Its Gary O’Toole here with Sociocaster and today we are going to take another look at Instagram.  Instagram has always been a hot topic but in recent weeks – I have seen a huge surge in interest. Almost everyone in the digital marketing community knows that Instagram is amazing source of free targeted traffic, but very few people understand how to utilize it effectively, so in today’s post I am going to give a beginners guide to Instagram so your armed with all the information you need to successfully implement Instagram into your over digital Marketing strategy.

This guide is written with absolute beginners in mind – but contains valuable info that will definitely benefit more experienced users as well, so feel free to skip any sections you feel your already familiar with and just dig in the info that is going to benefit your growth the most!

Part #1 What Is Instagram?

Essentially then, Instagram is a Facebook owned, image driven social networking platform. A very simple description of Instagram would be that it is an image sharing site but not in the conventional sense (such as imgur or Photobucket – remember those guys???). Instagram is a mobile first platform,so the image resolution is relatively low! Instagram is about creating a a really personal experience, its not a platform you would use to share images for client projects for example.

Instagram in an inspirational platform for telling your story from your prospective and finding the beauty in everyday life. Its all about keeping your followers up to date with what is going on in your world. As I said in a previous post if you had been to a wedding, you might upload all of your camera roll from the event onto Facebook but on Instagram you upload only the most stunning and captivating images for the world to see. If Facebook is like life’s highlight reel – Instagram is the about capturing the most amazing moments life gives us in the most captivating way possible.

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Instagram is about expressing yourself – the relatively low image resolution and wide range of filters available create a unique Lo-Fi image quality that is incredibly charming and emotion invoking. Instagram has rapidly evolved to become way more than just an image sharing app – it has become a way of life for a lot people! Instagram has come so far that has become both a verb and a noun just like Google!

You begin the Instagram process by either selecting an existing image from your camera roll or taking a new image then cropping the image into a square. Once you have cropped the image into a square you have the option to apply filters that can digitally manipulate things such as:

  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Structure
  • Saturation
  • Warmth

Images can be altered to take on a vintage appearance, colors can be brightened or toned down. These effects allow you to dramatically alter the emotion and feeling that your images convey. Once your satisfied with the edits you have performed on your image, you then have the option to add hashtags. You are probably already familiar with hashtags by way of  Twitter – quite simply they are descriptive tags that allow your content to be easily found in the Instagram search engine. Hashtags can placed directly inside your Image description. An example of hashtag usage is if you were enjoying a BBQ (I know I can’t wait either!!!) you might use tags such as:

#bbq #bbqribs #bbqsauce #KoreanBBQ #bbqlife #bbqporn #bbqchicken #bbqtime #texasbbq #kbbq #BBQs #manmeatbbq #bbqpork #bbqparty #bbqbeast #bbqbeef #instabbq #bbqfood #kcbbq #beachbbq #bbqbrasil #bbqbrethren #ausbbq #woodyardbbq #BackyardBBQ #bbqlovers #BBQRIBTIPS #aussiebbq #stlbbq #bbqseason

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Part #2 – Instagram: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need A Business Or Personal Style Account?

This is a very good question and an extremely common one too! One of the most important things you need to do on any platform you are using is present it with a clear purpose – so your visitors know instantly exactly what they are seeing. All to often (in the internet marketing Niche especially) , I see people crossing over a personal social media account with business – this is a bad idea and looks totally unprofessional.

As The Saying Goes – “Never Mix Business With Pleasure”

To take this a step further, its crucial to remember that if you have multiple businesses (just like Facebook or Twitter) you should have an individual account for each business.

A separate account for each business allows you to keep you message sharp, clear and laser targeted.

Check out these examples of how you can use individual Instagram accounts for each of your businesses:

Account #1 – Organic Wooden Furniture (Hand Made/Eco Related)

Account #2 – Dog Walking Business (Pictures of Dogs & Accessories)

Account #3 – Digital Marketing (Inspirational Quotes Linking Back To Other Content)

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This is also a great starting point for your journey into the world of Instagram, create a list of niches that you are currently working in. I am not going to suggest that you create an account for every single niche but try to group similar niches together so you can target several related niches from one account.

IE: You Could Combine Organic Furniture With Organic Handmade Home Decorations 

Do I Really Need An Instagram Biography?

Biographies are not currently searchable via Instagram – however that does not mean you should skip it! Rule #1 on all social media platforms is to fill out all of the sections to completion – this shows other users that are active and serious about using the platform in question.

You Have 150 Characters – Make Them Count!

I would advise that you take a look at other accounts in your niche that already have strong followings and look at how they have put their Biography sections together. Ideally you should include some Emojiis and keep it fun and interesting. Please be advised that hashtags are not really as effective in Biographies as they are individually.

Maximize Your Impact : Fill Out Your Biography

You must remember to include a CTA (Call To Action) at the end of your biography – this maximizes the chances of your visitors actually taking some form of action after visiting your account – ideally you should be directing them to a landing page – where they will be given the chance to sign up to, download or buy something.

So How Do I Send Traffic From Instagram To My Landing Page/Salespage/Website?

I highly recommend you invest in domains that match the accounts name,if your Instagram account was called “bodaciousbbq” and was about BBQ culture – I would recommend buying a domain like bodaciousbbq.com.

Your only able to embed one link into your Instagram biography – so again make it count.

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I would advise you to find the shortest domain possible and brand it as specifically as you can. One thing to remember it always looks a lot more professional and authoritative when you use your own custom domain! Domain can be bought for a $1 and there are hundreds of videos explaining how to set this up on YouTube. So no excuses – get on the case!

Do I Need To Follow All My Followers?

The short answer is – the more people you follow the more of other peoples posts will show up in your newsfeed. Not everyone who follows you will be relevant to your account – so just follow accounts that are posting content that is appropriate to your niche. There is no right or wrong answer to this question but I recommend keeping it nice and focused for a better experience.

How Can I Engage With My Followers?

All social media platforms are fueled by engagement and engagement is fueled by notifications!

You can @ people with their user names (IE: @ovsz.digital) to thank them for their comments and interactions – its very similar to Twitter in that respect.

All social networks like to keep their content display algorithms highly secret – but it goes without saying that content with higher engagement will show up in news feeds more frequently!

Make sure you are engaging with your followers and tagging the relevant people on a regular basis! 

What Kind Of Frequency Should I Observe When Posting?

If you are doing all of your posting manually you can post a fair bit more than if you are using some kind of automated software. Either way I recommend you use the following schedule to start of with:

Weeks 1 -2 : 1 -2 Posts

Week 3 – 4 : 2 – 3 Posts

Week 5 – 6: 3 – 4 Posts

You can scale that up in a natural and organic fashion over time – do not attempt to start posting 10 posts a day from a fresh account using software – you will only end up getting your account blocked and banned!

So How Many Of These “Hashtags” Do I Need To Use?

Your able to use up 30 hashtags per post – but its better to use relevant and specific hashtags than every hashtag under the sun.

I would suggest using around 10 – 15 highly targeted hashtags.

What Is The Best Kind Of Post To Create If I Want To Try To Go Viral?

Quotes are huge thing on Instagram and have been for quite some time. Posting other peoples quotes is great and will always pick you up a few followers – this is definitely one of my top tips for beginners! However for maximum impact its best to create your own branded quotes – which other people can “steal” and repost – this is great because they are spreading your branding for free!

Part #3 : Instagram Rapid Growth Strategies

Run A Contest

One of the greatest ways to encourage natural engagement is to run a contest that rewards engagement! Here are some tips for creating your first contest:

  1. Create Rules & Regulations – The Most Obvious One Being They Need To Follow You
  2. You Could Create Small Prizes (Digital Downloads or Credits Maybe) And Larger Prizes – For Smaller Prizes Simply Following Or Commenting Could Be Enough To Win But For The Main Prize You Should Encourage Them To Visit Your Landing Page and Opt In!
  3. Link Up With Influencers In Your Niche And Work Together To Create A Mega Competition With A Huge Prize Contributed By All Involved!
  4. Keep The Steps To Get Involved Minimal And Make Sure Its Easy To Do Them From A Mobile Device!
  5. Make Sure Your Landing Page Is Mobile Friendly or Designed Specifically For Mobile If Possible As All Traffic Will Be Coming From A Mobile Device!

Use Shoutouts To Gain Attention

Spend time researching and find Instagram accounts that have huge followings consisting on your ideal target audience. Do not comment spam accounts looking for Shoutouts – it makes you look desperate, cheap and unprofessional – to add this it is highly annoying and will just leave you looking stupid and feeling frustrated when you get no response back!

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Have some professional decorum and make sure you contact the account owner via Direct Message or Email. Think realistically – find accounts with equivalent number of followers or be prepared to pay for the shout out. No one is going to give you a shout out for nothing in return – this is business remember!  Just make sure their following is:

  1. Real
  2. Active
  3. Engaged

You need to use your professional judgement and due diligence here to establish if an accounts following is real or not – the key metric to measure is follower to engagement ratio. If someone is has 100k followers but less than 10 comments per picture – its pretty obvious that the followers are fake!

Use This Mind Map:

Check out this mind map below to give you some clear direction and inspiration for moving forward with your Instagram marketing. There are also a number of really helpful Facebook groups that a focused on helping you find your way through the Instagram Maze! Its worth checking out some of these groups as they do contain some really useful information and you can ask Instagram experts questions – which will save you significant time figuring stuff out on your own! I do however recommend running a few google searches as there tons of really useful resources out there to help you get started on your journey today.

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I have been Gary O’Toole with Sociocaster and I hope this guide has given you some useful insight into Instagram – I’ll be back on Friday with a brand new video on Facebook proximity marketing!

Have A Great Week

Gary

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