What age and sex are they? What brands do they follow and why? What are their habits, passions, goals? Why do they want or need what you’re selling? How will it help them in some way?
Need help learning who your true customer is? Send a survey out to your existing customers and ask your current Instagram followers some key questions to learn about their lifestyle, buying habits and preferences. What do they do on the weekends? Where do they hang out online? Consider offering a coupon or small free gift for completing the survey.
2. Craft a winning bio.
You only have about 7 seconds to hook a reader. (No pressure, right?!) It may come as a surprise, but your Instagram bio (much like your website’s “about” page) shouldn’t really be about you. Rather, it’s all about the reader: why should they care? What’s in it for them? How do you add value to their life? By all means, work something into your bio that shows your personality and who you are in order to create connections and find kindred souls, but be clear on how your account benefits the user.
Sample 1 (About You):
Amanda / Loves cats, sunsets, kale and jogging. I’m a fitness and nutrition coach with 10 years of experience. Yummy Nutrition Certified. See my website for details.
Sample 2 (About User):
Amanda / Live your best life! Get motivated with my personal fitness coaching + easy meal plans. Steal my fave 10-min recipes below! Cat mom + lover of kale. #kaleloversunite
Notice the difference? Didn’t you feel more drawn in to the second version because it invested you emotionally? I love kale! And free recipes? Yes, please.
3. Create a content plan.
Flying by the seat of your pants? It’s time to nail down an Instagram marketing and content strategy. To gain the traction on Instagram (or any marketing platform), you need to have a content plan. Winging it day by day (or skipping out for days) can derail your efforts and slow your progress.
Try mapping out monthly and weekly content plans to ensure that you are creating a variety of types of posts and effectively getting your message across. These can range from your behind-the-scenes posts (your staff, your office dog, your creative process) to lifestyle posts (create posts that align with the lifestyle your ideal customer desires) to user-generated content (having customers use a branded hashtag and posting their own photos of your products, etc.). Keep in mind that only 20% of your posts should sell your product or service; the rest should inspire, motivate, educate, inform and connect!
Think about what your ideal customer wants and needs. What do you offer that enhances their lifestyle or solves their problem? And how to you interact with them in a way that encourages trust, loyalty and authentic engagement? What is the story of your product or service, and how can you best convey it in a way that this customer will respond to? What is the message you want them to hear?
Also, keep in mind that posts are viewed two ways. Current followers will likely just see a single post in their feed, so every post should truly represent your brand and lifestyle, and include a call to action.
Meanwhile, people seeing your post for the first time will probably check out your account page to size you up and to determine if you fit their lifestyle. These users will be looking at your grid as a whole, so it is also important that your grid flows seamlessly as one aligned montage and, on the whole, represents your brand.
An easy way to think about this is to look at your most recent 12 posts as a “table of contents” of sorts. These 12 posts should represent your brand as a whole, and should also include a variety of the types of posts discussed above. The grid should tell your story—all aspects of it, touching on the various aspects of your business, brand, community and lifestyle. And while the grid should look cohesive, each post should of course be able to stand on its own.
You can use an app such as Plann to create and plan grid layouts, write captions and schedule posts in advance. The app ranges from free to $9/month and can be helpful in intentionally planning out your Instagram content. Meanwhile, apps like When To Post tracks the best times to post to your audience based on user analytics.
4. Focus on authentic engagement.
The key to successful Instagram marketing is to build authentic relationships by genuinely connecting with your ideal customers.
After all, racking up countless random followers means nothing if they are not aligned with your brand and are never going to become your customer.
You want to find and connect with your MVF, your Most Valuable Follower. The ones who will adore your brand and become your biggest fans, the ones who will shout you from the rooftops and tag friends in your posts and who want to buy your products or services because it so perfectly aligns with their passions, lifestyles and goals. Because it reflects who they are. You will never find your MVF’s by using growth bots, or liking irrelevant pages that don’t align with your brand.
Choose the pages you follow and interact with carefully. Are the hashtags you’re using also being used by your ideal customers? Are your followers engaging in real conversations or just posting “nice pic”? Aim for quality over quantity and you’ll win every time.
WANT HELP PLANNING A WINNING INSTAGRAM STRATEGY AND FINDING YOUR MOST VALUABLE FOLLOWERS?
Contact me today to learn more about my Instagram coaching + consult packages!