Instagram is a great network for building brand awareness and relationships with your customers online, in a visually compelling way. Instagram has over 200 million daily actives and users tap the like button 2.5 million times daily; proving that I am not the only like-aholic on the planet.

If someone has ever told you: “There’s no point in using Instagram, your B2B”, then you have my permission to laugh at them.  Despite the fact that the social platform is known for driving less website traffic because it only allows one link in the bio, there is massive opportunity to build some serious brand awareness and tell a story or two. Instagram is for everyone, even my grandmother knows about it. But, if you’re struggling to drive engagement on the platform, then try out these strategies to get noticed.

1. Add Hashtags

Quite simply put, adding hashtags to your posts will increase your reach and therefore engagement. Hashtags allow you to join relevant conversations (ding! potential customers) and also for users to discover your profile and images. Because hashtags compile content together into categories, people might search for hashtags instead of words to find relevant posts. So the aim here is to use relevant hashtags. “What would I search for if I was the customer?”, is the first question you should ask yourself; if you’re stuck, a good place to start is looking at your competitor profiles. There are some great tools such as Ritetag to find out what hashtags are popular with your topic. I would recommend using a combination of specific and broad hashtags, a maximum of three in the description. You can then add an additional 20 hashtags as a comment, which you can delete it later to keep the post as clean as possible.

2. User-generated Content

Instagram is the king of user-generated content (UGC) because users love creating and sharing free content for brands. As mentioned before, it doesn’t matter what type of business you are, Instagram is the platform to tell real stories and promote your product/service, although you might be asking yourself “but how?!”. UGC is a great way to build an engaged community by posting publicly available content that is created by end-users, especially as Millennials trust UGC 50% more than other types of media.

The easiest way to find great user generated content is to use hashtags, which users can add to their posts making it easier for you to find them by. Ensure that you include a clear call-to-action to a few of your posts to keep the campaign rolling. If you’re struggling to find UGC that is appropriate to your business or industry, contests are one way you can get the ball rolling. It’s a good idea to document submitted material as a particular post could come in handy with a content theme later down the line. The process itself provides several touch points for your business to build relationships with your customers. For example, asking the owner for permission to use their content; two birds with one stone.

Tweet This: Did you know Millennials trust UGC 50% more than other types of media?

Popular lifestyle blog, Studio DIY has over 300,000 followers and they recently launched Shop Studio DIY, an online store which has it’s own Instagram account. They grew the account to over 20,000 followers by creating the hashtag #cantclutchthis and ran a contest using it. They also included the hashtag on all of their posts:

 

3. Be Reactive

This is an area of social media which is overlooked by so many marketers. The clue is in the name: social. Comment on followers and influencers posts by adding the @ symbol before the follower’s username so that they receive the notification directly to their phone. Since the algorithm change on Instagram, it is not surprising to learn that people miss on average 70% of their feeds, therefore it is important to maintain a presence by joining in on conversations and posting regularly (I suggest at least 3 times a week). By maintaining a conversation, your reach will increase: The more a user interacts with your content, the more likely it is to appear on their feed.

4. Influencers

Influencers increase your marketing reach, brand awareness and sales in regions where you’re not present. These individuals post and write for brands they have affinity for, meaning they have specific areas of expertise which could add lots of value to your business. Influencers are commonly used for short-term campaigns where they post content, stories and blogs in exchange for money and products. Influencers must be a good fit/valuable for both the influencer and the brand, so research is key. Who do you want to attract? Create a set of criterion with which you can score potentials against, bearing in mind that the more followers an influencer has, the more likely they are to charge, as the majority treat their social channels as a business.

Tweet This: Influencers must be a good fit/valuable for both the influencer and the brand.

Growth Supplements has been recently leveraging on Instagram influencer Dickerson Ross and his impressive 1.6m following, with posts averaging out at 20k likes per post. Interestingly, he also promotes products from popular online watch store MVMT.

 

5. Tell a Story

Brands who use Instagram must understand the importance of storytelling. Whether through photos of products, office tours or Instagram takeovers, brands using Instagram are effectively showcasing their offering in an authentic way.

Define your brand narrative in one sentence and try to have every photo feed into it, creating cohesion between posts. Instagram is the place to promote your brand’s identity, as the brain processes images 60 times faster than words. A story activates parts in the brain that allow the listener to turn the story into their own ideas and experiences, thanks to a process called neutral coupling. Think thematically when building your community on Instagram, with evermore ways to make authentic connections with your audience through visuals, multi-photo albums and Instagram’s own apps, Boomerang and Hyperlapse.

With the recent development of stories on Instagram, storytelling is that less hard work. The story feature has become so popular that Snapchat’s growth sank 82% after Instagram Stories launched. Don’t be afraid to upload stories – as long as it feeds into your brand identity (remember that one sentence?), plus Instagram is rolling out website links to all business accounts, so you will soon be able to drive traffic from stories to your site… Watch this space!

Over to you…

So there you have it, five strategies that will help you build a solid presence on Instagram in order to engage and connect with your target audience. What strategies have you found successful with Instagram? Share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear how you are growing your account.

Thank you for reading! Until next time…

James