There are a lot of people—and brands—out there who see Instagram as a kind of Wild West where anyone can strike it rich, especially with the help of some third-party tools. But the fact of the matter is that those tools only work if you already have a coherent social media strategy and a definite vision for how you want to present yourself or your company.
Your Instagram account is an extension of your brand persona, so if you want people to pay attention to it, you have to make sure to give them all of the information they need in order to make an informed decision.
Before you can begin to think about growing your Instagram following, you have to think first about what you want your content to look like and what your posting strategy will be. For example, how often are you posting? Which hashtags do you want to build equity around? What kind of message do you want your captions to get across?
Whether you’re a brand, business or influencer, the strategy always has to come first—after all, it’s no good getting thousands of people to visit your Instagram profile if there’s nothing there to keep their attention.
So, the best advice I can give to those looking to leverage Instagram for marketing purposes is to make sure that your bio is straightforward and transparent. It has to be able to get across three things—who you are, what you do and what value you can offer—in a way that’s simple for people to understand.
Including a link in your profile that takes people to a landing page or website is also vital because not only does it take prospective customers to the place where the sale will ultimately take place, it is also a great way to track where your traffic is coming from so that you can optimize ad budget accordingly.
And to those who might be skeptical of investing resources on a platform like Instagram, I would say this: An Instagram profile is just another type of landing page. If someone were to go to your website’s landing page, you’d want it to be clear and concise, with all of the information that a prospective customer needs. The same principle applies to Instagram bios, except you have less space to do it in.
Once your Instagram landing page is up and running, how can you make sure that people see it? In this case, the old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” isn’t strictly true. You can build it, but you also have to put in the legwork to make sure that people will come. This means being proactive about engaging with other users via a number of methods (following, liking, commenting, direct messages). A lot of this can be tedious, which is why many brands and influencers use third-party services to carry it out on their behalf.
Alternatively, brands can also go the paid social route and use Instagram’s ad services to promote posts to specific audiences. But doing so comes with costs—namely, having to spend more money and increase ad budget in order to get more reach and engagement. Moreover, advertising doesn’t necessarily ensure more followers, and you could very easily end up spending significant amounts of money month to month. Needless to say, organic traffic is more desirable (and sustainable).
In many ways, the strategies behind attracting people organically and attracting people through advertising are similar. In both cases, brands have to know who their target audience is, including such granular details as their interests, gender and location, and reach out accordingly. At SocialSteeze, we look at a variety of different targeting features, including competitors’ followers and hashtags, and use that information to inform our outreach strategy. This then allows us to reach out to the people most likely to express interest in a brand.
Instagram is one of those platforms that really has something for everyone. A lot of people have multiple social media accounts, but Instagram seems to be the platform of choice for many millennials and Gen Zers thanks to its easy flow, attractive visuals and minimal barrier to entry. It’s also in the early stages of becoming a really great ecommerce and lead generation platform—a status that Facebook has encouraged by introducing the option for brands to tag products in posts. Given how many people use the platform—1 billion monthly users as of June—it’s more important than ever to have a clearly defined, visually striking Instagram presence.
Instagram is the place where people can discover your brand and learn about what you do and what you stand for. But there are a lot of brands out there using the platform to do the same thing—which is why it’s so important to use whatever tools you can to stand out from the crowd.
Chad Felix is chief commercial officer at digital marketing agency SocialSteeze.