You probably already know that Instagram is tremendously powerful in marketing. But are you using it to your full potential? Are you getting using the strategies that help you achieve the best possible results you can? I am sure you’re doing a lot of great things, but there’s always room for improvement. I’ve been using Instagram for roughly 5 years now, and have managed a total of 19 Instagram accounts. Moreover, I’ve been able to accumulate a total of 1 million+ followers across my own Instagram accounts. From that journey, I’ve learned a lot about Instagram marketing and the best practices on the platform.
In this article, I’ll, therefore, share with you 5 things that I’ve learned from using Instagram for roughly 5 years.
In case you’ve lost faith in Instagram because you don’t seem to generate any results from it, or if you’ve just forgotten the impressive marketing power of Instagram, let me refresh your memory with a few statistics:
5 Things I Learned About Instagram Marketing From 5 Years Of Using It
1. Engagement and interaction is crucial to success
This is one of the main reasons for my Instagram success and one of the first things that I learned about Instagram marketing. Mostly because I quickly realized the importance of engaging with people and building relationships on the platform.
While competitors were leaving comments from their customers to hang, I identified these people and reached out to them, telling them how awesome customer service I have, compared to the experience I have seen them have before.
Your audience is what will determine your success on the platform, but if you don’t build relationships with the people who determine your success, how well will you perform?
Not so good, right?
An important part of this is responding to every single comment you receive on your posts. No matter if it’s a thumb up emoji or a long customer complaint. What you do when you respond to your potential customers is that you show that you acknowledge them, but also start building your relationships with them.
And for building relationships, Instagram is a tremendous tool. When you build relationships, you increase their trust in you, and the single most important part of driving sales is trust.
If people don’t trust you, they will never buy from you either!
60% of consumers interact on social media with the brands they buy from but it won’t be much of an interaction if you aren’t ready on the other side to talk to them.
2. Not being consistent and active is a recipe for disaster
If you start with Instagram just to quit a few weeks later, or if you plan to log in once a month or even once a week, you’ll be better of not using it at all.
Instagram is demanding, and it’s important that you are aware of that when you jump into it. If you want to get the most out of it, you need to log in at least once a day, but preferably, you should log in multiple times a day.
Did you know that customers expect brands to respond within 3 hours? Well, it’s not ideal that you only log in once a week then, because that person will have lost patience and will be long lost by then.
How often you share posts is also an important part of remaining consistent and active on social media. If you stop posting all of a sudden, people will think that you’ve quit, and there’s not much reason for following a page that is dead. Or even worse, what does an inactive page say about your business?
Did you know that 48% of shoppers would check a brands social media presence before confirming a purchase?
If your page looks like an abandoned barn, people might think that your brand has gone out of business and decide not to buy from you.
Now, you might be thinking ”but I am super busy, I don’t have time to be active every day”. And yes, I do not neglect the fact that Instagram is both time-and-effort-consuming. After all, I’ve been on Instagram for 5 years daily now.
If you don’t have time, my best advice is to get help from someone who has actually done it and can show what they’ve accomplished. This is if you absolutely don’t have time.
There are different studies that discuss the ideal number of pots on Instagram, but from my experience, ideally, you should post at least once a day. How many you should post on top of that depends on your audience and page, but I would highly suggest that you post once a day for optimal results, but if that isn’t possible, every other day is okay too.
If neither of those tips are possible to execute, I’d highly recommend that you don’t create an Instagram account, share a few posts and leave it to rust, because the truth is that it will do much more harm than good, but unfortunately, many brands are doing just that.
3. Hashtags are the fuel of your reach
Never, ever underestimate the power of hashtags on Instagram.
There are many social media platforms that support hashtags as a way to categorize content, but there is no other platform where hashtags boost your reach and engagement as much as on Instagram.
In fact, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without. That’s not too bad!
Moreover, a study by Agorapulse found that posts with hashtags resulted in a 70.14% increase in likes compared to those without hashtags.
When we look at the statistics about hashtags, we realize that hashtags are something we should use, right?
But the catch is that the statistics we just looked don’t tell us anything about what hashtags you should use, and this is something that I’ve spent many hours researching and learning more about.
There are tons of websites out there that list ”the top hashtags on Instagram” that has been used the most times, and that you can then copy and paste and add to your post, however, this is something I’d advise you to stay away from.
When people use the ”most popular hashtags”, they’re cheering because of how much it increases their engagement and how much likes they are receiving from it, but they never hold up to ask themselves ”how is the increased helping me?” and ”Who is actually engaging with my post?”.
The unfortunate truth is that the majority of accounts that interact with the posts that are uploaded with the top hashtags are bots and spam accounts. In other words, most of the time, the engagement you receive is made by bots, and the other part of engagement comes from spammers who have no interest in your business.
And after all, the reason you use hashtags in the first place is to get people to find your business and ultimately convert into customers. This means people who are within your target audience and are interested in your industry.
So how should you use hashtags to attract people who are actually relevant to your business?
What I’ve found, is something that I am not alone with.
First off, hashtags can generally be sorted into two main categories: broad hashtags and (niche)specific hashtags.
The broad hashtags are hashtags just like the ”top hashtags” that have millions and millions of posts shared with them and that are very broad in its meaning. For example, one of the most popular hashtags on Instagram is #followback.
How specific is that hashtag?
A post that uses that hashtag can literally be about anything!
In other words, by using that hashtag, and broad hashtags in general, you won’t attract targeted potential customers of yours that might be interested in your business. Moreover, with crowded hashtags, your post will get pushed down in a matter of seconds because the hashtag is so heavily used, and one misconception with hashtags is that you should use the most popular ones. And yes, while more people are using it and acknowledging it, your post will only be visible to people for a few seconds before it downs.
The other type of hashtag is specific hashtags. These are usually very specific to a niche or subject, and attract people who are genuinely interested in whatever the hashtag is about. Specific hashtags generally have fewer posts shared with it (normally below 1 million), but the benefit of them is that your post will be displayed at the top longer, thus allowing you to get more exposure.
From my experience, these are the hashtags you want to opt for. Think about words and subjects that are common for your niche and search for the terms on Instagram to see if people are using them.
This will allow you to identify and find hashtags that attract people who are worth attracting to your business.
4. Share quality content
Instagram is a visually driven platform, so of course, visual content will play a central role in success on the platform.
On Instagram, 95 million photos and videos are shared on per day, so there’s no denying that the competition is extremely tough.
What does this mean?
It means that you need to create and publish top-notch content every time in order to cut through the noise.
A common mistake by brands is that they get so stressed about the fact that they should be posting at least one post a day that they start compromising on quality. From my experience, this is a dangerous place to be.
Yes, you should post at least once a day, and yes, being able to produce that much content can be stressful, but if you aren’t able to create amazing and attention-grabbing content every day, you’ll be far better off posting fewer times, for example, every other day, instead of sharing low-quality content every day.
Quality is far more important than quantity. There is already more than enough low-quality content, and joining that group will only make you slowly fade into the noise rather than being a voice that cuts through it.
I hate to say it but if you don’t have high-quality content to share with your audience, you don’t have anything of value to provide your audience.
And I learned that the hard way.
5.Have a consistent visual theme
Having a consistent visual theme is relevant for both brands and individuals looking to strengthen their Instagram presence, however, most of the time, we see brands using this strategy.
The post of this is that it allows you to strengthen your brand message and establish yourself as an authority – someone who people can instantly recognize and remember.
After all, it is the people who are unique and have their own style that tends to be remembered. People who are just replicating and imitating others are seldom remembered.
The foundation is creating a theme that resonates with your audience. Obviously, if your target audience consists of teenagers, it’s probably a good idea to use bright and fun colours, for example.
Your visual theme can be made up of different things, and it all depends on your preference, as well as your target audience.
You might decide that you should use one filter for all your Instagram posts to make them look more coherent, and that’s a good idea!
In fact, 60% of the top brands use a consistent filter on all of their posts.
This allows the brands to have a more consistent theme across their images, which ultimately helps for brand recognition
A good idea when it comes to deciding your visual theme is set for a color palette to use. Obviously, if you have a logo that is green, your best bet is using a lot of green in your poss. Doing this will make people start associating your brand every time they see that color.
Just think of Coca-Cola.
When you see the color red, you think of Coca-Cola intentionally or unintentionally.
Now, having a consistent visual theme on Instagram won’t help you establish the same level of brand awareness that Coca-Cola has, but it is a step in the right direction.
About the author:
Jens Wirdenius is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the social media and online marketing blog Veloce International and the influencer directory Veloce Network. He is a social media and marketing nut, sharing his passion for business and digital marketing in his articles.