1. Stay true and sincere
When you ask professional Instagrammers about the secret to success, many will say that authenticity is key. Followers will immediately know when you’re trying to be something you’re not, or when you’re being paid to post a positive review on something.
It actually goes the other way – the more open and personal you have the courage to be, the more people will like you. Take the time to engage with your followers.
2. Use #hashtags properly
It’s always a bit sad when the amount of hashtags in a post exceeds the number of likes it gets. The ironic, tongue-in-cheek hashtags (#ilovemondaymornings) may occasionally be a fun way to connect with followers, but they are utter useless. Also, you’re probably unlikely to gain others than spammers when you tag #picoftheday, #instagood #instalike or similar.
Instead, use hashtags as part of your strategy. If you run a café in London, you could of course use #london and #londonlife to get into relevant photostreams, but by using hashtags such as #visitlondonand and #thisislondon, and tagging accounts like @visitlondonofficial, @london, you could actually get picked up and exposed to thousands of followers. That’s how many accounts grow in the beginning.
3. Use Instagram as your main platform
Push your daily menu on Instagram and avoid updating your website all the time. In fact, you can consider directing your web visitors to your social media accounts from your landing page.
One of the beauties with Instagram is that you can post directly onto your Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts with one click. Using Instagram first enables you to grow and reach potential customers on multiple platforms. Just remember to stay active: reply to comments and questions on all platforms. And don’t forget that few people will see the content on your Facebook page unless you pay or go viral.
4. Add a personal touch
Sure, you may use Instagram for posting menu updates and cool pictures of munchie lunch sandwiches and artistic cappuccinos, but unless you reveal something more you won’t create an emotional bond with your followers. There’s a reason selfies are so popular. Post photos of yourself, your staff or even your customers if that’s ok with them. The people are foundation of the culture of your business. Embrace them.
5. Use a desktop view
While Instagram is undoubtedly a truly mobile experience, you could save time by using Instagram.com on your desktop computer when replying to comments. It certainly looks more professional than standing behind a counter with a smartphone in hand.
And to get more knowledge from your work with Instagram, use a program like Iconosquare. It lets you see exactly who started following you during the last week, and who dropped out. You can analyze which posts that get the most likes or comments, so that you can tweak your content further.
Pro tip: Instagram for Business was launched a few weeks back, enabling businesses to advertise on Instagram. This great new feature will change the playfield of advertising on Instagram, but we’ll dedicate a whole blog post about the topic later on – hold out until then.