By Donna Amos
Social media has become a great way for companies of every size to reach out to their customers. It is especially effective for solopreneurs, as it allows them to compete on an even playing field with larger companies within their industry. By creating a marketing campaign on a social media platform like Instagram, you can reach out to more than 400 million users each month.
The Importance of Instagram.
Instagram is unique in that it relies predominantly on images to communicate with current and potential customers – you can't post text without an image. But this is a good thing: not only can you post pictures that highlight the products and services that you offer, but you can also post images of your business culture or your community involvement.
If used correctly, Instagram is more effective than using other social platforms, including Facebook or Twitter. It offers a higher engagement rate with followers than the other platforms, which means that more people are interacting with the content through likes or comments. The more attention your account receives, the better able you are to use it to raise brand awareness for your company and increase sales.
However, for Instagram to be effective in helping you sell your products or services, you have to devise a marketing strategy for your business.
Creating a Campaign.
As with any marketing strategy, you have to take the time to set goals for what you hope to accomplish if the campaign is to be successful. If you are new to this social platform, you also have to devise a way to attract followers so you can find the customers you need to build your brand and increase sales. As visual content is the only attraction, you have to develop a strategy with that in mind, to attract followers, so you can meet your goals.
Developing Content Strategy.
To develop an effective content strategy, you need first to determine whom you’re trying to reach. If you want to attract more customers, then your content will be more focused on your products or services. If you are trying to reach out to other businesses, then it makes more sense to focus on your company and its culture.
Although Instagram is for visual content, you are not limited to still photography. You can also post short videos, animated GIFs and different types of graphics. The site offers several apps that you can use to create various types of content for your account, which will help make it more attractive to its visitors and encourage them to become followers.
Be Consistent with Updates.
It is important to keep a fresh stream of content going, to encourage your followers to return to your account to see what has been added. You should pick a time and frequency that works best for you to post new content, whether it is once a week or once every other week. Be consistent with your updates, as allowing your account to go stale will result in followers losing interest in your brand.
Encourage Followers to Submit Content.
You can create contests or just ask some of your customers to create their own content featuring products from your business. If you own a local doughnut shop, perhaps your followers can post pictures of their favorite treats. This will help engage your followers and can generate interest from others viewing your account.
Attracting New Followers.
Your marketing and content strategies will not be successful unless you have an audience, so it is important to increase your followers on this platform. Some of the best ways to find new followers are to:
- Make use of hashtags
- Update consistently
- Interact with your audience
Making Use of Hashtags.
By posting new and interesting content to your account, you will keep your current audience interested in your brand, but you will attract new followers when you place hashtags on your content. When you post, use hashtags to help people find you when they search for those terms. However, use them sparingly, as using too many hashtags can make it seem as if you are desperately looking for followers.
Choose hashtags that are relevant to the post, as well as your business, and try to use unique ones as well. While some certain terms are popular on Instagram, if you use common ones, for instance, #love, those terms will generate millions of results, which can make it difficult to find your posts. By using more targeted hashtags, ones that are tailored to your business, you will make it easier for people to find you.
As previously stated, to keep your followers interested in your brand, you need to post to your account on a consistent basis. Along with keeping those fans coming back to check out your new content, you also want to attract new followers. If you don’t post regularly, it makes it seem as if you are not interested in promoting your business, or that you may not be in business any longer and just haven’t deleted your account.
Along with keeping a consistent schedule, you should target your posts for certain days and times to help grow your audience strategically. You can analyze the engagements on your account to find the best times to post. There are apps that can help you break down when you post, when engagements take place, and then suggest the best days and times for posting.
Interact with Your Audience.
There are three ways in which your audience can engage with your account. They can “like” your content, post a comment or follow your account. Although it may be difficult to respond to every comment, try to do so within reason to engage with people who have taken the time to view and comment. It is a good way to show your appreciation for their time and, by doing so, they will be more apt to return to your Instagram account.
Your marketing campaign can help you build an audience by posting engaging content, by being consistent with posting and by using hashtags so interested parties can find your account.
Building a Campaign.
Let’s build a campaign from the beginning. I am going to share the results and specifics of a recent campaign we built: establishing a following for a new magazine app for solopreneurs. The target market was easy: solo business owners.
A good campaign begins with updating your profile bio, as it is the only way to have a live link to wherever you want to drive traffic.
In our recent campaign, we were trying to drive traffic and downloads to our magazine app. Our bio on Instagram provided info on how to access the magazine:
Solopreneur Solutions Magazine The resource solopreneurs choose to discover how to build and grow a successful business. Download Inaugural Issue for FREE!!! bit.ly/SoloMag
To build a following we used two strategies.
First was to create hashtags for all of our posts, to make it easy for people to find us. We did our research using the “explore” option on Instagram, to find hashtags that our target market was following.
This is the hashtag cloud we finally chose:
#SolopreneurSolutions #InvestInYourself #Solopreneur #WorkFromHome #DailyGrind #Entrepreneur #Business #WorkingLate #Startup #BusinessOwner #BeYourOwnBoss #EntrepreneurLife #Magazine #Empower #MakeItHappen #Entrepreneurship #Successful #Grind #OwnIt #LadyPreneur #FinancialFreedom #GirlBoss #WorkFromAnywhere #BossChick #ChangingLives #WomenSupportingWomen #MyGrind #WomenInBusiness #GirlPower #OwnBoss
We use those hashtags on every post so that Instagram users can find them.
Second, we started following users of other accounts that align with our target market. This is usually a time-consuming task, so we used an app called Crowdfire. Using the “Copy Followers” option, we could search for accounts such as Entrepreneur Magazine and follow their followers with hopes of them following back. If they did not follow us back after a couple of weeks, we selected the Non-Followers filter in the app and unfollowed them.
At two and half weeks into the campaign, we had amassed 1,890 followers.
More importantly, we saw engagement from our followers. In our second week, we had 1049 likes and 60 comments.
As for our content strategy, we determined that these types of content are what our target market most engages with:
- Tips and guides (marketing, business, success)
- Inspirational quotes
- Blog posts preview
- Featured photos of solopreneurs
Our campaign consists of three posts per day. This takes planning and scheduling posts to ensure we are consistent. We are using Onlypult to assist with our posting.
Our efforts so far for this campaign have resulted in 18 app downloads. That's not a bad result starting completely from scratch and only 17 days into the campaign. That's not to mention the residual traffic to the blog and the brand recognition.
I hope this gives you the encouragement you may need to build an Instagram campaign to support your business goals. It's easily doable, with just a bit of planning. Put yourself and your brand out there – and good luck!
Donna Amos, Inspirer of Possibilities, is the founder of Solopreneur Solutions, LLC she is a passionate marketer and coach for Solopreneurs. She believes …“The best gift we can give another is a word of encouragement.”