How do I use Instagram wisely

11 Instagram strategies for a higher reach and more followers

Instagram is currently the star in the social media sky. This trend towards popularity is likely to continue. Facebook's subsidiary platform is becoming an increasingly important tool, especially for marketers and companies.

500 million users are active every day

From 2014 to 2018, the number of monthly active users increased from 200 million to 800 million. 500 million of them are active every day. The relevance of the network can obviously no longer be denied for marketers and companies. Anand Srinivasan reports on Falcon that the time spent on the platform is increasing by 80 percent annually. But how do you stand out from the crowd with such high user numbers and create a successful Instagram presence with target group-oriented content and a high reach?

The social network continues to expand the features offered. While in long forgotten times you could only post photos with hashtags on the platform, there is now the possibility of chatting via the app, uploading stories that are visible 24 hours a day via Snapchat and placing paid advertising. These options are therefore more than attractive for companies and marketers and offer countless opportunities to advertise creatively, individually and, ideally, authentically. The following 11 strategies create a foundation for the ideal Instagram presence.

1) Specific content: create a buyer persona

What kind of content does your audience want to see anyway? Since you don't want to address any audience, but want to deliver target group-oriented content, this question is of great importance. Think about the people you want to reach with your account. For this it makes sense to find topics of interest. In order to discover these, it is useful to create a buyer persona. This gives you an idea of ​​the main interests of your followers and allows you to create ideal and, above all, specific content.

Paul Potratz emphasizes in a Forbes article that we humans always like to deal psychologically with people who have similar interests and views. This is why it's so important to post about the topics that your audience finds exciting on Instagram. This is how you secure the interest of your subscribers.

2) Ask your followers what interests them

Otherwise, you can also ask your followers directly which content they would like to have expanded thematically. Because it is important that you understand your subscribers and can really reach them. To get in contact with users via the company account, you can use the following Instagram features:

  • Instagram Stories: You can create a poll in a story. Users can choose between two topics and vote for what they would like to see more of. But if an “either / or” is not suitable, Instagram has a brand new option. The question stickers have recently been rolled out. With the help of this option, your followers can express their individual wishes in the open response format. You formulate the question, such as: "Which topics are you still missing on this account?"
  • Post a photo: Ask your followers to comment on the photo with the content they want. This creates engagement at the same time and the subscribers get the direct opportunity to express their interests.
  • Direct messages: As a third option, you can ask your followers in a story or in a post in your feed that they can and should contact you with their wishes regarding the content via DM (direct message).

3) hashtag miracle weapon? You have to pay attention to that

If you use hashtags correctly, you can generate new followers with the increased reach. But many users no longer really know how to best use hashtags. Quite a few rumors have spread. Do you achieve high performance with a lot of hashtags? Unfortunately a myth that does not come true. In our ultimate Instagram hashtag guide for 2018 you will find all the relevant information on how to use hashtags ideally.

Current recommendations:

  • Only use a few, extremely relevant, hashtags. Here you can find instructions and the latest top hashtags.
  • Put hashtags directly in the caption and not in the comments for the sake of aesthetics.
  • Work continuously with stories and use hashtags there to be displayed in the hashtag stories.

There is also a hashtag function in the stories: You can access this option in the upper right corner via the smiley sticker. In a story, however, you shouldn't bombard your followers with hashtags. The photo or video in the story should be in the foreground and only backed up with a handful of selected hashtags.

Pro tip: Use your fingers to resize the hashtag sticker. Use this option to clearly position the stickers at a certain angle to match the photo. This is how you make sure that the tags do not interfere. Nevertheless, you do not miss the opportunity to increase your reach with hashtags. In order to still use a lot of tags in the story but not distract the viewer from the content, you can integrate up to ten hashtags, but hide them behind an emoji. OnlineMarketing.de office dog Philly shows how it's done:

4) Geotagging: locate your posts

Localize any content. But why is that useful? Users can search for places using the search function on Instagram. In this way, you have the opportunity on your part to generate more attention, to address local users, but also to people who are interested in the location on Instagram. After all, a study shows that posts with geotagging generate almost 80 percent more engagement than content without a location.

  • Geotagging in the feed: Before you post a photo or video, Instagram gives you the option to specify the location. First you select a photo or video, you get to the filter option and then you have the option to mark people and add the location.
  • Geotagging in the story: If you want to upload a story, you can select the option "Location" with the smiley sticker in the top right corner. At first you will be suggested locations in your area, but if the photo was taken somewhere else, you can find the desired location in the search bar and enter it.

In our Instagram post you can see an example of what geotagging looks like in the end. Above the post is the location where the picture was taken. Here one of our colleagues works in the home office in Buxtehude on his balcony when the weather is good.

5) Organization: Curate your content

Ideally, you create a specific content calendar for your Instagram account. So you can plan your posts weekly or even monthly. To do this, you can use certain tools such as Planoly, Schedugram or Onlypult. These programs each have a free trial period so you can see if it helps you post regularly.

In this way you can ensure that certain content or events are not forgotten and optimize your social media marketing on Instagram. In addition, our content calendar for 2018 provides you with further ideas on which your content could be oriented.

6) Interact with your community

Even if Instagram is a digital platform for interaction, you should still be careful about an interpersonal bond between your followers and you. Because when you meet your subscribers openly and regularly, a more intimate relationship is inevitably created. This is especially important for your audience, because this way you increase sympathy for the company and position yourself approachable.

Creating a connection between the users and you is essential for the engagement on your profile. The next time someone comments on a post of yours, reply and interact with your subscribers. Potratz also advises posting photos with faces more often. These would get around 38 percent more likes than other photos.

Subscribers are not permanent. To ensure that your followers continue to find your content interesting and stay with you, you should make sure that you regularly deliver content, interact via messages and present yourself authentically. You can also follow your subscribers. In this way you show customer proximity and can show a continuous presence and interest through likes or comments for photos of your followers. In the long term, this proximity to users will also have a positive effect on your reach.

7) Follow the competition

By following your competitors in the industry, you will be able to observe how the target audience you want to target reacts to contributions from direct competitors. This will give you an idea of ​​what content would go down well with your audience. In addition, it is possible that you will receive inspiring ideas. However, it is important that you do not copy content one-to-one, but maintain your individual status. Also take a look at the hashtags that your fellow campaigners are using. Last but not least, you not only connect with your competitors, but also with your colleagues from the industry and show yourself open and interested towards them.

8) Cross Marketing: Promote your Instagram profile on other channels

Instagram is gaining more and more popularity. While social media marketing used to take place almost exclusively via Facebook, Instagram is becoming more and more steadfast in this regard. With the steady growth of the social network, it takes on the role of a model social media platform and is slowly approaching the marketing relevance of the parent company Facebook. So if you have already created a solid Facebook profile whose follower numbers are impressive, then use the attention of your users there to advertise your Instagram profile.

Of course, you should also draw attention to your new presence on Instagram on your Twitter account or other social media, but above all on your website. Maybe you have been represented on other platforms for a long time and found a large audience there. Therefore, let your followers know about your new profile on Instagram. Because the easier you make it for your target group to find you, the more people will follow you. So make sure that users are aware of your profile.

9) Create incentives with giveaways

You know what your audience likes. With this knowledge you can come up with various creative marketing campaigns. Organize a competition or a raffle, for example. For example, followers can win something if they tag a friend under a post, repost something or upload a story with your company or brand name. Nevertheless, you should make sure that the gifts are still relevant to the target group. Otherwise you run the risk of users subscribing to your profile, but jumping off again after the competition has ended. Therefore, the profits should continue to represent a thematic connection to your service.

When creating competitions or other promotions, be sure to follow the guidelines of the platform!

10) Post stories and secure your pole position

This Instagram feature has been available on the platform since 2016. Adapted from Snapchat, this feature is a real gift for marketers. Although posting videos and pictures in the feed is still the main function of the social network, stories are becoming more and more important and should definitely be used by you. This feature actually generates one of the highest levels of engagement and has a lot of viewers. Especially (still) small accounts can gain enormous reach by concentrating on the features of Intagram Stories.

On the one hand, the stories that are visible 24 hours and then expire are the first thing that all users see when the app is opened. So you can see the profile picture of the account surrounded by a reddish, Instagram-colored circle. The latest stories are always shown to subscribers first at the top left. For you, this means that regular story updates give you the pole position in the users' app.

Within the story function itself there are other features that increase the reach of your story. Since Instagram, like the parent company Facebook, is used by users to search for brands, shops and other professional accounts and to discover new relevant channels, you should use the features available within your story. This increases your reach and is more likely to reach Instagrammers who have not yet noticed your account. This includes:

  • Geotagging and hashtags:You can use the sticker at the top right to incorporate hashtags and local tags into your story and increase your reach. As already mentioned: consciously choose tags and don't overload the story with too many stickers. You can adjust the size and position individually to the picture or video with dragging movements of your fingers. Or hide the hashtags behind an emoji. With a successful use of hashtags in your story, you might end up in the associated hashtag story and make your content accessible to a much larger audience.
  • Swipe up! Link products and information:Stories are a real stage for marketers, companies and all kinds of promotion. If you promote a product or something else in your story via video or photo, you can link the corresponding website. When looking at the story, users can swipe up and go directly to the product. So swipe up!
  • Question Stickers:With the recently rolled out question stickers, followers can ask you questions. The default question format is: "Ask me a question". You can of course modify and specify this. Of course, you can also make other use of this option, turn the function around and ask your subscribers a question. You are assured of commitment.
  • Story highlights:You liked one of your stories so much that you want your followers to have the opportunity to see it more often and for a long time? No problem at all, because since last year you can archive your stories and post them as highlights. These can then be seen on your account above your feed. You can capture as many highlights as you like. The function is particularly suitable for current advertising campaigns or stories that contain a link and certain hashtags. This way, your subscribers can access it for longer and have the highlight right at the top of your account. Since users who are not yet among your followers tend to look at the story highlights before scrolling down the entire feed, this function is a real marketing gift. We at OnlineMarketing.de have so far created three highlight categories: Articles, Tech and Highlights.

11) Share User Generated Content (UGC)

When users link your account on a photo, video or in their story, you will receive a notification. This offers you a welcome basis for a marketing campaign. Because this is how the followers of the person who mentioned you see your account at first, but you can also repost the person's content. With the user-generated content, you show user proximity and stay in touch with your target group.

Posting UGC is so relevant because customers are seven times more likely to buy from a brand suggested by other consumers. If you can show happy consumers of your product on your account, more people are likely to choose it. This will also be one of the reasons why influencer marketing has found fertile ground on Instagram.

Be creative and use the various marketing opportunities on Instagram

With these eleven strategies you can optimize your marketing on Instagram. In order to become more confident in handling and the various options, it is also advisable that you use the app yourself and get a daily overview of what is happening on the platform. This way you can keep an overview of current developments and trends and, if necessary, you can participate.

Provide engaging content that invites your followers to interact. Learn how to use hashtags correctly and act actively with your community. Like and comment on content that is relevant to you and follow the users that are of interest to you. You can let your creativity run free and test the many design options without limits. With the daily active number of 500 million users, Instagram has become an integral part of marketing. With the help of the eleven options outlined, you are getting closer to a successful Instagram presence and high reach.

Maja has been supporting the editorial team at OnlineMarketing.de since 2017. She primarily devotes herself to the career magazine with topics related to jobs and careers, but also writes about digital marketing.