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 2020

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 2020 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.

8 Ways to Hack Your Way Into Instagram Stardom

In the old days, if you wanted to become famous, you had to be noticed by the right people. Usually, it involved lots of hard work trying out for parts in the movies, sending recordings to record labels in the hopes that you would get picked up, or competitively fighting for your spot in pro sports leagues.

However, there’s a new level to fame thanks to the popularity of social media. Instagram in particular is an exceptional platform where you can get noticed and become a star, even if you’ve never been on TV or scored the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl.

But if you want to be an Instagram star, you’ll still have to put in the work to make it happen. It starts with getting more Instagram followers and maintaining a consistent brand to keep them interested. Here are 8 ways that you can take your Instagram account from unknown to stardom.

1. Enter a niche that you love.

First of all, you can’t hope to be successful on Instagram if you don’t have a super-specific niche with a targeted audience to keep you going. Consumers follow brands that they can relate with and that provide high-value in a specific avenue, and if you go too broad, you’ll struggle to reach enough people to become famous.

Most importantly, Shane Baker of Medium says, “This needs to be something you’re passionate about. Something in which you have a good deal of knowledge and interest. Just because someone else is doing something and is successful, doesn’t mean you should too.”

If it’s not something that you’re passionate about, you won’t want to keep it going. You’ll see it as work instead of something you love doing, and your followers will notice the lack of enthusiasm—what a downer.

2. Start with a 10,000 followers goal.

According to Nicole Martins Ferreira of Oberlo, getting started isn’t easy. “Truth is, your first 10,000 Instagram followers are the hardest to get,” she says. “Why? No one knows who you are yet. You’ve still got to prove yourself as a successful brand and influencer.”

Once you’ve reached the 10,000 followers mark, if you stay consistent and use your resources the maximize your reach, getting more followers is a lot easier.

She recommends curating a strategy that include joining Instagram engagement groups, using automation, reposting others’ content, seeking promotional opportunities, leveraging user-generated content, and other excellent strategies for boosting engagement and getting followers to stick to you like flies on honey.

3. Improve your Instagram bio.

Once you’ve switched your personal account to a business account, your bio is essential to making a good impression on followers. However, you only have 150 characters to make this first impression, so you have to make those words count.

When considering what to say in this bio, think about how you would describe your business when introducing yourself to thought leaders in the industry. Use keywords and unique details to make your account searchable and relevant.

Most importantly, include a link to your website or blog if you have one. Consider using software to link to two pages on your blog or changing your links periodically to increase engagement.

4. Let your captions reflect your brand.

While your photos will catch followers’ eyes first, your captions will make them fall in love with you—as long as they’re totally on-brand. Brands with no personality will turn off or even confuse your users. It’s the fastest way to become forgettable or lose followers.

Develop a consistent voice, with keywords, key phrases, hashtags, and inflections that reflect your brand. The consistency will create a sense of familiarity, which in turn creates loyal followers.

5. Evolve with your brand.

It’s not uncommon for brands to shift perspective when they realize that what they’re doing isn’t working and there’s a more successful avenue ahead. It’s okay to make this change as long as you’re willing to be authentic about the change.

“About three years ago, my brand started to shift,” Nicole Loher (@nicoleloher), an Instagrammer who was once focused on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society shared with Hubspot. “I went from being a girl who worked in fashion and beauty, to a competitive triathlete. It wasn’t something I set out to do — it just shifted as my life shifted!”

Let yourself make changes where you need to, but don’t lose the spark that makes your brand clearly you.

6. Get better at photography.

Hubspot also interviewed Chelsea Martin (@passporttofriday), and she said that one of the best things she ever did to spur fame was work on her photography skills. “A professional camera and a great lens could make the difference between a good photo and an amazing photo — which has more potential of being reposted by other accounts, therefore growing your audience,” she said.

A good editing tool and the use of consistent filters can also help you get more Instagram likes. Since the billion Instagram users who are on the platform every single day log on to see great visuals, don’t disappoint with amateur photography.

7. Use Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories is a useful feature for many reasons, but one of the best is its ability to improve your storytelling abilities. It’s probably the biggest trend on Instagram, and for good reason. It increases the chances of engagement with consumers and maximizes your ad spending, particularly since Instagram’s algorithm gives priority to businesses that use this feature.

Stories offers many features, including live video, captioned photos, fresh filters, boomerangs, swipe polls, and more. One of the best features for those looking to increase their fan base is the swipe up feature. If a consumer finds your content particularly appealing, they can swipe up on a story to go to your bio where they can see more of your content.

8. Choose strong hashtags.

Hashtags are being used all over Instagram, so it’s important to have a good strategy to stand out. It’s good to choose hashtags with high search volume, but beware.

“High search volumes imply high competition too,” explains Shane Barker. “So the chances of your post being discovered using those hashtags is bleak. Instead, choose hashtags that have decent search volumes that maximizes your chances of appearing in the top posts. Ideally, use a combination of hashtags varying in search volumes from above 10,000 to 1 million.”

You can also create your own hashtags and encourage user-generated content. When you become even more well-known, users will jump on the chance to publish their own content with your hashtags attached.

A 11 Step-Guide to Running a Successful Instagram Contest

Instagram is one of the most rapidly growing social media platforms out there today — with more than 800 million monthly active users. Compared to just two years ago, that’s more than double their active user growth.

But what’s better than a massive user base is that Instagram has higher engagement rates and overall, less competition compared to other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Running an Instagram contest is a great way to increase your follower account and brand awareness.

Step 1: Consider Goals and Objectives

As tempting as it may be to get a contest idea and run with it, if you want it to be truly successful, you must take time to plan, which means thinking about goals and objectives. Your contest should align with business goals, and fall in line with audience interest and behaviors. The most common Instagram contest goals are growing brand presence and awareness, and increasing your follower count and engagement.

Planning your goals ahead of time ensures you’ll be able to measure how successful the contest was, so you can make adjustments for the next one. In this stage, you’ll determine the metrics you’ll track, and how often you’ll track them – which generally depends on how long you decide to run the contest. Some metrics you may wish to track include:

  • Number of entrants and comments
  • Follower count
  • Engagement levels
  • Website/Landing page traffic
  • Number of purchases
  • Number of mail list signups
  • Feedback – both positive and negative

No matter what your goal, having specifics in mind makes it easier for you to determine how well your contest worked to help you reach the goal.

Step 2: Choosing the Type of Contest You’ll Run

Instagram easily facilitates multiple types of contests, and it’s easy to combine elements from multiple types to create your own. All that really matters is you keep the barrier to entry low because if people have to do too much to enter, they just won’t. That is unless the prize is huge and they perceive the work they have to do to enter worth it.

  • Like contests: Post a picture of your product on Instagram and invite users to like an share the photo. When it closes, choose a winner at random and notify the winner by email. Send the winner free product. Combine this with follows to increase both follower count and engagement.
  • Comment contests: Ask your followers to comment on one your brand’s photos for a chance at winning the prize. You can also vary this one by asking them to answer a question, and choose the best answer to win the prize. This is a good one if getting feedback is one of the goals.
  • Photo challenge contests: This one helps you get user-generated content to use all throughout your social media and marketing. Ask your followers to post a photo with your products and your hashtag on their personal profile. This can also be a selfies contest.
  • Tag-a-Friend contests: Ask your followers to tag one of their friends in the comments of one of your brand photos for a chance to win a prize.
  • Reposting contests: This one helps with brand awareness and increase reach because you ask your followers to repost your Instagram photo on their personal profiles.
  • Voting contests: Let your followers vote on their favorite photos and get a free product or a gift that’s related to the photo contest.

Step 3: Entry Methods

Depending on the contest type, the entry methods may vary. Simply following your account or commenting on a post could be an entry, but you could give participants additional ways to enter, such as joining your email list, re-gramming your post to their followers, or tagging a friend.

Step 4: Deciding Contest Rules and Duration

When it comes to running any contest, but especially those on Instagram and other social media platforms, it’s critical to ensure you have clearly defined contest rules. Plus, you need to know how long the contest will run, so everyone has a fair chance of winning.

It’s entirely up to you how long the contest runs, but the longer it runs, the more effective it will be. Ideally, you should run it at least a week. But, if you want to run several shorter ones, or always keep one running, you can do that, too. Whatever you choose, all that really matters is that everything is clear to your audience.

Step 5: Creating a Unique Hashtag

You want to create a unique (branded) hashtag so you can track entries. If you use something too generic that others are likely to use, then those posts will get mixed in and could mess up your entry counts and analytics as you try to measure the success of the contest. You want the hashtag to be easy to remember and avoid complex or difficult spelling. Keep the hashtag applicable to your brand, services, or products.

Step 6: Selecting a Prize

For best results, choose a prize that your ideal customer would want. This way, you work toward building targeted followers – not just any followers. The more effort the contest requires, the bigger the prize should be. Options include:

  • Gift cards
  • Coupons
  • Giveaways
  • Free services
  • Goodie bags

Step 7: Deciding the Theme

If there’s a theme around the contest, it will be easier to market. Remember, the people participating in the contest are working for you – and if you’re asking them to post content you can use in your marketing, then it helps if they know what kind of content to post.

For best results, choose a theme that aligns with your market, products, or services. Launch a contest around events, holidays, or seasons that align with your band.

Step 8: Determine How Winners Will Be Chosen

Will you use a random number generator? Will the followers vote on the best entries? Will a special team of people you choose on your staff determine the winner? However it happens is fine, just make sure you’re clear when you’re creating the rules and promoting the contest.

Step 9: Promote the Heck Out of It

You won’t get participation in the contest if people don’t know about it. Promote the contest before it starts, when it starts, and periodically while it’s running so people know what’s going on. You may want to consider using paid advertising to promote it if your audience is fairly small at the beginning.

Write a blog post about the contest. Talk about it on your other social media channels. Post it on your Instagram Story. If you have an email list, send out a message to those people to let them know you’re running the promotion.

Step 10: Monitor Submissions and Participation Level

Keep track of all the submissions to make sure they’re following along with the rules. Track participation to see if you need to continue promoting it, or if others are doing a good job promoting it for you.

Step 11: Follow Up, Rinse, and Repeat

Follow up with the winner to make sure they receive your prize. Announce the winner and thank everyone for their participation in the contest. Take a look at the contest entries and all the other metrics you choose to track and compare everything to what it was before the contest started to determine how successful it was. When you’re ready, launch another contest and repeat the entire process again.

Instagram’s promotion guidelines are fairly broad so you have more freedom to get creative with your contests and its guidelines. To improve your chances of success, get creative with the types of contests you use so you always keep your audience guessing. Make sure you’re offering the right prize and using targeted hashtags so you’re building the best possible audience for your brand.

Want to Be an Instagram Influencer? Here’s What You Need to Know

Influencers on Instagram are users with a particular niche and, generally, a large audience. These individuals are popular because they offer unique content and they connect with their Instagram followers. They’re also making big money because brands are taking notice.

Companies want to work with these social media rock stars in order to get their products in front of influencer audiences. If you want to be an Instagram influencer, here’s what you need to know.

1. Pick a niche.

In order to succeed as an influencer, you have to have growth and stand out. After all, there are around a billion monthly users on the platform. The best way to get noticed and to maintain sustainability is to choose a niche you’re passionate about and post on that topic almost exclusively. A niche is a specialized area of interest, and it should be specific. For example, fashion is a popular topic.

However, it’s a bit broad. It would be easy to get lost in a sea of fashion posts. On the other hand, maybe you’re a passionate advocate for body positivity. It might make sense for you to specialize in plus size fashion.

You can take that niche even further by focusing that niche on sexy plus size fashion. You might post about outfits for going out on date night or for on vacation. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s something you love. That way, you won’t get tired of posting on that topic.

2. Let your personality shine.

Because social media is all about building relationships, you want to find your tribe. Getting people to follow and engage with you depends on them liking you. People want to see authenticity.

They’ll know if you’re faking it. Influencers often work with brands. By not consistently showing your true self, you risk being viewed as a shill who promotes items only to make money.

On the other hand, if you regularly make posts that demonstrate your true nature and show your vulnerability, your audience will be more apt to believe you when you share great products with them.

In addition, being authentic allows you to stand out from the crowd. No two people are alike. Audiences get bored with the same old thing, so take risks. Share your expertise and what makes you different.

3. Create a signature look.

As an influencer, you’re essentially selling yourself. You are the product. Therefore, you are your own brand. Branding is an important concept in business. By sharing your passion and expertise in exchange for sponsorship and other monetization methods, you are a business. Your brand is what people think of when they hear your name.

So take the time to craft your message and aesthetic prior to launching your Instagram feed if you haven’t done so already. Decide what type of vibe you want to give your visitors. Think of some adjectives that describe your brand and consider ways to convey that message. For instance, if you want to be seen as fun and daring, it might make sense to use bright, jeweled toned colors.

Someone going for a sophisticated tone might choose black and white photography with graphic accents of gold or silver. You can also incorporate filters to brighten or subdue your photography. Stick with the same filter for every image you post in order to maintain a cohesive aesthetic. Branding for Instagram can be an extensive process, but it’s definitely worth it.

4. Make sure your posts look professional.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but you won’t go far as an Instagram influencer if your photos don’t look sharp and beautiful. Don’t worry. You can do this yourself.

Lots of people do. It’s also possible to hire a pro if you have the budget. However, it’s not necessary. There are plenty of tutorials online with advice on how to take professional looking photos. In fact, you can do it with just your smartphone.

You simply have to learn some photography basics and follow those rules to get started. As mentioned in the last point, there are photography editing apps to help you polish the end result with filters, cropping and other tools.

5. Post regularly.

An influencer needs to cultivate a fairly sizable and engaged audience. As you develop your following, they will expect to hear from you on a regular basis. Posting regularly is actually an important part of building that audience in the first place.

Instagram’s algorithm favors those who post frequently, and you’ll soon see your content begin to rise to the top of the feed for more people to see. A good rule of thumb is to post at least once a day, shooting for seven times a week or more.

6. Get social.

Yes, Instagram is a social media app. You have to be social if you want to build a dedicated audience to influence. That means answering every question that comes your way through DM and replying to your comments regularly. There are lots of ways to invite engagement. Post polls in your Instagram Stories.

Give a shout out by sharing someone else’s content and tagging them to be sure to give them credit. There are plenty of opportunities to create engagement. It just takes some creativity and an outgoing nature.

You also need to put yourself out there and engage on the accounts of others. This doesn’t have to be scary, though. Think of it as having a conversation. In order to build relationships, you must talk to people. Reach out to users in your niche.

Don’t be afraid to approach some of your favorite companies, either. Even as a new influencer, it’s smart to get on the radar of brands you’d like to work with in the future.

There are tons more advanced tips to help you become an Instagram influencer, but these should give you a good start as you begin to research the ins and outs of the platform. Have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Account

Hashtags are practically a necessity if you want to gain followers on Instagram. This simple tool lets you categorize your posts with relevant tags so that people with those interests can find you. It’s like a roadmap to your content. However, choosing hashtags can seem like an overwhelming process.

You probably know it’s good to use multiple hashtags, but you want to use them strategically. Don’t stress. Just keep reading below to discover how to find the best Instagram hashtags for your account and avoid unnecessary hashtag mistakes.

1. Search on Instagram.

Instagram has its own integrated search bar known as the Explore feature. Just type a relevant keyword in and select the tab marked “tags.” This will produce a list of hashtags that include that word. This search will also show you some posts containing the hashtags.

These insights can help you to make some important decisions regarding which hashtags to use on your own posts. Study the tags to determine which may be overused and whether there are more specific ones you can use for better results.

Trial and error should always be expected in order to figure out what works for you. Spend some time here to generate potential keywords that fit your brand and your audience. Sometimes it really does make sense to start with the obvious.

2. Try related hashtags.

Did you know that you can actually follow hashtags these days? It’s true. Many popular hashtags have their own Instagram accounts. Check out these hashtag pages to find users interested in that topic.

It’s a great way to find people to follow and engage with. Hopefully, they might then choose to follow you. While you’re on a hashtag’s page, take time to take a look at the top of the page for a list of related hashtags.

Just swipe left to preview them. This feature offers a goldmine of potential hashtags for you to try out. It’s often best to pick ones that fall within a particular niche. That way, there’s less competition than you’d find with the more generalized terms. Plus, you’ll be more likely to connect with followers who could truly benefit from your particular offerings.

3. Check out your competition.

It’s always good to know what others in your industry or niche are doing. Spend some time visiting the profiles of your competitors. This exercise can tell you a lot and help to inform your own marketing decisions.

By reviewing their most-used hashtags you can determine whether you may wish to use the same ones or if researching related tags might be in your best interest. You can also look to popular influencers who are posting about things relevant to your brand for hashtag inspiration.

4. Visit past successes.

Your own account can be one of the best places to find the right hashtags to use. Check out the posts that have performed the best and gained the most engagement. Which tags did you use? Perhaps it was a  geotag, which is a specific tag listing a current location. Maybe it was a hashtag related to a particular holiday or trend. Pay attention to what’s worked for you in the past and look for patterns.

Try to tag future posts following these patterns to see what sticks. Be sure you’re using tags that are most relevant to your brand’s purpose and audience. It’s not advisable to use one simply because it’s popular. Any success with this strategy will likely be a fluke and could backfire on you by actually causing you to lose followers who feel deceived.

5. Create your own hashtag.

You can make up your own hashtags that fit your brand specifically. A tag related to your unique product could find traction as people discover that item. You may also wish to create fun campaigns to gain the attention of your followers.

Contests, giveaways, influencer campaigns and more can all be marked with their own hashtag. While it may take some extra time for people to notice, this type of hashtag is uniquely yours and is most likely to bring you followers who are genuinely interested in your business and what you have to offer. Get creative and give it a try.

6. Know your brand.

An often overlooked strategy for finding hashtags is to study your own brand. Hopefully, you know your brand inside and out. You understand its mission and the ultimate purpose you wish to serve with
your product or service. You know the feel or vibe you wish to convey to your audience and potential customers.

Your overall mission is probably drilled deep into your subconscious. In addition, you should have a strong understanding of your targeted customer base, including demographics like age, interests, preferences and more. Even when brands know this information, they can overlook its importance, and that’s a big mistake.

Instead, use this insight to your advantage. Make a list of what your brand stands for, words associated with your overarching message and adjectives that describe your ideal client. Then use those words to launch your hashtag search. You’re sure to find tags that serve your purpose.

These are just a handful of tips for you on how to find the best Instagram hashtags for your account. Marketing research like this can be in-depth and time-consuming, but it’s worth it and should net you the types of results you’re looking for. Taking time to plan a hashtag strategy is a smart decision and will increase your likelihood of engagement success.

10 Tips for Photographers on Instagram

Instagram is one of the best social networks for photographers because it’s visual and you’ve already got the skill and knowhow to take wonderful photos. If you want to use it to promote your photography business – regardless of which niche you serve – follow these 10 tips.

1. Use a real camera.

You’ll be able to get better quality images this way, and then you can edit them according to your preference and needs, then save that version for upload to Instagram. Business profiles can add new
photos from a computer or mobile phone.

2. Experiment with various editing techniques.

Try different editing techniques with your original photo to see what you like best. You can even post multiple versions of the photo and ask your audience to tell you which one they like best so you know what to use again in the future.

In addition to experimenting with your editing techniques, you can use a variety of different Instagram filters to change the appearance of your photo.

3. Share a story with each of the photos.

Tell your followers something about each one of the photos. Describe the shoot and what led you to take the photos. Share details of the venue, the couple/family in the photo, etc. Use hashtags where appropriate – more on that later.

4. Don’t treat Instagram as your portfolio.

It’s not where you should post all your photos – you should use it as a platform to drive traffic back to your website. Instead, use it to show your latest work or as a daily journal. You can add it quickly to your Instagram while you work on uploading the entire project to your portfolio.

Use it to post images you wouldn’t normally put in your portfolio, such as a single photo, rather than a series of work. Use Instagram as business card, and give people your Instagram handle if you ever find yourself out and about without cards, or without cards while you wait on another round to be delivered.

5. Use hashtags strategically.

Whatever you do, avoid hashtag mistakes, such as using banned hashtags or using ones that aren’t relevant to your brand or niche. Depending on what kind of photos you take, there are specific hashtags you should consider using to help people find your work.

For instance, wedding photographers can use: #weddingphotography #weddingphotographer #weddingphoto #weddingday #weddingmoments #weddingceremony #weddingstyle #weddingfashion #bridalfashion #weddinginspirations #weddingdetails #weddingideas #weddinginspo #weddingrings
#weddingblog #weddingblogger #weddingplanning #loveauthentic #junebugweddings

#destinationweddingphotographer (if of course, you shoot destination weddings!) #bridalphotographer
#couplesphotography #engagementphotos #engagmentphotography #engagementsession #bridebook

Landscape shots can use: #landscapephotography #landscapelover #landscape_captures #landscapes #landscape_photography #pixel_ig #landscape_hunter #landscape_lovers #landscapecaptures
#landscapestyles_gf #landscape_specialist #landscapeporn #getlost #landscapephotomag #ig_landscape #trapping_tones #ig_masterpiece #ig_podium #splendid_earth #gramslayers #agameoftones #optoutside #discoverearth #exploretheglobe #nakedplanet #places_wow #earthfocus #ourplanetdaily #earthofficial #natgeo #nationalgeographic #awesome_earthpix

Portraits can use: #portraits #portrait #portraits_ig #pixel_ig #portraiture #expofilm3k #portrait_perfection
#portraitstyles_gf #snowisblack #portraits_universe #featurepalette #bleachmyfilm #portraitmood #featurepalette #rsa_portraits #makeportraits #profile_vision #top_portraits #life_portraits #postthepeople #quietthechaos #2instagood #way2ill #justgoshoot #artofvisuals #l0tsabraids #ftwotw #igPodium_portraits #ftmedd

There are even hashtags specifically for black and white photos and general photography, too. No matter what you’re photographing, there are hashtags you can use to target the right kind of followers – all just a quick search away.

6. Show behind the scenes.

Beyond showing your killer photos – give your followers a glimpse into the life of a photographer. Have someone take photos of you while you’re working on a shoot, so you can show people what goes into planning the photos you take.

Share screenshots of your editing process, that you can use as sneak peeks before uploading a full project to your portfolio. Encourage people to visit your portfolio to see the rest of the shoot.

7. Test your post timing.

Posting content at various times of day will affect how your audience sees and responds to it. You want to post your content at a time when most of your audience is online to engage with it so the Instagram algorithm picks it up as popular.

This way it will have a better shot at landing on the explore tab where you can get a bunch of new followers. Once you know the time that works best for your audience, schedule all future posts around that time.

8. Engage with your followers.

Take the time to respond to their comments when they say something on one of your photos. Check out some your followers profiles and like their photos and leave comments.

When they see you as an active participant in the community, they will be more likely to continue engaging with you, and even recommend your account to their friends and followers.

9. Follow the KISS Principle.

KISS stands for “Keep it simple, sweetie.” That’s exactly what you want to do with Instagram. Don’t post long descriptions on all your images because people won’t read them. Use Instagram automation to help foster account growth while you’re working on your photoshoots.

It’ll help you get more followers, while also give you a way to schedule your posts so you can keep content fresh even when you’re so busy with shoots and editing photos you come home and collapse into bed.

10. Don’t forget to have fun.

Instagram is a social network, so you should be social with it. Have fun with your followers and the shots you post. If it’s all work and no play, you likely won’t see the return on investment you’re hoping for.

Treat Instagram as a community where you can meet new friends and promote your work. You’ll get real feedback that you can use to make yourself a better photographer, and you may even find that you land
a few new gigs, too.

10 Hashtag Mistakes Every Marketer Should Avoid on Instagram

#TBT

#Instagood

#Nofilter

These are just some of the most popular hashtags on Instagram, according to a recent analysis. This punctuation mark took on a new meaning in 2007 when one Twitter user began using hashtags to group content and discussion topics in order to make it easier for others to locate topics of interest.

Today, hashtags are used across social media platforms but have become particularly popular on Instagram. In fact, hashtags have become so popular that Instagram instituted a hashtag limit to prevent users from overusing them.

Instagram marketers may already realize that hashtags play an essential role in content discovery and amplification. Here are 10 tips that’ll let social media marketers to put Instagram hashtags to good use by avoiding common pitfalls that can otherwise doom thoughtful campaigns.

1. Ignoring topical hashtags.

Hashtags help those who are not following your account to find your content. In order to reach new followers, social media marketers should incorporate popular hashtags in Instagram posts. Doing so can help brands to reach users who are searching for hashtags taking Instagram by storm.

In the example above, Mercedes-Benz created a piece of content that fits well with popular holiday hashtags. The brand’s social media managers added the hashtags “Holidays” and “Xmas” to the post, which helped to increase reach.

2. Hashtag stuffing.

As mentioned earlier, Instagram does not support hashtag stuffing. Overusing hashtags in an effort to reach a wider audience will often backfire. Instagram users have become savvy enough to spot and avoid content that appears to be spam. Posts with many hashtags will appear to be disreputable and can cause users to form a negative opinion of your brand.

Take a page from the world’s most successful Instagram brands, and use hashtags tastefully. In the example above, Rolex uses three hashtags to promote one of their new watches. Two of the hashtags used are branded, while one is descriptive.

3. Failing to develop a branded hashtag.

A branded hashtag can help to increase brand awareness within Instagram. By encouraging brand enthusiast to use a branded hashtag, companies can magnify their reach beyond those who are following their Instagram profile.

Social media marketers should think of creative branded hashtags that those within the target audience would want to use themselves. In time, Instagram users may begin to organically use your organization’s branded hashtag.

4. Overlooking Instagram’s new hashtag monitoring feature.

Last year, Instagram announced a feature that allowed users to follow specific hashtags just as they would follow an Instagram account. This development has had significant implications for those interested in hashtag marketing campaigns.

First, social media marketers can easily follow hashtags of interest within Instagram. This makes it easier to natively monitor the platform for user-generated content for example.

Second, developing a branded hashtag that has real staying power provides brands with another way for brands to connect with their target audience through Instagram. Some may choose to follow a branded hashtag instead of a traditional branded Instagram account for example.

5. Using hashtags without understanding their meaning.

There are a countless number of social media campaigns that failed because of tone-deaf marketing. Don’t make the same mistake brands like Pepsi and Tory Burch have made by misappropriating social or political reference points for corporate gains.

Similarly, social media marketing managers must be sure they understand what hashtag abbreviations mean. Using #AF, for example, might be appealing because it is growing in popularity among some demographics, but it could outrage others who disapprove of organizations that use profanity in marketing content.

6. Launching an ad campaign without an accompanying hashtag.

The world’s most successful brands usually launch advertising campaigns with an accompanying hashtag. That’s because it encourages members of the target audience to share user-generated content with the same hashtag.

This helps to amplify the brand’s message and makes it easier for advertisers to monitor the reaction to an ad through social media networks like Instagram.

Regardless of the channel through which you launch an ad, be sure to include a hashtag somewhere in the creative.

7. Neglecting to monitor user-generated content.

User-generated content, also known as UGC, is often shared with an accompanying branded hashtag. Often, brands will re-share user-generated content as a form of social proof. By sharing an implicate endorsement from a happy Instagram user, it can help brands to make inroads with other prospective customers on the platform.

Furthermore, including a shout out to a happy customer can help to turn that satisfied customer into a lifelong brand advocate. In the example above, Harley Davidson shares user-generated content and included a branded hashtag to boot.

8. Forgetting to include a hashtag in your Instagram bio.

Adding an appropriate hashtag in an Instagram bio is a great way to make your account more discoverable. Instagram users have the ability to search for keywords that relate to photos, places, or “people,” the last of which is another word for Instagram profiles.

In cases where you are trying to gain traction among a target audience, sharing a generic hashtag used by this audience is your best bet. On the other hand, those who are interested in motivating an existing audience to become more engaged may benefit from included a branded hashtag in the Instagram bio.

9. Ignoring hashtag discovery platforms.

Sometimes it can be hard to know what hashtags should be used when. Often it is best to use a trending hashtag that is free from divisive social or political connotations. To that end, social media marketers can use a third-party Instagram analytics or discovery platform to identify trending hashtags that should be used to increase the reach of a specific piece of content.

Before posting a new image or video to the platform, be sure to take a few minutes to see if a popular hashtag can be included in the caption. This should be a part of your Instagram monitoring workflow.

10. Focusing on hashtags while forgetting to create a moving caption.

While Instagram hashtags are important in order to reach new audiences or to further engage existing followers, they are just one small component of what is required to be successful as an Instagram marketer.

More important than Instagram hashtags is creating a compelling brand narrative that is aligned with the needs and wants of the target audience. That means winning brands will be the ones that use Instagram captions to tell a compelling on-brand story.

Of course, a part of writing a great caption is using hashtags appropriately, but marketers should avoid obsessing about hashtag use to the exclusion of creating a moving caption.

Conclusion

Instagram is becoming an increasingly crowded social media platform. Over 25 million businesses use official Instagram Business accounts, and 800 million people use the platform in total.

One way to cut through the noise is by artfully using hashtags to increase reach. Selecting popular hashtags can be a great way to acquire new followers in search of an account like yours. Alternatively, using branded hashtags can be a good way to increase brand awareness through Instagram, or to encourage followers to produce user-generated content.