When it comes to Instagram growth hacks, the same three messages are delivered over and over; Use hashtags, post consistently and interact with your followers, but what if this still isn’t enough?
In the last year alone, there have been some seismic shifts in the functionality of the platform, its features and the dreaded algorithm updates which in turn have generated new behavioural patterns amongst its users and subsequently, the consumer. So what do small businesses really need to be doing in order to grow their reach?
Let’s Talk Emoji’s
Although some brands are still reluctant to “lower the tone” and use emojis, the reality is they don’t cheapen your brand or attract a younger demographic, they simply lead to more interactions, (nearly 50% more!). Research has found that when we look at a smiling face online, the same parts of the brain are stimulated as when we look at a human face. This means that they help to evoke emotion and create a rapport.
Tell A Story
In the past two years we saw the rise of the long-form caption on Instagram, and while most brands still avoid it, it appears to work for those who use it-(But don’t forget, these captions have to be in paragraphs and not one big overwhelming unreadable chunk).
People love to peek behind the scenes too, so why not tell the stories behind your creative process with beautiful photography and a long, insightful caption.
Now that we’re on the topic of sneak peaks, why not give a sneak peak of your latest posts through your stories? Presenting the post as a big reveal will excite your followers and also encourage engagement as they will be curious and intentionally visit your feed to see it.
Instagram Stories are technically photo canvases, they allow layers. So you can add in a photo and then hide it with a layer of paint. Then, you can erase some of the paint to give a sneak preview. Here’s how to do it:
Select your photo
Flood your screen with a solid color
Tap the pen icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and select a color
Next, tap and hold on the screen for 1-3 seconds until the screen is filled with a solid color.
Then hit the eraser tool (the one closest to your right hand as you hold the phone) and mark a path for your reveal
There are over 200 million users on the Explore page every day so as a brand, you should be strategically aiming to get your content featured there, not only to get more likes, but to build brand awareness, sell your products and get new customers. Since the Explore page is unique to each person’s Instagram because it’s based solely on users likes and interests, you have the chance to get your content in front of a brand new, highly targeted audience.
Since story posts seem to get more engagement, a way to increase engagement on your feed posts is to share your own posts to your story. But be selective. Don’t train your audiences to look at your stories for your posts and ignore your actual feed.
Similarly, saving and adding your own posts to collections will improve their importance in the eyes of Instagram’s algorithm.
And if these fail, why not identify accounts that have a following similar to whom you are trying to attract, turn on post notifications for these specific accounts and leave a comment as soon as they post so you get their attention before everyone else or even find their real followers and do the same for them.
It wouldn’t be right to end this without at least mentioning them, so here goes…There are a few key things you need to know about the use of hashtags this year.
Any successful business will be using smart hashtag strategies, with a limit of 30 you want to make sure that each counts. Using the most popular hashtags will only get you lost amongst the thousands of other images posted each second, under the same term. Research key terms which will get you exposure and remember not to repeat the same hashtags over again or risk being shadow-banned!
Tagging your location and using hashtags within your Instagram stories can help you double your views on Instagram stories.
Start using Alt Tags. This new Instagram capability allows you to go beyond the hashtag for increased searchability. Alt tags will help the Instagram engines to understand what the photo is about and improve the odds that your photo will appear in related searches. Also, people using screen readers will now be able to hear the image description.