Creating an Interesting Instagram Account Isn’t As Hard As You Think
If your brand isn’t striving to be a top Instagram account — or worse, you’re not on Instagram at all — you are missing out. Instagram logged 700 million monthly users this April, and continues to find new and interesting ways to help photo fanatics and marketers achieve visual story telling. Recent upgrades include stories (think Snapchat), live video, and the ability to publish a multi-photo post with up to 10 photos. With Facebook acquiring the start-up app in 2012, it’s no wonder Instagram has become a major player in the social media space.
So what separates top Instagram accounts from the pack? Here are four things top Instagram accounts do right:
#1 Execute a Multichannel Vision:
Top Instagram accounts know that digital and print, while different animals, can work together to amplify both products. After all, you want stunning photography in your publications and print marketing as well as on your website and social channels, right?
PRINT AMPLIFYING DIGITAL: When you market your Instagram channel in print, give people a reason to make the effort to check you out online. Elevate your message beyond “Follow us on Instagram.” Ideas include ongoing giveaways, follower photo shares, and special event coverage. The “why” can be unique as your brand … just make it interesting.
Countryside & Small Stock Journal selects an influential and talented photographer from Instagram to be featured in its #iamcountryside photo essay in the print magazines. This user is someone who has consistently used their branded hashtag on Instagram (thus amplifying the Countryside brand) when sharing their vision of what it means to live the lifestyle of a Countryside reader.
DIGITAL AMPLIFYING PRINT: Instagram is a great way to promote a print product. Backyard Poultry magazine does this by sharing photos of the current issue through the lens of the authors and contributors. In that way, it has less of a marketing feel. It’s important to think of your brand as part of the community, not a marketing account.
#2: Focus on the Community
You are passionate about your niche and your product; there are Instagram users who are passionate about your niche, and many who passionate about your product too. This is the winning formula for creating a top Instagram account. One reason brands shy away from Instagram is that they don’t feel they have enough content to keep up the account. Top Instagram accounts empower their community to be the voice and the visuals behind their account, thus eliminating that concern. One easy way to do this is to simply let your audience know you are interested in sharing their photos and telling their visual story. Here’s how Backyard Poultry magazine communicates its desire to have community submissions:
“Use #backyardpoultrymag to be featured in our feed and in print.”
Here’s an example of how a community submission looks in the feed:
A word of caution about what is known as “Regramming” (sharing a post from other accounts). You need a third-party app to regram, and there are several options in your app store. Purchasing an inexpensive paid version means you won’t have to deal with the unsightly branding that a free Regram app will try to push on your photos. Most paid apps will simply watermark the image from the original photographer, which is a nice touch. Make sure to give proper attribution to the original photographer in the copy and tag them out of courtesy. Using a branded hashtag is a good way to get permission from users who want to be featured.
#3: Empower Followers
Showcasing your follower's photos will definitely amplify your account, but there are next-level strategies you can take to put your followers in the driver’s seat and watch your handle grow into a top Instagram account. Photo contests can be a fun way to add a burst of energy to your feed. Take it one step further by asking your followers to weigh in on their favorite photos or vote on creative options like your magazine’s next cover image. You can even partner with sponsors to drive revenue potential for these strategies.
Here’s a recent photo contest called “Coolest Coops” from Backyard Poultry magazine. Backyard Poultry has its Instagram followers “like” to vote for their favorite coops. In this way, the followers are truly taking the reins and investing in the brand and the results.
Best of all, the users who entered and want to get the most votes generally amplify the contest and the Instagram account.
These coops, you guessed it, go back into the print magazine, bringing us back to #1 – execute a multichannel vision.
#4: Leverage Influencers and Influential Conversations
One way to achieve the status of top Instagram account is to join influential conversations. Do this by using relevant, influential hashtags for your brand. Social media experts have different recommendations about the number of hashtags to use on Instagram, but don’t be afraid to get into double digits. Five to 15 is a good range. Research which hashtags are getting the most use, and use the ones that align with your brand.
You can also tag accounts that may be interested in your content to gain attention and further help improve your digital marketing strategy. It isn’t called “social media” for nothing, so get out there and actually be social, especially with influencers. Leave comments on other photos that are relevant to your brand. This works much better than liking individual photos in terms of getting noticed. Follow other accounts to gain visibility and follows.
Partner with accounts that have significant influence and agree to cross-pollinate each other’s accounts. For example, Backyard Poultry magazine often works with writers who already have a significant social footprint. Those writers are given unique opportunities to host “takeovers” of the account to show off their own personalities and brand. This is beneficial to both the magazine and the writers – a win-win!
What additional strategies have you seen from top Instagram accounts? Share your ideas in the comments.