With over 200 million active users – many of them teens and young adults – Instagram has rapidly become one of the hottest places to share the most visual parts of your advertising. That’s the key word, by the way – visual. It doesn’t matter what you say if you don’t have a great picture to show people, so you’ll need to follow some basics of artistic design if you want to succeed at advertising through Instagram.
The Pillars of Instagram
There are three cardinal rules to follow when you’re building up a campaign on Instagram.
The first rule is to understand hashtags and how they apply to Instagram. Various sources can provide lists of the top hashtags that people use, and you’ll need to study these – search for the tags that best match what you’re trying to do and you’ll be able to place your posts where people can actually see them. Be sure to limit your use of hashtags to ones that are appropriate for the image, and try to include unique hashtags that are focused only on your brand.
The second rule is to be instantly identifiable. You can’t just have a series of creative images – there needs to be a distinct brand identity that your followers can learn to recognize. Even popular images are easily forgettable – you’re not going to win people over with just one or two photos, so you have to approach this project in a way that focuses on reinforcing the memories and opinions you’re trying to create.
Finally, anything you showcase should be creative in nature. Photos are a fantastic medium for expressing your creative side, and you’ll need to play this for all it’s worth if you want people to share your images. Try to avoid anything that’s serious, depressing, or suggests that someone is foolish – all three are staples of television advertising, and there’s a reason so few TV ads generate real returns anymore.
Engaging Your Community
Once you’ve internalized these rules, you’re ready to begin the next step. You’ll have to devote some serious time and effort to building up a community before you can start advertising to them – a topic that Social Media Examiner took some time to talk about. The short of it, however, is that you’ll need to heavily engage yourself and actively look for followers on a regular basis if you want your campaigns to succeed.
To put this into perspective, it often takes eight interactions with a user before they decide to follow your campaign – a collection of Likes and Comments is one of the best ways of getting their attention, and the nature of social media is that people tend to follow the people who are paying attention to them. If you managed to accomplish this at a rate of one user per minute (and that’s being generous), then it could take you more than two months of work around the clock to build 100,00 followers on Instagram.
Fortunately, reality is somewhat kinder than theory – it’s hard work in the early weeks, but once your community reaches a certain point of engagement, users will be sharing your content enough that people will start to follow you on their own. The key to keep in mind is that making a real community on Instagram is a full-time effort, and you’ll need to do it while producing a lot of high-quality content. Unless you’re luckier than you have any right to be, it will take time to really build up your community on Instagram.
How To Jump-Start The Process
There are a few ways you can jump-start the process of building a community of followers on Instagram that are willing to support your work. To start with, make a big deal of your debut on Instagram and let your current fans know that you’re setting up an account. This can get you thousands of followers – or more – for only the slightest bit of effort on your start. It also gives you the opportunity to use one of the most-valued ways of creating content: getting users to do it for you.
Running campaigns where users submit images that match a theme can help increase your engagement while simultaneously providing you with plenty of outstanding images. Winning images can expect to be widely shared, while the people who are involved will be showing their entries to their friends – and voila, instant notice. Be sure to engage somehow with every user that submits content – especially good content, since these are the people whose shares and followers can benefit you the most.
Finally, try to have a solid backlog of images and offers that you can post up every 2-3 days. After all, you still have to work on the rest of your business – knowing that you have several weeks worth of content means you can afford to limit your time creating things for Instagram when other things need your attention, and return to it once business has settled down.