Now that Instagram has 700 Mn users, most brands are finding ways to interact with the Instagram community in a way that they keep the audience coming back for more. The engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter. This means, with the right kind of strategy, consumers will engage with your product without a hardcore sales pitch. Using this philosophy, Home Canvas has successfully appealed to its audience without directly selling to them (and grown followers massively!).
Here are the eight growth hacks that grew Home Canvas’ Instagram user base from 0 to 30,000 in under 2 years.
Your audience wants to see a personality and not mere visuals. Anyone who has tried to simply copy paste their creatives here, will realise quickly that it is destined for failure.
Talk in first person. Connect one-on-one with your users. Speak as if your brand were a person. Give it a personality. (Is it a male/female, how old is he/she, how does she dress, who does she hang out with, what are her likes?) This is the hardest part for brands as they have multiple people handling their social media channels. Ultimately, the brand becomes a sum of all their personalities instead.
Good Earth is a great example where they share their favorite travel destinations in their insta-travel series.
Airbnb shares the joy for travel on their Instagram account, by sharing all the beautiful experiences that a city has to offer beyond just showcasing images of their listing.
Don’t Just Create Branded Content
Instagram has a younger, more affluent, urban and creative user base who are early adopters. They seek content that is more authentic and don’t respond to ‘marketing speak’.
If there’s one thing IG users hate the most, it is ad creatives. They are on Instagram to find engaging content and for conversations and not to see an advertisement. Showcase your products, retail store, your employees, causes you care about, things that inspire you, trends in your industry, your customers etc.
NEVER post an Ad. Don’t put your logo on the visuals. Here are some of our favourite examples:
This one seems simple, but it is funny how many people tend to ignore this simple advice. Set a schedule and make sure you stick to it. I would recommend anywhere up to 3 posts a day. Anything more than that start to seem like too much. Whether it is 1, 2 or 3 posts, make it a habit to post consistently. Use a scheduling software like Onlypult to schedule in advance for the next few days.
Using the ‘Instagram Insights’ section; figure out when your audience is most active and schedule your posts accordingly.
#Hashtags Such as ‘Home Canvas’ Are Crucial
Make sure your content is discoverable with the use of the right hashtags. For users who are searching for great content on Instagram, your hashtags are critical. Pick the 5-7 most relevant hashtags for every post and create a brand hashtag that you use in every post.
User-Generated Instagram Content
Harness the power of curation. All the content you post does not have to be original. Re-sharing great content in line with the brand philosophy is a great way to share your perspective and to build relationships with other users. Repost content that your customers or others in your industry and add your own perspective to it. Curating others content will help you win some friends and also make your content more interesting.
Engage, engage and engage.
Like posts, comment on others posts, respond to comments on your posts and make sure you stay visible in Instagramosphere! The more your name pops up, the more likely users are going to click on your account and see what you are about. But never Spam. Be genuinely interested and engaged with others. It pays off in the long term.
Contests work like miracles on Instagram. This audience loves to engage in contests. Tag a Friend, Photo contests, Caption contests, Hashtag contests, Voting contests, Selfie Contests and many more. The ideas are endless and only limited to your imagination.
Make sure that the prize is something exciting and worth their time.
Leverage The Power Of Influencer Marketing
A growth hack brands have very recently started adopting, which we learnt with the HomeCanvas experience – is influencer marketing – the most powerful ways to grow your Instagram account. 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands. Find Instagram accounts and influencers with audience similar to yours but with a much larger following.(By 10x at least for it to be meaningful) Tie up with them to cross promote each other’s accounts or pay the influencer to promote your brand.
There is nothing like a personal endorsement from an influencer.
Lastly, we have not succeeded in growing our user base on Instagram through the paid advertising model that Instagram rolled out a few months back. In all of the paid advertising efforts, we quickly realised that your paid posts will generate a lot of user likes, but did not necessarily increase our follower count.
While this approach may work tactically for some promotions, where you want to generate some quick eyeballs, it rarely helps increase your follower count, which is the more sustainable long term strategy.
At the end of all this, remember that it’s not the number of followers, but the amount of engagement you generate with your followers that matters most for your business. Track engagement closely and make sure that you are consistently keeping your followers engaged and wanting for more, just like Home Canvas did.