No other social network in the last 24 months has grown as rapidly as Instagram. With over 400 million – predominantly younger – active users worldwide, Instagram is an ideal tool when it comes to targeting the next generation who communicate in one clear language – images. And of course it’s only natural that a social network based 95% on photos is going to attract attention in marketing circles. Instagram is packed full of fashion bloggers, photographers, designers and a whole host of other professionals whose industries revolve around the visual image. But the content is only half of the story; no other social network benefits from user interaction like Instagram. Which begs the question: how to generate the highest possible interaction rates for Instagram content? Read on to find out…
1. Post regularly!
Post daily, if possible. The regular publication of content is one of the basic cornerstones of any social network and Instagram is no different. It’s logical: the more content you publish, the more opportunities users have to interact. But of course this only works if your photos are of high enough quality and suit the needs of your target audience.
So it makes little sense to publish photos which don’t have anything to do with your website or your business (unless, of course, you are a private user not looking to make profit). For publishers, this isn’t an option and content on Instagram should always play a role in marketing their product.
“Regular publication of content ensures that users become accustomed to your online presence.”
For this reason, it is also a good idea to try to post at a similar time each day, and to ensure you’re never stuck for content ideas, make sure you take copious stock photos whenever possible to keep in reserve. One Instagram post per day is usually enough, but make sure it’s an eye-catcher! Remember: the better the content, the more interactions it will get.
2. Publish content when the most users are online
‘Social timing’ is hugely important, and you would be surprised at how many professional online marketers still don’t plan their publication strategies properly. They upload a photo here, an image there, whenever and wherever they get a chance. Not the way to go. It might seem obvious, but some times of day work better than others…
“The only difficulty is identifying the right time!”
But don’t despair – there are tools out there which can help, or you can always spend a week or so testing out what works best for yourself. Once you have gathered a large enough number of followers, try posting different photos at different times over the course of a week or so and see what effect it has on interaction rates.
You’ll quickly see which photos and which times of day work best and you’ll find a pattern which you can then follow for future postings to guarantee maximum visibility. If you find for instance that your genre of photos attract the most interactions between 7pm and 8pm, don’t bother posting at 8am – it seems likely that your target audience aren’t even out of bed by then!
3. Use specific calls-to-action
Calls-to-action are an effective online tool, often simply because users like being told what to do! A call-to-action often acts as that final little push a user needs to carry out a transaction. It could be an additional little piece of text to accompany a photo of a well-placed product, for instance.
A text with an immediate call-to-action can result in a user clicking on a link when they perhaps ordinarily wouldn’t have. This is particularly useful when users are as yet undecided as to whether they intend to convert or not. Such tools can drastically increase interaction rates, but are often the simplest of messages, perhaps encouraging a user to ‘like’ a photo (“Double tap the photo if you like it”) or telling them to tag friends to further recommend and share the content.
Such calls-to-action are particularly popular with Instagram ads and the golden rule remains: test and optimize, test and optimize, test and optimize. Alternatively, try working with questions. In 90% of cases, questions motivate the online community to respond and therefore engage with your brand. Users also genuinely appreciate it when you show an interest in their opinion.
4. Recycle popular content
If you’ve followed my advice thus far and have paid attention to your social timing, you’ll be starting to get an idea of which photos work best and when. Use your findings to plan future postings and ensure maximum interaction with your content.
But what should you do with old content, or content which you have used but remains timelessly successful? Don’t be afraid to use this content again from time to time – at well planned intervals. When enough time has passed, post it again. Indeed, if you are clever about reusing old content you can even begin to market such moments as a sort of ‘event’.
For example, some users might use a “#throwbackthursday” event whereby they use this hashtag on Thursdays to alert users to content which they have intentionally recycled because it was so popular first time around. If you can think up an interesting backstory and allow your users to share in your experiences through your content, then you’re on the right track.
5. Interact with other Instagrammers
Interactions are probably best encouraged on Instagram when you actively engage with other users. Follow relevant people to build yourself a high quality stream of content which is thematically relevant to your profile. Monitor what other similar accounts are posting and interact with them by ‘liking’ or by offering sensible comments – not too short, as Instagram could mistake this for spam, and not too many in too short a space of time.
“In my experience, five ‘likes’ and three comments generally result in one new Instagram follower.”
Conversely, when other users comment on your content then don’t forget to thank them – it’s seen as polite and the online community appreciates this. What’s more, people will notice your activity and become more interested in your account.
This will result in your content reaching many more people as more and more Instagrammers follow you. Over time, greater reach will pay off in terms of profit for your brand. In my experience, your follower count will grow and grow exponentially and there will be nothing to stand in the way of your successful Instagram account.
Instagram is built on user interaction. The more interactions you get, the more people will notice you – after all, users can all see what photos a person they are connected with have liked. But it’s not a one-way street – Instagram offers great potential for everyone. The important thing to take away however in my opinion is to time your activities carefully. Post high quality content at the right time of day in order to catch the attention of as many users as possible. Finally, don’t forget to be active yourself – ‘like’ and comment upon thematically relevant content from other users. Only in this way will your Instagram community be able to grow.