Do it for the gram

It’s a digital world, we just live in it. Instagram has become one of the number one ways to build your brand. Our era is ruled by the internet: It’s a place where relationships are born, business start and die, feuds are reconciled (or started, looking at you @realDonaldTrump), and friendships weather the storm of memes. So, bringing marketing into your online world isn’t so much a choice as a necessity for business owners. And with Instagram now reporting 500 million daily users, what better place to start?

If you weren’t born with an iPhone in your hand (again, looking at you Gen Z) Instagram as a business user can be less than user-friendly. You want to make the most of it, but how? Some brands have followers in the millions, yet here you sit with under a thousand. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a few easy Instagram hacks designed to grow engagement for your brand.

1. Hashtags: Love em or hate em, you’ve gotta use em

Sprout reported that 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are now branded. And, a 2014 study states that “Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.”

Now, you can add clickable hashtags to your bio and your Stories. Which is great news for a marketing campaign that encourages user-generated content (UGC).

Instagram contests like this Kernels campaign encouraged UGC with the branded hashtag #PopcornPicasso. People became engaged with the brand in real life and online, creating a connection with Kernels that reaches beyond social media.

Studies show people are twice as likely to share UGC, following the same logic as to why testimonials are effective. People trust each other, and typically have a healthy distrust of brands and advertisements. So, when you can get UGC – whether through a campaign or finding it organically – repost it, like it, interact with it on some level. It’s an authentic motivation for new people to follow your brand, and it makes your existing followers feel involved.

@instagram uses UGC; reposting IG users on the official Instagram account through the Weekend Hashtag Project campaign is partly responsible for their 246+ million followers.

2. To business account or not to business account?

As of November 2017, over 25 million Instagram Business Profiles are registered on the platform. Basically, the difference between an IG Business Profile and a personal account are features like Instagram Insights, a place for your contact and business information, and access to Instagram Ads. Studying the metrics on how your stories, hashtags, and promoted posts perform will let you pinpoint your target audience and pivot your marketing strategy to perform in the most efficient way possible.

A common fear is that your engagement will drop when changing from a personal account to a business one. Likely stemming from the mistrust of brands and advertisements, studies have shown the difference in engagement levels to be pretty minimal.

Instagram gives you a step-by-step guide on how to make the change here.

3. How to make the best of your profile

Get more exposure by showing on users’ Explore Page. Fyi, the name field in your bio is searchable, changing it to keywords associated with your business can help with exposure.

Make it quick and clear who you are and what you do in your bio, including relevant keywords. If you have your own branded hashtag or are currently using a custom hashtag for a promotion always include them here.

A common mistake with Instagram (and Twitter) is to include generic hashtags or hashtag keywords in a bio. This isn’t necessary as the bio is already included from a search perspective. Having clickable hashtags has no search benefit and end up just being something a follow might click to leave your profile.

If you’re relatively unknown and your brand name isn’t explicit in what you do/sell, include a keyword or two in it. Take @more_rewards for example:

They state their location, “Western Canada”; what they are “loyalty program”; and the keyword “rewards”. They also have two branded hashtags, and a link to their site. Bonus points for emoji use, which studies have shown people react positively to.

4. Location optimization: Use your geotags

Creating geotags and location-tagging your posts also lead to higher engagement. Say you’re throwing an event, or your business isn’t registered as a location yet. Creating a custom geotag for your location isn’t too hard, and it gives people the option to check in online and tag their photos. And, make sure you’re checking into whichever location your post was taken at – much like hashtags, users often search posts via location tags.

5. Stories and IGTV explained

Stories drive engagement, and Instagram’s IGTV feature is a little like a Story on steroids. You can use the polls and questions feature almost like a live Q&A between your business and your customers. Listen to what they have to say, see what they want, and if they’re asking the same question repeatedly you’ll know some necessary information is missing from your online copy.

But, don’t go overboard on your Stories. According to a recent study from Social Media Today, as the number of posts in your story increases, overall completion rates of your Story’s decrease. Think: Single digits.

Also, use that Swipe Up feature to drive traffic to your website. Take The MIX’s feed for example, almost always they have a Story with the Swipe Up feature for this reason. You can also embed Instagram posts from your own account onto your website to keep users engaged with your brand on different platforms.

Follow us at @antisocialsolutions for more marketing tips and tricks from yours truly.