An impressive 81% of people use Instagram (IG) to research products and services. 50% of people have visited a brand’s website to make a purchase after seeing a product or service there.
Instagram marketing clearly has a ton of potential when it comes to growing a business. Not only can you get your business in front of more people and expand your following, but you can consistently turn a percentage of those followers into customers. What does it take to do this, though?
In this post, we’ll talk about:
- The foundation of Instagram marketing
- 8 free ways to promote your Instagram
- 4 additional ways to promote your Instagram with advertising
The foundation of Instagram marketing
Before we get into methods of promoting your IG account to gain followers and customers, let’s clear one thing up. None of the methods to follow will work if you don’t:
- Post content that’s interesting and relevant to the people you want to attract
- Post consistently to keep people engaged and excited to see what you’ll be sharing next
If you fail to do either, you could end up with a “dead” account that your followers have completely forgotten about or rarely engage with. You may also end up hanging out with the wrong audience (e.g., people who are unlikely to ever become customers). In either case, these outcomes are obstacles to long-term success.
So, before anything else, get quality content production and your publishing schedule down pat. It will make your Instagram promotion that much more effective.
How to promote your Instagram for free
Once you have the right foundation for successful Instagram marketing, you can test out various ways of attracting attention to your account, gaining the right kinds of followers, and guiding them toward becoming customers.
A good deal of your Instagram growth will likely come from promoting your account on the platform itself, although we’ll also cover other places you can advertise it. So how can you get more eyes on your account and fingers tapping that follow button? Here are eight free ideas to get you started.
1. Tag, tag, tag!
Social media—Instagram included— is all about being social. What better way to be social than to use Instagram’s tagging functionality. Not only can you tag specific followers when it makes sense, but you can also tag other brands. This can get more people engaging with your posts and interested in what you do.
Additionally, you can also tag your posts with locations. When you do, they show up in search results for the locations you tag. This can lead people to your brick-and-mortar location, help you connect with potential customers or partners at events, or just earn you a follow now and the opportunity to nurture a future customer’s interest later.
2. Choose your hashtags wisely
There’s a hint of bias against hashtags. What’s to blame? In part, people using 30 hashtags per post. The same goes for the folks using irrelevant or sketchy hashtags just to gain attention (#like4like and #followme, we’re looking at you…).
But, when used properly, hashtags can help more people to discover your business. To use them the right way, do your research on hashtags, including:
- What hashtags your competitors are using.
- What hashtags your audience uses when searching for content related to your industry.
- What hashtags are relevant to your business but not as crowded, giving you the potential to stand out.
This will give you some solid options to test out on your upcoming posts.
Additionally, if you plan to encourage user-generated content, you could create a branded hashtag that people can use when posting about your business. This can create buzz about your business and increase your following. Plus, it gathers together all content created by your audience in support of your business, which can persuade people to follow and buy from you.
3. Encourage user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) can give you an edge like no other. Unlike testimonials that are posted only by you, for instance, Instagram UGC is often posted on users’ accounts also. The benefit? You’re introduced to their followers. But that’s not all.
Future followers and customers trust the recommendations of friends, family, and connections. They’re more likely to believe the positive things your supporters say about your business than what you say about it. In other words, each piece of user-generated content is a vote of confidence that belongs to you and only you.
You might have a similar product or service as a competitor, sure. But no competitor will have that specific video of an enthusiastic customer raving about their experience with you or that unique snapshot of someone genuinely enjoying your product. So encourage people to create content showing off what they love about your business.
4. Use Instagram Video
Especially if you’re already creating videos for Youtube or another channel, it’s a smart move to make use of Instagram Video. With the head of Instagram announcing in June 2021 that the platform will be focusing more on video going forward, there’s no time like the present to get started (speaking of time, you may be interested in the best time to post to Instagram).
If you do, people who previously knew little to nothing about your brand could be introduced to it through IGs topic-based recommendations. This is incredibly valuable when you realize that it may be the only effective way to reach a certain segment of your audience on Instagram.
After all, some people strongly prefer video content, especially with the rise of platforms like TikTok. So you’re much more likely to reach them using Instagram Video than by only posting photos or stories to your account.
5. Cross-promote on your other social sites
Is your business active on other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok? If so, reuse your Instagram content! While you should, of course, adapt it to perform well on each platform, cross-posting and promoting your Instagram content can be the motivation people need to check you out there.
Don’t be afraid to share your best IG photos and videos, share the link to your profile, or even to directly invite people to connect with you on IG.
6. Spotlight your Instagram profile on your website
People exploring your site are already curious about your business to some degree. A great way to satisfy that curiosity—in addition to informative website copy—is to direct them to your social media accounts, Instagram included. Seeing how you engage with your audience and getting to know the people behind your business can move them closer to making a purchase.
So include social icons on your website or, even better, embed your Instagram profile. That way, people get a taste of the kind of content you post and may be motivated to follow you.
7. Include the link in your marketing emails
Doing email marketing? Include the link to your Instagram profile (and any other active social media pages you have) in your footer. And, when it makes sense to do so, draw attention to your IG specifically to spark future followers’ interest in what you’re doing there.
8. Mention your account in person
The in-person route can take many forms. For example, you could mention your Instagram handle:
- On the signage at your brick-and-mortar store if you have one.
- On your business cards or flyers.
- While chatting with customers at your physical location.
- While talking with others on a day-to-day basis about what you do.
All of the above can not only earn you more followers but also earn you repeat and new customers.
4 paid ways to promote your Instagram
You may want to take your Instagram marketing to the next level and promote your account with a little bit of budget. There are some easy and cost-effective ways you can do that. Here are four paid ways to promote your Instagram to get more followers.
1. Do exciting giveaways and contests
Giveaways and contests are a great way to get people to engage with your business and draw attention to it as a result. For example, you could do an Instagram giveaway that requires people to follow and tag a couple of friends to enter.
Imagine how much exposure your business could gain in a short time with this method. And beyond just being seen, you’d also have future opportunities to build relationships with your new followers, which could then turn into sales!
2. Try influencer marketing
What’s more powerful than self-promotion? Being promoted by others. Especially when they already have the attention and trust of the people you want to connect with via Instagram. This highlights the value of working influencers, which can dramatically accelerate your growth on IG.
The great thing is that you don’t need to partner with a megastar like The Rock to succeed with influencer marketing. Research has shown that micro-influencers—those with less than 100K followers—have much higher engagement rates than people with millions anyway.
Plus, micro-influencers tend to have more focused content, which attracts a dialed-in, highly interested audience. As a result, if your business aligns with what an influencer stands for and who they create content for, their audience is likely to respond positively to learning about you.
3. Run paid promotions
If you have the budget to run paid promotions through Instagram ads, go for it! That is, if you know your audience well enough to create an attractive ad that’ll get you a return on your investment. (If you can’t use Instagram’s ad targeting options to get your promos in front of the right people and/or can’t execute on the creative side of things, you run the risk of losing money.)
On the flip side, if you’re well prepared to try your hand at Instagram ads, they can give your business a nice boost–especially when used with organic efforts.
4. Promote your Instagram in print
If you’re doing direct mail marketing or are putting any sort of paper in the hands of potential followers and customers, take full advantage of the opportunity.
Don’t just let people know that you’re on Instagram. Make it as easy as possible for them to check you out and follow you. For example, create an Instagram QR code that people can scan to go directly to your profile.
Here’s to your Instagram growth
There’s no denying that Instagram can be a powerful tool for increasing the reach of your business, educating people about what you offer, and turning them into customers. This is especially true thanks to Instagram Shopping, which will only become more prominent in the coming months. So now’s the time to create your Instagram promotion game plan and start executing on it. The sooner you do, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits!
Here are those 12 ideas to promote your Instagram:
- Tag people and locations in your Instagram posts
- Choose your hashtags wisely
- Encourage user-generated content
- Use IGTV
- Cross-promote your Instagram posts on your other social sites
- Spotlight your Instagram on your website
- Include the link in your marketing emails
- Mention your account in person
- Do Instagram giveaways and contests
- Try influencer marketing
- Run Instagram ads
- Promote your IG in print
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