If your business isn’t on Instagram yet, you could be missing a trick – especially if you’re in e-commerce.
In 2019, the platform is much more than a photo sharing app. It’s evolved rapidly in recent years and there’s now a greater focus on the ability to make money through the platform. With shopping tags, businesses are able to link directly to their products making the customer journey simple.
Another key benefit of being active on Instagram is that it makes your business relatable. The story feature provides you with a way of showing people a more candid insight into your company. This is something that was relatively unheard of 10 years ago but it now forms a key part of many business strategies.
In 2019, relatability is key. Consumers are no longer taken in by big, untouchable corporate giants. They want to see personality and the people behind the name, helping to build rapport and form a loyal customer base.
With a user base of around 800 million, Instagram is proving a (not so secret) weapon for savvy businesses – no matter their industry.
To help you take advantage of Instagram for your business, here’s a round-up of 15 growth hacks that are working in 2019.
1. The Instagram Algorithm
Before we begin delving into Instagram hacks, let’s take a look at the platform’s algorithm. Back in early 2018, Instagram revealed six key elements that are used to determine the rank of the content we see. Techcrunch rounded up the elements, which is where you should be focusing your attention:
- Your Interests: when you comment, save or double tap certain posts, Instagram stores this information and uses it to show posts that you care about. By analysing your past behaviour, the social network curates a feed based on your interests.
- Recency: Posts are prioritised according to the time they were shared, so a post from two hours ago is going to show before one from a few days back.
- Relationship: The more you react with certain people or profiles, the more likely you are to see their content and vice versa.
The other three factors play a smaller role in your feed rankings and they are:
These six elements are key to your success and growth on the platform. A common mistake businesses make on Instagram is that they talk about themselves far too often and share content that isn’t relatable. Who wants to follow that?
What’s important when it comes to Instagram is putting yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. Think about what’s going to make them hit like, comment or follow you?
Instagram is all about lifestyle and brands that play into this attract the best results. Now, you may be thinking – ‘but I own a mattress company, how does that tie into lifestyle?’ This is where you map out topics and hashtags related to sleep. What’s trending? What are your competitors doing? What content does your ideal customer want to see?
With the sleep industry, you could cover topics from insomnia and lack of sleep to bedroom decor and trends. Posting this content will be far more interesting and engaging than simply sharing mattress offers.
Take Silent Night, for example. Instead of talking about their products, they share useful advice and aspirational lifestyle images.
2. Don’t be put off by the rule of 30
Instagram only allows 30 hashtags per post, so many people will stop at that. However, if you really want to expand that reach on a specific post, you can always use the comments section. Share additional hashtags in the comments section and your posts will appear in search results for those terms as well as for the hashtags in your post description.
We wouldn’t make a habit of doing this on every post though. Although Instagram users are tolerant of hashtags, using the comments trick on everything doesn’t look great. So save this one for those important posts.
3. Research your hashtags
They are key on Instagram so don’t just guess. Take a look at the tags your competitors are using on the posts that are getting the most engagement. Make a list of those tags and use them when relevant.
Be sure to mix it up though as Instagram picks up on accounts that constantly reuse the exact same hashtags and in extreme cases, ‘shadowbans’ your account. This basically means that your posts can be blocked from appearing in certain feeds without you knowing. So proceed with caution!
4. Conceal your hashtags in stories
By now, most people know that hashtags expand your post’s reach. So, what we are seeing is a lot of cluttered story posts, filled to the brim with hashtags. Ok, this may get you a better reach but it’s going to be a bit off-putting for your audience.
So, to avoid looking messy whilst still achieving the reach you’re looking for, make your hashtags invisible. To do this, if your background is white, for example, use white text and pinch it to make it small. This way, your audience won’t see a cluttered array of tags.
5. Save your own posts to collections
A nifty hack for improved rankings with the Instagram algorithm is to save your own posts. The action of saving a post is a behaviour that the algorithm looks upon favourably. It demonstrates that the post is relevant and bears an importance with the users. So, create some collections and get saving.
6. Get using emojis
Research by Quintly revealed that emojis can generate up to 47% more engagement on Instagram. So, try and use them in posts to convey different emotions and add one or two to your profile linking to what you do.
7. Use your feed and story posts for different objectives
According to Lightspan Digital, when it comes to engagement, Instagram stories are key. Using polls, asking questions and starting a conversation is how businesses are using the story feature to its best potential. However, when it comes to conversions, they suggest that feed posts perform best.
8. Be clever with your hashtags
It’s tempting to throw in #picoftheday or #instagood when you know it has an audience of millions. However, using those hashtags lands you in an abyss of millions of other posts tagging on to those trends.
What we advise is something called the 10/10/10 rule. Here you break down your hashtags into categories as follows:
- Large Hashtags – typically appearing in 200k – 2 million posts
- Medium Hashtags – appearing in 50k – 200k posts
- Small Hashtags – much more niche used in 10k to 50k posts.
Once you’ve grouped your hashtags, choose ten from each group and use them on your post. That way you have 30 hashtags that span from small to large, helping to ensure your post is seen.
9. Use the liking tip
After sharing a post, click on one of the most relevant hashtags you used. This will show the top and most recent posts including that hashtag. The tip here is to like 5-10 of the most recent posts, which will help you to connect with like-minded users.
10. Add multiple links to your bio
Instagram only allows for one link in your bio, which can be frustrating when you have a new blog post, product offer and campaign running at the same time. Where do you send people?
Luckily, there’s a workaround. Linktree, Planoly and Later all provide the means to add a link which leads to a separate page where users can choose from multiple links. No more switching up your link every time you post a new blog!
11. Don’t be overzealous with filters!
Yes, they can make an image look 1000 times better but if you get too filter happy your feed will look inconsistent. Most influencers and brands choose a filter and stick with it which helps to give their feed a brand image.
12. Respond to comments and messages
Instagram can be the perfect place to build relationships with new customers so be sure to respond to comments – even when it’s just a compliment. This casual conversation breaks down barriers and demonstrates that you are a personable brand.
Such conversations can lead to sales too so always be sure to engage. It’s also important to comment on other user’s posts to show you’re active and interested in posts in your niche. If you employ people to do your social media then it’s worth talking about tone of voice here so there is consistency across posts and platforms.
13. Make your stories fun
Depending on the line of business you are in, there are going to be limits as to how far you can push it here. However, Instagram stories are less permanent and a great way to show a bit of personality. Gifs, stickers and music all help you to create engaging posts that generate followers.
14. Get on board with IGTV
Instagram TV, otherwise known as IGTV launched in June last year and is a video sharing feature which allows you to share longer (more than 60 seconds) videos on the platform. If you’re a verified user (blue tick) you can make videos up to an hour long, and for non-verified users, it’s 10 minutes.
This platform allows you to essentially have your own channel and share content related to your business or niche. What’s key to remember is that this is a mobile-only platform so all videos need to be vertical.
The benefit of IGTV is that followers don’t expect super polished content. This takes away the pressure, time and costs of putting high-quality videos together. In fact, Instagram is encouraging people to use mobiles when filming content for IGTV.
So how can you grow your following using IGTV? Well, Instagram algorithms prioritise this content helping you to reach new people. Using relevant hashtags, you can help your video get into your ideal customer’s feed. And as it’s on IGTV, it stands out more compared to standard content, so they’re more likely to notice it.
15. Micro influencers
Unlike ‘insta-famous’ influencers with millions of followers, micro-influencers are people with anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand followers. The beauty here is that their followers tend to be much more engaged than with celebrities. This is because they are often more relatable.
What’s also key with micro-influencers is that they tend to have a higher conversion rate. These type of people are often experts in their niche and have a highly concentrated, engaged following. This makes their views on a product far more valuable than when a celebrity endorses a product for a big payout.
Another key benefit of working with micro-influencers on Instagram is that they are often more affordable. According to research by Bloglovin, most micro-influencers charge less than $500 per post, which given the high conversion rates, can really pay off.
To Sum up
Instagram is a tool definitely worth harnessing if you want to grow your brand in 2019. The platform is constantly evolving with the regular release of new features and ways to connect with your target market.
The key to successful growth on Instagram really boils down to understanding what your target market wants to see. What are their pain points, interests and aspirations? What’s going to make them follow you over the competition. Keeping this in mind when putting the above hacks into practice will set you off on the best path for growth.