INSTAGRAM and its power
The power of Instagram! No Instagram is not a dirty word, and you should be a part of it. WHY? Because it will increase your growth and traffic to your business or personal profile. I AM LIVING PROOF! Over 2 and a half years of Instagram use, I can say that over 80% of my business and new leads are coming from Instagram, and if you haven't read the latest news, then it would be good for you to know that Instagram has now taken over Twitter. So if you aren't using Instagram already as a business owner, then you should be!
I was introduced to Instagram by an ex-girlfriend of mine who enjoyed selfies and others selfies or food photos. She religiously told me to join because "all the cool kids are doing it". First of all i am not a cool kid, and my days are insanely busy that I cannot possibly find the time to post photos everyday. How wrong was I!
That was a good 2+ years ago and a lot has changed since then, I believe that now a lot of people have joined and are using Instagram, but are they using it correctly? I have met other entrepreneurs or individuals who continually complained about Instagram only working if you are a social media whore with a half naked body and a Zeppelin drag race, hows that for a metaphor? I too had the same views in the beginning, actually for the entire 1st year. Stuck with minimal followers, mainly your friends and following hundreds of others.
There were times I would feel hopeless, posting a picture that actually had meaning and using the best hashtags i could think of. Yet to only result in 15 likes over 1 month whilst you would see some young girl post a picture of her handbag or a picture of someones meal on a table receiving thousands of engagements. Things just did not seem fair. Some people even go as far as buying follower services from places like Fivver that result in 10k Koreans following you. Sure the numbers look great, but will this increase your business traffic and gain you some digital influence credit? Absolutely not
This is when I started to do my research, as I needed to attack Instagram with a new strategy. Mind you if i had a nice ass or a hipster man-bag maybe it would of helped, but just a little. I began studying others that I was following who had already established quite a following and high rate of engagement. It seemed obvious that there were 4 elements that they all had in common.
Time of post
Consistency of uploads
Good looking content
TIME: Given that most of my clients, colleagues and people I want to network with are in 3 main continents, I found that it was best to post between 10am and 2pm. This allowed me to capture europeans during their morning transit to work or lunch break, the Australians finishing their evening and the Americans who were about to wake up.
Stay active, and engage with your audience!
CONSISTENCY: Now this is a dirty word for me, even today. Its even hard after 2 years of Instagramming to come up with good content every single day to keep followers engaged. Especially now as I have been doing a lot of Producing and through my 2+ years of experience, showing people snaps of computer screens or paper work isn't appealing as the content i post when I'm out doing DOP work, but maybe this is just a lame excuse I am throwing out there because I have not thought of a creative way to engage people with paper work...can you? Anyhow in the early stages to build a reputation you must post consistently, so you look active and like a real person that wants to share a story. Especially if you are aiming for a digital influencer role or a brand ambassador role.
The sub-tie to consistency is your consistency of engagement, from liking photos, leaving comments and following back those who have followed you. This is the biggest time factor that is vital to your growth. I admit, its time consuming but the rewards are worth it.
CONTENT: CONTENT IS KING! I have always said this, and still a firm believer. Nobody wants to see crappy photos or videos. Spend the effort taking photos properly with your mobile device or DSLR. If you have to even use photoshop or Lightroom to make your images look more professional then upload them using a program like Flume. This is not just to give you a good digital accreditation and reputation, but this also helps you drive traffic and literally have your material all over the internet.
HASHTAGS: This is probably the most common question i get asked and once again out there you can find so many different ways to find the relevant hashtags. You may have found several forums or articles talking about using the typical hashtags you might see like #instagood #photooftheday etc etc. And when you type these in you see that over 1 million+ people have used the tag so you might think "Hey this is great because everyone is using it" WRONG! The reason these hashtags are used is because they are abused and tagged on media which may not even be relevant to the tag. The advice I have found is to generally aim for tags that are relevant to your photo but also somewhere between the 50-500k post amount. Tags within this range represent tags that really are used for the relevant media. So by using this, you will drive the correct engagements and followers to your relevant tags. Your perfect target audience is what will help make you that sale after all!
Now after reading all of this and even perhaps trying out my tips for a few weeks or months you might realise that you still don't have the time to manage this and your results are minimal. Would you believe If I told you that some of those people out there who have 10k+ followers or seem to have all the engagements, actually have a team behind them to help manage and develop their growth? Well its true, and it COSTS! but then again its just a matter of how much your business relies on a tool such as Instagram and how far you want to push your account. If you are a brand ambassador then maybe you would consider such an investment.
Instagram has been a 2 year marketing adventure for myself. Once you find what works for you, then stick with it and you will not only draw in clients but perhaps even start motivating others in your industry and target Audience. Instagram has come a long way, and if you have not already signed up by the end of this article, then please take a moment and consider becoming part of the boom so you do not get left behind.