Are you currently using Instagram to promote your business? If not, you should.
Instagram can be a very powerful marketing channel when you are able to create an engaged following. Most brands simply post content and expect the likes, comments and followers to just magically appear, but it takes a little work and some creativity if you truly want to create worthwhile engagement.
I was recently speaking with Alan Askar, CEO of Instamacro, an Instagram service provider, about effective strategies to increase Instagram engagement that are cost effective (free) and easy to implement. Here are five ways you can increase your Instagram engagement, starting today.
1. Convert to a business page to take advantage of the available call-to-action button.
Let's be honest for a minute. The reason you are marketing on Instagram is to drive traffic to your website or spark another type of action, such as a phone call or a location visit. We crave engagement in hopes that it eventually triggers an action. Well, you can bypass all of that and start to generate those actions if you convert your Instagram account to the newly available business versions.
You can get detailed instructions on how to do this here. This allows you to create one of the following 1-click calls-to-action: email your business directly, call your business or pull up your business address.
2. Exchange shout-outs with niche-relevant accounts.
One of the fastest ways to build up a larger following -- that will lead to more likes and comments per post -- is to exchange shout-outs with similar accounts. Find accounts within your niche by searching relevant hashtags and then narrow them down based on follower counts that are similar to yours.
When it comes to shout-out exchanges it's difficult to convince larger accounts to trade if you aren't bringing the same size audience to the table. Once you locate accounts that are similar dive into their engagement. You only want to entertain offers with accounts that have legitimate followers. Receiving a shout-out form an account full of ghost followers is completely useless.
Once you identify potential accounts, send a direct message with an offer. Not everyone will take you up on it, but if you spend some time daily performing outreach, even just 15-minutes, you can leverage this strategy to really increase your following.
3. Cross-promote your Instagram account on your other social media profiles.
If you are marketing on Instagram there is a very good chance that you are also using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc. All of these social networks are an opportunity to invite an already engaged audience to connect with you on Instagram as well.
Consumers are active on multiple social media networks, so it isn't uncommon for someone to connect with your business on all of the social platforms that you are active on. A simple "Don't forget to connect with us on Instagram: [profile URL]" post on Facebook can quickly attract new followers that are already interested in your brand. These are the types of followers that are going to like and comment on your content, providing you with increased engagement.
4. Use relevant hashtags.
Hashtags allow you to be discovered by people not yet following your Instagram account. Many people will just throw up popular hashtags that have a large use volume and don't experience success because they are completely irrelevant.
It's important that you search out popular hashtags that are specific to your niche. For example, if you have a business that provides coaching and mentoring for entrepreneurs, you might want to use the hashtags #motivation and #entrepreneur, as they are both very popular and related to the audience you are attempting to attract.
You can also use popular hashtags in a creative way. For example, many brands will use the popular #TBT hashtags on Thursday, for "Throwback Thursday" and include an image of an older company logo or a previous office location. This will help attract followers, although they might not be as targeted as niche-specific hashtags will attract.
5. Engage on a regular basis with similar accounts.
An easy way to attract engagement is to dish it out yourself. Search relevant hashtags and leave comments on images that belong to accounts with large followings. This is an easy way to get your account in front of users that might be interested in following your account as well.
You don't want to get spammy here, so take time to leave authentic comments that are related to the images you are commenting on. The more genuine the comment, the more interest you will attract. Comment spamming has gotten out of hand recently, so take the time to make sure your efforts stand out.
Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media®, an online marketing agency that provides SEO coaching and online marketing consulting. Jonathan also created EBOC.co (Entrepreneurs & Business Owners Community), a private business forum. Follow him on Twitter and join his private Facebook group here.