Instagram is a platform for businesses, too

Hashtags require a lot of research so you’re using a variety of strategies, such as your location, industry trends, popular sayings

The last of the big four platforms I want to talk about is Instagram.

Instagram started in 2010 (it was purchased by Facebook in 2012) and was primarily a photo sharing app.

At that time, it wasn’t easy to share photos; phones didn’t have an easy way to share, and other social platforms weren’t designed for photo sharing.

Instagram had an instant audience that wanted to share their photos of food, travel, family, life, cars, etc.

In 2011, Instagram made it easier for users to organize posts, events, places, topics and more with the use of hashtags. (If you’re really new to all of this, the hashtag is the # button on your keyboard and is used throughout Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.)

An estimated 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily. That means people are searching, engaging and purchasing on Instagram, so this is an online strategy you could implement.

But before you do, you should ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Why am I on Instagram?
  • Why would people want to follow me?

Once you know that, you can get into the real work of building your audience. I have a couple of strategies I use with my clients and today I’m sharing them with you.

Use hashtags

Hashtags are used to draw attention, keep content organized and promote. The only thing you need to do is put a # directly in front of the word or phrase you want to turn into a hashtag, and simply follow these rules: no spaces, no punctuation and no special characters.

And remember, hashtag capitalization is only to make it easier to read. It has nothing to do with the usability of the hashtag: #InstagramStrategyTemplate

Hashtags require a lot of research so you’re using a variety of strategies, such as your location, industry trends, popular sayings, etc. I usually suggest people use a variety of hashtags sorted into lists.

You’re allowed 30 hashtags per post, but I usually stick to 18 to 21 hashtags per post. And hashtag’s are judged on the number of posts that have used that specific hashtag. To get the hashtag posts number, just hit search on Instagram.

Here’s an example: #onlinemarketingtips had 116,000 posts when I wrote this article.

To find the different hashtags to use with Instagram posts, I follow this formula with my clients:

  • Up to five hashtags less than 50,000 posts
  • Up to five hashtags between 50,000 and 200,000 posts
  • Up to five hashtags between 200,000 and 500,000 posts
  • Up to five hashtags between 500,000 and 1 million posts
  • Up to five hashtags over one million posts

You get to play around and see what works with your posts. It varies per industry, location, time of year, etc. You can keep your hashtags in lists in notes on your phone, and then it’s really easy to add them to posts, because most of your Instagram posting will be done over your phone.

If you use a scheduling app, this can be done from a desktop.

Visit back next week – I’m going to talk about the different platforms to schedule your content for your online platforms.

Speaking of content

Instagram is a place to share really amazing visual content. Make your photos as amazing as you can, use filters, play with the light – just have fun. This is what catches people’s eyes when they’re scrolling through their feed.

Use fun photos, different photos, photos that play with light. Then you can add an amazing story, idea or topic to your photo (making sure it’s all relevant), use emojis, use grids, use hashtags – whatever you want to share on your account – and then post.

Content for Instagram isn’t terribly different from the other social platforms, and so you can repurpose a lot of it. I always do different posts for Facebook and Instagram – but they can be around the same topic or idea.

Your visitors are going to decide if they want to follow you, so give them a reason to. Post amazing relevant content, use hashtags and engage with your audience online.

Donita Fowler is an online marketer who supports entrepreneurs in their quest to be the boss of their online platforms.

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