Wondering if it’s worth the time and effort to build a business account on Instagram? According to cision.com, Instagram gets 4.21 percent engagement per post compared to .07 percent for Facebook. It’s also the fastest growing among the larger social media platforms.

That is because a picture has always been worth a thousand words – who doesn’t love a good story told almost exclusively with pictures?

But one of the problems for businesses – and their PR people, Instagram continues to limit access to paid advertising on their site.  Yet, here’s a few ways to help build your business on Instagram now with a strong strategy, targeting of the right influencers and a few other tricks we provide below.

Hashtags

You already know about them. You should know that IG allows around 30 per post and that you can delete them from the post and put new ones in immediately one time. But you can also put new ones in several days later to refresh your post. However, don’t use all 30. Stick with about 3-5 at most per time.

So, what hashtags should you use? You can go to the explore page and find what hashtags get the most action. But here’s the thing – you want to make sure the ones you use have a solid connection to your business or the photo, and you don’t necessarily want ones that are close to the top of the popularity list.

Those at or near the top are used so extensively your picture is going to cycle out of view for those searching within only a second or two – shifting down to maybe photo number 200 or so just that fast. So using the slightly less popular hashtags search results in the low millions should keep your post in the frame longer and still get you a lot of views.

Theme

Your IG theme should be easily tied to your brand and what makes your business stand out from the rest. And the pictures on your IG account should tie easily to that theme. But as you consider the theme, also consider the eight pictures that precede the one you will be adding. Remember in most cases people see nine pictures at a time on IG. Make sure the pictures are both attention-grabbing and stunning in their own right, but they should also form an equally stunning grouping – all promoting your theme.

It helps to crop all your photos in the same way and use the same filters – or use other ideas that imply commonality. If you own a floral design company, you might show single arrangements using one color. Then each picture shows flowers gradually working their way through the colors of the rainbow. Even better, your Instagram account and business name is something like Rainbow Flowers or Colors of the Rainbow.

Quality Images

Did you know that your cell phone camera usually takes pictures in two quality levels? If you use the version most of us use for selfies, allowing you to see yourself as you take the picture, it’s a regular resolution. If you use the outward facing lens, it’s a deeper resolution, less grainy and should translate better on Instagram. It may take a few more tries to get the perfect shot, but it’s all digital and doesn’t cost anything extra to take extra photos.

If you are wondering how to do any of the unique formatting for your bio, message, or responses, do it in Word and then copy and paste it. Though IG used to be only accessible through your smartphone, you can do it all on computer now too at Instagram.com.

Finally, don’t forget this is still a social media platform, that means it’s not just about advertising your product or service, it’s also about building an interactive group. Follow your followers back, comment on their posts, heart their posts, and respond if they make a comment on your posts. Not just verbally either. If they make a suggestion, treat it seriously and consider how you could add it to a future post – and when you do, show appreciation by including their account in your comments.

Engagement Stats

Since it was founded back in 2010, Instagram has emerged as  one of the most popular social media platforms for both consumers and brands. One of the most difficult things about marketing on Instagram is the fact that there are numerous brands that have to compete on the platform for the same thing: the attention from consumers. The goals of brands marketing on  Instagram  include engagement with more people, expansion of  reach, and the generation of  more sales.

To get the best possible results, companies have to be quite familiar with the platform as well as its user base, which consists of people that enjoy using the photo-sharing social media platform. The country that has the biggest number of users on Instagram is the United States, with about 140 million active users. Knowing which countries are the most popular on the platform can help companies target the right people. If a company’s target audience is located in the US, or in countries such as India or Brazil, the platform is a great addition to the marketing toolbox.

Instagram Generation

The younger generations of consumers tend to use the platform almost as much as they use other platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, or Snapchat. However, when it comes to demographics, the education of the users is not the most important factor, as over 30% of users have a high school education, while nearly 40% have a college education.

Other important engagement statistics that are useful for marketing on the platform is the way that people are using Instagram as well as how often they use it. Over half of all users use the app on a daily basis, while about 20% check it at least once a week. When users do log on to the app, they stay on Instagram for an average of nearly 30 minutes every day, and that number has been increasing by a minute every year since 2016.

Instagram Users

Additionally, over half of all users use the Explore tab on the platform every month, which is a great place for them to find new content as well as other Instagram accounts. Companies can use this information to expose their business to larger audiences by creating engaging and valuable content that will appear on the tab and reach more people.

Not only that, but over 130 million users check out shoppable posts, despite it being a relatively new addition to all the different features available on Instagram. Companies can also take advantage of that statistic to sell their products or services directly on Instagram without having people take extra steps to leave the app and find the company’s business page.

Using Influencers in your Social PR Campaign

Want a million followers on a social media network? The simplest solution could be to turn to influencer marketing. Brands and influencers all over the world are working together to change customer perception and drive sales, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram.

Ever since digital marketing first began, companies and brands have been turning to influencers to help them get their brand in front of a larger audience. Not only do influencers have the opportunity to connect firms with more targeted customers in their niche, but they also improve their credibility with the Instagram users they engage. Essentially, Instagram marketing is like using the popularity of a pre-established profile to springboard a company’s online efforts.

As a way of boosting any brand’s number of followers, Instagram marketing has plenty of value to offer. In fact, it’s a technique that grows more popular by the day – particularly as customers grow more cynical of traditional marketing campaigns. For any organization that’s been thinking of adding Instagram influencers to a marketing platform, here are just some of the benefits to expect.

Traditional Ads Aren’t Effective Anymore

One of the biggest reasons why companies are turning to Instagram influencer marketing today, is that traditional marketing methods simply don’t work as well as they used to. A few years ago, when companies wanted to generate more leads for their website, they’d simply start publishing banner advertisements on other relevant websites or paying for pop-ups. Of course, the consumer world quickly grew tired of these disruptive marketing methods, which is when “inbound marketing” began to grow in popularity.

Today, old-fashioned advertisements stick out like a sore thumb. Countless companies have begun to turn to blog posts and high quality social media campaigns instead, to help them demonstrate the value of their brand or product. Working with influencers on Instagram stories is another form of inbound marketing that companies can use to earn customer attention, without being overwhelming or annoying.

One of the best things about influencer marketing is that it’s not susceptible to the ad blocking software that various customers are using today to avoid encountering traditional ads. A brand hashtag still appears regardless of whether someone has software installed or not.

Influencer Marketing is Natural and Native

Companies who want a large following on social media and a good engagement rate can’t rely on old-fashioned methods to accomplish their goals anymore. It’s no secret that native advertising appears to be far more effective at placing products and companies in front of interested customers. However, influencer marketing ads to the efficiency of a native ad by presenting a marketing campaign with the familiarity of a well-known face.

Now that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people – even if they don’t know those individuals personally, it’s no wonder that influencers on an Instagram feed are driving most of the social buying journey for big brands.

By combining an attractive offer with a well-matched influencer, companies can take their message to their wherever they are. Organizations who have used paid social media marketing solutions like Facebook advertising in the past will know how much of an effective platform these channels can be. By making those ads more natural and organic with influencers, any brand can take their social media marketing to the next level.

Targeted Traffic

While a lot of companies get caught up trying to drive thousands of visitors to their website every day, the truth is that it doesn’t matter how much traffic a website gets if that traffic isn’t properly targeted. Don’t forget that the companies with the more refined targeting strategies are often the ones that end up with the highest ROI.

Companies who use influencers to improve the impact of each Instagram post not only improve awareness for their brand, but also ensure that they’re getting their message across to the people most likely to buy their product or invest in their services. Companies can assess the Instagram followings of the influencers they want to engage with before they start their campaign. This ensures that the brand connects with the most effective and relevant influencers for their team.

The ROI is Incredible

Many businesses get caught up thinking that influencer marketing on Instagram is only useful if they want to increase their Instagram following. While it’s true that an influencer can help to generate new fans for a company on their social accounts, that’s only the start of what a brand can accomplish with this form of marketing. According to one study by Nielsen, marketing on your Instagram account with an influencer can generate ROI that’s 11 times greater than anything produced by a traditional campaign.

While there’s nothing to guarantee that influencer marketing will work for every business, there’s a good indication that this form of advertisement is effective for most companies. As long as a brand can find an influencer like Kylie Jenner with a strong following in their niche, they can benefit from the results of influencer marketing.

After all, influencer marketing is essentially word-of-mouth advertising. That makes it a fantastic and authentic way to build awareness for a brand, without relying on obvious ad campaigns. In a world where customers are struggling to trust the companies they do business with, influencer marketing can make a brand seem more credible and authentic.

Influencer Marketing is SEO Friendly

An Instagram influencer marketing campaign isn’t just a great way to boost the efficiency and performance of a social media strategy – it’s also a great way for today’s companies to supplement the rest of their digital marketing efforts. Because influencer marketing involves getting people to link back to a business through their Instagram stories and on different Instagram feeds, it builds up a broader network of backlinks.

Google assesses those backlinks, along with a range of other factors when deciding which companies or pages it should list at the top of the search engine results. A good influencer strategy could ensure that businesses get more organic traffic to their website through SEO too.

Instagram Influencer Marketing Costs

As the marketplace grows more competitive, and companies struggle to earn the attention of their customers, influencer marketing continues to emerge as a popular form of promotion. Every year, it seems that more brands continue to invest money into building their social and digital presence with the help of influencers – whether it’s celebrity shout-outs, or micro influencers.

For organizations who want to raise profits, but don’t have enough of a market presence to make a serious impact yet, influencer marketing could be the way forward.

Grow Instagram Following Organically

Instagram is all about influence. Sure, people use it just to post fun or interesting snaps from their day-to-day; but, for the serious marketer, influence is what matters. To build that influence, marketers must increase both their number of followers (quantity) as well as the amount of engagement (quality) of their interactions.

Paying close attention to and taking action on both of these factors will create a snowball effect, where the account will begin to grow exponentially, rather than simply numerically. Users will come, and they will share content with their followers, leading to massive growth over time. Here are a few important steps to help spark that explosive growth on Instagram.

Advertise

Ads on Instagram don’t look very much different than standard posts, especially photo ads. Because of this, followers don’t feel bombarded or used. To them, the ad is just another post from their favorite influencer. 

This is especially true if sponsored posts tell a video story, something immersive that draws followers in, engages and entertains. When followers perceive value, even if the post is sponsored, they appreciate that value. If they have an emotional connection, the line between a standard post and a sponsored post can disappear completely.

Post Creative Stories

Another proven way to build an Instagram account is to post creative, original, and engaging content. This takes practice to do it well consistently, but it’s time well invested. When followers connect with content, they share it with others, often reflexively and enthusiastically.

For this, remember that Instagram is primarily a visual platform. Invest in good visual storytelling techniques and quality production. That doesn’t mean investing in a ton of equipment. A lot of strong up and coming influencers get by with a smart phone and watching some how-to videos.

Part of posting creating and engaging content is not doing what everyone else is, but also using what works. One of the most successful approaches is storytelling. Instead of just holding up a logo-branded product and showing it to the world, many successful Instagram influencers build narratives around the products they actually use or wish to promote.

Invite Ongoing Conversation

On social media, feedback is expected. However, properly curating and motivating the people offering that feedback is a primary way to aggressively grown an Instagram account. The plain fact is, people run out of ideas. But, when an influencer leverages the imaginations and interests of their followers, the potential for new and engaging content grows incredibly.

Influencers should come right out and ask their followers if they have any questions, comments, or requests. Ask about their interests. Ask them how they have used the recommended products and about the results. When this works well, one influencer can transform their opinion into multiple third-party affirmations about a product, service, or topic. Suddenly, there’s an ongoing conversation about a specific topic. And that conversation will continue when the influencer moves on and creates new content.

Sometimes, feedback can be harsh. That’s okay. If a fan or follower is honestly disappointed, this is a prime opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Smart influencers will engage that complaint directly, figure out exactly what happened, and make it right. That can even become another story to share, along the lines of “last week Mary said this, and she was right! Here’s what we’re doing about it.”

Bottom line is that while there are a lot of “guerilla” or “trick” ways to build numbers, for a healthy, continually growing Instagram account, connection and engagement are the best way to go. Followers are on social media because they want to be part of something interesting and exciting. Give them that, then make them a part of it, and they will keep coming back… and they will bring their friends.

Make Your Profile Searchable

When you scan for somebody on Instagram, you look for either their name or surname. Because of this, your description isn’t indexed and, consequently, you can’t be searched by what’s in it. For this, we suggest you put your main occupation in either your name or surname field. That way individuals can scan for the sort of item or service you’re offering and discover you firsthand.

Interface With Accounts in Around Your Area of Expertise

Instagram gives you the alternative to pursue more individuals when you follow somebody. When you follow somebody, new recommendations for accounts will spring up. While we don’t entirely know how the calculations propose these accounts, it’s vital to follow as many individuals from your field as is reasonable. Along these lines you can viably “scout the competition” and garner an understanding of how they get things done. Moreover, commenting on their posts will unquestionably lead a couple of their followers to check you out.

Post Something Every Day

According to social media specialists, posting on a day by day basis will keep your audience of followers engaged, and help you gain new followers along the way. In fact, the only way to really ensure your account grows is by ensuring you post each and every day. Make a point to utilize hashtags pertinent to your specialty, with the goal of letting users get an unmistakable impression of what you do.

Post day by day until you hit 500 likes, then post day by day until you hit another 500, and post every day until the final day of your Instagram profession.

Keep Your Audience Engaged in The Conversation

As indicated by new research, Instagram posts with more comments are more favoured by Instagram algorithms than those with merely likes or shares. As such, commenting is the latest track to ensuring you receive a substantial traffic to your IG account. Make a point to urge your followers to comment as much as they can on your posts. That way the Instagram algorithms will see that your posts are getting a ton of engagement, and they may even end up in the “trending posts” section.

Make a point to Always Put Hashtags in Your Posts

Instagram enables you to utilize something like 30 hashtags in each post, do you really need that much? Some guides state to utilize all 30, and other guides say the opposite. No doubt both options work; be that as it may, the main factor is in the hashtags themselves. Make a point to utilize hashtags that are relevant to your specialty, so other individuals hunting down them can discover you and identify with your business, brand, or product. Do your own exploration on whether to utilize every one of the 30 hashtags needed.

Integrate Instagram Story’s in a PR Campaign

Instagram Stories has its roots in Snapchat, as a means of sharing with your followers short-lived photos and videos destined to disappear in 24 hours.

Today, Instagram Stories has become an essential part of the platform, even beginning to overtake permanent posts as the go-to means of sharing content with followers. Furthermore, Stories have led to story ads, and Instagram has even added Highlights so as to allow your Stories to live on beyond their original 24-hour cut-off.

There are a number of ways you can utilize Stories as part of your online marketing strategy, and each one will benefit your business in a different way. Here are six tips to get started.

Share user-generated content

You can use Stories as a means for the showing of user-generated content, which is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Your followers will love to see that you care about them enough to not only notice their content but to feature it on your site. This also saves you the hassle of creating the content yourself, while also proving invariably influential to your other users.

Acquire user-generated content

Stories can also help you obtain user-generated content, which can be sought after in a number of different ways. You can place a call to action for users to share photos of their latest purchase, or use poll stickers to get feedback and build immediate social proof.

Share moments from events

Your Stories are the ideal place to cover and promote events, regardless of if they are several weeks away, currently taking place, or have already occurred. This is a great way to show your users what they are missing out on and a great way of building brand awareness, while ensuring attendance at your next event.

Be real

Instagram Stories offers you the chance to share content that is a little more outside the box compared to feed content; this is a great place to show off your brand’s fun size. Use images and videos to help paint the story of your brand, and include some behind-the-scenes footage where possible.

Go live

Instagram stories allows you to broadcast straight from your mobile phone, allowing your followers to engage in real time. Using live, you can host a Q&A, talk about a specific topic or milestone, or even interview a guest or influencer. After your live is over, you have set it to be played with the rest of your Stories.

Use Highlights

Extend the lifespan of your stories by creating Highlights, allowing your Stories to be played over and over long after their 24-hour lifetime is over. For best effect, create multiple highlights to keep things organized.

For example, you might like to create a Highlight for user-generated content, one for brand storytelling, and one for events. This makes it easier for users to find what they are looking for when they visit your profile.

Instagram vs. Snapchat

Just 17 months was all it took for Instagram’s popular Stories feature to rise to the top, attracting over 500 million users daily. It’s no surprise that with record growth, everyone from AdWeek to Forbes is calling the Facebook-owned feature a top digital trend for 2018. But what is it about the Snapchat copycat (remember them?) that sent all other social media platforms directly to second place?

User Base

A simple explanation for the preference for Stories over Snapchat is Instagram’s massive user base of 800 million, which is still growing quickly. This built-in audience automatically made Instagram a notable competitor to Snapchat.

On Snapchat, brands are challenged with growing a following from scratch with little to no way of being discovered by new users. Instagram Story features include the ability to search, converse and engage with potential new followers and consumers.

Stronger Brand Presence

Snapchat’s poor search function requires a specific handle to be searched in order to discover and follow the brand. How do you find a brand’s Snapchat handle you ask? Well, many used to include them in their Instagram bios (talk about a plot twist). Instagram not only allows you to search by handles, brands and key terms, but it also suggests accounts you may be interested in following under the Discover tab. Following an account is not required on Instagram to view and engage with a brand’s or influencer’s content. This aspect alone showed better results at a larger scale for CPM (cost per impression).

Increased Traffic

Unfortunately for Snapchat, Instagram didn’t stop there. Not long after the duel began, Instagram announced a brand new “Swipe Up” feature for Stories. For the first time in the history of the app, you were able to link ecommerce directly to a piece of content. In the eyes of marketers and influencers, this was a real game changer. Instagram quickly became a free and effective secret weapon to ecommerce brands, retailers and influencers.

The Ephemeral Content Shift

Although this generation loves the classic Instagram feed filled top to bottom with beautiful photos, the content in our feeds is starting to go in a different direction. Classic evergreen brand content lacks personality and value, while frustrating algorithms give users little to no control as to what they see in their feed. This is why ephemeral content (aka impermanent content) is expected to take the lead in 2018, according to AdWeek. Ephemeral content feels authentic, relatable and provides much higher engagement rates.

Blogger/influencer Arielle Charnas, founder of Something Navy, recently polled her 1.1 million Instagram followers to ask if they’d rather see more Instagram Stories than Instagram posts. Charnas tells 5W that she received several messages from followers saying the Instagram algorithm was keeping them from seeing all of her posts. The poll results were overwhelming, with over 90% voting “yes.” Charnas says, “Instagram Stories have changed the Something Navy platform entirely. My followers are interested in content that’s happening in real time and doesn’t have a team of editors behind it. Social media is changing every day. I find it incredibly important and rewarding to stay connected with my audience and adapt to how they want to see my content.”

Features That Will Shape the Future

Instagram closed out 2017 with what it called “the biggest changes to profiles on Instagram since 2013,” according to a company press release. They weren’t wrong. The feature, presented as “Highlights,” added a space on the Instagram profile to display any Instagram Stories from your archive (also a feature announced in the same day). In an interview with TechCrunch, an Instagram spokesperson said, “As more and more people adopt stories, we realized that the profile has become less and less representative of you and your life. And yet the profile is one of the top destinations on Instagram – it’s a powerful space for self-expression and feeling closer to others. But up until now, there was no way to keep your favorite stories or add them to your profile – we wanted to fix that.”

Bottom Line on Using IG for Marketing

Understanding how advertising works on Instagram can generate plenty of advantages to brands and corporations, as according to the company, about 850 million people can be reached with ads on the platform. Aside from ads, companies can also work with influencers to create a more direct impact on their advertising strategies, which can expose their products or services to brand new audiences. Working with influencers also helps brands in creating more branded content that, in turn, helps consumers make their final purchasing decisions.  It also gets brands to be perceived in a more positive way by consumers.

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