Instagram arguably is the best way for visually-based brands (beauty, fashion, travel, etc.) to reach women. For anyone wanting to market to women it’s an addictive form of image-based social media that should not be ignored.
Here are 10 tried-and-true tips to help you build an engaged Instagram following, from the basics to the more advanced:
- Give Your Feed Flow. Don’t just post whatever photo you like individually, but instead think of each potential photo post as part of a whole. When you pick out an outfit to wear, you consider how each item works and complements the other items on your body. Do the same with photos. They should flow from one to the next, creating an overall feel and look for your feed.
- Take Professional-looking Photos on a Real Camera. Sometimes you can get away with a cellphone snapshot if you run it through an image-editing app, but your feed will end up looking much more impressive if you take high-res photos on a decent camera.
- Make the Images POP. Import the photos into BeFunky or Pixlr on the web or your phone, and play with them until they match the look you seek. Use filters to make the images look good together. You can also try adding text or an inspirational saying using PicLab.
- People Love Quotes. On days where you lack an image you love that’s ready to post, find a great quote and type it out in a nice font. You can use PicLab for this, or create something cool in Canva.
- Post New Photos and Reply to Comments Every day. No matter what, post at least one photo every day. People want to follow active feeds, and they want to feel like their comments /voice is heard.
- My (until now) Top-Secret Tip: Instagress. For just nine bucks a month, it will comment on and like other people’s photos automatically, as if you were doing it yourself. It’ll leave one of a number of pre-set comments (which you can modify) on the photos posted by the followers of your brand’s competition (so you can engage with your competition’s clients). It can also comment on and like photos that have the hashtags you specified. For example, Urbanette Magazine is an empowering luxury lifestyle magazine, and therefore it sets Instagress to comment on and like photo people post with the tags #luxurytravel #luxuryfashion #handbag #ecofashion #empowering #feminist #NYC #ootd, etc. because it thinks that future readers of Urbanette.com will post photos with these tags. Do quick searches to see what kind of images come up for the hashtags you’re considering.
- Which leads me to: Use Hashtags Well. Get to know what hashtags are popular, which are used for what, and then use them. Don’t overload your post description with hashtags; instead, stick the bulk of them in the first comment.
- Partner With Influencers. Brands are vying with an onslaught of competition and press releases in bloggers’ and editors’ inboxes. Influencers also are getting used to being paid thousands (or tens of thousands—per post! If you mention that you’re willing to pay for social media or article promotion, you’ll get a reply (and if you don’t, make sure to follow up—influencers get a lot of email each day. If your emails aren’t getting a response, find out the influencer’s address and mail him/her a package with product and a nice card stating that you’d like to talk about sponsoring some social media posts, to open the conversation about working together. Many Instagram influencers will go above and beyond for advertising clients. Once they’ve been paid to try your product, influencers will become genuine fans and continue to promote your brand on Instagram.
- Run Contests. There are contest-related hashtags, such as #FreebieFriday, that people follow just to win stuff. Better yet, partner with an influencer and let him/her do the giveaway. Send the influencer the product to photograph, and ask him/her to provide the winner’s address so you can mail the winner the product. Most bloggers would be happy to do this, especially since it adds value for their followers and costs them nothing.
- Use dlvr.it to deliver what you post on Instagram, to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Unlike the built-in social share in Instagram, which only provides a link to your Instagram post, dlvr.it will post the actual image, making your Twitter, Facebook, etc. feeds look pretty and fun. Best of all, it encourages followers on other social networks to follow your brand on Instagram, all the while keeping the brand image cohesive across all outlets.
Hilary Rowland is the founder and editor-in-chief of Urbanette Magazine. Follow her at @urbanette.
[This article originally appeared in the PR News Book of Visual Storytelling.]