Instagram.  We all love it. We all use it.  Here's everything you need to know about the social media giant. 

How to Grow Your Audience

Search for Users and Engage with Them.

Everyone wants more followers on Instagram.  As a marketer, I truly believe that depth is much more important than width.  Search hashtags relevant to your industry or brand and like and comment on user's photos.  If you find their content valuable, don't be afraid to follow them. Additionally, look up your competitors followers and engage with them.  This is the best way to start growing your following with relevant users.

Pro tip: When someone comments on your photo, reply using their handle. It's the right thing to do.

Use Hashtags Effectively.

Hashtags are used to categorize posts by subject matter when users search. This is a great way to get found organically. Remember, you can use up to thirty tags, so take advantage of it.  Use hashtags that are relevant to your industry to get found by users you actually want to be followed by.  You can piggy back off popular hashtags to get found, but I strongly discourage using unpopular hashtags.  They're unpopular for a reason, and won't help much in growing your following.  A great tool you can use is hashtagify.com where you can search one hashtag and it'll suggest the most relevant hashtags related to it.

Pro tip: Put your tags in a comment as opposed to your caption to avoid looking spammy by your audience. 

Post Regularly. 

Posting great content everyday is a sure way to keep the followers that you worked so hard to gain.  With Instagram's latest update, photos no longer come up chronologically so it's not a bad idea to post multiple times a day to ensure you keep coming up on user's feeds.  Be sure you're posting good content though, because again - you don't want to look spammy.  I'm a firm believer that you should skip a post if it's off brand, or disruptive to the user experience.

How to Use Instagram Stories

Instagram recently released a feature that looks strangely familiar (sorry Snapchat) and it's an amazing way for brands to show their personality and engage with followers in a new and exciting way. 

Swipe down to upload stories.

You can upload photos and videos from your phone by swiping down on your screen when you open up the Stories feature.  Remember, you can only upload photos and videos taken within the last 24 hours - which is awesome because it forces users to keep posting something new. 

Swipe Up to See Who Viewed Your Story.

When you're viewing your own story (because I know you do) you can see who's viewed them by swiping up on one of your scenes. It also opens up options to delete stories, or save stories. 

Pro tip: Engage with users who view your stories regularly.  It's a great way to create loyalty and stronger connections.

Tap and Hold to Pause a Story

See a story you really like? You can pause it by holding down on a scene. Don't forget you can also swipe left to skip to the next user, swipe right to go back, and tap left and right to move back and forth between one users story. 

Swipe Up To Comment on A Story

Engagement is high when you comment on someone else's story.  In fact, this is a HUGE improvement to Instagram as a community, because users are much more likely to engage in a conversation with you via a story, rather than in the comments of a post. 

My Favorite Apps for Instagram

Word Swag

Wordswag makes creating memes and inpo-graphics (inspirational graphics) easy with templates, stock photos, and a slew of filters and fonts.

Pro tip: You can upload your logo and use it in your memes when you click 'add a logo/watermark' on final screen when creating your image. 

Snapseed

Snapseed is in amazing app for editing photos.  One of my favorite features is the Grunge feature, which adds amazing texture to photos. 

Photo by @jliberio

Photo by @jliberio

The Dos and Don'ts of Great Instagrammers

Don't Use Auto-Comments

There are many automation tools and features to help grow your account, but I'm telling you right now, never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever (ever) use auto comments.  Just don't. 

Do Check Your Direct Messages Often

When someone you don't follow messages you, you won't get alerted.  So, check your direct messages often for the pink alert in your inbox.  You don't want to miss out on great connections. 

Don't Post Sub-Par Content

Like I said earlier, I'd rather see you skip a post than post something that breaks up a user experience like an infographic ad with your 20% off deal.  Instead, post a great looking photo of your product and mention in your caption of the deal, then say 'click the link in the bio' for more information.  

Don't Buy Followers or Likes

It's not worth it.  Most likely those followers are fake and are worthless anyway.  It might look good for your brand, but when someone has 10K followers and 42 likes, people know what's up. 

Do Appreciate Your Fans

Do you realize that someone thought you were cool enough to follow?  That's such a big deal. Follow back and engage with people you truly appreciate, and stop trying to look cool with a follower to following ratio. 

If you found this article useful, please share it! I'd really appreciate it. Also, I'd love to connect with you on Instagram so be sure to follow me and comment so I can follow you back (@miqk).


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