It’s not your imagination: everyone is using Instagram nowadays. OK, maybe not everyone, but we’re definitely seeing an uptick in businesses embracing the reach of Instagram and how it can enhance their online presence. Here’s an interesting fact: Instagram has been able to maintain its user base fairly consistently over the last year. In 2019, the percentage of US adults who use Instagram rose from 35% to 37%, and the active reported users have held steady around 1 billion people. Ready to up your Instagram game to get in on this action?  Here are some handy tips that can help.

Build the right audience of followers

audienceRegardless of the platform, everyone seems to chase the big numbers when it comes to followers, but creating a strategy around growing the quantity of your followers vs. the quality of your followers won’t get your small business the ROI that it needs. Define who your ideal target audience is and spend your efforts creating and sharing content that will attract that audience. At the end of the day, it’s not a popularity contest; it’s a way to get your brand in front of the right people who are interested in your product or service, or can help introduce you to people could be interested (more on influencers later in this post).

Be strategic with how you use hashtags on Instagram

Once you determine who your target audience is, and you start sharing information that will be relevant to them, make sure you’re using hashtags that will help that audience find you and your profile. There are a lot of marketers who will use the “popular” hashtags in hopes a bunch of people will find their Instagram posts and follow them, but again if that’s not the audience you want, why bother? Using popular hashtags like #love, #instagood, or #cute will likely not attract the customers you want. Yes, doing Instagram the “right way” will take longer to build your audience, but it will be an audience you actually want. Save the cute stuff for your personal Instagram account.

Use Instagram as a Two-Way Communication Tool

conversationInstagram is like most other social media channels:  you get out of it what you put into it, and that includes connecting with other people. Want to attract the right people?  Start following and engaging with them on their Instagram channels! Connect with other companies in your industry with a similar audience profile. Follow your partner brands and customers.  If your target audience in the insurance industry, follow others on Instagram in that field. Follow them and like their content; comment if you have something to say about what they’re sharing. See someone that has an impressive and relevant following? Research how each company interacts with its audiences and look at their followers to see how they might be attracting and engaging their audience.

Let your brand shine through to up your Instagram game

Don’t forget how many users are on Instagram. Want to stand a chance of connecting with the audience you want?  Be genuine and let your company culture shine through! Be funny if that’s your culture, or informative, or argumentative…. whatever your “real” brand is, be that on Instagram. Like any other social channel, it’s about connecting with like-minded businesses. Being real on Instagram will help you reach the people you want to reach.

Use influencers, but be smart about it

influencersThere are people out there that have a lot of influence on Instagram. We’re not talking about the Kardashians or others who have millions of followers. There are likely “influencers” in your industry that could help you reach the target audience you’re looking for. So, what exactly is an influencer? An influencer could be a:

  • Blogger
  • Social media personality
  • Industry expert
  • Thought leader

They can spread the word about your company, service, or product. They can be a spokesperson for your company on Instagram. They can even mention your company to their followers. Influencers can be very powerful IF they help you connect to the right audience. How can you find influencers in your industry? An excellent place to start is with well-known figures in your industry. Find individuals that speak at industry conferences have published books within your industry, or are otherwise well-known. Some of these people know the value of their influence and may charge to help boost your brand while others, if they find your product or service of value to their followers, may help you to inform their audience. If you’re curious about using influencers to boost your Instagram presence, here’s a great article to get started.

Building a strong and effective Instagram following takes time. If you want to enhance your presence, start by following these five tips, or engage the help of a small business marketing professional to help you up your Instagram game and bring in more prospects for your small business.

Patty Hughes
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