Lee Groeger - 01/04/2019
I’m proud to say that, at 3E Public Relations, we have a strict “no pay-for-play” policy when it comes to buying followers, comments, or participating in any form of activity intended to falsely bolster our clients’ social media platforms. Have we been asked if we provide that service? Of course. It’s just not our style, and in the long run, it’s not effective or sustainable…and Instagram agrees. In November 2018, the Facebook-owned social media giant finally cracked down on this shortcut, removing inauthentic likes and follows, as well as “spammy” comments users and brand pages purchased through automated apps designed to leave comments and follow, then unfollow accounts with the goal of growing their own audience. To further combat this policy-violating technology, Instagram sent users a warning to change their passwords, cut ties with these apps, and made it clear that people who continue using these apps “may see their Instagram experience impacted.”
Forgetting violating policy for a second, giving anyone login details is a BIG deal, and not a decision that should be taken lightly. In the wrong hands, it can lead to being hacked, hijacked to send spam, or worse. Many page owners were not even aware they were taking part in this paid system—for example, if a hired agency utilized an uninformed client’s budget dollars to employ one of these apps. For this reason (and many more), it’s important to talk to your team or social media agency about their approach to growing and managing social media communities.
Here are 10 ways to grow your Instagram presence and fan base—the right way.
KEEP IT FRESH
What you do, what you post, and who’s following your page are some of the key factors that will help you determine how often you should post on Instagram, but it’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re not posting relatively frequently, you’re missing an opportunity to reach your audience. One study examined 100,000 Instagram posts over the course of three months to identify how successful different accounts were when they changed how often they posted on Instagram each day. What they found was that the more frequently a page posted, the more likes they received, the higher their engagement was, and the faster their following grew. Test it out for yourself! Post 1-3 times during one week, and then 5-7 during another. Does it make a difference? Try posting at different times of the day, or even multiple times in a day to see what kind of response you get. Everyone’s audience is different, so whatever moves the needle for you, do more of that!
CASH IN ON HASHTAGS
Instagram is probably the place where hashtags can do the most for a business. This is, in part because hashtags are intrinsic to the platform, so there is a higher tolerance for it than with other social media networks, not to mention its incredible potential to gain exposure with new audiences. Now, you can even follow a hashtag the same way you would follow a page, which can go a long way in helping you understand the content being generated by, and conversations taking place among your audience or an audience you’d like to target. Here are some simple tips to follow:
- Use common sense: what are obvious keywords associated with your post? If you have any experience with SEO tagging or using tools like Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) this is a very transferrable skill.
- Look at pages you like, interact with, or want to emulate. What hashtags are they and their followers using?
- Use free Instagram tools as a resource for finding relevant, impactful hashtags for your posts. We know of some good ones!
Here’s the truth about hashtags: they can really amplify your presence on Instagram, but it’s time-consuming work. Regularly researching the tags that not only make sense but are going to work effectively for your page (i.e., attract the right audience) is harder than it looks! Research, testing and analyzing productivity takes time—a commodity most of our clients don’t have. That’s why they rely on us to do it!
CELEBRATE (AND SALUTE) YOUR SOURCES
Social media is an attention-seeker’s paradise. If someone posts something about a company/brand/product (and their page is not set to private), there’s a good chance they would be happy to see that reposted—especially if they mention or tag an affiliated company page. For consumers, it shows you’re listening to them; for B2B customers, it shows you care about the work they are doing. This is about as mutually beneficial as it gets on social media! You get great content, your users get great exposure, and maybe a professional relationship grows. Win-win!
Pro tip: even if you tag the original source in a photo or video, it’s always a good idea to @mention them in the caption, as well. The reason behind this is two-fold: 1) people don’t always look at the accounts tagged in the actual photo or video; 2) if someone else uses a reposting app to share a photo or video you reposted, the photo tag will not automatically transfer, but the caption will. By doing this, you are making every effort to ensure that the original poster continues to be credited.
There are a few pillars of a good Instagram post: eye-catching visuals, great hashtags, and tagging appropriate pages and people. In my experience with all kinds of audiences, but particularly among clients with B2B customers, there is perhaps no better way to build and nurture a relationship on Instagram than to tag their page in a post related to them.
Another great way to get on users’ radars is to ask your followers to tag a friend in a post they may be interested in. You can offer incentive, such as product giveaways, in return but it’s not always necessary. If you’re providing a steady stream of quality content, that may just be incentive enough.
FIND YOUR FILTER
There are tons on photo filter options on Instagram to choose from, and finding the right one is somewhat of an art. Clarendon tops the list of most used Instagram filters in every single U.S. state, but studies on this topic show correlations between filters and post type. For example, Valencia is the most popular among #nature photos, #fashion photos prefer Kelvin, Skyline is the #food photo filter of choice, and selfies with no filter at all actually get the most likes! This is another case of “play around and see what works.” Use your platform analytics, common sense and best judgment to figure out what works for you.
KEEP IT LOCAL
Fact: last reported, posts with a location tag get 79% more engagement than those without. Talk about a little effort reaping big benefits—what could be simpler? It’s no different than checking into a location on Facebook. As a business, tagging your own location in posts about your products and services can result in increased exposure. When someone shares a post with your location tagged, it has the potential to educate and intrigue others. What’s more, when someone clicks on the location name, they’ll see all the posts that have been tagged with your location, exposing them to photos, dishes and comments about your business.
The same principle applies to Instagram location stories and stickers. These don’t just show followers what city you’re in; they’re clickable and can help your story become a part of the city stories that appear on the explore page, giving your page way more exposure than you’d get on your page alone.
So, if you own a business, make sure users can tag it! If you already have a Facebook page for your business, it will likely come up as a location choice. If you don’t, it’s easy to create a new location on Facebook, which will make the location available on Instagram.
According to a recent study from Quintly, a social media analytics company, emojis lead up to 47.7% more interactions on Instagram. It’s easy to get hung up on the number of followers a page has, and while that number does help to communicate how established or successful that page is, if those followers are not engaged, it’s not effective.
When pages show each other love, they’re introducing their brands to each other’s respective audiences, which exposes you to a partially, if not an entirely new audience. When a user follows a page, they are showing some level of vested interest, which translates, in a way, to trust. It’s like they’re saying, “I trust you to deliver content I’m going to enjoy.” So, when one page “endorses” another, it can result in a sort of trust transference. Don’t force the relationship, though. If a company, brand or influencer has a large or otherwise impactful audience, but really has no bearing on your industry, it can be unnatural and off-putting. That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative, but be thoughtful about it!
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Think, for a minute, about your own personal use of social media. How many videos do you watch on any given day? Maybe it’s a clip from a show you missed the night before, a friend’s child doing something funny, or a subtitled video you watch with the sound off during your work commute. If you add it all up, I’ll bet it’s more than you might have guessed. Videos are increasingly popular on Instagram; in fact, the average engagement for videos is growing faster than the average engagement for images. So, it came as no surprise in 2018 when Instagram introduced IGTV, an app allowing creators to share long-form video (up to an hour!) with followers. Between regular posts, Stories and IGTV, there are myriad ways to communicate your messaging to existing and prospective followers in a stimulating and impactful way. Test these tools out to see where you get the most traction.
WEAR A NAMETAG
Instagram’s new “Nametag” feature makes it easier than ever for people to find and follow a profile. The tool is designed to be scanned—sort of like a QR code—and without having to type any information, the user is given the option to view your profile or follow you. This is a boon for pages with tricky spellings, abbreviations or unwieldly underscores and other symbols. You can, of course, share your nametag on your social media pages and other online properties, but the really exciting usage opportunities lie within your marketing materials, labeling, in-store and other “real-life” applications.
At the end of the day, remember that social media platforms are part of the customer journey, not the destination. We use them as tools for communication and relationship building. Everyone knows the “if a tree falls in the woods” adage. Likewise, if a page has thousands of followers, but the content isn’t capturing their attention, is it successful?
If you’ve been trying to grow your presence on Instagram, or other social media platforms, but you’ve hit a wall or just don’t have the time or bandwidth to do it well, 3E PR can help or point you in the right direction. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get answers to your questions and discuss your needs.