As you’ve come to understand, there’s no denying how powerful Instagram is and what it can do for your brand. You can take your business to the next level with the platform but It doesn’t happen by accident.
You achieve great results when you create something unique.
Like with any successful marketing campaign, you need a strategy to guide and direct your efforts. Whether you’re a one-man show or head a large team, the same principles hold true.
In this article, we’re going to take a birds-eye view of an Instagram strategy that grows accounts to millions of followers. Will it happen overnight? No. That’s what separates the winners from the losers – perseverance.
Let’s get started with a few important questions.
What’s your goal on Instagram?
There are few tools as useful as a well thought out plan. The beginning of every plan starts with a concrete goal. Start by asking yourself a few questions.
What do you enjoy doing?
What do you find yourself spending the most time on?
What do you appreciate?
One of the cardinal rules of entrepreneurship is doing something for the long haul. Something that fills you with a sense of accomplishment.
Whatever you do, work to be the best at it – or at least incredibly good.
Now, what do you want from Instagram?
Do you want to monetize the account?
Do you want to become a social influencer?
Do you want it to form part of your larger branding initiative?
Are you interested in driving people to a sales page?
All these roads lead to having real engaged followers. WE‘LL NEVER ENCOURAGE YOU TO GET FAKE FOLLOWERS. They’re worse than useless.
How soon do you want to achieve it?
What’s your budget?
How much time can you devote to the platform?
Let’s look at what a good Instagram strategy is built on.
Your brand doesn’t live on Instagram. Rather, Instagram is one of the channels you use to get your message to the right people. It can be your first channel, but it shouldn’t be your last. A mistake brands make on Instagram is using it like an amputated limb.
What we mean is they have one message on their website, Facebook page, and Pinterest account but a completely different one on Instagram. That’s a big no-no.
It creates a disconnect between the brand and the consumers. They’ll wonder whether they’re following the right account. If they’re not sure, they’ll unfollow you (or never follow you in the first place).
Instead, think about the core message your brand delivers and use Instagram to amplify it.
New Fork City is an account focused on good eats around New York. Their feed will inspire you and make you hungry at the same time.
Anna_dello_Russo works hard to curate an impressive feed. She champions fashion, lifestyle, and wanderlust to keep her fans on the edge of their seats. It doesn’t hurt that she has over a million followers.
Decide what you want to accomplish on Instagram and keep going until you get there.
Your audience follows you because they love your content. They continue to follow you because you deliver it to them when they need it. They’re hungry. You have the food they so desperately need.
A constant posting schedule builds expectation and anticipation. It’s the backbone of all solid social media strategies. Consistency trains your audience – your ideal customers – to think of you as reliable.
Once you establish that reliability and trust on Instagram, it extends to your entire brand. They expect you to show up and you do. You’ve fulfilled your promise to them. Naturally, you’ll fulfill your promise about your products and services as well.
Create a schedule of your Instagram posts and stick with it.
A million followers is useless if only 100 people are liking and commenting on your images.
If you’re selling pug t-shirts, wouldn’t you rather have five thousand fans you know owned pugs than one hundred thousand fans that love coffee more than anything?
The right followers are more important than the number of followers.
Target the minimum engagement you want on Instagram (1-5%) and experiment with images, captions, and videos until you get it.
Find your competitors
Your competitors happen to be the best place to start your search for ideas and inspiration. Instagram has a powerful search function and within a few minutes you can turn up dozens of accounts in your niche.
Knowing your competitors allows you to see who they’re targeting, what hashtags they’re using, and the kind of content that’s working best for them. Use the insights you gain to inform your decisions. Never copy them outright.
You want to stand out from the crowd. You don’t want to blend in with the white noise. The first step in finding your competitors is to use the hashtag search function for keywords related to your business.
If you’re a fitness trainer, a hashtag to start with could be something like #fitfam or #gym. Look at the results. Note the average number of followers, most popular images, posting frequency, average engagement, how they set up their profile bio, where their link leads to, and if they’re sharing quality content.
Locate about a dozen competitors and continue to watch them over the mid to long term to keep a bead on what’s happening in your industry. Make sure you add personal accounts, brand accounts, and hub accounts to your list.
Take special note of influencers and hub accounts because you’ll be using them to grow your account as well.
Let’s start at the top, your profile. The first thing people see when they land on your profile is your image. After that, they move onto your bio and finally get to your feed.
If you’re building a personal brand, then an image of your face is fine. Once your brand is more established you’re free to switch it up and use different types of images of yourself.
On this account, they’re covering their face with their hands.
It’s dramatic and makes a statement.
If you’re building a company brand then. of course, you’ll put your logo. Use the highest quality image you have and make sure it’s large and centered. Instagram provides a grid to make sure it aligns perfectly during the upload. Use the maximum of 1080×1080 pixels so it’ll be sharp when people are viewing it.
After you get your profile picture right, there are three other things that make up a great Instagram bio.
- Concise statement about who you are or what you do.
- A clear call to action
- An easily remembered URL
When you meet someone in person for the first time, you have seven seconds to make a lasting impression on them. When someone meets you or your brand online for the first time, studies show you have a fraction of a second.
Make it count.
The first part of your bio is your name. Now, it seems obvious that your name is – well – your name. But you can take it a step further and help your brand get discovered.
Instagram pulls the keywords in your name when users take advantage of the search function. If you use only your name you won’t get found for relevant terms.
Let’s say we’re building a personal brand and our name is John James. I’ll of course put John James as my name. That name only takes 10 characters and there are 30 total for you to make an impression. Use that real estate to get found in Instagram’s search.
Instead of just John James, add keywords to your name.
John James – Writer
John James – Blogger
John James – Journalist
All of these are fair game and don’t look like you’re trying to spam the platform. If you’re able to secure your brand username then it becomes much easier to play with the name field.
Let’s say we were able to get John James as the profile handle, we wouldn’t use the thirty characters to retype it.
Instead, we could transform it into a succinct statement about who we are or what we do.
Online business consultant.
So on and so forth.
Next up is the bio itself. Instagram gives you 150 characters to tell your story. Use half to tell it and the other half to get them to take an action.
You get much more leeway with a personal brand because you can show your skills, interests, and hobbies. Other than that, the bio is a place you tell them exactly what you do, your mission, or who you serve.
Don’t let it the fact that you’re not a personal brand discourage you. If your branding lends itself to it then lay on the personality.
Old Spice is a playful brand that isn’t afraid to post a laid-back image or video to their page.
Another way to go about creating your bio is to focus on your mission. Take your core values and think about the ones that’ll resonate the most with your Instagram audience.
Everlane does this well by highlighting the transparency they’ve built into the core framework of their business model.
Paypal also does it well by showing how they’re impacting the lives of their users.
When crafting your catchy bio statement, ask yourself:
- Who am I talking to?
- What matters to them?
- How does that align with my brand?
After crafting the first half of your bio, move on to the call to action. There are many things you can ask users to do.
Send them to a blog post.
Send them to a product page.
Send them to a landing page.
Do the one that makes the most sense for your business.
If you’re a luxury brand, it’s unlikely people will buy a $700 item the first time they land on your website. They will, on the other hand, part with an email address and name — send them to a squeeze page.
This profile link in the Millionaire Mentor Bio
Leads to this squeeze page.
If most of your leads and customers come after reading a blog post then update your profile every time you publish a new one.
For Ecommerce pages in which items are generally under $200 (that’s the threshold of what people will comfortably buy before needing to talk to a sales rep), you can send them directly to new arrivals. You can also send them directly to a sale that’s happening with a discount code from a recent image.
Lord Timepieces is constantly running sales and promotions through their Instagram account. Whenever one is active, they change the link in their bio to go directly to the sales page.
Orbitz goes a step further and allows you to shop what you see in their feed by clicking their bio link.
You can even encourage your followers to tag you in posts and show them how to do it. This’ll increase your engagement and create tons of user-generated content for your IG page and other social media platforms.
Instagram is one of the few platforms where Emojis are acceptable in the Bio. Use them to break up text, draw the eye, and add personality to your feed. In addition to Emojis, you can also change the font to reflect the personality of your brand.
A simple tool for this is www.Lingojam.com/FontsForInstagram
Change your call to action and link until you settle on a combination which works best for you and your brand.
Speaking of links, there are two ways to go about it.
The best method is to use a short, trackable, and memorable URL. That way, you’ll know exactly how many people are going to your site. This is also available in Instagram analytics but you’re limited to the last seven days of data.
Clk.im and Bit.ly are cheap and effective services to shorten your links.
The second method is to use your domain with a friendly URL. Something along the lines of mydomain.com/IG-sale.
These are a few of the essential steps you need to take before creating a compelling Instagram marketing campaign. It’ll make sure all your efforts yield even more fruits.
Read up this post to find out how to create an engaging theme for your followers to visit.