The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories Ads in 2020

Ah, Instagram Stories — the one-stop-shop to find short, engaging content from high school friends, celebrities, and major brands alike.

With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram Stories is an undeniably powerful opportunity to connect with new audiences.

And, if you’re not using Instagram Stories as a marketing tool, you should be. In fact, Instagram reports that of the 500 million accounts using Instagram Stories, one-third of the most viewed stories come from businesses.

I can personally attest to the power of Instagram Stories to incentivize purchasing decisions. For instance, the other day I was mindlessly scrolling through Stories when I came across an ad for Crest 3D whitestrips — with a $50 off coupon attached. I swiped up to purchase without ever leaving the app itself.

Here, let’s dive into what Instagram Story ads are, and how you can run Instagram Story ads for your own business. Plus, we’ll explore examples of Instagram Story ads and best practices to ensure your ads are as powerful as they can be.

→ Download Now: How to Advertise on Instagram [Free Guide]

What are Instagram Story ads?

Instagram Story ads are vertical ads you can run on Instagram’s Stories feature. (To recap, Instagram Stories are photos and videos visible to an Instagram account’s audience for 24-hours, and is published separately from the content found on your Instagram profile.)

Instagram allows you to target your ads by reach, video views, traffic, conversions, app installs, and brand awareness. Additionally, unlike an organic Instagram Story, an Instagram Story ad doesn’t disappear after 24-hours — instead, you can choose the length of the campaign and frequency of ads on Facebook’s ad platform, like any other ad created for Instagram or Facebook.

An Instagram Story ad is immersed seamlessly into a user’s Stories viewing experience. Additionally, a user doesn’t have to follow your account to see an ad from your brand. For instance, I don’t follow Crest on Instagram, but I was still shown a Crest ad.

You have a few different options for ad formatting, including video, photo, or carousel. A video ad plays for up to 15 seconds, an image ad will play for five seconds, and a carousel ad lets brands play three separate pieces of content (video, photos, or both) within one ad.

If you aren’t sold on running ads on Instagram Stories yet, consider these facts:

If you’re convinced Instagram ads could be a good platform for you, let’s dive into how you can run your own Instagram Story ads, next.

How to Run Instagram Story Ads

1. Go to your Ads Manager, and click “Create”, which will bring you to “Quick Creation”. If you’d prefer, you can switch to “Guided Creation”, instead.

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2. Next, select a marketing objective — your options for Instagram Stories include “Brand Awareness”, “Reach”, “Video views”, “Conversions”, “App installs”, “Lead Generation”, or “Traffic”.

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3. In the Placements section, you’ll want to select “Automatic Placements”, where Instagram Stories is selected by default. However, if you choose “Manual Placements”, check the box for “Stories” under Instagram.

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4. Next, set your ad’s budget and schedule. 

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5. Next, you’ll want to choose “Single Image or Video” or “Carousel” as your ad’s format.

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6. Add videos or images to your ad, and finish including any other details, including headline and description. If you’d prefer, you can use Stories Templates, which will transform your image into an ad automatically, and add movement to grab a viewer’s attention.

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7. Once you’re happy with your ad, select “Confirm” to finish the process.

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Instagram Story Ads: Cost, Specs, & Length

There are three separate areas you can place an ad on Instagram: Stories, Feed, and Explore.

For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the cost, specs, and length of an Instagram Stories ad.

First, all feed photo and video dimensions are supported in Stories (anywhere from 1:91 to 4:5). However, 9:16 ratio is encouraged to fit the full-screen, vertical format of Stories.

Additionally, .mp4 or .mov is recommended for video ads, and .jpg or .png file type is recommended for photo ads.

If you’re creating a video ad, 4GB file size is encouraged — and, for a photo, 30MG file size is suggested.

If you’re creating a video ad, the length can’t surpass 120 seconds. For a photo ad, five seconds is the default for how long the image will be shown.

Finally, the recommended resolution is 1080 x 1920, with a minimum dimension of 600 x 1067.

Instagram ads, including Instagram Story ads, cost between $0.70 to $1.00 per-click on average — although cost varies depending on industry, days of the week, time of year, targeted ages and sexes, ad placement, and plenty of other factors. In some cases, Instagram ads can exceed $5.00 per-click.

Fortunately, you have plenty of control over how much your ads cost by setting a pre-determined budget. You can choose your budget based on how much your company is willing to spend daily, or the total cost you’re willing to spend over a campaign’s lifecycle.

Examples of Instagram Story Ads

Below, I’ve collected a few impressive examples I found on my own Instagram Story feed. While most of these examples are bigger brand names, there are plenty of small-to-medium sized businesses using Instagram

1. Aveeno

Aveeno’s Instagram ads are clean and simple, with neutral colors — apart from the brand’s signature green — drawing attention to the brand’s daily moisturizer. The ad features a short clip of a hand pointing to a shopping cart, with a “Shop Now” swipe-up link. The ad focuses on the brand’s product and doesn’t distract with people, making it effective for anyone scrolling who’s in the mood to refill their moisturizer.

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2. Miller Lite

This is an example of an ad that felt tailored towards me, a 27-year-old female in the Boston area. First, the ad features a call-out to the Boston Celtics, immediately capturing my attention. Once I’m intrigued, the ad segues into a picture of their Lite drink, with the text, “Great taste, only 96 calories, 3.2G carbs”. In this example, the ad does a good job drawing my attention to the things I care about most: namely, low-calorie alternatives to beer (and Celtics).

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3. Trunk Club

This engaging, fast-moving ad shows a few different outfit options on the screen with the text, “Keep what you love, send the rest back”. The ad shows a few different outfits, ranging from dresses and cardigans to dress pants and heels, to capture the attention of a wider range of people than it could if it featured only one style. With the plain white background and easy-to-read black text, it’s simple, clean, and hard to miss.

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4. Febreze

I mean, come on … who doesn’t love a puppy? This fun, clever Febreze ad shows an adorable puppy on a couch with the text, “Refresh wherever they roam”, with their Febreze product at the bottom of the screen. While most of the other ads in this list featured subdued, plain colors, Febreze goes all out with light blues, greens, and purples, inviting a sense of playfulness and fun into the user’s feed.

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5. Tractor Beverage Co.

What I love most about Tractor Beverage Co.’s Instagram video is the end, which features a different call-to-action from most of the others in this list. Rather than “Shop Now,” this ad reads, “Now Available at Chipotle” with a “Learn More” swipe-up function. As a lesser-known brand, Tractor Beverage Co. wisely aims to use their ad space to increase brand awareness, so that next time you’re at your favorite nearby Chipotle, you might give their drink a try.

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6. Crest

If you have the means, it makes a lot of sense to include a coupon or discount in your Instagram Story ad, like Crest does in its 3D Whitestrips ad. The $50 off encourages viewers to purchase immediately so they don’t miss out on the deal, and the fun, bright colors effectively capture viewers attention. With the limited time allotted in an Instagram Story, it makes sense for these brands to get straight to the point.

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7. Kayak

Kayak, a travel search engine, created this impressive, engaging Instagram Story video ad to demonstrate how easy it is for Kayak users to filter flights depending on airline, price, cabin seating, and destination. Kayak served the ads to lookalike audiences based on the characteristics of its current website customers, and saw 5X increase in sales conversions, as well as a 50% increase in overall ROI, with combined ad placements on Instagram Stories, Instagram’s news feed, and Facebook’s news feed.

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Instagram Story Ads Best Practices

Now that we’ve explored a few impressive examples, let’s dive into some best practices to follow when creating your own Instagram Story ad. With four million active advertisers on Stories as of January 2020, it’s going to take a lot to ensure you’re able to stand out and drive results. Let’s dive in.

1. Pay attention to speed.

Facebook reports that Instagram Stories are consumed faster “tahn any other mobile format”. People’s attention is severely limited when perusing Stories, especially since the content has a 24-hour time limit before disappearing forever.

For that reason, you’ll want to ensure you get straight to the point and capture a viewer’s attention from the first frame. Unlike other forms of content, suspense isn’t usually effective here, especially since images can’t surpass five seconds, and videos have a 120-second limit. You’ll want to jump the viewer right into the message you’re hoping to deliver.

2. Include motion in your ad.

Facebook reports that “ads that use motion perform better.” Motion captivates the viewers’ attention and can help you tell a story faster than you could with a static image. Even if you’re using animation, consider how you might add motion to create more engaging content.

3. Ensure you’re using sound in your ad.

60% of Stories are viewed with the sound on, so you’ll want to ensure you use sound in your ad to provide optimal value to your audience. Consider how you might use music, sound effects, or voice-over to capture viewers’ attention in a new way. If you’re unsure which types of sound work best in your ad, try A/B testing to conclude what your audience prefers.

4. Create your ad for Stories first — rather than attempting to repurpose an existing ad made for another vertical.

It can be tempting to simply copy-and-paste the ad you’ve already created for Facebook or Instagram news feed, but that could result in a less-than-ideal experience for those viewing your ad in Instagram Stories. For one, your ad might not follow Instagram Story sizing best practices, resulting in key parts of your ad being cropped out. Additionally, you’ll want to play around with features exclusive to Stories to ensure your ad is as effective as possible.

5. Use your call-to-action wisely.

Ultimately, your Instagram Stories ad won’t be effective if you don’t include a clear call-to-action you want viewers to follow. You might use language like “Learn More”, “Shop Now”, or “Swipe Up” to encourage viewers to take action, depending on your goal — for instance, if your goal is brand awareness, “Learn More” tells viewers you simply want to educate them about your brand’s offerings, which is a very different CTA from “Shop Now”.

Take a look at the examples, mentioned above, for more CTA inspiration.

6. Include text to emphasize key message.

Including text is a best practice for accessibility in general, as it helps viewers’ who are hard-of-hearing decipher your ad’s message. Additionally, text can help emphasize your key points — for instance, Aveeno’s “Get Healthy Looking Skin Every Day” text illustrated their main point, and convinced me to purchase.

7. Test out mobile shots.

Facebook reports, “Mobile shots outperform studio shots for ad recall and intent, while studio shots tend to drive higher brand awareness.” For this reason, consider forgoing fancy studio equipment for video shot and edited straight from a mobile phone.

The majority of users consume Instagram’s content from their own smartphones, so you might as well try creating content on the same device. And, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to A/B test this theory for your own brand, as well.

For more best practices related to advertising in general, take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Basics of Effective Social Media Advertising.

And there you have it! You’re all ready to begin creating an inspiring Instagram Story ad of your own. Just remember — you know your brand, and your audience, better than anyone. Use these best practices and examples as inspiration, but feel free to A/B test to figure out what works best for your unique business goals and social media objectives. Good luck!

New Call-to-action

Originally published Sep 3, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated September 03 2020

Topics:

Instagram Marketing

How to Use Instagram: A Beginner’s Guide

Over the past few years, Instagram has seen exponential growth — from one million users in December 2010 to over one billion in 2020.

If you’re interested in getting an Instagram account, or just created one but aren’t sure how to use it, you’re in luck. Here, we’re going to cover all the basics, so you can see why Instagram is the top social media platform for engagement today.

Access Now: 30 Days of Instagram Planning + Templates

It’s hard to remember a time before Instagram. “Do it for the ‘gram” has become a common saying, which means, essentially, “Do something so we can take a picture and post it to Instagram.”

If you’re not part of the one billion on Instagram, you might want to reconsider. The app is a great chance to stay apart of friends’ lives — when I want to see how my college friends are doing, I don’t check Facebook, I check Instagram. Plus, you can follow your favorite celebrities or political figures to see candid photos of their everyday lives.

Additionally, it’s a phenomenal platform for investigating what other brands are doing — for instance, Nike uses the Instagram Stories’ feature to promote inspirational athlete stories you won’t find anywhere else.

How Do Instagram Notifications Work?

When your account is created, you’ll want to adjust your notifications so you only receive the information you want. For instance, you can choose to receive notifications when you get likes from everyone — but, alternatively, you might decide to only receive notifications when you get a like from someone you follow. Or, you might turn off notifications for likes altogether.

You can adjust notifications to “Off”, “From People I Follow”, or “From Everyone”, for the following categories — Comments, Comment Likes, Likes and Comments on Photos of You, Follower Requests, Accepted Follow Requests, Friends on Instagram, Instagram Direct, Photos of You, Reminders, First Posts and Stories, Product Announcements, View Counts, Support Requests, Live Videos, Mentions in Bio, IGTV Video Updates, and Video Chats.

If you’re overwhelmed by that list, I get it — I am, too. If you’re unsure what notifications you want to receive, you might start with your notifications on “From Everyone”, and if certain notifications begin to annoy you, you can turn them off later.

To customize which notifications you receive, follow these steps: 

1. Go to your personal account (which you’ll find by pressing the person icon at the bottom right of your screen). Then, click the “Settings” icon (the circle icon beside “Edit Profile”). 

cog icon for settings next to the edit profile button in instagram

2. Scroll down to “Push Notification Settings”.

push notification settings option in instagram

3. Check off the notifications you want to receive.

notifications option within instagram settings with sections for likes, comments, and comment likes

And that’s it! Next, let’s explore how to connect your other social media accounts to your Instagram, so when you post an image to Instagram, you can share it with your other online audiences, as well. 

Connect to Other Social Accounts

When you post an image to Instagram, you have the option to share it on other social media accounts, like your Facebook or Twitter.

To link your other social media accounts to your Instagram, follow these steps:

1. Go to “Settings” and click “Linked Accounts”.

linked accounts option in instagram settings

2. Select whichever social media channels you’d like to link to, and input the necessary information to incorporate the channel with your Instagram.

share settings menu in instagram

In the next section, “Upload, Edit, and Post an Image”, I’ll show you when a linked account comes in handy.

Upload, Edit, and Post an Image

Now, for the most important part of Instagram — how to upload and post an image.

Instagram is an entirely visual platform. Unlike Facebook, which relies on both text and pictures, or Twitter, which relies on text alone, Instagram’s sole purpose is to enable users to share images or videos with their audience.

On Facebook, you might choose to post 100 photos in an album. On Instagram, you need to be choosier about which photos you post. There are a few reasons for this — first, you don’t want to post more than once a day (typically). For the purpose of scarcity alone, you don’t want to post too many similar photos. For instance, it would be odd for you to post ten photos from the same beach vacation on your Instagram. Instead, you might choose one or two.

Additionally, you want your overall profile aesthetic to look diverse.

To learn more about Instagram account themes and get inspiration, take a look at “12 Stunning Instagram Themes (& How to Borrow Them for Your Own Feed)“.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s explore how to upload, edit, and post an image.

1. Click the “+” icon in the bottom center of your screen.

instagram homepage with + icon at the bottom in the center

2. Here, you have three options. You can look through your Photos library on your phone, you can take a new picture from right within Instagram, or you can take a new video. For our purposes, I looked through my Photos library and found a picture of Boston I wanted to use. Then, I clicked “Next” in the top right.

instagram library option

3. There are two categories you can use to edit your image — “Filter” and “Edit”. Instagram automatically shows you filters first. You can scroll through the carousel and click any of the filters to apply it to your image. Additionally, if you want to use a filter but you want to tone it down, double tap the filter and move the cursor to the left to lessen the intensity of the filter.

instagram filter option

4. Next, click “Edit”. Here, you can adjust contrast, brightness, structure, warmth, and more. When you’re happy with your edited image, or if you don’t want to edit it at all, click “Next” in the top right.

instagram edit option

5. Now, you can add a caption, tag people (you can only tag someone if they also have an Instagram account), and add a location. Additionally, click the button beside Facebook or another linked social media account to share your image on that platform, as well. When you’re ready to publish, click “Share” in the top right.

new post in instagram with add caption option

Upload a Image or Video to Your Stories

In 2016, Instagram launched “Stories”, a feature that allows you to post videos or images that disappear after 24-hours. Instagram’s Stories feature is similar to Snapchat in terms of content — users often post more casual and candid videos and images, offering glimpses into their every day lives.

For instance, you might post a heavily-edited picture of yourself and friends at a baseball game. But you might post a more candid video to your Story of the stadium singing “Sweet Caroline”.

To learn how to upload an image or video to your Stories, follow these steps:

1. Click the camera icon in the top left.

camera icon in the top left of instagram homepage

2. Once your within the Stories feature, you can take a picture or video right from within the app. Alternatively, if you have an image saved to your phone that you’d like to use, click the small square in the bottom left corner.

instagram stories box at the bottom left of camera feature

3. Click on a photo you’d like to use in your Stories.

camera roll in instagram

4. In the top right, you have a few different editing features. The smiley face lets you add a location, hashtag, time, date, and other fun images or emojis to your picture. The pencil lets you handwrite or draw on your image. And the “Aa” icon is your text button. Once you click “Aa”, you have the option to change your font by clicking “Classic” at the top. 

stories in instagram

5. If you click the smiley face icon, you’ll see the following screen. Simply click on one of the icons to add them to your image. If you don’t like it, drag it to the bottom, and a trash can will appear so you can delete it.

icons in instagram

6. For instance, I clicked the smiley face icon to add a location and hashtag to my image. You can also swipe to the left or right to add filters to your photo or video. Once you’re happy with your content, you can either click the “+ Your Story” icon in the bottom left, which allows you to share your Story with everyone who follows you, or select “Send To” to send the post to someone specific.

new photo post in instagram with icons and send to button at the bottom right

Follow Users

It’s incredibly easy to find and follow users. Using Instagram’s search feature, you can find celebrities, brands, and friends. Additionally, you can search “Tags” or “Places”. “Tags” is particularly useful if you know what type of content you want to find, but you’re not sure who posts about it.

For instance, you might search “#familyrecipes” under tags — your results will include any images with that hashtag. As you peruse, you might find someone who posts content you really like, and you can choose to follow them so their content appears on your feed.

To follow someone, follow these three easy steps.

1. Click on the search icon on the bottom of your screen (it looks like a magnifying glass).

search feature in instagram with magnifier icon

2. Next, type in a person or brand. For this example, I began searching “mandym” (Mandy Moore) and found her as #1 in the search results. Alternatively, I could’ve clicked “Tags” or “Places” to search those categories.

search feature for "mandym" in instagram

3. Once you’re on someone else’s account, you’ll see a blue “Follow” button at the top. For public profiles, you can click and immediately begin following that account. However, if the profile is private, you may need to wait for them to accept you first.

follow button on mandy moore's profile on instagram

And that’s it! You’re on your way to becoming a pro. To take your account to the next level, plan out your next posts using an array of content ideas and templates.

30 days of instagram

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Originally published Aug 25, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated August 25 2020

Topics:

Instagram Marketing

How to Use Instagram Insights (in 9 Easy Steps)

It’s no secret that we love data.

Data helps you understand your audience. It tells you how they do things, what they prefer, and who they are.

And when it comes to social media, our love for data doesn’t fade.

That’s why we love analytics and insights. They help you measure the impact of your marketing efforts across different channels to see if there’s something you need to do differently — like target a different audience, post at a certain time of day, or experiment with a new content format.

Instagram Insights are no exception.

Here are the analytics on this channel that marketers need to know and understand — and how to use them.

New Data: Instagram Engagement in 2020

To use Instagram Insights, you must first have a business profile.

If you’re already using a personal account, you can switch to a business profile. In order to have a Business Account, you must also have a Facebook Page for your brand. Instagram will give you the option to create a new one during this process if you don’t already have one. Here’s how to convert your account in a few simple steps.

Once your set up as a Business Account, you can begin to use Instagram Insights. Here’s how to get started.

1. Click the insights icon.

To view insights into your overall Instagram account, start by visiting your profile. Then, at the top, click the icon of a bar chart, which will take you to your overall insights.

Instagram Profile with circled Instagram Insights Icon

From there, you’ll see some general information about people are engaging with your profile, like how many followers you gained or lost in the past week.

Next, we’ll get into the more specific profile insights you can explore.

2. View your impressions and reach.

This insight represents how many times your ads appeared on users’ screens. Reach reflects the number of unique users that have seen any of your Instagram posts.

3. Determine website clicks.

This insight reflects the number of times any links you’ve included in your business profile have been clicked.

4. Track profile visits and followers.

Profile visits reflects the number of times your profile has been viewed. Followers reflect how many followers you’ve gained or lost over the past week, as well as the average times of day when your followers are using Instagram — data that can be highly beneficial when planning posts. To view insights for a specific Instagram post, start by visiting your profile. Tap on the post you’d like to look into, then click “View Insights” below the image.

5. Click view insights below a post for specifics. 

You may have also promoted a certain post — if that’s the case, an arrow icon that looks like this will appear:

View Post insights button on Instagram

For these posts, you can either view insights on the original version of the post, or specific ones from its promotion. For the latter, tap “Promotion.”

Next, we’ll get into the more specific post insights you can explore.

6. View your posts likes, comments, and saves. 

Likes speaks for itself, and reflects the number of users who liked your post. As with likes, comments reflects the number of comments left on your post. Saves highlights the number of unique users or accounts who saved your post, or clicked the bookmark-like icon that appeared below it in their feeds.

7. Learn which actions were taken on your post.

These insights indicate the number of actions that users took on your profile as a result of seeing your post — things like visiting your profile, then taking an action like clicking on your website link or following you.

Instagram Insights Actions Feature

Source: Instagram

8. Use Discover to see where your post showed up in feeds. 

As the name might suggest, these insights indicate where your post was seen — or discovered — the most, including how many accounts weren’t already following you when they first saw the post.

This section includes metrics on Impressions, which reflect the number of times your post was discovered from a particular place within Instagram, like the user’s home feed, a search, your profile, a location tag, or a hashtag.

Instagram Insights Discovery Feature

Source: Instagram

Discovery insights also include data on a post’s reach — which reflects the number of unique accounts that saw your post.

9. View Instagram Story Insights

Finally, Instagram users with a business profile are able to view insights into their ephemeral Stories. Instagram does not, however, offer such analytics for live videos.

To view your Story insights, start by visiting your profile. Then, at the top, tap the icon of the bar chart, which will take you to your overall profile insights.

Instagram profile insights feature

Scroll down to the Stories section, and you’ll be able to see insights for older stories, as well as any that have not yet expired.

Next, we’ll get into the more specific Story insights you can explore.

Impressions

This insight represents how many times your Story was seen.

When viewing these insights, keep in mind that you’re able to add multiple images or videos to your Story. When you do this, every piece of visual content in your Story is counted as a single photo or video in your post.

Let’s say you add six photos to your Story. Whether someone only views one or views all six, Instagram only counts your entire Story having received one impression.

The same goes for Story content that has been viewed by a single user more than once. Instagram still only counts that interaction as the entire Story having received one impression.

Reach

This insight reflects the number of unique users that have seen your Story.

Taps Forward

This insight reflects the number of times a user taps your Story photo or video to skip to the next piece of media.

Taps Back

This insight reflects the number of time a user taps your Story photo or video to go back to the previous piece of media.

Replies

This insight reflects the number of times users send messages through the “Send Message” text box on your Story.

Replies on Instagram Stories

Swipe Aways

This insight reflects the number of times users swipe to skip to the next account’s Story — not to be mistaken for “tap forward,” which reflects users skipping ahead to your next piece of Story media.

Exits

This insight reflects the number of times a user leaves the Stories section entirely to return to the home feed.

Now that you know how to measure the effectiveness of your Instagram strategy using Insights, you can analyze that data and determine what’s working for your audience. From there, creating content that gets a ton of engagement will be a lot easier as you consider those benchmarks.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 but has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this audit.  

Originally published Aug 13, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated August 13 2020

Topics:

Instagram Marketing

How to Go Live on Instagram in Five Easy Steps

Earlier this morning, I joined a free workout class from my bedroom.

I placed weights and a yoga mat beside my bed, and took the class in real-time with 6,000 of my closest friends.

You might be thinking I took the class on Peloton’s website, or through another boutique fitness studio.

In reality, I actually took the class on Instagram — and, more specifically, Instagram Live.

There are plenty of benefits for businesses to post Live videos on Instagram. For one, people love watching live videos. The content can feel more authentic and natural than it would if it had been pre-recorded — just consider how addicting Saturday Night Live can be, particularly if the actors make mistakes or break character.

Additionally, 82% of people prefer live video from a brand over standard social media posts.

You might consider using Instagram’s Live feature to host live Q&A’s with industry leaders, stream entire virtual events, or host live product tutorials from social media influencers.

If you’ve never posted a live video on Instagram, you’re in luck. Here, we’ll dive into how you can go live on Instagram in five easy steps. (By the way, I’m no Instagram influencer, so please excuse the sad plant as my only willing Live video subject.)

New Data: Instagram Engagement in 2020

How to Go Live on Instagram

It’s important to note — these instructions will only work if you’re opening the Instagram app on mobile. However, if you’d prefer to create a live Instagram video from desktop, you’ll need to use a third-party tool like Loola TV.

1. First, open your Instagram app on your smartphone, and click the camera icon in the top left corner.

go-live-on-instagram

2. On the bottom navigation, scroll all the way to the left until you see “Live”. Then, click the big white circle to begin recording. (Note: You’ll know you’re Live when you see the pink “Live” button at the top of your screen, as well as the text “We’re telling your followers that you’ve started a live video” at the bottom.)

go-live-on-instagram

go-live-on-instagram

3. When you see accounts begin appearing at the bottom of your screen, you’ll know people have begun joining your live video. Feel free to send them a Wave!

go-live-on-instagram

4. When you want to end the video, click “End” at the top right of your screen. When Instagram asks you, “Are you sure you want to end your live video?”, click the red “End Now” button. 

go-live-on-instagram

5. Finally, feel free to share your live video to your IGTV, so followers can still watch the video on your Instagram account after-the-fact. Alternatively, you can download the video to share it on your website or other social media pages, or delete the video.

go-live-on-instagram

If you choose to share your live video to your IGTV, your followers can continue watching and re-watching whenever they’re available. If you’re creating an exclusive membership-only live event, you might want to skip this step, but otherwise, it’s a good idea to keep the content you’ve created to continue boosting awareness for followers who weren’t able to join live.

For instance, I regularly partake in fitness trainer Kayleigh Guinee’s Instagram Live workout classes, but there are times I’m unavailable for the live version. Fortunately, I know she saves her videos to IGTV, so I’m able to pull up the videos whenever I’m ready to watch:

goliveinstagram

Best of all, I can pause, fast-forward, or replay the live version whenever I need to. You’ll know you’re watching a previously live Instagram video if you see the small “was live” text in the top left of the screen:

go-live-on-instagram

I spoke with Kayleigh to understand why influencers choose live video over other forms of content.

Kayleigh told me, “Online workouts are amazing, but live workouts on Instagram allow my followers to connect with me — and one another — while continuing to build a community, which is more similar to in-person fitness classes.”

Kayleigh added, “We’re all able to see who joins, chat with each other, and workout in real-time. There is also something about having a time set aside to join a workout that helps us all stay more accountable.”

Ultimately, if you’re unsure whether Instagram live will work for your brand, you can always give it a try. It’s easy, and free, so there’s little to lose when experimenting — and potentially a lot to gain. 

Finally, there are some great features included in Instagram’s Live tool. Let’s explore what those are, next.

Instagram Live Features

Once you’re rolling with an Instagram Live, you’ll see four icons at the bottom of your screen — including a question mark icon, a paper airplane, two smiley-faces, and a filter icon.

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1. The Question Mark Icon lets you share questions from your viewers. (It’s important to note, you’ll only be able to share questions if someone has submitted a question during your Live video.)

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2. The Paper Airplane Icon lets you send a direct message to someone about your Instagram Live video, which you might want to do if you’re hoping to invite someone who hasn’t yet joined your Live video to watch.

3. The Two Faces Icon lets you invite someone to co-host your Instagram Live. This will help spread your Live video to a bigger audience (including the co-host’s followers). You might do this if you’re hosting a Q&A with various experts, or partnering with influencers to promote a product.

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4. The Filter Icon lets you add filters to your Instagram Live video to make them appear more polished or interesting — like this filter I added to my plant.

go-live-on-instagram

Additionally, if you want to turn off commenting, tap the three dots in the “Comment” box, and click “Turn Off Commenting”. Alternatively, you can click the three dots if you’d also like to “Turn Off Requests to Go Live” if you don’t want other participants asking to co-host. 

turn-off-commenting

We’d also recommend hiding offensive comments to ensure followers don’t post inappropriate comments during a live video. To do this, go to your Instagram Settings > Privacy > Comments. Then, toggle on “Hide Offensive Comments”.

Additionally, you can manually filter to hide certain inappropriate words or phrases you don’t want to appear during your live video. Just toggle “Manual Filter” and then type in the phrases you’d like hidden.

And that’s it! Hopefully, you’ll have your own Instagram Live videos up-and-running in no time. Remember, there’s no pressure to make your Live videos perfect. In fact, followers often appreciate when they can see real, authentic, behind-the-scenes footage of your brand. 

To learn more about creating top-notch live videos and get inspiration, take a look at Which Types of Live Video Are People Actually Watching? [New Data].

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this audit.  

Originally published Jul 29, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 29 2020

Topics:

Instagram Marketing

How to Gain Your First (or Next) 1,000 Instagram Followers

It’s no secret that business opportunities are quickly growing on Instagram.

In fact, approximately 90% of Instagram’s 1 billion active monthly users follow a business account on the platform. And, while Instagram hasn’t reported its current number of business users, the platform reportedly hosted more than 25 million of these accounts in late 2017.

As the platform continues to grow and develop more interactive features, such as Instagram Stories and Instagram Live, businesses are regularly using it as a tool to humanize brands, recruit future employees, showcase products and company culture, delight customers, and generate new business.

But here’s the deal: Unless you’re famous, it’s really hard to amass a huge following on Instagram without some hard work.

For the average person or business, growing your following takes time and attention on a daily basis.Access Now: 16 Free Business Instagram TemplatesLuckily, there are a few things you can do right away to collect at least 1,000 quality followers for your personal or professional Instagram account. It’s all about knowing where to invest your time and effort.

Let’s discuss a few strategies that will help you gain those followers, from creating a follow-worthy Instagram profile, to using contests, to staying true to your brand. Whether you’re gathering your first 1,000 followers or you just want 1,000 more, keep reading.

1. Create and optimize your profile.

First things first: customize your Instagram profile to make it look good, tell your potential followers who you are, and give them a reason to follow you.

How? Start by making sure your username is recognizable and easily searchable — like your business name. If your business name is already taken, try keeping your business name as the first part of your username so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across you. For example, the Australian activewear line Lorna Jane uses the username @lornajaneactive.

Setting Up Your Account

Step 1. Make sure to add your full business name to the “Name” fieldin the “Options” section. To find “Options,” tap the three lines in the top right corner of the IOS app, followed by “Settings” which will appear at the bottom of the screen next to a gear. If you’re on Android, tap the three dots in the corner. Your business or name will appear under your profile picture and under your username in search.

Step 2. Make sure your profile is public. To make your profile public, open Instagram, open “Options,” and make sure “Private Account” is turned off.

Switch your Instagram account from private to public to gain more followers.

Step 3. Choose a profile picture that’s on-brand with your other social networks, like your company logo.

Step 4. Fill your bio with delightful, actionable, and informative information about your brand. Information like this lets people know what you’re about and gives them a reason to follow you. Include who you are and what you do, and be sure to add a hint of personality.

Here are a few examples for inspiration:

  • @WeWork: “Make a life, not just a living.”
  • @Oreo: “Playful moments from your favorite cookie.”
  • @CalifiaFarms: “Something different, something better. Let us show you what plants can do.”
  • @Staples: “We help teams find fulfillment in Worklife by connecting people, ideas and solutions.”

Step 5. Add a link to your bio to make it easy for people to go straight from Instagram to your website if they want to. The space allotted for URLs is precious real estate. When you receive 10,000 followers, you can add swipe up links to your Instagram Stories. Until then, your bio is the only place within Instagram where you can place a clickable link, so use it wisely. We recommend using a shortened, customized Bitly link to make it more clickable.

Step 6. Finally, enable notifications so you can see when people share or comment on your photos. This’ll let you engage with them more quickly— just like a lot of companies do on Twitter. To enable notifications, go to “Options” and then “Push Notification Settings.” Select “From Everyone” for every category.

A word to the wise: We don’t recommend you link your Instagram account to Twitter and Facebook so your Instagram posts are automatically published on those other accounts. Post types are different.

2. Designate a content creator.

Just like there should be one (maybe two) people managing your other social media accounts, there should only be one or two people managing your Instagram account. If possible, choose someone who has experience using a personal Instagram account, and therefore “gets” the platform — and be sure they know all the handy features Instagram has to offer.

If you work for a large organization, you might find that a lot of people want to have a say in what’s posted. That’s when an organized request or guidelines document comes in hand. This document should inform people how to request a post on your Instagram account, when, the value of the post, and why.

3. Follow photography and editing best practices.

On Instagram, post quality matters. A lot. Your Twitter followers might forgive a few bad tweets, but a bad photo on Instagram is a big no-no.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take a photography course to be a good Instagram poster — nor do you have to practice for weeks before you start. But you should get familiar with basic photography tips and photo editing apps.

Photography Best Practices

Since Instagram is a mobile app, chances are, most of the photos you post to Instagram will be taken on your mobile device. That’s not just okay; it’s expected. While some brands use professional photography for their Instagram photos, most use smartphones — and that’s the vibe that Instagram is meant for, anyway.

Here are some highlights:

  • Focus on one subject at a time.
  • Embrace negative space.
  • Find interesting perspectives.
  • Look for symmetry.
  • Capture small details.
  • Make your followers laugh.

Edit photos before you post.

Instagram has some basic editing capabilities, but oftentimes, they aren’t adequate to make a picture really, really great. Most of your photos should go through at least one or two other photo editing apps on your mobile phone before you open them in Instagram for the first time.

Additionally, consider creating a cohesive Instagram theme across your feed, so anyone visiting your account for the first time can get a sense for your brand. 

4. Set a regular posting schedule.

Once you’ve created and optimized your profile, have someone manning it, and know a thing or two about phone photography and photo editing, it’s time to start posting.

It’s a good idea to have a solid number of great posts up — maybe 15 or so— before you start really engaging people and working down this list. That way, when people visit your profile, they’ll see a full screen of photos instead of just a handful, so they know you’ll be posting great content regularly.

To start posting on Instagram, first download this social media content calendar template and start planning out your Instagram posts. Over time, you’ll want to build up a backlog of photos for times of need, like the weekends or when you go on vacation.

Keep your target persona in mind when you first start planning out your posting schedule, as that can drastically change your posting timing and frequency— especially if you’re targeting an audience in a different time zone. (Download this free template for creating buyer personas if you don’t have a few already.)

Optimizing your schedule for your specific audience might take time and experimentation.

Here are a few of our best practices:

  • The very best times to post on Instagram seem to beMondays and Thursdays at any time except between 3:00–4:00 p.m.in the time zone of your target persona. (For a United States audience, your best bet is to combine Eastern and Central time zones, For audiences located outside the U.S., use whichever time zones your target audience uses.)
  • Posting at 5:00 a.m. CDT from Tuesday to Friday generates some of the highest engagement. This is because people tend to check their phones when they wake up.
  • If you post on weekends, try to do so around 11:00 a.m, CDT on Saturday.

Because Instagram is primarily an app for use on mobile devices, users tend to use the network all the time, any time. According to a recent Pew Research study, a majority of U.S. Instagram users are on the app daily, although many users engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday.

Some businesses have also seen success with posting at 2:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m., and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. Experiment with these to see if they work with your audience.

5. Curate some of your content.

Although it’s best to have only one or two people manning your account, one or two people can’t be everywhere at once taking photos. What about that fun sushi night the engineers had last night? Or the event your head of sales spoke at earlier this week?

There’s a whole breadth of content you’ll want to post to Instagram, and more often than not, one person won’t be able to keep track of it all.

One solution? Create a system where you can curate photos and content from members of your team. There are a few ways to do this. One is to create a specific email address for employees to send their photos, short videos, memes, hyper-lapses, and so on.

Just encourage people to put a subject line on these emails so you can more easily sort through the photos they’re sending. While this doesn’t seem like the smoothest way to curate photos, it’s actually the easiest for the people sending you photos— and the easier you can make it for them to send content, the more content you’ll get.

If your team shares a Box or Dropbox account, you could also create a shared folder where people can automatically drop their photos and videos. This just makes a few more steps for the people sending you the content, and not everyone might have that app downloaded on their phones.

6.Use a consistent, platform-specific brand voice.

Photos and videos might be the most important part of your Instagram posts, but captions, comments, and other text should never be an afterthought. If you’re managing a channel for a brand or have more than one Instagram manager, consider developing a consistent voice that humanizes your brand.

This shows potential followers that you are credible and relatable, rather than formal or intimidating.

When developing a voice, you should keep the platform and your audience in mind. For example, many influencers and prominent accounts on Instagram have a very casual voice and style, but still remain professional and on-brand. Once you’ve got your voice down, make sure it stays consistent and natural in your captions, comments, messages and your bio.

7. Write engaging, shareable captions.

Captions are an essential part of your post—the icing on the cake, if you will. Consistently great captions can do wonders for humanizing your brand, winning over followers, and making your content more shareable— thereby giving you more exposure.

Here are a few things you might see in a winning Instagram caption:

  • Clever or Witty Comments
  • Calls to Action
  • Relevant Emojis
  • Hashtags

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Clever or Witty Comments

Some brands and influencers have used clever or witty captions, or even audience-appropriate jokes to further humanize themselves on Instagram.

My colleague Kelly Hendrickson, HubSpot’s Social Media Manager, says that she loves Netflix’s account and sub-accounts, particularly because of the post captions: “They have such a clear brand voice, and you laugh along with them. They’re in on the joke, just like one of your friends.”

Here’s one example where Netflix makes a meme to describe what it’s like “watching my friends’ stories … [and] hoping to catch a glimpse of myself”:

how-grow-instagram-followers-2 Netflix’s voice is casual, trendy, and humorous while still staying on brand. In the post above, the caption is funny, authentic, and relatable: who hasn’t flipped through a friend’s Instagram Story with the hope that you’ll be featured? 

Calls to Action

Another way to increase the shareability of your caption and engage your followers is to ask questions or have some sort of call-to-action in the captions of your photos. For example, you might say, “Double-tap if you find this funny,” or “Share your story in the comments.”

In the example below, we asked followers of the @HubSpot Instagram account to leave a comment with a book that’s had a positive impact on their work, along with tagging the author:

how-gain-instagram-followers

Relevant Emojis

According to a recent study, certain emojis can actually spike engagement such as likes, comments, and shares on platforms including Instagram.

Adding just a few relevant emojis can add even more personality to your posts. It could also make them even more noticeable on an Instagram feed. In the post below, Danielle Gray, a beauty expert with over 50K followers, (@Stylenbeautydoc) includes witty text with relevant emojis to make the post pop.

gain-followers-instagram

Along with the three items listed above, you’ll also want to include hashtags.

8. Optimize posts with relevant hashtags.

On Instagram, a hashtag ties the conversations of different users who wouldn’t already be connected into a single stream. If you use relevant hashtags, your posts will get exposure to a wider audience than the people who already follow you or know about your brand.

The key to using hashtags effectively is to use them smartly and sparingly. Try to limit the number of hashtags per caption to around three. Similarly, don’t use “like for like” hashtags, like #like4like or #like4likes. This is a dirty tactic that’ll leave you with a whole bunch of low-quality followers.

To find the hashtags your audience might be using, do a little research on relevant hashtags in your niche or industry. The easiest way to do this research is in the Instagram app itself, in the “explore” tab (i.e. the magnifying glass icon).

When you search for one hashtag, it’ll show you a list of related hashtags at the top of your screen. For example, when I search for #digitalmarketingstrategy on Instagram, it shows me relevant hashtags like #digitalmarketingexpert, #digitalmarketing, and so on.

gain-instagram-followersTo help relate to your followers on a personal level, you might consider hopping on hashtag trends like #tbt (“Throwback Thursday”), #MotivationMonday, #TransformationTuesday, or hashtags that are trending at any given time.

Here’s a post from @updogkombucha, a kombucha company with over 10K followers on its Instagram account, using the #InternationalWomensDay hashtag:

instagram-followers-grow

Once you build up a bit of a following, you can try creating your own hashtags — like your company name or a slogan that applies to a lot of your photos. This is a great way to build up your brand on the platform and build a more cohesive presence.

1. Engage with users through follows, likes, and comments.

Instagram is very much a community, and one great way to get involved in that community is to find people who post pictures that interest you, and follow their accounts and interact with their content. It’s the most natural way to draw attention to your own Instagram account. It may also get your foot in the door in the platform’s community.

That does two things for you: for one, when they get the notification that you’ve followed them, they might check out your account and decide whether or not to follow you. (This is why it’s important to have some great content on there before you start reaching out to others.)

Secondly, it means you’ll be seeing their recent posts in your feed, so you can Like and interact with them if you choose to.

As you build a following, celebrate your followers and show you appreciate them by responding to their comments, and even following them and engaging with their own posts.

2. Cross-promote with users who have audiences similar to your own.

Once you build a solid relationship with some of the folks behind these accounts that have a similar audience to your own, you might ask to do some co-promotion on each others’ accounts.

The more natural and less spammy you can make the content of these cross-promotions— especially the captions — the better. It also helps to be picky about them, and don’t do them very often.

For instance, influencer @Belleoftheball45, who has more than 70K followers, posted a sponsored image of herself on the beach with Coppertone sunscreen. @CoppertoneUSA then re-posted the image. By cross-promoting, both Abigail and Coppertone can reach new audiences and grow their followings.

instagram-grow-followers-2

instagram-followers-1

When someone searches for the hashtag #Coppertoneusa, or takes a look at Coppertone USA’s Instagram, they’ll find Abigail’s account and might choose to follow her. At the same time, any followers of Abigail might click on the post and send Coppertone a follow, as well, particularly since Abigail is promoting Coppertone products. It’s a win-win for both accounts. 

3. Run Instagram contests to encourage engagement.

Another great way to expand your reach while increasing engagement on your photos is to publish a post promoting a contest, and then ask people to follow your account and Like or comment on the photo in order to enter.

I mean, come on … who doesn’t love to win free stuff? 

You might add a UGC (User-Generated Content) element to the contest, too, where people post a photo of their own and use a specific hashtag along with following your account.

Here’s an example of a post from @PlayaBowlsNortheastern, where followers were asked to follow each of Playa Bowls’ three business accounts, and tag a friend to follow each account, as well. In exchange, follower’s have the chance to win a free bowl: 

followers-instagram-gain-more

4. Use Instagram Stories and explore its interactive features.

Instagram has always offered the opportunity to post beautiful, curated photos to represent your brand. However, with the introduction of ephemeral Instagram Stories, brands can also share on-the-fly, behind-the-scenes looks for 24 hours that may not be as polished as a published photo, but give your brand more personality on the platform.

One look at Snapchat’s explosion in popularity demonstrates that social media users are clearly responding positively to ephemeral photo and video sharing. Instagram Stories let brands engage with users in different ways to cultivate brand loyalty and appeal.

Although Snapchat pioneered this feature, Instagram Stories now has over400 million daily users, which is double the amount ofSnap’s user base.

Along with sharing video clips and static images through Instagram Stories, users can also use interactive features like polls to gain more engagement and learn more about their Instagram audiences. Once a user is verified or has over 10,000 followers, they can even include a link to a webpage within a story.

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How Brands Can Use Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, unless they are marked as a “Featured Story.” Featured stories will show up at the top of your profile between the photo feed and your bio. We can’t embed Instagram Stories just yet, but you can view HubSpot’s Instagram page to see what we’ve featured.

Here are a few other brands we recommend following to see what they’re sharing:

Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl) is a yoga teacher and entrepreneur in Aruba who uses Instagram Stories to document the behind-the-scenes action of building a yoga studio. While her Instagram portfolio features beautiful, professional photos and videos of her in yoga poses, her Stories feature her dog sitting in on staff meetings, her team unwrapping amethyst crystals to decorate her studio, and artists painting the walls.

She uses Stories to showcase the other side of her brand to her 2 million followers in an authentic and unpolished way, and to keep her followers apprised of what she does every day (besides yoga, of course).

Dana Shultz (@miniamlistbaker) publishes easy vegan and gluten-free recipes on her blog. Her Stories feature neat how-to videos of her making breakfast and testing out new recipes in her kitchen. The behind-the-scenes aspect of her Stories provide a lot of human context for her blog’s brand, and everybody loves a good how-to video.

Casper (@casper) publishes quirky Instagram content to advertise their mattresses — without overtly doing so. The main theme of their content? Staying in is better than going out (because you can stay in and lay on a comfy Casper mattress, naturally).

They’ve even created a gallery for followers to use as backdrops for their Snapchat and Instagram stories to make it look like they’re out at a party, when they’re really laying in bed. One of their latest Instagram Stories featured someone watching “The Sopranos” in bed, with the caption:”Who needs plans when you have five more seasons?” This video supports Casper’s campaign to stay in bed with a very real look at what millions of people do when they’re hanging out at home.

Here are our tips for using Instagram Stories for your brand:

  • Whether it’s funny, sad, or unique, be authentic. Your photo gallery is where content can be perfect and polished. Instagram Stories are for the raw, unscripted, and un-retouched. Use Stories to share the other side of your brand that followers might not be able to glean elsewhere. Do you have a dog-friendly office? Is your team trying out the Mannequin Challenge? Start filming to showcase the more human side of your brand.
  • Go behind-the-scenes. These are by far our favorite type of content for ephemeral video sharing. Show followers what goes into the planning of an event or the launching of a product, and make it fun. Your followers want to feel included and in-the-know, and you could use Stories to cultivate a brand loyalty program that only rewards people who check out your content.
  • Embrace interactivity. As mentioned above, Instagram allows you to add interactive stickers to your stories. For example, you can ask your audience to vote in a poll, rate something on a sliding scale, or send you burning questions.These features might help you learn about your audience while also engaging with them.

5. Use the Live Video feature.

Instagram also lets users record and share live videos, another content format that’s proven to be hugely popular on other social networks. What’s unique about live videos on Instagram? They disappear when users stop filming.

This authentic, bi-directional experience lets brands share unscripted, raw moments with their audience to incorporate human elements into a social media platform that’s highly edited and polished in its traditional use.

Since the Live feature launched, Instagram has added even more features that may enable more engagement or interactions from viewers. For example, users can now launch live video Q&As or add music to live streams.

Live video is a growing trend across a variety of social media platforms, so if something interesting is happening, start rolling. Whether it’s a team birthday party, a staff meeting, or a cute animal, your devoted followers want to see what you’re up to every day.

6. Share your profile link on your website and social media channels.

Place a follow button on your homepage, your “About Us” page, and various other places on your website. Consider adding an Instagram badge to your website that hyperlinks to your account.

Here’s what the badge could look like:

instagramicon

If your brand has brick-and-mortar locations, put out a good ol’ print call-to-action letting people know you have an Instagram account and encouraging them to follow you.

Also, be sure to promote your Instagram account on your other social media accounts. Chances are, the folks who already follow you on Facebook and Twitter will also follow you on Instagram without much prodding. Let those followers know you’re on Instagram and encourage them to follow you there by including a link to your Instagram account in the bios and posts of those other social media accounts.

So give it a shot: Make a profile and start posting, testing, tweaking, and promoting your account. Garnering a following on Instagram won’t happen overnight, but the stronger of a foundation you create on your account in in your niche Instagram community, the higher quality your followers will be.

7. Post user-generated content.

Similar to cross-promotion, brands can publish user-generated content to show appreciation for existing customers, while appealing to that follower’s audience.

If I see a regular person endorsing a product on Instagram, I’m more likely to believe they actually really like the product — but if I see a celebrity on TV promoting the product, I’m more doubtful. Ultimately, user-generated content can be an excellent strategy when trying to increase brand awareness and trust in your products or services.

For instance, @Daveskillerbread posted an image of a customer holding one of the company’s products — but not just any customer. They posted an image of @Caitlynhunter_nutrition, a registered dietitian with 1,730 followers of her own:

insta-followers-growPosting an Caitlyn holding Dave’s bread is a smart move. First, she’s a dietician with an Instagram account full of actionable health-oriented tips. She’s unlikely to endorse a product she doesn’t truly believe will serve her audience, who are most likely looking for tips related to health and wellness — which means her audience is the perfect demographic for Dave’s Killer Bread to reach.

Plus, Dave’s Killer Bread’s audience, another group of health-minded individuals, will likely be interested in following Caitlyn for more health-related tips. Simply put, the two brands have similar audiences and brands that align well, which is why it’s a good opportunity for Dave’s Killer Bread to use Caitlyn’s content as content for their own account. 

8. Diversify your audience to resonate with different types of users.

As your followers grow, it can be tricky to identify what types of content will appeal to them. This is why it might be a good idea to divide your audience into sub-groups and target your content to various demographics. 

For instance, if you have 200K followers, those followers probably come from different regions of the world, have different interests and hobbies, and even different careers. Rather than trying to post all-encompassing content that will satisfy all your followers at once, consider conducting some analytics research to separate them into smaller sub-groups. 

Take Starbucks as a good example of this. @Starbucks has 18 million followers. There’s no way the global coffee brand can post content to satisfy 18 million people at once — and it doesn’t try to. Instead, Starbucks regularly posts more exclusive content geared towards particular groups, such as this post they published recently celebrating #TeacherAppreciationWeek: 

instagram-gain-more-followers

This post won’t appeal to the majority of Starbucks followers who aren’t teachers, but that’s okay. You don’t always need to post content to please everyone. Instead, you want to consistently demonstrate your brand’s ability to connect and engage with sub-groups and post what aligns with your own brand’s values.

Education is something that matters to Starbucks, so by posting about teachers, they’re doing more to demonstrate their own values than they are appealing to everyone. Which is kind of the point, isn’t it? 

9. Apply for a verification badge.

When an account on Instagram is verified, it has a blue dot, called a badge, next to the username. When another user comes across this profile or finds the verified username in search, the blue dot confirms to them that the account is the business, individual, or brand that it’s claiming to be.

While Instagram has a list of eligibility requirements for the badge, the platform does allow users to apply for one. You can learn more about that process inInstagram’s help center.

Quality Over Quantity Still Matters

Ultimately, it’s important to focus less on the number of followers you have, and more on the quality of content you create. Your audience will grow naturally over the long-haul if you put effort and time into creating engaging, informative, or inspirational content without worrying about “quick fixes” for boosts in followers. 

Plus, if you think about it, your followers don’t continue to follow you because of the size of your audience. They continue to follow you because of the content you create. 

Sure, maybe I’ve initially followed an influencer because she had 200K followers, which signified to me that she was worth following — otherwise, why would 200K people be looking at her content? 

But that doesn’t mean I’ve continued to follow influencers or brands because of the size of their audience. I’ve unfollowed plenty of mega-influencers or brands with thousands — if not millions — of followers, simply because I was no longer impressed with their posts.

You want to play the long game on Instagram, and that starts with focusing on what you can control — namely, the quality of the content you produce, the messages you promote, and the brand you build.

Ironically, I’m willing to bet the less you worry about the number of followers you have, the more community members you’ll attract. 

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Originally published Jul 24, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 24 2020

Topics:

Instagram Marketing

How to Write Good Instagram Captions: 8 Bookmarkable Tips for Perfecting Your Copy

Instagram marketing is all about the visuals. The quality of your photos will be the differentiating factor when it comes to gaining Instagram followers, getting them interested in your brand and what it’s about, and showing off the human side of your business.

But the hard work doesn’t end once you’ve taken that beautiful photo and edited it to perfection. Continue reading “How to Write Good Instagram Captions: 8 Bookmarkable Tips for Perfecting Your Copy”