From launching at the start of the decade to getting $500,000 in seed funding to Facebook shelling out $1 billion in cash and stock for the service, photo sharing app Instagram is the unrivaled social network of its time.
With 60% of adults online using the platform and almost a third of teenagers declaring the social network as the most important to them, droves of influencers on practically every continent consider it the same, in perspective of their marketing campaigns.
In all likeliness, if you’re reading this, you’ll already be using Instagram for marketing. But as you know, you’re not alone and will need to cut yourself apart from the competition to stay successful. This guide details the definitive ins and outs of Instagram optimization to make your influencing campaigns anything but ordinary.
Instagram Influencing 2.0
As a common understanding, Instagram is the world’s most effective social media network for engagement. At this very moment, you may be using certain tricks of the trade to drive forward marketing on the platform - like posting midweek and in the late afternoon to get the most follower traction. If you’re assisting engagement with media companies you’ll probably be updating accounts at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm to drive the most engagement. You’ll certainly be using Hashtags in posts to spurn over 10% more commitment from the site’s users.
While these things come part and parcel of a standard Instagram influencing career, what you perhaps don’t know is how to reach the dizzying heights of the networks true influencing super heavyweights. People like Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty), Michelle Lewin (@michelle_lewin), Chiara Ferragni (@chiaraferragni) and Nikkie De Jager (@nikkietutori).
Astoundingly Huda Kattan has more Instagram followers than there are people in Taiwan. The Blonde Salad’s Chiara is much sought after by Dior and Louis Vuitton. Its abundantly clear that this set of distinguished influencers, along with a few others, are cut from a very different cloth.
So what’s the secret to their success? Simply put it can be found in the way they use tools, they track trends and take the time to talk with their followers.
Pay attention to the Elite
To take the next leap to become an authoritative voice in a niche, its almost exclusively impossible for an Instagram influencer to reach such rarefied air where there’s no one above them in terms of reach and marketing power.
The Instagram influencer should, therefore, look to who creates the most engaging content across their industry or sector. Non-platform affiliated sites such as influence.co can help you find the best content producers in your niche, whilst Portugal-based aggregator Skorr will measure an influencers sway over multiple social media accounts, including, but not limited to, Instagram.
The reason that top-flight Instagram marketers are where they are today is because they focus on developing their status in their niche - and not in others.
Once you have a clear handle on who they are, look at the way those higher-ups converse and campaign with their followers on Instagram. They’ve almost certainly all got their own distinctive narrative. ‘CASH ME OUTSIDE’ girl and Dr. Phil alumna Danielle Bregoli (@bhadbhabie) clearly goes for an aggressive, care not tone in her social posts - but it clearly works for her. As of writing, she’s just inked a $900,000 beauty deal. Case in point she clearly connects with her audience. If you’re happy with the foothold you have in your Instagram niche, then you’ve become complacent. Drifting along on a marketing plateau and sticking with the status quo, means the only way is down. The reason that top-flight Instagram marketers are where they are today is because they focus on developing their status in their niche - and not in others. They don’t get trigger happy by weighing in on other non-related money generating areas or ‘hot’ topics that they know little about. Alternatively, they enforce themselves as points of authority and authenticity in their field on - and off - Instagram. To experience an upcurve of influencing growth you should do the same. Being proactive on Instagram is a sure fire way to travel along a similar influencer path. Get in on the act by engaging with the top echelon of marketers as well as major and micro-influencers by actively commenting on their posts. This exposes you to each influencer type, but more importantly, their own more substantial followers to give them the impetus to follow you.
A clearly defined Campaign
With a laid out strategy, in regards to what narrative, tone and activity to take to get more Instagram followers in place, the campaign itself needs to be taken care. Is the whole point for the marketing exercise to act as a sales funnels for you or a commercial client? Maybe you’re doing it to increase overall visibility. It’s imperative that the desired outcome in known so you can measure it with the following Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.
Seeking out Statistics
Along the same lines as Google Analytics, Instagram lets influencers zero in on their all-important campaign metrics.
To do this, commercial users can access the platforms base tool to keep track of activity within the Instagram Insights feature. Easily used to conduct a thorough analysis of what activity is getting reactions and how far your efforts are reaching over certain time periods, it covets metrics like conversions, clicks and product sales. It helps to hone influencing efforts through definitions of the reach, engagement, and impressions posts are making. Afterwards, the same path can be followed or changed to ensure campaign effectiveness.
If it’s all about You, it’s really about Them
Whereas the punk movement snarled the attention away from the free-loving hippy era of the 60s and 70s, millennials and those thereafter have spearheaded commerce to be focused directly around them. As an embodiment of this - and before influencers come into the equation to get a piece of the pie - social networking is pinned to the everyday, average user sharing content. And none more so than Instagram.
Quite ingeniously influencers now recognize the value and the advantages of incorporating user-generated content in their own Instagram campaigns - as it renders them more authentic in their marketing activities. Superlatively, human psychology dictates that people prefer to buy or emotionally invest with authentic organizations and influencers. Through subtle inclinations that you, as an influencer, are in touch and on the level with followers, then your influence will continue to grow.
On the other end of the scope, it’s also beneficial to keep an eye on the bigger picture with trends - or topics that are discussed en masse by large numbers of online groups.
New trends crop up every day and at every hour online. Amounting to trying to take a sip from a fire hose, it’s impossible for influencers to keep track of the millions of topics that could be utilized as content in their campaign. The Hashtag can, however, be used to find trends via the Instagram search engine i.e its search box which populates the most popular trending Hashtags at any moment.
Being in the know of the most popular topics lets influencers that are marketing on the platform post Hashtags concerning the same top trends and increase their visibility with online Instagram users.
A Hashtag is an art form onto itself. Quintessentially different from Twitters advice of ‘using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet as best practice’, Instagram lets users add up to 30 Hashtags. And those serious about Instagram marketing usually do in each of their posts to get seen on the network as well as permeate other online channels.
As you, the influencer, can find trending topics on Instagram with its search function, so does the average user i.e those that are or could be influenced by your campaigns. To create this symbiosis, use of the correct Hashtags should also be always tailored in when posting new content regarding ever-evolving topics and trends to ensure maximum exposure for said posts.
Keeping your followers Contented
For all its worth Instagram is known for sharing photo and video content that catches the eye and engages audiences. And with many thousands of influencers all vying to be seen in their own niche, it’s a must for them to keep their content current and on tap.
The context of content will always depend on the campaign outline as mentioned before. It’s irrespective if the context is covering a new product on the market or even a socio-economic affecting topic that’s in the news. On Instagram, it’s more about the quality of the content delivered, than the content itself. As longs as its interesting and engaging it will hit home. .
A Social Cross to Bear
Although the Instagram influencer that digs in their heels and focuses their campaigns on the platform remains smart, they’d also be foolhardy to look past utilizing other channels where possible.
Initially used by Instagram to drive online traffic to their site, the network easily lets you place Instagram based photos directly into blog posts and websites and other channels like Facebook and Twitter. The proof will be in the pudding, as with posts that have been received well and connected with audiences on the photo-sharing site firstly, then it makes sense to use them to cast your influencing net further elsewhere.
The New(ish) tool on the block
With the Hashtag having been in circulation for over a decade, Instagram Stories has been in use for close to three years and is proving to be just as popular.
Used by a lot by brands that commission influence marketers, Stories has more daily active users than Twitter as a whole. Its popularity with a user is rising and second to only the platforms news feed function.
Following Snapchats limited post lifespans, Stories content is only available for 24 hrs and thus cause an immediacy that influencers can use to target and capitalize on audiences who have ‘FOMO’ or fear if missing out.
As an influencer, you can use Stories to speak directly to the audience and in effect break the fourth wall of a standard ‘Insta-interaction’. Through swipe-up links used in the content, audiences can navigate to your - or a commercial clients - blog, site or alternate account easily.
With a notable mention to Twitter, Instagram is a go-to channel for today’s influencers - and it will be a channel where many remain to sharpen their campaign skills to ensure their optimal success. It’s impossible to deny the reasons for this and the numbers themselves have it - because the 800 million active users that are on Instagram per day can’t be wrong.
It shows no slow up in its trajectory and has the highest interaction rate compared to all other social media platforms - with Facebook users having a paltry 0.5 - 1.0% engagement rate per update and Instagram getting triple that with 3% for an average users post.
Fundamentally, for influencers looking to hit the big time, it pays to stay with the original photo-sharing app to all but guarantee their marketing campaigns continue to connect time and time again.