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.

How to Get Real Followers for Instagram in 2019

Instagram is proving to be a real winner in the realm of social media. It’s gone through a lot of changes since its early beginnings as a simple photo sharing app. These days, the bells and whistles of the platform make it a marketer’s dream.

There are so many ways to engage an audience and showcase products. It can definitely become overwhelming and a bit confusing. If you want to experience growth and get real followers for Instagram in 2019, take a look at the tips below.

1. Know your audience and post accordingly.

First and foremost, you must post what the people want to see. This means you have to know your intended audience pretty well. You can accomplish the feat by developing an ideal customer avatar. An avatar is merely the detailed demographics of a fictional individual who would be likely to buy from your company or follow your brand.

Have fun and get creative when creating this person. Decide on a gender, age, geographic location, interests, needs and more. When you’ve developed your ideal avatar, your posts should be directed at this “person.” Think of your avatar and what would appeal to them prior to creating an image or story. Your content will reach the right audience when you employ this strategy.

2. Know your hashtags and use them.

Are you using hashtags on other social media platforms? They’re popular everywhere online, but they’re
absolutely essential on Instagram. Relevant hashtags help people who are interested in what you have to offer find you. It’s kind of like a road map.

You don’t want to use just any tags, though. The ones you choose should be relevant to your brand and your post. That way you’ll attract the most targeted audience possible. You also want them to be
specific, rather than broad. Don’t just use #marketing as your hashtag. Instead, find something that conveys the type of marketing your post references. Finding hashtags can seem overwhelming, but there are lots of ways to discover the good ones.

Do a query through Instagram’s search bar. Check out what your competition is doing. Then research particular hashtags to see how many people are following them and whether that tag might be saturated. Again, more specific is often better because it eliminates some of the competing voices within the general field. Don’t forget geotags. These are location-specific tags that help you to connect with others in that area or who have an interested in the region.

3. Plan your posts.

It may seem all you have to do is post some pictures on a regular basis, and the people will come to look at them. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case. The most successful accounts on Instagram devote a great deal of time and dedication to their posts.

You’ll want to plan things out ahead of time to ensure you have an appropriate flow of material. You can create a calendar with your tentative daily post material. Then pull together your resources such as photography props, models and other assorted essentials. Some people shoot several Instagram posts on one day.

Others spread things out. You’ll find a groove that works for you, but you absolutely must plan. Winging it rarely works when it comes to running a successful social media account. Take particular holidays, campaigns and even days of the week into consideration when deciding what to include in each post.

4. Engage your audience.

Social media revolves around relationships. That’s what makes it social. Engagement is essential to any successful Instagram account. Not only do you want to get a lot of followers, but you need to keep them interested or they’ll leave you for something shinier. Basic ways to engage followers is to acknowledge them by responding to their comments, answering their questions in DM and visiting their feeds.

That’s right. Put yourself out there. Follow people in your niche. Like and comment on their content. It may seem obvious, but it’s what is absolutely necessary and the foundation of social media.

5. Keep the conversation going.

If you want to up your engagement game and increase your chances of gaining loyal and long-lasting followers, dedicate time to finding ways to bring your followers back for more on a regular basis.

You can do this in a number of ways. Holding contests and giveaways is always good because it requires people to interact with your account in order to be entered. You can also recognize individual followers on a regular basis by giving them a shout out in your feed and sharing their content. It’s flattering and will build bonds.

You might also want to encourage your followers to share photos of themselves using your products. Come up with a special hashtag to identify such posts, and then recognize them by sharing with your audience at large. User-generated content like this is gold. It makes followers feel special, provides you with social capital and keeps your feed full of interesting, engaging content.

These are a handful of the top ways to gain followers. Take some time to explore Instagram and try out all the cool features they offer. See what works for you and your audience, but don’t forget to employ these basic, proven strategies to maintain consistent follower growth in the new year. Your effort will pay off, and you’ll be building a brand that people love to follow.

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.

12 Ways to Get More Instagram Followers With Automation

There are a number of social media automation tools designed to save you time and effort with your social media marketing. A number of those tools are dedicated to Instagram specifically. Here is how you can grow your Instagram following by using automation.

1. Automate finding and following new accounts.

Though many Instagram automation bots vary in terms of the services they offer, all of them will offer the ability to automate finding and following new accounts. Generally speaking, all you have to do is tell the bot hashtags and accounts you want to follow.

Then, using that information, it will automatically start following those accounts and pick random ones from within the hashtags to begin following. It will gradually follow a certain number of new accounts every day so that your account activity looks as natural as possible.

2. Automate your posting schedule.

Some Instagram bots will allow you to automate posting to the social network. If you use a bought that does not allow for scheduling posts, many other social media management platforms allow you to schedule posts for Instagram alongside the posts for other popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

This makes it easy for you to batch your content creation process so you can focus a certain amount of time every week on creating the posts you plan to share with your audience. This also allows you to keep a consistent posting schedule, posting at times when you know your audience is most likely to be active to engage on the post.

This way, you do not have to manually post content to your account every day and you can focus on other tasks to promote your business that cannot be automated.

3. Automate commenting.

There are some people out there who will advise against automating comments because it can come across as spammy.  However, when done correctly using neutral yet positive comments and including a variety of options for the bot to rotate through, you can still leave relevant comments on photos without coming across as fake.

To make sure you’re not completely wasting time, it’s best to only automate commenting for a few photos every day. Because bots will interact with hundreds of photos every day, it’s impossible to program it in a way that will create context relevant comments for all of the photos it comes across, So that’s why you should set aside some time to craft genuine comments manually every day.

4. Automate likes.

Automating likes is safe to do with an Instagram bot. It won’t come across as spam or get flagged by Instagram. Likes are a non-intrusive way to make people happy increase your odds of engagement. Likes or a subtle nudge that will only show up on a person’s activity feed. Many people don’t have issues with getting likes from people we don’t know and everyone benefits when their content gets a like because Instagram’s algorithm picks up on it as a signal of it being popular.

Unless you are someone who has thousands of followers, chances are you’re checking your activity feed to see who liked your post and discover new Instagram accounts this way. Automating liking banks on the fact that you’re liking posts from people who will discover that you liked their post and will turn around and follow you.

Automating likes through a bot is similar to paying Instagram to have your account shown on people’s home feeds through ads.The activity creates weren’t even aware of the fact that you existed. And,because it’s not a formal add that you are running through the Instagram platform, it’s free.

5. Automate direct messaging.

Like with comment automation, you can also automate direct messaging to Instagram accounts. However, because it is also difficult to make contextually relevant to every single follower the bot will encounter, you want to keep it limited to a small number of accounts every day.

You will, of course, have to use generic phrasing, so keep a variety of positive, neutral statements such as, “Thanks for the follow!” in the repository for the bot to work with.

6. Automate unfollowing some accounts.

With this strategy and Instagram automation, you follow users who may be interested in your account using automation tools. then, you wait a few days to see if they follow you back, and if they do not, you use the same automation tool to unfollow them. most of the time you’ll find that 20 to 35% of the people will follow you back.

The actual percentage will vary significantly depending on how effective your strategy is for the people you start to follow. The idea is you want to use filters to make sure you were engaging with users that are most likely to engage back with you.

Using the follow/unfollow method without automation is unlikely to help you achieve those results. Manually following 1,000 users in the span of a week in an active niche compared to automation you may find the manual method only achieves at 10% follow back rate which is significantly lower. When you consider the increased time you spend with the manual method, you have a diminished return on investment and no real reason not to use automation.

Taking the time to unfollow users who don’t follow you back keeps you with a good follower ratio and ensures you’re not wasting time and effort on people who are not going to engage with you keeping your engagement rates high and making your account look more appealing to the Instagram algorithm for better chances of viral posts and increased follower growth through viral activity.

7. Focus your efforts on quality content creation.

Use the time you save with automation to make sure the content you’re creating to post on Instagram is of the highest quality and is targeted to your audience. If you’re posting for quality content, it doesn’t matter what kind of automation results you’re getting because you won’t be able to keep your followers happy.

8. Check on your automation efforts regularly.

From time to time, you want to check and see how your automation efforts are going. If you find that you are not getting a lot of engagement, you may want to adjust your automation to target different hashtags.

9. Take time to answer all comments.

To boost your engagement and to show your audience you care, take time to reply to any and all comments on your posts. Even if you notice generic ones that you believe were automated, taking the time to respond to them shows the rest of your audience that you were paying attention and you appreciate the time they took to comment.

10. Automate to save time – not to completely avoid work.

If you set up an automation bot one time, walk away and never look at the bot or your Instagram account again, you’re doing it wrong. Not only are you doing it wrong, but you’re obviously doing it for the wrong reasons. Chances are, you’re looking for a quick and easy way to monetize your Instagram following and a while this is a respectable desire, it won’t get you very far.

You will still need to spend a certain amount of time engaging on Instagram and creating content for your followers manually. Nothing on the internet that is of the good quality you need to develop stable customer relationships is done with 100% automation.

Yes, there’s plenty of stuff out there that is completely automated, but it’s not the kind of stuff your audience will enjoy or respond to the way you hope.

11. Don’t push your automation tool to the max.

Unless you use an automation tool from the very beginning of your Instagram account, chances are you were only able to like and follow a certain number of users every day.

You want to avoid maxing the automation tool out because Instagram will notice if you go from following 50 users a day to 1,000 users a day. The key is to make the activity look as natural as possible which often means using the automation tool much less than what it is capable of actually doing.

12. Do not use more than one Instagram automation bot.

It may be tempting to double down on your efforts by using more than one automation bots. However, is best if you only use one at a time. You can use one for a certain amount of time before testing on another one to see which one you like better, but using more than one at the same time creates unnatural activity and could possibly cross some wires and create potential flags on your Instagram account.

Everything you do on Instagram from content creation to following accounts and engaging with them should be done with your followers in mind. Without a dedicated group of loyal followers, you won’t be able to reap sales benefits from your social media presence.

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.

5 Instagram Tactics So Effective They Have Literally Been Blocked

Instagram is usually the first social media platform marketers and businesses will run to as it is a perfectly viable platform to promote a business from. Due to its unique selling point of being image focused, smart teams will approach it carefully and with that angle in mind. Detailed in this article are 5 tactics you can optimize and craft successful marketing campaigns on Instagram.

SocialCaptain Instagram Bot

Instagram may not inspire the same awe from marketers that Facebook and Twitter does, but its still the most powerful platform for businesses and you should take advantage of it. You may want to consider it yourself if your company can present itself well visually, as Instagram holds sway with over 1 billion+ users around the world. If you do decide to leap into its waters, you’ll need to approach it carefully and deliberately. Here are 5 Instagram tactics so effective, you can use to grow your account on Instagram (before they are banned):

1. Leverage Cross Promotion

The best way to start marketing and growing your Instagram presence is to leverage your existing social media accounts. When you launch your Instagram account, share that fact with your followers and invite them to follow you there. You’ll likely get a good starting number of followers, as people following you on other platforms have already proven themselves interested in knowing what you have to say. This initial boost will not only lend your account credibility and legitimacy, it’ll also give you some critical early reach in the form of additional shares and interactions.

2. Interact Consistently Your Followers

Nothing gets people coming back for more like interactions. Do not underestimate the value and power of a quick reply. This makes people feel heard and welcome, which makes your page more appealing to visit. Even a “thank you” to a positive message can help. You can automate the whole process and save hundreds of hours by using an Instagram bot such as SocialCaptain.

In addition to that, you can create posts that directly encourage action from your audience. Asking them to tag friends who would enjoy your post, for example, puts you in front of people who would’ve not otherwise found your account. As an added bonus, its rarely intrusive and thus won’t put off viewers who are tired of advertisements or marketing campaigns.

3. Play with Hashtags 

Hashtags were originally designed to allow people to more easily find topics of discussion that they were interested in, but it has grown beyond those boundaries and transformed into a powerful marketing tool. Creating an intentionally interactive hashtag can net you a lot of responses and reach.

With one billion active users, Instagram is the place for savvy marketers to build their brand, according to a Statista report. If your company isn’t actively connecting with potential customers on Instagram, there is a good chance you might be losing out on opportunities to your savvier competitors. Instagram has become a must-use social media marketing tool, rather than a should-use outreach resource.

4. The Power of Comments on Instagram

If you are not engaging with your audience on Instagram, your ROI will be reduced and your audience growth rate will slowly decline. Instagram comments should be conversational and helpful, not promoting your brand and a hard-sell way. Focus on having a conversation on Instagram with your audience and you will soon discover how powerful the platform is for building relationships with your target audience. There’s also the smarter option of using SocialCaptain to automate your activity while you focus on other parts of your campaign. 

5. Focus on your Instagram Bio Link

While an Instagram bio link to your website is an excellent first step, developing a click-through strategy for Instagram is crucial. Instagram has specific rules about where you can add clickable links on their platform. We also highly advise our clients to add URLs to their Instagram Stories to optimize the account’s click-through rate and ultimately generate more inbound traffic. 

Conclusion

So how do you make the most of your visual marketing time on Instagram? How do you ensure your company’s time is well spent and offers maximum ROI (return on investment) for your growth marketing efforts? You can start by following the tips above and we highly recommend you check out these 4 hidden Instagram tricks to take your strategy to the next level. Integrate those strategies into your business’ Instagram marketing strategy and you can significantly increase your social media marketing return on investment. 

4 Hidden Tricks for Instagram Growth in November 2018

Instagram Marketing remains as relevant as ever to entrepreneurs and established businesses alike, and what makes most marketing campaigns successful is not just the choice of platform, but how they can utilize its features. Instagram is no exception.

If you decide to use this platform for your company’s marketing campaigns, you need to learn a few tricks. Here are four of them:

1. Save Time with an Automation Platform

This is exactly why we have developed SocialCaptain. Although it may sound surprising to you, most Instagram Marketers still don’t use automation to grow their audience. Among the benefits of using a robot like SocialCaptain is that you will save plenty of precious time, while getting real, organic results automatically. You get the best of both worlds! 

On average, you can expect a tool like SocialCaptain to save you over 150 hours of work per month by automating your activity (such as likes, comments, follows and unfollows). Therefore, your account can continue to engage with users on Instagram even while you’re focusing on other parts of your social media strategy. Totally worth it! 😉

2. Check Your List of Liked Photos

There are many reasons for your business’s Instagram account to like photos posted by other people. Interactions make your business more relevant and can generate reciprocal likes and follows, both of which are good for your campaigns. However, sometimes, you want to like pictures to create a conglomerate of photos or videos for a variety of purposes, from making curator-style posts where you share other things, to potentially scouting photographers you can hire.
The good news is that, unlike many other platforms, you can look at a list of things the account has liked so can find the one you’re seeking. Just go to the options menu of your profile, and click “Posts You’ve Liked.”

3. Post at the Right Times

Instagram, like all social media platforms, has peak hours. Posting during those peak hours increases the chances that your marketing campaign’s posts will be seen and go viral. However, because the majority of the user base is pretty much online all of the time, it can be challenging to figure out when exactly to put up your brand new image, at least on paper.

Statistics show that there are two days you should put up your big hook images: Mondays and Thursdays. You can do so at any time, except between 3 and 4p.m. We highly recommend you do your own research and find out the best time to post on Instagram for your specific account, in order to maximize organic growth in the long term.

4. Pre-Sort Filters

Instagram allows for a slew of options for photo manipulation, which can help you generate the image you want on your site without having to go through a third-party program. That can let you create posts much more efficiently. To further streamline the process, you should reorder your filters so you can get to the ones you use most often. While editing a post, click the Manage button (its icon is a gear) and then drag a filter up and down to reorder it. If you want to remove a filter from your options entirely, then uncheck it.