Instagram is a fast moving mobile photo sharing, video sharing, and social networking service that allows users to share anything they want any time day or night about their own life. Normally, Instagram users like to share awesome pictures and videos with hashtags which help those with link interests find each other easily.
Using hashtags is easy to do and anyone can get started fast, build up a loyal audience and turn them into subscribers and eventually sales. The biggest difference between Instagram and other social media is they ask that you don’t share other people’s images, photos, and videos. With over 300 million active users, it’s an important social network in which to be involved.
Getting Started On Instagram
When you first open an Instagram account you’ll need to download the app on your mobile device. You can’t really use Instagram on your desktop. It’s specifically a mobile app. There are some applications that can be used on a desktop but you must finish everything on your mobile device for now. We’ll talk a little about that later.
Download the right Instagram app for your mobile device. Once the app is installed, tap to open it. Then sign up by entering the email address that you want to be associated with your Instagram account. You can also log in with your Facebook Account. You can connect Instagram with Facebook, Tumbler, Flickr, Twitter and Swarm.
When you choose your username, choose something that’s easily remembered by your audience but also that means something for your business. Keep it short. Try to keep the same one on all social media to make it simple. Also consider whether or not it’s easy to read or not. For example sometimes if the same letter is together it will make it hard to read. You can use underscores to fix readability issues. You may have to get creative.
Your bio is very important to ensure that people want to follow you. Often your profile is the first thing people see, or they might see images that you share and then click through to see your profile. Having a good profile will be helpful in getting more followers.
Use your real name along with your username in your profile. If you can fit a search term in there, that’s even better. Within the profile tell them what you do, using keywords. Make it interesting and different from other social media accounts. Space out your bio using bullets and spaces by editing it using your personal computer instead of mobile app if you want to make it look the best. Don’t forget to include a link to your website.
For any profile picture, but most especially Instagram where all images are supposed to be special and beautiful, the first thing you need to do is start with a high-quality photograph. You can take high-quality photos with your phone camera these days. Ensure that you have good lighting, keep the camera steady, and take numerous images so you’ll have a lot to choose from.
It’s tempting to want to change out your profile picture often, but it’s best not to for marketing purposes. People get to know you from your face, so keeping the same picture is important. Keep your picture for a long time, six months or more for consistency. Ensure that you rescale it to the right dimensions for Instagram and don’t just reuse an image from another network in the wrong size. It’s okay to use the same image, but always customize it for the platform in question.
You’ll need to set up your Instagram to have push notifications on or off. You can adjust these settings in the profile area of the people you follow. Just go to their profile, and then turn on or off push notifications. Remember that you’ll get a lot of notifications if you choose to turn them on. It’s recommended that you turn them on for profiles that you really want to know what’s happening. Be sure to check the settings in your phone to ensure that you’ve got it set up to receive push notifications globally.
Once you get everything set up, it’s time to start following people. There are some strategic ways to follow people using Instagram to ensure that you are following the right people who will then follow you back and like and comment on your shares. You can follow your competitors, but even better, you can follow your competitors’ followers.
It’s also important that you use the right hashtags in your postings. To get the right followers, you can essentially take followers from your competitors. You can follow them directly, like a photo of theirs, and also comment on one of their photos. This is a good way to find just the right followers. The best thing is to not follow every single one of your competitors’ followers all at once, instead pick and choose to add a few each day or week.
Posting & Engaging
The best way to get followers and engagement on Instagram is to follower new users, like photos, and comment on photos as well. Ensure that you make intelligent comments so that people will want to click through to your bio and read about you and follow you too. Since Instagram doesn’t want you to share what others do, it forces engagement and it’s very effective.
It’s important to include clear calls to action, add geo location if you are trying to attract local people, use relevant hashtags, give shout-outs to others, use the caption space allotted creatively by varying the amount of content you put there. Above all, interact with other users’ content on a regular basis and as normal promote your account on other networks.
Develop Your Instagram Strategy
You need to create an Instagram strategy based on your goals for the particular campaign. You may want to build brand awareness, create more sales, and create a loyal fan base or something else entirely. How you proceed depends on what your goals are and what you want the end results to be.
Know Your Reasons
As mentioned, you need to know your reasons for doing anything on Instagram if you want it to work for you. You’ll need to set up a plan of action based on your goals. Some of your goals may be sales, traffic, building trust, inspiring customers, building brand awareness, getting increased mentions and call outs.
How to Set Goals
One of the best things you can do for your business is to learn proper goal setting techniques. This isn’t a goal setting manual, but let’s go over a basic method of setting goals called SMART.
All about SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time Bound
Some definitions use various words but they mean the same thing. You want a goal that spells out exactly, in a measurable way something that you know you can achieve, in other words, is possible to achieve, and relevant to your needs long term.
Plus, you want to set a deadline for the goal so that you know when to measure. So, as you get started with Instagram, be sure to make goals using this acronym to ensure that what you want to do is possible and something you can measure.
Optimize Your Content Strategy
One of the things you want to do, regardless of your goals, is to optimize your content strategy. You’ll need to figure out how often to post, what time of day is best, as well as pick content themes and ideas. It can help to create a content calendar to help you get organized.
- How Often to Share – On Instagram, the best way to determine how often to share, is to experiment with different times. If you have plenty of high-quality content to share, you shouldn’t hold back with Instagram. Go ahead and share it. Remember, on Instagram the content you share needs to be high quality, so if you have plenty of high-quality content, go ahead, and share away.
- Best Time of Day – Believe it or not Later.com did a study to determine the time of day that a share got more likes and engagement and determined it to be 2 am and 5pm EST on Wednesdays. But, pretty much everyone read that and probably once they tried to replicate it, it didn’t work. The best way to know what time of day to send shares to your audience is to try out different times and see what works best for you.
- Create a Content Calendar – One way to ensure success is to plan everything out in advance by creating a content calendar. You’ll need to figure out what type of content your audience likes viewing and engaging with, and compare that to your promotions, events, and the time of year to coincide with holidays if that’s relevant. Once you have the ideas generated you only need to create the content which you can do yourself or you can, now that it’s organized, outsource it.
- Picking Content Themes/Ideas – There are many ways to pick content themes and ideas for Instagram. But, one of the best ways to do it is to consider what’s interesting to your audience and tie that into what you want to promote.
If you really want to build a strong brand on Instagram, this is a great way to optimize your content strategy to get the results you want in the short and the long term. Remember that social media marketing is a long-term marketing strategy and you’re often not going to get results overnight. But, if you stick to a plan you will achieve success.