Thanks to its image-heavy content, Instagram is a great platform for showing off everything that makes your brand great, from its people to its products and services. By checking in on what your community is posting, you can also gain valuable consumer insight.
Unfortunately, your Instagram community may be lacking—perhaps it doesn’t have the number of followers you’d like, or perhaps you want to expand your reach. Here’s how you can kick your social marketing strategy to high gear to better develop your community.
Give Your Instagram Community a Call to Action
Encourage your followers to interact with your content by giving them a call to action. You can leave a question in the caption for them to answer, or encourage them to tag their friends who they think will enjoy the content. Ever since Instagram switched to an algorithmic timeline instead of a chronological one, higher-interaction posts get more visibility. Consistently encourage your followers to interact and join the discussion to increase your reach.
Your Followers Don’t Just Want Photos
You may be on a photo-based platform, but that doesn’t mean it’s all you should offer your followers. Tell a story with your captions, and use specific hashtags. An original, branded hashtag can incentivize users to engage with your brand, and can serve to collect user-generated content that you might want to feature somewhere else. You should also use the caption to tag any other companies, individuals or collaborators featured in a photo to encourage them to repost it; posts mentioning other users can receive 37% more engagement than those without.
Promote Your Instagram Community on Other Profiles
Your Instagram follower count might be low, but maybe your Twitter’s count is high. Let fans on your other platforms know your profile exists, and encourage them to follow! You can get fans old and new to check your Instagram by hosting exclusive, timely content—like image-heavy reveals and details on a new product line.
Host an Event for Your Instagram Community
Timely events give people a reason to check your profile, sometimes throughout the day. A popular way to throw an Instagram event is to host a takeover: choose someone to post to the account within a set time period. You can use a fictional character like a company mascot to add a fresh new voice to your Instagram presence, or you can hire an outside collaborator.
Inviting an influencer to take over the account for a day is a great way to introduce your brand to an already-established community, encouraging them to follow. But before you do, ensure that the influencer’s audience fits within your brand and its core values.
Contests make for great events on Instagram, which incentivizes newcomers to follow and interact with your brand. They also reward your audience by offering them a prize. Offer a branded hashtag to encourage user-generated content that participants can share to their own channels. UGC may be saved and reposted for you to use as content throughout the contest or into the future—remember to tag the content creator if you choose to do this!
Venture Outside Your Community of Followers
Consider scouting other communities that you think will make a good fit for your brand. Seek out like-minded accounts or brands and participate in their communities. It’s important to be authentic here—don’t overtly solicit your brand to others’ audiences, but build excitement by genuinely showing interest in what they’re posting or discussing.
You should also seek out people mentioning your brand and its products or services. Engage with everyone that does so, even if it’s negative. By reaching out to people already discussing your brand, you show that you care about what they have to say—and you remind them that you have an Instagram presence that they can follow.
Give Your Community Video
You’ve probably noticed that Instagram Stories—collections of video strung together by a user—rest at the top of the app. This is prime real estate! Whenever possible, produce video content that you can publish in the form of Instagram Stories. Video is a great medium for demoing new products or making new brand announcements, and you can use this as an exclusive platform for this content in order to generate buzz for your community.
Post When Your Community is Active
The best times to post to Instagram are weekdays between 6am and noon for mornings and between 3pm and 4pm in the afternoon. Consistency is key, but save your best posts (and outreach strategies) for times when you know the most people will be checking their feeds.
A Larger Community Means More Responsibility
You’ve developed your Instagram community, and many of your posts have become lively spots for discussion. Perhaps a post or two has even met with some controversy. When your community has become especially active, how will you moderate comments to protect your audience and brand reputation?
Instagram offers native comment moderation tools, including a feature to auto-block comments that include words you’ve blacklisted. The tool is useful, but requires work and maintenance on the user’s part: no one wants to spend time maintaining a list of profane or abusive language, and you may not even consider certain terms or phrases until they’ve already been posted.
Smart Moderation is a similar tool that blocks abusive language and filters spam within a minute that it’s posted, with the key difference being that it’s powered by artificial intelligence. This means you won’t have to deal with blocking rigid phrases and terms; Smart Moderation already knows what’s appropriate or not, and you can easily train it to moderate the way you want it to as if it were a human assistant. Give Smart Moderation a try to see how easy it is to shield yourself and your audience from abusive behavior, trolling and PR disasters.
Remember, timing mandates vary from industry to industry (quite sharply for media, sports, and celebrities). Be sure to consult owned as well as competitive and industry analytics to get your timing right.