Whether you are trying to promote your personal brand or sell more on social media, this post will help you grow your Instagram following and increase viewer engagement.

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform. Every platform has its own personality, and Instagram is all about quality photos. People take a little more time to observe each individual post. This gives marketers the amazing opportunity to be relatable and appealing to all their potential and current consumers.

Overall, Instagram’s engagement ratio is 60 times higher than Twitter’s.

Post-Engagement-Rate1

Grow your Instagram following from 0 to 10,000 and sell tons of your stuff.

You probably already have an Instagram account, but it’s not getting the attention it deserves. I have used this same strategy for 5 of my online niche businesses.

How to set up your Instagram account properly?

People are really picky on Instagram. When it comes to Facebook or Twitter, many of us have liked or followed pages that we hardly care about. When it comes to Instagram, people choose really carefully who they follow. That’s the main reason why your profile has to be attractive and likeable.

  • Use a unique username. Try to use the same exact username throughout all your social media networks, because when a potential customer Googles you, it’s a good way to build credibility and social proof.
  • Create an interesting bio. Look through 10-20 profiles in your niche that have a high following and analyze what they all have in common and how you could make yours similar.
  • Are you smiling in your profile photo? Studies have shown that it takes 1/10 of a second for someone to draw a conclusion about your character based on your photo. You need to win your customer in less than a second.
  • Include a link to your website. It’s the only place on Instagram where you can place your link. Instead of redirecting them to your Facebook/Twitter profile (a lot of people do that), redirect them to your blog or landing page.
  • Look at the settings. Your profile is “public” by default, but still a lot people change it to “private.” There is no reason to do so if you are building a personal brand or business.

Example of good Instagram profiles:

Annies-Home-Grown-1024x506

Comments:

  • Username resembles their business name.
  • Bio is short, informative, and to the point.
  • Has the website URL in the bio.
  • Use of a clever hashtag.
  • I would change the profile photo to something more memorable. It’s hard for people using laptops to see what’s under “Annie’s”.

Screen-Shot-2015-09-12-at-1.41.07-PM

Comments:

  • Username is short and memorable.
  • He is smiling in the profile photo.
  • Link is included in the bio.
  • It’s clear who he is and what he does.

How to get the your 1000 followers?

When you are just starting off and you have less than 1000 followers, the smartest way to gain followers is to follow people in your industry. The average rate of people following you back is 1/10. Find industry leaders and follow the people who have liked their recent photos. Rinse and repeat until you have a targeted following of 1000 people.

It takes a long time to do it manually, so you should use either Tweepi or ManageFlitter. You can successfully use the free versions to get a head start.

How to boost your following to 10000+ for free or really cheaply?

Now that you have a decent following, it’s time to put some strategies to work. Whatever industry you are in, there has to be hundreds and hundreds of Instagram accounts related to your industry. Find them and put together a list of the 20 most active accounts out there.

You should aim to find accounts that put up new photos daily, have 10-20 comments under every image, and have a following of 10,000+ people. If the account seems inactive and the followers seem fake, you shouldn’t bother.

Example:

Screen-Shot-2015-09-13-at-8.54.37-PM

Comments:

  • It can relate to almost every industry.
  • More than 10k followers.
  • Has 10-20 comments under every image.
  • Account is really active.

Now that you have found enough accounts related to your industry, it’s time to reach out to them with your offer. Since most of the pages out there are run by teens and they aren’t actually making money with it, you can get a weekly @mention for free or really cheap.

All you have to do is follow the account and send them a direct message.

You can use the same exact format. Usually, the accounts reply to me 50% of the time if I offer them money. It’s reasonable to pay 10 dollars for 3 images on their account with your caption on it. If it’s a good caption, and they have a following of 30k+, it will get you around 500 followers with every image. 1500 followers for 10 bucks isn’t bad.

When it comes to getting a free shoutout from a popular account, that requires more effort. Even though you might have 1000 followers, and the other account has 30k, the success rate for me has been around 5%. So if you reach out to 20 accounts, 1 will probably accept you.

How to maximize Instagram engagement?

  • Adding location results in 79% increased engagement. It’s really simple to add and it gives users another way to discover your content.
  • High light generates 24% more likes than dark images. The same study also found out that texture plays a huge role. Data showed that Instagram images with high levels of texture attracted 79% more “likes” than images that had little texture.

Curalate-Instagram-Study

  • @ mentions in Captions receive 56% more engagement. According to Simply Measured, there is little correlation between text length and engagement rate, so with the extra space, include another user handle in the caption.

FiltersGraph

  • Use hashtags to your advantage. With hashtags you can reach a broader audience. It immediately expands the reach of your image beyond just those who are currently following you. Research shows that images with 11+ hashtags have the highest interactions.

Interactions-by-hashtag-_1k

  • Use filters. Normal, or #nofilter, images are the most popular, but definitely not the most effective. The most popular filter, “Mayfair,” brings the most interactions on average. Still, filters will result in higher engagement, but make sure that it is still going to garner the right attention with your audience.

Interactions-by-hashtag-_1k

  • Post at the right time. Latergramme analyzed more than 60,000 posts to find out which uploads get the highest engagement (likes and comments). They found that the best time to post is on a Wednesday at 5.p.m EST.

If you are pushing more content to Instagram, to maximize the engagement, post anytime between 2.am. and 5.pm. The worst day for engagement is Sunday.

If you want to get some insight to help find what works best for you, visit Simply Measured and run a free analysis. You will find out how effective your brand engaging is, what photos work, and what’s the best time to post.

How to Sell anything on Instagram

I’ve heard many marketers talking about the limitation of Instagram and how it’s not possible to sell your stuff there. This is not true. Beverly Hames of Fox & Fawn stated that 20-40% of their daily sales are directly from their Instagram audience.

If you want to start selling on Instagram, you need to have social proof. 63% of the customers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has some kind of product reviews and ratings.

If you want to convert followers into customers, every fourth photo should be promotional. This means that you put 3 images that are related your industry (backstage, close-ups, workers, etc.), and then the fourth image should be selling something.

How to get the maximum out of self-promotion?

  • Have at least a 3-4 sentence description about the product/service. If possible, use emoticons to make it more interesting and readable.
  • Include the price of the product/service you’re selling.
  • Include a call to action.
  • Have a high quality image of the product/service.
  • If you have a special offer, include a coupon with the image, so if they are going to purchase the thing then they will get a decent discount. Make the coupon work only from the time the photo was posted until 10.p.m EST the next day. 41% of Instagrammers say that they currently follow, or would follow, a company to take advantage of perks and giveaways.

Example of a good Instagram self-promotion:

Screen-Shot-2015-09-15-at-7.48.38-PM

Comments:

  • Description is clear and emoticons are used.
  • We know the price of the product.
  • Call to action – “link in bio.”
  • Relevant hashtags.
  • I would do a more high quality image and focus only on one wine.

Screen-Shot-2015-09-15-at-7.55.12-PM

Comments:

  • Good call to action.
  • Clever hashtags.
  • Description of the product should be more interesting
  • I would do a discount with a coupon for Instagram followers.

How to create a true fan base

You can make a living from a thousand true fans. If these true fans are paying you $10 a month for your service or products, you will be making $100,000 a year.

There is a difference between a person who is just following you and a person who is craving you to put up new content. I personally have 4-5 people who I follow on daily basis, and I’m really excited every time they put out new content. You need to become the honey.

  • Answer all the comments. If you’re not getting more than 20+ comments a day, then it won’t take more than 5 minutes to answer all of them. According to Social Bakers, around 70% of questions that fans post on fan pages are completely ignored. Answer the comments and people will really appreciate it.
  • Offer excellent customer service. A study done by Zendesk found that 45% of consumers share bad customer service experience on social media platforms.
  • Be authentic and transparent. People would rather do business with other people than just with “businesses”. Hubsbot used this technique and shared a picture of their team.
  • Offer them a premium piece of content. Create something that your Instagram followers will only be able to access.

72% of the people out there trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That means you need to take care of your consumer.

Conclusion

With Instagram, you can present your products and gather the audience. It is a targeted advertising channel, which can provide a healthy stream of revenue.

What do you think, do you use Instagram as a sales channel?


Podcast Sponsor:  Oscar Hamilton - Podcast Editing & Production services.