In an ever-changing digital world, the online tools we use to share and market ourselves, our lives and our businesses are vast. Social media networks are often our first port of call and can be massively beneficial but even then, which one do you choose? Instagram are in fact, currently the fastest growing social media platform, nearly doubling their active users in a year! Needless to say, right now, Instagram is definitely a bandwagon worth jumping on.

From our experience many people have Instagram already, most of those will post some-what regularly, however, only a few will know how to get the most out of it. Through ever changing rules, guidelines and algorithms, there definitely are tips and tricks you can apply to make your use of Instagram easier, more effective and most beneficial.

Want to know more? Let’s elaborate:

1. Know your target audience.

It seems like a simple thing but it’s important to know who you are aiming your Instagram posts at: for example, potential customers to increase sales or influential people to increase awareness. If you know what it is you want to be gaining from your online presence, you can ensure your posts are targeted to attract the correct attention.

2. Post every day.

How often do you share a post on Instagram? Every now and again? Once a week? To make the biggest and most beneficial impact on your followers you need to be posting at least once a day.

Additionally, you need to pay attention to what you’re posting. People quickly get fed up of products and services being shoved in their faces constantly. Whereas, they’ll readily engage with posts that attract their attention because they’re relatable; whether it be something cute like puppies and flowers, something heart-wrenching like babies and small children or some good old fashion procrastination in the form of cookie decorating tutorials.

You need to aim to be posting only one business themed post in every five!* It doesn’t mean you can’t post about your relevant field, just make sure you’re not pushing sales or talking about yourself too much outside of that one post.

3. Use hashtags.

Every one has heard of a hashtag, but are you using them to the greatest benefit? Instagram allows up to thirty hashtags for each post. If you’re only adding #typicalGeoffalwaysforgettinghislunch to your daily post, you might as well have not bothered at all!

It’s important to identify the popular hashtags for your relevant field and use plenty! What these hashtags are doing is showing your post to a new audience for each individual tag, why wouldn’t you capitalise on that and use lots!

So, how do you identify which hashtags you should be using? Let’s say you’re a baker and you’ve decided your target audience is potential customers; you need to think like a customer, if you’re in the market for postal brownies what kind of subject are you searching on Instagram? Your answers are what you need to be tagging on your posts. There are some super handy apps and websites that can also help you to determine the right hashtags for you. We use RiteTag personally which is great for suggesting tags depending on your desired outcome.

It also helps to use a handful of the same ones to help populate your relevant tags with your images to increase the chances of being noticed by more potential followers.

4. Engage to increase reach.

The terms engagement and reach are bandied about Instagram on a regular basis but what do they actually mean? Engagement is any form of interaction on a post such as likes, shares and comments, made by others on your posts or by you on others’ posts. Reach is how many people are seeing your posts.

It’s important to remember that the more engagement a post gets the more its reach increases. This is why you want your posts to be cute or funny or just interesting in some way, so that people will like or comment. The more people that do this the more that post will be seen.

Now this can get complicated, but basically there are three main ways people will see your posts: on their feed because they follow you, included in the feed of a hashtag or on the Explore page. If someone doesn’t engage on your posts then the likelihood is your future posts won’t then show in their feed at all – every post really does matter! The same premise goes for the feed of a hashtag. For a post to appear on the Explore page it needs to be getting a lot of engagement already; Instagram basically promotes posts that are already popular – it doesn’t seem fair to us either but there you go. The bottom line is, you need people to be interacting with your posts to ensure they’re being seen by more people.

5. Be human.

My final trick follows on nicely because it is simply that, to be human. “Huh?” I hear you say! By this I mean the best way to do all of the above is to start the chain of interaction yourself. If you are following the kind of people you wish to be following you and then liking and commenting on their posts, chances are they’ll be intrigued and they’ll come and check out your page. Once they see the puppies and the brownies you’re posting, they’ll be hooked, they’ll follow you back and comment on how amazing your posts are (or at least, in an ideal world!). So get chatting and interacting!

We like people, especially when people are relatable, down to earth and polite. When someone likes you as a person and believes you are a human not just a robot trying to sell them stuff, they’re more likely to believe, and most importantly, invest, in what you’re saying and selling. So when you get the engagement in return, be it via comments or direct messages, make sure you respond – there is talk of there being a rule in the algorithm that says using five or more words in your responses shows you are more likely to be a human and so this positively impacts your reach. However, this is not something that is believed by all.

I tend to just follow the rule of thumb that most people would prefer a sentence in response anyway, rather than just an emoji! Talk to your followers as you would real people and they’ll do the same!

It’s that simple!

I know it seems like there’s a lot to remember but there really isn’t. It does just comes down to basic social skills, forget you’re using a computer. Speak to people as you would if they walked in your shop or called you up on the phone right now.

Plus! There are a few functions of Instagram that are definitely worthwhile making the most of:

Shoppable posts

If you’re a business with tangible products to sell you can now link to these products directly in your Instagram posts! It makes making sales through Instagram so easy because customers can literally see it, fall in love, and just click and go. No more going to that person’s website, trawling through it trying to find those caramel brownies and work out if they ship to you or not. Click, click, boom! Brownies to your door!

Instagram Stories

Having a chat on stories feels like the strangest thing in the world when you first start out. You are just talking to yourself, looking back out at you from your smartphone. However, it does so much for your likeability and relatability that it’s really worth having a go!

Influencers

If it’s your kind of thing, it’s worth looking into partnering up with ‘influencers’ to help increase your reach. An influencer is someone that has a good following of people that hang on their every word! Susie Verrill (wife of Greg Rutherford, Olympian) is a very good example of this – she need only mention a product and women up and down the country are causing it to sell out! It basically means you’re gifting a product or service for free but you’re hoping the return in followers and thus sales, makes it worthwhile.

I hope this guide has given you some insight into the hectic world of social media networking.

If you need any help getting your Instagram up and running why not talk to our team by emailing [email protected] or calling 0333 050 4459 today.

 

*(based on posting more than once a day)

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