Instagram – it’s the word on everyone’s lips and the app at everyone’s fingertips. With 700 million users it’s now one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. In fact, nearly 80 per cent of users come from outside of the US and UK, meaning it represents a truly global marketplace.

Frequently termed the ‘King of Social’, Instagram is a leading platform for communication, used by everyone from brands, businesses and bloggers to build their influence online. Early adopters of the app utilised Instagram’s penchant for a highly-finished aesthetic, and fetish for ‘authenticity’, to sell their product or service. Today, Instagram is incredibly sophisticated in storytelling, especially with the addition of recent features like photo galleries and Instagram Stories.

This ‘intimate’ brand insight provides an authenticity key to modern marketing. In today’s busy digital climate, the ability to fluently and diversely communicate is indispensable in cutting through the noise. But how can you practically apply this to grow your brands Instagram?

1. Be creative

Instagram is a platform that welcomes creativity more than any other, but it’s also becoming increasingly necessary to get your voice heard. With the recent change of Instagram’s algorithm (from chronological to engagement-driven), almost all accounts have seen a significant drop in the number of likes and comments that they receive. The old chronical algorithm allowed you to see everyone’s posts in the order that they were shared, whereas now, users will only see your posts if they have engaged with your account recently.

For this reason, being creative and standing out is essential if you want your followers to stop endlessly scrolling through their feeds and focus on your posts.

2. Find your niche

Many people fall prey to the idea that sharing a variety of posts which appeal to everyone will result in more followers. However, to stand out from the crowd it’s really all about finding that niche that best encapsulates your tone of voice and visual identity. This could be anything from the content you post, to the way you take your pictures or even just your captions! It’s all about conveying your brand at just a glance, because often that’s all you’ll have.

3. Hashtags = power

Hashtags are the most immediate way to extend your reach, and build your online community. By putting up to 30 relevant hashtags underneath your post you can make yourself visible to the potentially millions of daily users who are searching for, or engaging with, brands like yours. Engaging with other users in these hashtags is the next step to generating conversation, and building a personality and tangibility to your brand online.

4. Engage your audience

It’s incredibly important for brands, especially smaller ones, to remember that social media is not a one-way street. Social should be social, and the best place to start is with a conversation. Reply to those who talk to you and try to actively engage with your following. This can be as simple as liking and commenting on similar user’s content. This is also an important tool in positioning your brand as a member and thought leader in an industry!

5. Use the whole toolbox

Instagram may have started as an image sharing platform, but don’t be confined to this. These days, there’s a plethora of tools on Instagram that you can use to tell your story – think videos, GIFs, and Boomerangs. Do what feels natural for your brand to keep your interactions authentic, your content creative and your story immersive.

Instagram Stories are a brilliant way to do this, capturing all the smaller details of your brand, inside and out. Using this tool regularly is a fantastic way to increase engagement with your account and keep people interested in you.

You can monitor how many times your story has been viewed and who’s viewed it – which is a great way measure what posts are working better than others!

6. Talk back

Collaborations and cross-posting are a fantastic way for brands to bolster their online presence, and tap into ready-made target audiences. This is a mutually beneficial process that sees both accounts raise awareness, working particularly well in a ‘boutique’ or start-up environment.

You might also consider this tactic with your customers; featuring customers is an increasingly valuable tool in promoting your brands merit. Not only will this provide potential customers with authentic, positive feedback for your brand, but it also rewards fans for being fans and encourages future interactions!

7. Be consistent

If you carry out all the above tips then you should start to see your follower numbers pile up – however, you must be consistent. Don’t try and do everything all at once, and then nothing for a month. Regularity and consistency are key to growing an account!

Source: www.virgin.com (By Eloise Emley)