10 Lessons You Can Learn from the Best Brands on Instagram

Getting the hang of using Instagram can take some time, dedication and patience. Even those who aren’t new to the platform need to pay attention to trends and stay up-to-date and the latest features being unrolled.

If you want to gain followers and make money on Instagram, one thing that can truly help is to take notes on what others are doing. Take a look at these 10 lessons you can learn from some of the best brands on Instagram.

1. Let your customer be your best sales tool.

A lesson that often goes overlooked is the value in showing what your product can do. One of the best ways to do that is to showcase how your customers are using it. An added bonus of this approach is that it allows you to give credit to your followers and to generate increased engagement.

Adobe is a company that’s doing this right. They feature a ton of user generated images and art using their line of digital products in a way that is inspirational to their audience. It also shows the capabilities of their software. Most of us would consider that a win-win.

2. Show your creative side.

Due to the sheer volume of users on Instagram, it definitely helps if you have a creative approach to your marketing. Creativity is something that seems so simple, but truly takes a great deal of talent to pull off in ways that stand out from the crowd. L’Oreal is a brand that takes this concepts to new levels and excels in showcasing their products in visually appealing, yet innovative ways.

The one thing they’ve managed to pull off exquisitely is the placement of their products within their feed. A basic rule of thumb on this platform is to follow a common color theme within your feed in order to make it more pleasing to the eye. L’Oreal manages to showcase a vast array of colors within their product line in ways that make aesthetic sense. It’s playful, fun and a real work of art.

3. Be of value.

No matter how lovely your Instagram feed looks or how wonderful your product may be, you won’t get far on any social media platform if you don’t offer immediate value to your customers. They follow you for a reason. Some market research can clue you into what it is they want most. Once you find out what that is, be sure to deliver.

Give them a reason to want to follow you, as IKEA is known to do. They offer glimpses into how their furniture can be displayed within your home through both their image and video content.

Seeing items placed in real life settings shows how usable the pieces are and inspires followers to want to check out more. Also, while I don’t recommend this as a long term strategy, you can buy Instagram followers for social proof, so more people are likely to follow you.

4. Share instead of trying to sell.

No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to. Consumers want to exercise free will and choose the products and services they find worthy of their hard-earned dollars. Hard sells rarely go over well in any medium, but especially on social media platforms where transparency is crucial.

Try not to make every post a sales ad. It’s important to mix it up with content that’s relevant to your niche and that adds value, as already noted. Walmart does this quite well.

They showcase their products in a number of settings, both in-store and out in the world. They also feature images of associates and customers in relevant circumstances. They tell a story.

5. Just ask.

Increasing engagement is a goal most brands have on social media. When your followers are actively involved with you, they feel invested and are likely to become repeat customers. One of the best ways to increase engagement is to ask your audience for their feedback directly.

Whole Foods is a company that excels in this area. They ask insightful, meaningful questions within their captions to solicit input from their followers. In return, they receive tons of likes and comments.

6. Social media as customer service.

Social media channels have become the go-to for many consumers when it comes to voicing their opinions and seeking remediation when they’re dissatisfied with a brand. When done right, companies can actually benefit from this practice.

Zappos is one such brand leading the pack in this arena. They even set up a separate account just to manage such issues. Showing genuine interest in providing attention and an immediate response goes a long way when it comes to customer loyalty.

7. Involve users in real life. 

Most marketers don’t think to take social media into the real world, but it can make a significant different in your customer engagement and help you stand out from the pack.

Check out what the mattress company, Casper, is doing to get their products out there. One example is their brilliant marketing campaign, known as the “sleep tour”, that actually introduces customers to their mattress pads, pillows and even mattresses in real life.

8. Update a classic.

Some of the most well-known businesses are the ones who’ve been around and have thrived for decades. In order to make this happen, they must adapt and evolve with the times.

Wendy’s, the iconic fast-food chain, is one such brand that has reinvented itself on social media to an overwhelmingly positive response from customers. Their modern, edgy approach is appealing to millennials and a younger crowd. Who would’ve expected that?

9. Don’t be afraid to use video.

Instagram is a visual platform, and that doesn’t just mean static images. Users have proven they crave video content, and the most successful companies are happy to give it to them. Victoria’s Secret is one such brand.

In just a matter of six months on Instagram, they were able to gain approximately seven million followers. One reason for such success just might be their prolific library of videos showing everything from behind-the-scenes peeks to stunning product reveals.

10. Appeal to their senses.

Luxury automobile brand, Mercedes Benz, does something with their Instagram account that more brands would benefit from. They present their vehicles in a way that make them seem accessible to their followers.

They provide an insider’s view of what they have to offer and what sets them apart from their competition. Showing what it would be like to own and use their product is a quick way to grab attention and interest.

These 10 tips should provide you with a great deal to consider when mounting your own online marketing campaigns. Use the suggestions that mesh with your brand, and don’t be afraid to experiment a bit to discover what works best with your audience.

How to Use Instasize to Create a Cohesive Brand on Instagram

Growing an engaged following is the goal of any successful brand looking to market itself on social media. A big part of drawing potential followers and connecting with them is your visuals. That’s why Instagram is such a powerful tool for marketing your brand.

Not only is the app intensely visual in nature, but with over 800 million active users per month and one of the highest interaction rates of any social media platform, it is also one of the most effective ones out there. That’s the good news.

The challenge, however, is getting your brand to stand out amid a veritable jungle of competing accounts. We’ve already talked about the different ways you can develop your brand’s voice on Instagram, so now let’s discuss another important aspect of marketing your brand on the platform.

One of the best ways to grab and keep the attention of your prospective followers is to make browsing your feed a visually pleasurable experience that they’ll want to keep coming back to. A well curated feed with posts transitioning beautifully into each other is what you should aim for, and one of the key elements to achieving this is design consistency.

A consistent, cohesive look across your entire feed is not only appealing to the eye, it highlights the care and though you put into your brand. It may seem like a complex challenge, but achieving a cohesive brand isn’t actually that difficult with a plan in place and the right tools.

The first thing to keep in mind is that people look at your Instagram in two different ways. They see your posts individually on their feeds, and they also see them all together in a layout when they visit your profile. Visually interesting posts tend to get people to check out your brand’s profile.

It may take people seeing your posts a few times to get them to check out your profile. Having a consistent and appealing look across your posts will help potential followers recognize your content when it pops up.

Once you interest them enough for them to take a look at your brand’s profile, that’s where they usually decide to follow you. Having a cohesive and appealing look across your posts guide potential followers to this point, which is why a good image editing app like Instasize is such an indispensable tool for anyone looking to market their brand on Instagram. Let’s check out how Instasize can help you attain that cohesive aesthetic for your brand.

The quickest way to find a unified theme for your brand’s feed is to experiment with filters. Instagram has a modest selection that may suit your needs, but if you want your brand to stand out you’ll need a wider selection of filters.

Instasize’s extensive library of filters are a great way to easily apply a consistent but unique look across all your images if, like most of us, you don’t have an extensive background in photography.

Serious brand marketers can gain access to even more exclusive filters by availing of a premium membership. No matter how you want to project brand, there’s probably a theme that conveys it perfectly. If you’re going for something dark and broody, you can try out the A2 filter from Instasize’s Amber collection. Or you can go for a more cool and wintry look with the Spruce collection.

For something on the more light and bright side, why not try H2 from the Havana collection or the M2 and Arya filters?

Dramatic black and whites are more your thing? The app’s Radio and Nova features can give you that serious, dramatic tone.

Don’t forget that you can tweak a filter’s settings to really get a look that’s right for your brand. Once you feel more comfortable editing the settings of your photograph, Instasize lets you create your very own look by changing image settings such as Exposure, Contrast, Brightness, and the like.

Maintaining a consistent aesthetic also extends to the text you use to complement your visuals. Everybody knows that text is a convenient way to include link information or the time and date of your next Instagram Live post.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that selecting the right font, color, and style creates an instantly recognizable look. Instasize makes this easy by giving you an extensive set of options for creating the right text layout and style for your brand, all in a single app.

Besides being able to choose from a number of text styles, Instasize also lets you select the color and font applied to the same style without breaking the design. No need to resize and reposition the words, it’s all automated!

These tips should help you start designing your own brand’s unique, cohesive look. Remember, everything about your brand’s look should tell your brand’s story. So choose everything, from the colors, framing, and text styles with care. Keeping this and mind will go a long way towards getting your brand’s message across, and building an active and loyal following.

8 Surprising Ways You Can Make Money on Instagram

Instagram’s popularity has exploded in recent years. What was once a simple photo sharing app has turned into one of the most popular social media platforms around.

People are using it far and wide for a variety of purposes from keeping up with their inner circle to learning about the latest trends. It’s become a place where influencers and brands are welcomed and embraced for all they have to offer.

The key is finding ways to stand out from the crowd and connecting with a devoted audience. If you’d like to earn some social media side cash or even earn a full-time living online, take a look at these eight surprising ways you can make money on Instagram for inspiration.

1. Try affiliate marketing.

It used to be that you had to have your own website set up to promote affiliate products. These days, you just need an active social media account. Because Instagram is so popular, it’s the perfect choice for promoting the products and services of others in order to earn a commission for yourself.

There’s good money to be made by becoming an affiliate. Platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Clickbank and more offer tons of opportunities to find affiliates to promote that fit within your niche and appeal to your particular follower demographic.

2. Become an influencer.

There are influencers of all audience sizes, depending upon your specific area of expertise and interest. Becoming an influencer involves first cultivating an active and engaged following on Instagram, then making a name for yourself among those loyal users.

You don’t need to reach celebrity status with a cult following, just as long as your audience is engaged and has shown they have trust in your knowledge.

Once you’ve established yourself, you can begin to approach brands to suggest collaborations. Depending on your niche and activity level, brands may even begin to seek you out with proposals of their own.

Typically, a brand will pay an influencer for a sponsored post. Rates vary based on size of following and engagement, but you can earn some good money this way.

3. Sell your digital products.

Promoting and selling your own personally created products through your Instagram feed makes sense. Again, it’s wise to create a brand for yourself and cultivate a following by sharing what you know and showing your unique personality.

Once people start to connect with you, they’ll likely be interested in what it is you do and what you have to offer.

You can sell digital products like ebooks, white papers, photos, artwork and printables within your niche. Establishing yourself as a trusted expert within your field will encourage folks to want to know what it is you have to say. There’s quite the market for informational products out there.

4. Sell your physical products.

You can also sell your own physical products, as well. If you use your creativity and talents to make things, why not try reaching an extensive audience through Instagram? Just as with any other product you’d want to sell, it’s best to establish your online presence in order to attract more interest in what you have to offer.

You can sell nearly anything that appeals to a particular demographic. You may need some initial startup costs, as well as adequate work and storage space in your home.

Once you make sure you have all you need, you’re ready to start selling. Instagram allows you to tag items that lead potential customers directly to your website or online sales venue.

5. Get involved with dropshipping.

If you don’t have the startup capital, talent or space necessary to product your own product, don’t despair. There are plenty of suppliers out there who will maintain inventory and even ship products you promote through your online properties.

It’s a no-frills way to make money selling physical products that you wish to promote. You set up an online store, promote products you love and your dropship supplier handles the backend. You’ll earn a profit based on agreed-upon commission terms.

 6. Become a brand ambassador.

Influencers who succeed with sponsored posts and other short-term partnerships with brands may be interested in pursuing brand ambassador opportunities.

This role works in a similar way to sponsorships, but it’s usually for a longer period of time and is more detailed. It’s a real partnership between an influencer and a brand, and it involves significant trust and admiration on the part of both.

In order to be chosen as an ambassador, a company must view you as someone they admire whose image and interests are in line with what their own company values. And vice versa.

You should only look to create such long-term partnerships with brands you genuinely believe in. Otherwise, your audience may see you as fake or as a sellout.

7. Teach what you know.

Influencers who have established themselves as trusted experts within their niche can often make money through teaching what they know.

You can provide this information through webinars or online courses that your audience attends either in real-time or through pre-recorded sessions. Some experts also sell their consulting services to others. Why not profit from your hard-earned knowledge?

8. Sell your Instagram account.

Finally, did you know you could sell your Instagram account? It’s true. If you’ve taken the time and effort to create a significant and loyal following with hundreds or thousands of posts, you don’t want to just shut it down should you find that you’re ready to move on.

There are people and companies who may be interested in profiting from your established hard work and reputation. Your online social media property can be worth quite a chunk of change. There are sites like Swapd who can broker fair deals for you that are worth considering.

These are just some of the ways you can make money on Instagram. Each requires dedication and time, but they’re definitely worth it if you wish to work and earn a living online.

7 Tips for Creating Amazing Instagram Videos

Videos can be used in so many ways on Instagram, and people love them. Add them to your timeline, stick a clip in Instagram Stories or even produce a video ad.

There are tons of possibilities. It’s smart to use them to engage your followers. However, it’s crucial you use them in strategic ways if you want your videos to be seen and shared. Check out these seven tips for creating amazing Instagram videos.

1. Tell a story.

Instagram has become a platform where people expect to learn about the profiles they follow. Sure, it’s used by brands both big and small, but Instagram isn’t all about selling. If you want to truly connect with your followers, it’s imperative that you share stories with them.

You can do this in lots of creative ways. Shoot a video telling about your origins, feature your staff or present a short bio of a relevant figure within your niche. Creating a narrative is a great way to create a feeling of personal interest.

2. Know your objective.

Stories are definitely a fantastic way to connect with an audience, but don’t forget your purpose. This is digital marketing, after all. You’re using Instagram for a reason. That may be to promote your brand, make more sales, present yourself as an expert or gain social capital.

It can even be a combination of such motivations. Know your objective before creating a video so that you can incorporate content that meets your marketing purpose in a way that makes sense.

3. Use subtitles.

A trick to creating amazing Instagram videos is to ensure that they can be viewed and understood without sound. People tend to scroll social media while in public places or at work.

They probably have their device on silent. You want them to be able to watch your video and understand it even without sound. Subtitles are the easiest and most efficient way to do this. However, feel free to get creative and create videos that achieve this goal in other ways.

4. Create how-to videos.

Video is the perfect medium for showing how to do something. You should definitely take advantage of this and capitalize on the medium. If you sell a product, create videos that show how to use your best-selling items or to showcase some of the most relevant features a product offers.

If you’re an influencer or want to promote your personal brand, giving demonstration videos in your niche is a great way to establish your expertise, along with showing off your unique personality.

You can expand on the how-to concept in lots of ways that can hold viewers’ attention and that align with your purpose. Always remember that one of your goals is to meet your marketing objectives in ways that resonate with your audience.

5. Inspire emotion.

The videos that are most often shared by users are the ones that inspire emotion and make them feel something. People want to be moved. They want to laugh.

As social creatures, it makes sense that emotional videos are the ones that people will most connect and identify with. Keep this is mind when creating your story. You’ll also want to think of your brand image when deciding which emotion to elicit and how to go about it.

Be sure your content is in line with your branding. You can do this in a number of ways. Use bold colors, fun topics and modern music to convey a current, hip vibe. Include serene music, stark images and sharp angles to tell a serious story of perseverance and inspiration. Just be consistent in your tone and presence in ways that are reminiscent of your brand messaging.

6. Keep it short.

You don’t have much choice but to keep your videos short because Instagram only allows videos between 15 and 60 seconds long, depending upon placement.

This short time constraint is actually a good thing for social media and this particular platform. People are busy scrolling to see everything their Instagram feed has to offer, so they’ll appreciate short snippets of information they can process quickly.

An added bonus to short video clips is that they help you to stay on message. Stick with one specific topic of focus so as not to confuse viewers. It’s tempting to try to share everything all in one video, but this only muddles your message. Find your focus and be true to it. You can always expand upon the concept in your next video once you see how well this one is received.

7. Stay current.

Creating timely videos related to current affairs or upcoming days of interest are a tried and true way of capturing viewer interest. It’s good practice to stay on top of the calendar to see what holidays or quirky days of recognition might be approaching.

Find a way to make the occasion relevant to your brand and run with it. Clever and creative videos are likely to be shared.

Current events inspire sharing, as well. Making a video that is related to what’s going on in the world shows you’re connected with the bigger picture. Use trending hashtags to help your content stand out. Don’t be afraid to take a stand on issues that are important to you. There will always be those who disagree, but it’s likely they’re not your target audience, anyway.

These tips should get you started out on the right foot when it comes to creating amazing Instagram videos. Don’t be afraid to use trial and error to discover just what goes over with your audience and what might not. Practice makes perfect.

6 Ways to Develop Your Brand’s Voice on Instagram

Social media can seem like an overcrowded jungle with people fighting just to be seen. It’s true that Instagram is one of the most-used platforms out there, so making sure you stand out from the crowd is important.

One of the ways to do that is to develop a consistent image among your followers. Businesses and influencers that wish to gain a loyal following need to develop recognition and a reputation among their audience in order to succeed.

Your brand voice is the tone, messaging and overall aesthetic you bring to everything you do. It should be the same across all medium so that your customers and followers know what to expect. Maintaining this level of consistency can be a challenge. Check out these six ways to develop your brand’s voice on Instagram for some pointers.

1. Set goals.

Modern social media users are savvy. Gone are the days when you could just post cute memes, inspirational quotes and some random photos, then expect to maintain a loyal following. Now the market is crowded, and people curate their feeds ruthlessly. They know what they want, and they expect high quality from the accounts they follow.

That’s why you need a plan, strategy and goals. Defining your purpose for having an Instagram presence should be your first priority. Then you can outline the actions you’ll take to make that happen. When your purpose is clear, you can then create a brand voice to support it.

2. Consider your message and aesthetic. 

Once you have a plan, you can begin to sketch out how you want to portray your brand. Some consider this a theme or an aesthetic. It’s a culmination of all the things that go into creating the type of messaging you want your audience to receive.

So much goes into your brand voice. You’ll need to decide on the filters and colors you wish to use in your images, along with the types of content you plan to post. Those decisions are based on the kind of feelings you wish to invoke in your audience and what you wish them to take away from your feed.

The tone used in your captions and the ways in which you interact with followers is part of your overall voice, of course. Even the frequency of your posts and the ways in which you work to stand out from the competition matter. 

3. Know your audience.

 Having an understanding of your target demographic is crucial to creating a brand voice that will resonate with your followers. Sure, this is bound to change and evolve over time. However, creating an avatar, or ideal image, for the type of audience you wish to reach will help you develop a voice that attracts just such a crowd.

 4. Find your niche.

There’s a place for nearly any interest on Instagram. With so many users, there’s bound to be a large group of people who are interested in what you have to offer. The trick is deciding what that is, exactly. Your niche is a subgroup of a particular category.

Perhaps you’re a fashion influencer. That’s great. Lots of folks have an interest in this subject matter. But you’ll have to be more specific if you really want to stand out on Instagram. What particular segment of the fashion world do you wish to cover? The answer to this question will inform you of your niche.

Do you wish to focus on high-end apparel? Perhaps plus size fashion is your area of expertise. A knowledge of designers will appeal to some folks. Perhaps an inside look at the garment industry and manufacturing process is what you have to offer.

See how specific your niche can be? Knowing your niche will inform your overall brand voice significantly.

5. Maintain your beliefs.

 Do you have a mission or vision statement? What does your company stand for? How do you wish for your audience to perceive you?

What words would best describe how you see yourself? These are all things to consider when it comes to establishing a brand voice. The messages you send to your potential audience  affects how they choose to interact with you going forward.

This messaging must resonate with individuals in order to reach them and to convince them to stick around for what you have to say or offer. It’s important that what you put out there on social media reflects your core beliefs and who you say you are.

Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial that you understand and establish those beliefs early on in order to live them and portray them to others.

6. Remain consistent.

If you want to establish a significant and loyal following, you absolutely must be consistent in your branding. Your look, tone, wording, messaging and overall vibe should be recognizable to your followers.

This helps them to feel connected to you. It can also lead to increased engagement and loyalty when people know what to expect from your brand.

Easy recognition makes it easier to spot you in an overcrowded space, also. Everything about you should be consistent over time.

This is comforting to an audience and instills confidence in who you are. A big part of this familiarity is also about when and how often you post. Keep your posts as consistent as your branding, and your followers will respond favorably.

These tips will help you to create and establish your brand voice. It truly cannot be overstated how important this aspect is to social media success. Implementing these practices will help you build a more active and loyal following.

6 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid on Instagram

When it comes to social media, Instagram is one of the hottest platforms out there, and with good reason. If you want to build or strengthen your presence on the platform, here are six marketing mistakes to avoid while you build your strategy.

1. Using stock photography.

This is a particularly easy thing for lifestyle influencers to use to try to grow faster to get more Instagram followers. While it sounds good at first, the reality is it makes you look like an amateur. The basis of your Instagram account is your real life, even if you do glamorize it and edit it a bit. Stock photography is rarely any kind of indication of what life is really like.

And as a business, stock photography does have its place on your website and in print materials, but not on Instagram. Your audience values authenticity, which you won’t find in stock photography – especially if you are one of thousands of brands using it.

Thankfully, the bar for original social media photography is fairly low, so as long as you have access to a smartphone you can create decent images quickly, without breaking the bank. Taking your own photos with a smartphone will definitely be cheaper than investing in stock photography anyway.

2. Not posting on a consistent schedule.

Posting on a consistent schedule builds trust with your audience. When your following is engaged, they know when to expect new content from you. Many will look for it beyond what shows up in their feed.

Even if it’s just one post a day, whatever you start with, stick with it. Don’t start with three a day, go to one a day, then take a week off, then spam everyone’s feeds with six or more posts. If you do this, you’ll see a decline in your following, more than likely after the spam posts you do to conclude your extended hiatus.

If you need some guidance on the best times to post, take a look at your Instagram Analytics to see when the majority of your engagement takes place. Then, post your content around that time so you know your followers are likely online and ready to engage with it.

You can use a social media planning tool to not only map out your content ahead of time, but even to schedule it to post so that you’re never left wondering what to post and when, or caught without content ready to go.

3. Using bad hashtags.

The more popular a hashtag is, the more people will search for it, and the more people will see your content, and the more followers you’ll get, right? Wrong.

The more popular a hashtag is, the more posts it gets, meaning your photo will only be visible for seconds before it’s pushed out the way to make room for new content that uses it. Plus, you should keep the hashtags relevant to the content and your audience – not just using something because it’s the popular option.

Take time to keep your hashtags varied, because if you’re using the same ones over and over with each post, you’re never exposing your content to new audiences. Relevant hashtags keep you in the recent posts section for longer, increasing the chances you’ll reach an actually targeted audience.

4. Not proofreading your copy.

Even though Instagram is a predominately visual platform, that doesn’t mean you can completely ignore your copy. It should be well written, and tell a story about the image you’re sharing.

It should include a call to action and direct your followers to do something – even if it’s as simple as liking or commenting.

If you don’t take the time to proofread, you could have a profile riddled with errors, which harms your credibility with your audience.

5. Not engaging with your audience.

Without engagement, you’ve got nothing. You can have millions of followers, but if they aren’t liking, commenting, and sharing your stuff, then they aren’t paying attention to what you have to say. You must take the time to engage with them, encouraging them to like and comment, then taking the time to thank them for their effort.

That’s how you build connections, and that’s how those connections eventually become customers. If people are asking questions, take the time to answer them. If people notice their comments are falling on deaf ears, they’ll just stop engaging you.

6. Not following your followers.

When people decide to follow you, make sure you follow them back at least. You do not have to comment or interact with them on their personal account, but taking the time to follow them gives you the chance to get to know them better so you can find out what interests them. You can use the information to get their attention and better meet their needs.

While there are plenty of other marketing mistakes you can make on Instagram and other social media platforms, avoiding these six will surely set you up for success.

By taking the time to create your own quality original photos, researching hashtags that are relevant to your product and audience, engaging with your audience, following them to learn more about them and show you appreciate them following you, and posting consistently, you will be will on your way to Instagram domination.

5 Reasons Why Micro-Influencers Are Vital to Marketing Success

Influencer marketing is on the rise, and while celebrities have an advantage, you do not have to reach their level to be successful as an influencer.

Micro-influencers, or people who have fewer than 100,000 followers – often lower than 20,000 depending on who you ask – are particularly helpful for marketers. Let’s take a look at the reasons why, aside from the fact that they do make up the majority of digital influencers online today.

1. They are more cost effective.

For many brands with limited budgets, it makes more sense to work with micro-influencers because they have significantly lower rates compared to people with thousands, or even millions of followers. Macro-influencers, or those with an audience of 500,000+ tend to charge high fees for sponsored posts. While they can still deliver value, the high fees mean they aren’t a cost effective investment.

Cost effectiveness should be part of your brand strategy, whether you’re just dabbling in influencer marketing or you are heavily invested in it.

If you pay $10,000 for a top-tier influencer to do one post, you won’t get as much from it as investing the same $10,000 in a larger campaign with multiple smaller influencers. You’ll get more posts total, and exposure to a better variety of audiences across the same niche with the micro-influencer campaign.

For smaller businesses that don’t have the budget to even work with a macro-influencer, micro-influencers let them jump in to to compete with the bigger brands, because all that matters is the influencer aligns with their budget and their target market.

2. Engagement rates are higher.

Studies by Markerly and HelloSociety have shown that influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than the top-tier influencers.

Both studies reveal that as audience size increases, engagement rate decreases. Because engagement is a more important metric for brands, it makes sense for them to collaborate with people who they know will get their message across.

Sure, Kim Kardashian may have 135,570,876 followers, but her engagement rate is only 1.96%. Compared to micro-influencer Modern Fit who has 46,076 followers and a 2.62% engagement rate. Higher engagement is always better because it means people are paying more attention to what the influencer is sharing.

Influencers with 100,000 followers have around a 1% engagement rate, meaning only about 1,000 people are interacting with the content. But a smaller influencer with audience of 10,000 followers and a 6% engagement rate puts you in front of 600 people.

While you’re still losing exposure to 400 people, the difference in rate between the larger influencer often means you’re getting a much better per follower/engagement cost than you would with the larger influencer.

3. They’ve got authenticity.

Higher engagement rates generally mean that many followers have been there from the beginning, so they’re invested in the influencer and connected to them personally. Micro-influencers cherish their growing communities, and as such, are there to reply to comments, attend events, and engage their community both online and off.

Celebrities and other high profile influencers are often in high demand and have other commitments that stop them from being so readily available and personal with their following. Let’s be honest – no one really has the time to reply to 300 Instagram comments in a day, so the smaller audiences get more interaction from the influencer.

The other thing that makes them more person is the fact that their audience trusts them, which is not as a common with macro-influencers. Because these macro-influencers are known to regularly work with a variety of brands and consistently take on paid advertising projects, it means the audience doesn’t readily trust all of their recommendations.

4. They’ve mastered quality content creation.

Because micro-influencers are working toward building a macro-influencer status, they are focused on creating quality content their audience loves. They may not have a huge following, but you can bet they’ve mastered what it takes to create quality content.

Whether it’s the written word, imagery, or multimedia content you’re after, you can find an influencer to get the job done well, on budget, and without compromising quality. Instagram influencers are great at visual content, and many of them are great storytellers, using the captions to enhance the photos and videos they post.

5. They’re willing to go above and beyond.

Many brands love working with micro-influencers because they are great to work with. They are willing to go beyond what’s necessary to impress clients and keep them satisfied because they are so grateful for the chance to work with a brand that values them and their audience.

Because they aren’t as busy with other commitments as macro-influencers can be, it’s often easy to reach them via email to communicate with them directly, rather than having to go through a talent manager. Micro-influencers are generally more willing to explore out-of-the-box options, as well.

Micro-influencers are a great way to deliver marketing messages because there are plenty of them out there, and they deliver authentic, natural, and genuine recommendations. They are not affected by ad blocking software so there’s nothing standing between the content and consumers.

The marketers who understand the power and value of engagement in influencer marketing create better, and more powerful marketing campaigns. Leveraging smaller influencers in your marketing strategy allows any brand to succeed.

6 Essential Tips for Making Mind-Blowing Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories came about as a way to compete with Snapchat. It’s a fun feature you can use to string together image and video content to share with your followers. Your Stories will show up for only 24 hours, so folks will be encouraged to check back with you regularly.

Companies and influencers of various levels use this tool to engage their followers and to keep them interested. Using it can have a bit of a learning curve, though. Give these six essential tips for making mind-blowing Instagram Stories a try and see what a difference it makes.

1. Employ editing software to keep your videos short.

Video is a great addition to your Stories. It can be a fun way to shake things up and add real personality. People generally love them. However, Instagram only allows you to insert 15-second videos into your Instagram Stories. To get the most professional and efficient results, you’ll need to use editing software.

By editing your videos in advance, you’ll make sure things come together in a way that’s pleasing to viewers. Editing software lets you crop and splice segments of video together, adding music and transitions to improve the flow.

You can also adjust lighting, change speed and add filters to your videos. Try shooting in portrait mode since most people browse Instagram on their phones. There are a number of software possibilities to consider. Each has their own benefits, based on your skill level and equipment.

2. Use geotags and hashtags strategically.

If you want to gain followers quickly, you’ll want to use geotags and hashtags in your posts. You can do this in your general feed and in Instagram Stories.

Geotags allow you to add a location tag to your post, which can be as specific as a particular building or as broad as the city you’re in. Hashtags can be customized to reflect your specific niche. Both of these are like maps that lead your users to content that interests them.

You have to be careful to use tags strategically, though. There are lots of hashtags mistakes people make when just starting out. Do an Instagram search for relevant keywords in order to start your hashtag research. You can also check out what similar accounts are using to get ideas. Try not to be too vague or broad. The more specific, the better. Don’t forget to geotag your Stories with a location.

3. Take advantage of fun Instagram effects.

There are lots of native effects and features within Instagram that will let you enhance your Stories. You’ve probably seen others use some of them. Discovering which ones work with your content and appeal to your audience can take practice, but it’s well worth it as a way to up user engagement.

Play around with font options such as classic, neon, typewriter or modern. Try the boomerang effect to create fun video loops to add some unique personality and fun. Use text frames to break up the look of photos and highlight your text. Stickers are also a simple and fun way to add pizzazz to your images.

4. Trying going live.

Live video is becoming popular across social media platforms. This feature can be used in a lot of unique ways that really let you show off your personality or your products. Going live in Instagram Stories is a strategic way to engage with your followers in real time and share with them an interesting aspect of your brand.

Try featuring an expert within your niche for a Q&A. Live tours of company headquarters also tend to go over well as a way to give a behind-the scenes view to your audience. Introduce a new product line with a live stream or bring in a popular influencer to collaborate with your brand.

5. Boost engagement with polls and shoutouts.

If you want to gain followers and increase engagement, try creating polls and mentioning individual users with shoutouts. A poll allows you to ask questions about your brand or your industry and to gain feedback from your followers. People like to give their opinion, so why not ask them directly? This will also help you in creating future content that’s relevant to your audience.

You can mention users who are doing interesting things relevant to your brand or those who have interacted with you through hashtags and mentions. Just share that content in your Story and give those individuals a mention. They’ll appreciate it and will likely follow you back if they aren’t already.

6. Feature Story Highlights.

While Instagram Stories are fantastic for gaining followers and increasing engagement, they’re only around for 24 hours. However, you can pull parts of your Stories to be featured in Instagram Story Highlights that are permanently featured at the top of your profile. Another advantage to Highlights is that you can categorize them so that users can peruse which topics are of most interest to them.

You can switch up your Instagram Highlights as often as you wish to keep things fresh and share your latest content. It’s a great way to re-use your best Instagram Stories images and videos in a prominent way.

Keep these tips in mind to improve your Instagram Stories. You definitely want to be using this feature to engage your audience. Take time to find which aspects work best for you and have fun with it.

5 Instagram Trends to Pay Attention to in 2019

If you’re getting serious about Instagram, either as a brand or an influencer, these are the trends you need to focus on and become part of this year. Awareness of what’s going on in the Instagram world ensures you are better able to craft a strategy for growth and engagement.

1. It’s all about micro-influencers.

If you’re just starting out on Instagram, there’s no need to worry about growing your audience to huge numbers before you can start benefiting from influencer status. If you have less than 100,000 followers, you fall into the micro-influencer category, and many brands prefer to work with influencers at this level.

But now, everyone has a chance to become an influencer. Nano-influencers, or those with as little as 1,000 followers are increasing because brands want to work with average users on brand campaigns and sponsored posts.

Why?

Studies by Markerly and HelloSociety have shown that influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than the top-tier influencers. Both studies show that as audience size increases, engagement rate decreases.

Beyond the rise of micro-influencers, we’re seeing an increase in micro-brands. Small businesses that are competing with big retailers and able to do so well because of low customer acquisition costs thanks to social media.

It’s often more cost effective for brands, particularly those that are strapped for cash, to work with nano and micro influencers because they see a clear ROI.

2. Instagram Stories.

The majority of Instagram users use the Stories feature. According to the Preview App, 86.6% of users surveyed use the feature. But, the same source reveals only 36.6% of people watch Insta Stories, while 63.4% watch posts.

This means you should keep the main focus on your posts, but it doesn’t mean you should give up on Instagram Stories. In fact, if you include them in your strategy and factor them into your overall feed aesthetic, you can really make them work for you to increase engagement and build solid relationships.

3. Influencers double down on authenticity.

Social media is all about authenticity. In the early days of Instagram, we saw a lot of posed photos that were over processed with filters. These days are over, as people are flocking to Instagram for more authentic relationships and genuine experiences. In 2018, a new breed of Instagram influencers came to light, those particularly focused on authenticity. Take for instance, Jenna Kutcher, a body-positive Instagrammer who gained more than 500,000 followers in a year, growing to over 800,000 without paying for any of them.

Influencer marketing has grown significantly thanks to Instagram, with global ad spend on influencers expected to reach over $5 billion by 2020.

In 2017, major fashion and beauty brands, such as Revolve, Chloe, and Benefit Cosmetics invested in influencers by sending them on outlandish vacations, all with the focus on selling their products. Though brands are excited about the potential Instagram influencers bring for their brands, users have started to see through the “perfection” and #sponsored posts.

In an effort to keep brand deals without losing followers, we can expect Instagram influencers to become more authentic and personal, even down to discussing their sponsored posts.

4. Dark social hits Instagram.

Dark social may sound scary, but it’s just the term used to describe social media activity that cannot be tracked because it’s private. When someone shares links or posts in direct messages, we see the traffic, but cannot tell where it’s coming from.

Instagram Direct has improved greatly because we can now use GIFs and video chat. It has moved from one-on-one texting to a group chat platform, with many people using it instead of WhatsApp and Messenger.

Because of the tagging, sharing, and reply features on Instagram Stories, it’s easier than ever to start private conversations on Instagram.

This year and beyond, Instagram will continue building features for Direct, and we may see DMs go away from Instagram altogether. It’s possible they’ll spin into a separate app like Facebook did with Messenger.

5. Planning your feed in advance.

Data from the Preview App also shows ⅔ of Instagram users plan their feed in advance. Of those people, 63.5% plan their posts less than a week in advance, and 36.5% plan a week or more in advance.

This is particularly useful for brands who want to ensure their content is ready for various launches and promotions. And it’s useful for influencers who want to make sure they’re following along with a certain visual aesthetic, and continually producing content. Planning in advance also keeps you on track and prevents you from having lulls where there is no new content available to engage your audience.

That said, while many people plan their Instagram feeds, they do not plan their Instagram Stories. Only 21% of people surveyed indicate that they plan their Stories, meaning 79% of people create their stories on the fly. This could be why many people don’t watch Stories. Try planing yours in advance then see how it affects viewership.

No matter what the trends are for 2019 and beyond, one thing is certain. People love Instagram! Preview App data shows that most people spend between one and three hours a day there. If your brand isn’t part of the network yet, you are really missing out. Even if you don’t have a shoppable feed, you can still cultivate relationships to turn casual social media followers into loyal customers.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on Instagram in 2019

Making money on Instagram can be tough and no individual or company does it in exactly the same way, but what is the best way?

How to make money on Instagram in 2019

What are the benefits?

One of the more obvious reason would be the money, however there are a variety of other reasons as to why you’d do this; a key one being its’ longevity. Unless you stop posting and engaging with your audience all together, it’s very unlikely that people will stop engaging with it completely. It’s also great because it’s another channel for you to push new products to your consumers!

A key to being on Instagram and using hashtags is that it allows you to inspire organic conversation; word of mouth is undoubtedly by far the best form of advertising, and native social media content is a great way to generate conversation around your brand. Using hashtags will allow you to better target niche’s and sell your product/service directly to the people who’d want to buy it!

How do I do it in 2019?

A fairly common way to make money off of Instagram is brand deals; Influencers will approach a brand (or vice versa depending on the size of their following/engagement and the brand) and they will negotiate the terms by which a promotion takes place!

This process also varies depending on what platform you’re looking at e.g. it’s easier to set loose requirements for a photo than for a live stream/video! Bar this, the underlying theme is that an influencer is being paid to post about something specific, or make content associated with a specific topic!

The amount you can ask for is usually dictated by the level of engagement you have, so as long as you can keep this us and your following is growing, you’re on to a winner!

Another way this can be done is through affiliate links; these are where a brand will give an influencer/influential account a code/link where people can get a reduction in price for goods. This is great for both the account and the Business as it will drive sales, but also when chosen accurately, heightens the influencers’ standing in their niche.

Company side, a slightly less direct approach but nevertheless successful, is just to drive engagement, this’ll bring attention to your brand and as we stated previously, it’ll drive word of mouth promotion.

The secret way to generate engagement

You can use hashtags in a variety of ways in the processes mentioned above; you can use them to analyze what your ideal customer is talking about/engaging with online. There are a few ways by which you can do this; one being going on the most popular hashtag relevant to you which you can find in feed or in the explore page, and then look at the top 9 posts and make note of the hashtags on those posts, and then do that for each hashtag you come across until you’re satisfied you have enough!

You can also make your own hashtags to help you understand how people are reacting to a product/campaign, and can help to measure ROI depending on the purpose of the campaign! As with anything in Marketing, calculating ROI is nothing more than an estimation, albeit a calculated one, but more so with influencer as it’s still a relatively new form of communicating with consumers! But with the right tools, there’s no reason why your brand can’t run a successful influencer campaign using hashtags!

So i think it’s safe to say we’ve established that hashtags are a handy tool when marketing a brand, but it’s important to establish which one’s best match your target audience!

How do I find out what they are?

We narrowed it down to 3 methods. We will be exploring the two current methods for hashtag research before introducing our time saving solution.

Method 1 – Competitor analysis

This is by far the most time consuming hashtag research method. Go through your direct competitors and establish what hashtags they use. You should evaluate which posts you’re analyzing have the highest level of engagement, and look at the hashtags for the posts where the engagement may not be as high; are they the same/different?

Engagement is really important when looking at all this content because although reach is important as is audience it’s important to make sure people are interacting with it and it’s also a good metric for calculating ROI. Once you’ve done this, click on those hashtags and review the top 9 posts for the hashtag. Look at who likes the photos; are these people your current audience? Are they the people you want to be targeting? If the answer is yes then you have found a good hashtag for you to use. Repeat this process over until you have a large library of hashtags you can refer to for your different posts.

Method review:
Time: 2/10
Results: 6/10
Scalability: 3/10

Method 2 – The staircase strategy

Another method when going through which hashtags to choose, is to use the “staircase strategy”. Start by picking 10 hashtags that have a lower average amount of likes then you do, and then 10 hashtags that have a similar amount of engagement to you on their top performing posts. Finally pick 10 hashtags that have much higher engagement than you on their top performing posts.

This method works by making you easily rank on the smaller hashtags. This sends positive signals about your post to the Instagram algorithm. Often, you will “Climb the staircase” and soon rank on the medium sized hashtags before eventually climbing that final step and ranking on the hashtags that have a much higher engagement than you on their top performing posts.

Method review:
Time: 6/10
Results: 4-7/10 (depending on how relevant the hashtags you choose are)
Scalability: 6/10

How we do our hashtags research?

We initially where using a mixture of the two methods developed above. This problem was that it was too time consuming and although we could make educated guesses, we never truly knew wether or not we were reaching our target audience.

We hired data scientists to develop a hashtag research tool that outputs the most relevant hashtags for your posts by analyzing:

  1. What hashtags are often used together in top performing posts
  2. What hashtags share the same audience and engagers

On top of that, we wanted to be able to filter the searches so we could still apply the stair case method. When searching we are able to filter by size of hashtags and average engagement on their top posts.

Method review
Time: 10/10
Results: 8/10
Scalability: 9/10

Conclusion

Instagram can without a doubt be a very lucrative channel of making money online. What you need to focus on first is on the strategy that you are going to employ in order to kick off your Instagram business. Then it’s time to put in the work and time to build the audience and reach the levels of engagement that will ultimately earn you a living, by doing what you want – being on Instagram!