Instagram is one of — if not the — most powerful social marketing channel out there today. It’s a bold statement, but true. With more than one billion monthly active users and a plethora of engaging features (Insta Story, anyone?), it’s a marketing force to be reckoned with.
To really get the most out of your Instagram marketing, read on for some handy tips that will guide you well into 2019.
Embrace UGC for some free Instagram content
Instagram is a content goldmine. 95 million videos and photos are uploaded to the site every day — that’s a lot of #selfies.
And this content is great for your marketing too. How? Through user-generated content (UGC). UGC is a fast, easy, and effective way of expanding your Instagram presence.
When you get your followers to submit their own unique snaps and videos, you get massive exposure while enhancing your customer community — a valuable thing for an online business.
The best way to source original user-generated content is through a UGC contest. Ask your followers to submit their snaps to you through a branded hashtag. Set a theme for your competition (e.g. most creative use of your product), and award a prize or freebie to the winner.
As well as your branded hashtag, remember to get your followers to tag you in your post. This nets you some extra exposure, and makes it easier for you to track your competition.
Use hashtags, and use them correctly
Hashtags are the glue that holds Instagram content together. They’re used to start and join discussions, helping people find photos, videos, accounts, and topics they love.
But it’s not enough to simply add a few hashtags to your posts as an afterthought. The real marketing hack is doing hashtags right. They should be researched, relevant, and right for your brand.
Use your business keywords to find hashtags that are related to your industry using a dedicated hashtag research tool. Search by your keywords, then create a bank of hashtags to use throughout your Instagram editorial schedule.
The trick here is to use a blend of both broad, generic hashtags that garner a lot of attention (e.g. #food or #fitness), and specific hashtags with less competition. For instance: #thanksgivingrecipes or #runningtips. Use a few generic ones, but stick to more specific ones to grow your account.
Getting yourself trending on a hashtag, however, requires a little more work. This involves two factors: high post engagement, and high speed of engagement, that is how quickly your post gets likes and comments.
The key to this is using the right hashtag (one that actually relates to your content), and by encouraging engagement. Ask your followers to comment on your post with their opinions, and share your post at the optimum time for maximum engagement (search online for the best time for your industry and region).
Finally, remember to add your hashtags as a comment, rather than in your caption — it just looks neater, and on Instagram, looks are everything.
Be consistent and frequent to get your content seen
This hack isn’t as ‘sexy’ as the others on this list, but it’s still worth remembering and getting right. Time and again, studies show that frequency and consistency are key to successful Instagram marketing. Post frequently and regularly, and you will see your brand’s presence grow from strength to strength.
Of course, as a solopreneur or small business owner, finding the time to regularly post high-quality, engaging content on Instagram can be tough. Thankfully, there are a few hacks you can use to cut your content creation and upload time in half.
Firstly, simply automate. There is a plethora of social automation tools out there for Instagram that make it easy to queue up and post content in advance. Create your posts ahead of time, then schedule them in bulk to save you time further down the line.
But how do you quickly create great posts in advance? Instagram favours original content, so avoid the overused stock photo sites and find something a bit more individual. Find a crowdsourced free photo site for some unique snaps that you won’t find anywhere else, and add a filter or text overlay to make it personal to your brand.
And if you’ve really got your back against the wall, it’s okay to repurpose some of your old Instagram content. Use it to inspire a new post (e.g. updating a 2018 product guide for 2019), or simply find a previous popular post and use a #ThrowbackThursday hashtag with it.
Don’t use anything too recent here — your followers will spot it immediately. Use a snap from at least six months ago to keep it fresh.
Collaborate with micro-influencers to spread the love
It won’t have escaped your attention how popular (and effective) influencer marketing has become for businesses. While the likes of Kim Kardashian or Huda Kattan are reserved for big brands with big marketing budgets, growing businesses can still benefit hugely from micro-influencer collaborations.
Micro-influencers are social stars with follower counts of around 10-100K. But while their followings might be small, they still pack a punch for Instagram marketing. Their close-knit community means when a micro-influencer says something, their followers listen.
Identify micro-influencers by following your industry-related hashtags and finding prolific users that regularly trend on them. Reach out to them and request a collaboration. Depending on their popularity, some might ask for a small (but nonetheless affordable) fee, while others will be happy to promote your brand in return for a freebie and some cross-promotion.
The key to a successful micro-influencer partnership is letting them take the creative reins. Influencers know their followers inside-and-out, and they know the kind of content that resonates with them.
Take advantage of everything that Stories have to offer
Perhaps the most exciting (and addictive) feature Instagram has rolled out in recent years is Stories.
Stories are social media on overdrive, dynamic ephemeral content that disappears in 24 hours. And with the plethora of Stickers on offer — polls, music, countdown timers, and more — it’s a feature rich in possibility, both for users and brands.
For brands, this is a marketing goldmine. These Stickers drive engagement massively, strengthening your branding and bolstering your customer community. Stickers encourage dialogue between you and your customers, and that’s no small win for businesses. It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it marketing, and well worth your time.
Question stickers make for a quick market insight tactic. Use polls to market-test new products, getting customers to share what they want to see from your brand.
And use your video Story to provide sneaky insights into what happens behind-the-scenes at your office — it’s candid content that makes your customers feel a part of something bigger.
Instagram is just one element of your marketing strategy, but it’s an important one. Follow the hacks outlined above, and you’ll craft an effective Instagram marketing strategy that will put your business head-and-shoulders above the rest in 2019.