Expert Tips for Brand Success on Instagram

“With Instagram, I’m not a chess piece, I’m a chess player.”

Jeremy McGilvrey, social media expert

Instagram is kind of a big deal.

In the past two years, Instagram has doubled its user base, jumping to more than 700 million monthly active users as of April 2017. What’s most impressive, however, is the rate at which the photo-sharing platform is growing.

In 2016, it took Instagram six months – from June to December – to grow from 500 million users to 600 million. The company’s acquisition cycle is now shortening, amassing another 100 million Instagrammers in the four months that followed the aforementioned milestone.

And much like on any popular social media website, brands are some of the biggest recipients of the network’s gains; more users equals more potential prospects.

The brands that achieve massive prosperity through Instagram have a savvy strategy of what to post, when to post, how to post, and who they target.

But how exactly are small business owners supposed to uncover all of these aspects to social dominance?

To help answer your burning Instagram-related questions, I recently sat down with Jeremy McGilvrey, author of the new Instagram Secrets book, who has more than 122,000 followers on the platform. He gave me the inside scoop on what brands are doing to crush the photo sharing game.

Ready to boost your Instagram acumen and start driving some serious sales? Then take note of the IG insights ahead.

But, Why Instagram?

Instagram is busy gaining some steam right now. That’s all well and good, but why should business owners opt to focus on this network as opposed to Facebook?

Facebook’s enormous reach of more than 1.94 billion users, complete and utter ubiquity, and multitude of business-focused tools makes this site seem like the clear choice.

The answer to “why Instagram” comes down to one simple word: Engagement.

As it currently stands, Instagram’s brand engagement is 58 times higher than Facebook’s.

What’s equally powerful is that more than half of Instagram’s entire user base are daily active users; 400 million to be exact.

Part of the reason why Instagram touts insane engagement rates, as Jeremy explained, is that the company’s feed is not curated like Facebook’s. On Instagram, every post shows up in the feed of every follower.

Knowing how compelling Instagram can be, it becomes a sales powerhouse when paired with one of today’s most engaging marketing modalities.

Smart Brands Use Instagram Influencers

“When you are promoting your business with Instagram influencers through shoutouts, you don’t have to deal with Facebook’s unclear and unfair advertising policies. And getting that personal recommendation from the Instagram page who is looked at like a celebrity allows you to generate warm leads instead of cold traffic – which is how Facebook sponsored posts work.”

Influencer marketing is such an effective practice because social authorities simply ooze trust, loyalty and credibility; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be influential.

In fact, studies have shown that people trust influencers nearly as much as real life friends.

And no matter how engaging a brand’s channel is, people will always identify with and gravitate toward fellow humans more than they do corporate entities; that’s just the nature of the beast.

This means that one of the most epic decisions a brand can make is to leverage Instagram influencers to tell their story.

A prime example of this method at work comes through Swedish watchmaker, Daniel Wellington. His brand collaborated with thousands of influencers on stunning and original posts highlighting his watches alongside a discount code.

Daniel’s influencer partnerships helped his company increase profits by 214 percent between 2014 and 2015.

In order to help you find some of the most effective messages for influencer efforts, tools like BloomBerry assist businesses in identifying the most frequently asked questions by various target audiences. This can be leveraged to address these queries with the campaign and capture customers.

Additionally, using SocialBlade, you can compare Instagram stats of various influencers before reaching out to ensure maximum exposure and engagement.

But influencer success on Instagram doesn’t rely solely on large-scale campaigns or a multitude of influencers.

Pay for Brand Shoutouts

“Here is my million dollar secret: All you have to do is connect with an Instagram influencer, and pay them to promote your product. Even $40 can make a massive difference to your brand.”

Influencer shoutouts on Instagram are a quick and affordable way to make a meaningful impact for your brand.

There are tons of influencers on Instagram who are willing to give shoutouts to brands they feel are in alignment with their identity. And most of these folks are willing to do so for anywhere between $20 and $200, depending on their reach.

If you don’t think this is a viable strategy, check out this case study of a business owner who paid “a couple hundred dollars” for a shoutout and earned $300 in revenue in a mere six hours. Unfortunately, the blog doesn’t detail the ultimate ROI from this exchange, but if six hours brought $300, I’m guessing the story ends very, very well.

The best way to find influencers to promote your brand in this way is to search the site for keywords you are looking to promote and find people who are already posting about similar content.

Many influencers will openly publish their contact details like e-mail addresses, Kik info, or you can just reach them through Instagram.

Be open and direct about your request and many influencers will gladly accept.

Many small business owners still underestimate the power of Instagram. With its massive surge in users, out-of-control engagement rates, and sales potential through influencers partnerships, shop-able posts, and various other tools for driving traffic and conversions, Instagram is quickly closing Facebook’s influential lead.

Be sure to take Jeremy’s advice to heart — these practices can help your business become the next big hit on Instagram.

Do you think Instagram will become more popular than Facebook one day? Do you plan on paying for some influencer shoutouts in the near future?

Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996.  She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.