Instagram marketing strategies post Instagress era

Over the recent years, Instagram has become one of the most important social media platforms.

In 2017, we saw Instagram going through changes almost on a daily basis. The most significant event was probably the closure of different automation tools such as Instagress, MassPlanner and others.

By this fall, most of the automation tools have been shut down and we have seen a rise of Instagram engagement “services”. Instead of an automated bot doing engagement for you, you are able to outsource real people to do it for you.

However, we’re not going to focus on automation or engagement services here. Instead, let’s look at what growth methods are suggested by some of the most successful accounts and marketers on Instagram.

If you want to know more about automation and engagement services, shoot me a message on Instagram @gettinggrowth.

Paid media

Since organic reach on Facebook and now on Instagram has dropped dramatically over the last few years, marketers are looking for ways to be creative with paid methods.

Diego Prusky, from The Story Room agency, suggests trying some mobile-only targeting combined with web traffic campaigns directed towards the Instagram account. Also, you may want to test promoted dark posts on Instagram’s feed using Facebook Ads platform, highlighting content that shows why you deserve to be followed.

If you’re diving into ads on Instagram make sure you:

  1. Brand your content. You’re spending money to get exposure for your business, so make sure your ads are branded in a way that’s consistent across all your campaigns. However, it’s important your branding doesn’t dominate the message you’re trying to naturally put out. You can ensure your brand is still recognizable through connective elements, small or subtle logos, brand colors, figureheads, or style of photography.
  2. Use high quality photos and videos. Whether you’re going with a design, video, or photograph, make sure that imagery resonates with your audience. Like a bad user experience on a website, blurry or grainy photos are a turn-off. If you are taking your own photos for your ads, make sure you use natural light and avoid artificial light whenever possible.
  3. Experiment with new placement options. In the beginning of 2017, Instagram rolled out Story ads placement. Usually when testing new placement and ad options you will get better engagement and reach a larger audience on a budget.

Contests and giveaways

John Lippman, CEO of Book of The Month, says that they have seen good results with giveaways, growing their account from 0 to over 260k followers in the last year and a half. That’s something I’ve been testing out for a couple of months for my account @gettinggrowth. When the giveaway marketing is combined with paid media and strategic sharing in forums and FB groups it works really well. I’ve been able to get over 2000 email subscribers from 8 giveaways with relatively small prizes.

To run giveaways, I’d recommend using tools like Gleam or Kingsumo.

Pro tip: cross promote your giveaways. Incentivize participants to follow you on other channels and drive traffic from other channels to your giveaway.

Friend tagging

Giveaways are great for having your followers tag their friends. Eli from Catchco suggests posting memes and creating some of your own. “There’s almost no better way to get great engagement from your audience and increase your following, than by posting a funny, timely, and simple meme, bonus points if said meme has a “tag your friend” component!” says Eli.

Take personalization to the next level

Jenifer Kern, CMO of Tracx, suggests using social listening tools. Run very specific queries for relevant phrases (e.g. “I want pizza tonight.”), tag people posting this type of content on Instagram, then reach out to them with coupons or more information. For example, a leading video game company recently used their platform to run a specific query for the phrase, “I want the new [XX game], but it’s too expensive”. The company then tagged the people posting this type of content on Instagram, and the minute the game went on sale, the company reached out to those people to inform them of the sale. As a result, they sold 70,000+ copies of the game.

Seek out micro-influencers

It’s easier to get a hold of them and spending 500$ for 10 micro-influencers might be better than spending the same amount on 1 semi-famous influencer. Smaller influencers are more willing to work with brands because they don’t get approached by companies daily and this is exciting for them.

Mix your content with content that works on Instagram

Instagram loves beautiful women. “I know it sounds shallow, but it is the unavoidable truth about Instagram. Men, and brands that feature men, will fight an uphill battle compared to anything that features a woman in the post” says Andy Desai from SW & Associates Public Relations.

So think if you want your brand to go down that path or not. Also, we’ve seen that content that centers around superstars, luxury lifestyle, quotes and beautiful places, tends to rank a lot higher than everything else.

Experiment with new features as much as possible

I already mentioned the importance of testing new ad placements. It’s equally important to test new features of Instagram. For example, when hashtags and location became available on Instagram stories, I was able to triple my story views and gain almost 50% more followers every day.

I personally think it’s still quite an underused feature. If you’re doing daily stories, try adding location markers and hashtags. See what happens.

Engage with first timers #firstpost

Ettore Fantin-Yusta suggests going after the newcomers. New users are highly impressionable, and targeting them can gain your account lifetime loyalty. To find these users, simply search for the #firstpost hashtag. Manually engage with these users by following them, liking their pictures, or commenting on their pictures. Most of the time they will be excited about the interaction and follow you back.

Get traffic from super accounts

Turn on post notifications on big accounts in your niche. Whenever they post something, you’ll be notified. When that happens, you want to go and write a thoughtful comment that’s relevant to their post. It’s likely that their followers will see your comment and, if it’s interesting enough, they might check your account and follow.

Engagement groups

These engagement groups, or pods as they are often called, have been around for some time now. Engagement groups are, just as the name says, a group of people engaging with each other’s posts. I’ve written a separate article about Instagram engagement groups on HopperHQ blog.

Dan from Sppoky Digital additionally claims that engagement pods are vital part of growing your account. According to him, the first 20 minutes or so of a new post is crucial with Instagram. By getting tons of interaction in the first 20 minutes, you’re showing Instagram that you have high value content, and you’ll get a much higher organic reach. It doesn’t take that many people, 10–20 in a pod is fine.

Hashtags matter

This is not a growth-hack per se, but I have to point that out, as it constantly amazes me how little time people spend on hashtag research. First, make sure you use all 30 hashtags that are allowed. Post them into your first comment if you don’t want to look spammy. It doesn’t really matter where they are, as long as they are attached to your post. Secondly, mix up your hashtags and try to have different hashtags for each post. This might seem like a lot of work, but it pays off and attracts followers from different niches.

Engage with relevant content

This goes without saying. Being active on social media helps your content to be noticed. As a daily engagement activity, Brandon from Wallaroo suggests to go and like the recent posts of relevant hashtags. According to him, this increases your engagement 3–5% and also helps you get new followers.

Be you and have fun

Tank Sinatra, with over 1.2 million followers, suggests thinking about your Instagram page always as a hobby and passion project. You should never focus on making money from Instagram. He’s top recommendation is to be authentic. If you really nail this one, the rest of these tips just kind of fall into place.

What’s your favourite growth method for Instagram for the end of 2017? Let us know!

About me: Johannes helps small businesses with their online marketing challenges and writes about Instagram marketing for his blog