Whether Snapchat will win the photo/video sharing war is still undecided, but Instagram is the clear favorite among the masses right now.
Here’s 5 tips for getting more followers looking at, and sharing your feed:
1. Figure out what your targets want and give it to them.
It’s really hard to laser focus on your ideal audience if you’re a small brand without a social media team to research and curate images and video clips for your feed, or come up with the most catchy hashtags. To create content that both interests current followers and draws new ones in.
Check out @squarespace and their images featuring simplicity, clean lines and lack of clutter — Ie., the very reasons their demographic uses the brand’s hosted CMS for. You can’t just throw poop at the wall and hope it sticks on Instagram!
Figure out what current followers like about your brand. Is it the business concept itself? Perhaps you’ve gained a following by posting motivational quotes and memes? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and get your butt in gear scaling on what’s getting you the most followers.
2. Each post needs to tell a story that resonates with your brand.
The best blog and vlog content online goes beyond the facts being shared and conjures a story in the visitor’s mind. When a user’s imagination is sparked, it has a lasting positive effect on their memory. They’ll follow you because they want to be entertained while being informed.
Red Bull has a pretty easy job of promoting their brand currently, as they’ve cornered a market on adventure athletes and high-risk performers as their brand ambassadors. Each post they make tells a definite story worth listening to, and conjures up an emotional experience that many of their followers crave but may never have up close and personal.
3. Focus on uniformity over confusion.
Nothing is worse for getting and keeping subscribers than a wack-a-mole approach to posting content. Your brand’s voice needs to be consistent from one post to the next. Are you smart, quirky, offbeat, or downright hilarious? The content needs to fit into a certain stylish mold, too.
Taco Bell, who is most interested in the millennial demographic, focuses their posts on images with colors and concepts that interest millennials and which happen to fit into their brand image: Bright bold color, just like those you’d find at any Taco Bell location, along with photos and vids that embody the on-the-go lifestyle that fast-food-junkies crave.
4. Captions need to have an old-school Twitter feel, including proprietary hashtags.
One of the biggest blunders brands make is treating Instagram captions like blogposts. Hint: They’re not! Anything after four lines, and your followers (and potential followers) have to click on the “more” link. This only applies to desktop viewing, mobile devices vary, but generally only show a small amount of text.
If viewers don’t get inspired by your picture, they won’t give a crap about the caption. They won’t see “link in bio” or any other CTAs and certainly won’t be signing up or making a purchase either. All of the brands mentioned so far are very effective at keeping the message short and swimmingly sweet.
Hashtags need to be limited to five only, preferably less. They should be your own, unless you’re posting about a viral issue or trend that relates to your brand or its message. For instance, if you’re a brand catering to males, a #MeToo in your latest grooming post is likely to result in backlash and negative branding.
5. Track engagement to find the best time of day to post.
Every brand will have a different time of day where followers are most likely to engage. Engagement equals more followers and better branding. Someone like @selenagomez can post whenever she wants and get millions of her 133m (at the time of this post) followers to engage and share with others.
For growing brands that are hungry for more, you need to figure out the best times of day for YOU to post. After all, there’s only so many epic Insta-posts you can make in a day, so you need to get the best stuff in front of the most viewers to be effective.
Forget what you read from social gurus online and test and track until you find what works best for your followers. It could be that time of day when @therock and all his celebrity pals are taking a break, allowing you to slip into someone’s feed at the exact time their looking for their cool-photo-fix@!