Instagram can be a highly beneficial tool for business owners. It might not be as versatile as Facebook when it comes to sharing a variety of content and media, but it is certainly one of the most popular social media platforms out there.
Instagram can be an amazing source of traffic for your website and a great tool for engaging with your followers. Recently, Instagram reverted back to its beloved chronological timeline which should boost post performance and reach. However, no one is certain how the timeline order algorithm affects posts.
Along with the timeline change, a few other UX and design changes have been released. This is the perfect time to take advantage of Instagram and utilise it properly for the benefit of your business. Here are a few tips to boost your account performance and post reach.
Use Instagram regularly and link to your site
The first step is to ensure that you include a link to your website in your bio. This way, any user who looks at your account can find an easy way to click through to your site. If users like your posts, they’ll probably like your other content so they’ll want to look at your website.
Speaking of posts, you need to upload regularly. The best way to grow your Instagram following is to post a few times a week. Start by posting one or twice a day, and once you’ve established a good following, cut this down to three times a week or so.
It’s a fine balancing act between giving your followers great content that they want to see and spamming their feeds. If they see too much of your posts on their timeline, they’ll unfollow you. You also need to think about posting at different times of the day – most users are active first thing in the morning, at lunch and in the evenings after work/university/school.
Try posting at various times and see which ones receive the most likes and comments. This strategy has been tried and tested and it varies for different accounts based on the demographics of the followers. Establish what times and days work best for your followers.
Use relevant hashtags
Many social media users don’t understand the function of hashtags. Some users make up their own hashtags – which is fine for comedic purposes – but if you really want to grow a serious following, you need to use relevant hashtags.
A hashtag curates images together so that users can find similar content. For example, if you search for #sunset, you’ll find millions of images of sunsets from around the world. Hashtags allow people to find images more easily, so make sure your hashtags are directly relevant to your image.
Don’t use hashtags that have nothing to do with your post. It’s also important to use a combination of popular and more unique hashtags to maximise your post performance. Popular hashtags with millions of posts are great for reaching a large audience, but your image can get lost in the sea of similar posts very quickly.
Less common hashtags, such as #capetowntourism, can be great for targeting specific users and interests. Your post is less likely to get lost amongst millions of others, but the target audience searching for that hashtag will be smaller.
You should aim to use between 10 and 20 hashtags with every post – a variety of common and more niche ones. Separate your hashtags from your image caption so that the user can read the caption easily. You can even post your hashtags as a comment beneath the image.
Engage with other users and posts
The point of social media is to be, well, social. Instagram is no different. The Instagram algorithm appears to favour accounts that are more social and active, which is why automated ‘bots’ have such popular accounts.
If users comment on your posts, reply and tag them to say thank you. Similarly, you should also leave comments on posts on your timeline. Not only is this good for networking and community-building, but users are more likely to check out your account and follow you if you comment on their posts.
When commenting, use authentic language and make it unique so that they know you’re not a bot account. Comments such as “wow” or the flame emoji are typically used by automated accounts to compliment photographers and generate follows in return. By now, you should have guessed that bots are annoying and frowned upon by the Instagram community.
Post videos and carousels
Change up your account posts by including videos and carousels (a set of up to 10 images that users can scroll through). Followers enjoy short video content and a series of images – it keeps them on your post a little longer and actually encourages more likes and comments.
These can be great tools for promotional purposes too – you’re not limited to single images of products anymore. Instead, post a tutorial video or a carousel of images that users can swipe through to see various aspects of your product.
Having a combination of media on your account is a great way to keep users engaged and invested in your offerings. Write interesting captions and include any vital details about your business and products. You can’t include links in your captions, only your bio, so refer them to your bio for more information and a link to your website.
Use Instagram Stories
This is the newest trend for social media – Stories, or short videos that your users can watch that disappear after 24 hours. This temporary content doesn’t go on your account wall, but it can be found by clicking on your profile picture or it will appear at the top of your followers’ feed when they log in to Instagram.
Stories can give your followers a little insight into your business; some behind-the-scenes content that can pique interest and drive traffic for your business. Stories allow you to make your account more personal and humanise your business. You can also use stories to run fun polls, calls-to-action and distribute advice.
Track and record your performance
Tracking your post performance in a spreadsheet is the best way to see what works and what needs to be revised. Document each post’s likes, shares, time, day and how many followers you gained afterwards. Don’t become obsessed with these numbers – just let them guide future choices and decisions.
The main aim of Instagram is to grow your audience and promote your work, so don’t get lost in the numbers and less important details. You can access your Instagram metrics by changing your account to a business account (for free). This will bring up options in your settings to see various metrics and analytics.
Instagram can be a handy tool for your business. It acts as another source of traffic for your website and can be used to promote products and examples of your services. It’s a highly popular social media channel and, when used correctly, can grow your audience and potential customer base with ease.
Sorted Design Agency is a creative company that constantly looks for solutions to other people’s problems. These problems come mostly in the visual format, such as graphic design, logo and illustration, but we’re experts in brand development, website design, and digital SEO campaigns as well.
Based in Pretoria and Cape Town, Sorted has been in the content marketing industry since 2006. We assist your company with its corporate identity by communicating core values through content and articles written for your website, blog and news area. This content is supported by AdWords and social advertising, which facilitates wider reach and audience growth. Turn your website into a business tool.
Sorted also owns two other businesses; InkFish Print Studio – a printing company that handles a range of promotional materials for businesses and other services for individual customers, and Pampiri + Kie – a gifts and stationery store selling online and in-store. Both of these companies operate from Cape Town and Pretoria.
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