It’s time to rethink how to promote your Instagram account.
Why now? Because the platform’s rapid evolution and growth mean that what worked in the past isn’t going to score you the same sort of engagement today.
Based on recent Instagram stats, the visual space is becoming more and more crowded with brands fighting tooth and nail for more customers.
As a result, it quite literally pays to have as many tactics as possible to promote Instagram to your target audience.
In this guide, we’ve broken down 13 totally actionable ways to do exactly that.
From optimizing your posts and profile to rethinking your approach to content promotion, any combination of these tips are fair game when it comes to Instagram promotion.
1. Ramp up your content production
There’s no shortage of Instagram content you can publish to fill up your feed.
Customer photos. Memes. Bite-sized videos.
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s available to you.
To figure out what performs the best among your audience, you’re going to need to experiment. That means ramping up your content production and posting more frequently.
Publishing to Instagram at least once a day is within the platform’s best practices. Heck, major brands like TopShop and H&M post up to three times per day (if not more often).
As you roll out more content, it’s crucial to squeeze more engagement out of your following by understanding the best times to post on Instagram.
Publishing a photo every once in a while isn’t going to cut it if you want to stay fresh in your followers’ feeds.
And speaking of which, that’s also why Instagram Stories are so valuable. Off-the-cuff content via Stories essentially allows you to “skip the line” and appear front-and-center in people’s feeds.
Not only that, but you can freely post snap after snap without worrying about spamming your fans.
The takeaway here is that Instagram moves much quicker than it did a year or two ago in terms of content. Brands should ramp up if they want to keep up.
2. Cross-promote your Instagram posts across other networks
The effort it takes to snag the perfect snapshot and craft a clever caption isn’t something that should go to waste.
Cross-posting your content to other social platforms is a no-brainer to get even more of an ROI out of your Instagram presence.
For example, you can promote your Instagram content across the likes of Facebook and Twitter to maximize your content’s reach.
Although cross-promotion is a smart move, bear in mind that each social platform has its own best practices.
For example, Instagram tends to go heavier on the hashtags while you might want to craft a slightly different description for images posted to Facebook.
To keep yourself from jumping between platforms, consider how an asset library can save you some serious time.
Sprout Social’s asset library allows you to store your social creatives in one place while also allowing you to tailor your posts to whichever network you’re posting to.
Oh, and don’t’ forget the added benefit of scheduling your contentacross multiple networks at the same time to hit on those optimized times noted earlier.
3. Focus on people-centric content
Although Instagram is a place to score sales, it is still first and foremost a place to share experiences.
The popularity of selfies on Instagram speaks for itself, as does customer photos and pictures of people using products in real-world settings.
Much of the appeal of Instagram is that brands are capable of advertising in a more human way without bombarding followers with messages that scream “BUY NOW!”
And on a related note, this is exactly why user-generated content such as customer photos are such a goldmine for brands. Not only do folks on the ‘gram love it when brands shout them out, but customer photos represent marketing firepower that proves that people dig your products.
But in order to spot and curate user-generated content for your feed, you’re going to need to understand how hashtags can help you promote your Instagram.
And that leads us to our next point.
4. Experiment with branded and industry hashtags
Brands both big and small should create a hashtag to encourage sharing and promotion on behalf of their followers. Doing so doesn’t have to be rocket science, either.
For example, Ernie Ball displays their #iplayslinky and #colorsofrocknroll hashtags loud and clear in their bio.
In turn, they use the tag to promote their own posts in addition to thousands of loyal fans promoting the brand organically.
See how that works?
Beyond your own hashtags, you should try to promote your Instagram using more general, community hashtags specific to your industry such as #6strings (music) or #unicornhair (beauty).
Tacking on extra tags essentially makes your posts searchable by tag-followers and instantly increases your reach.
Although you can certainly use less (or more), the takeaway here is that you should at the very least add something.
Over time you can take advantage of a hashtag analytics tool such as Sprout which can clue you in on top-performing tags and new ones to experiment with.
5. Tag brands, followers and locations whenever you can
Tagging is a surprisingly effective way to promote your Instagram.
And no, we’re not just talking about hashtags.
For example, you can tag other brands and accounts in hopes of a shout-out yourself.
Given that notifications ping anyone who receives them, relevant tags are a subtle way to encourage promotion.
Likewise, it’s both courtesy and within Instagram’s best practices to tag anyone you might be regramming.
Chances are they’ll be thrilled to be featured in your feed and will share the news with their own followers.
Don’t forget to tag locations, too!
For example, if you have a physical location for your business or regularly attends events, location-specific posts allow you to explore new potential fans and followers.
6. Publish Instagram content on-site
When it comes to ads, what better billboards than your own customers?
Featuring Instagram content on-site is a brilliant way to increase conversions.
Because when people see purchased products in real-world settings, they know that the brand in question has satisfied customers.
Consumers can better visualize and understand a product for themselves when they see it “in the wild.”
Thus the rise of lookbooks and brands featuring user-generated content on product pages. For example, Casper uses an Instagram slideshow on-site to show off their satisfied sleepers.
Of course, this all circles back to the need to promote your Instagram hashtag.
In addition to their Instagram bio, #TopShopStyle is plastered across the brand’s site and marketing emails to increase their tag’s exposure.
The end result is more user-generated content and people promoting TopShop organically.
7. Carve out your creative trademark
Creativity counts on Instagram.
Having some sort of niche or theme is a great way to both inspire your Instagram content and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
For example, Yeti is known for its feed full of high-res photos of the outdoors featuring adventures enjoying their products.
If you’re stumped as to what your creative trademark should be, don’t sweat it.
There are tons of Instagram apps (such as VSCO) which can help you add some creative flair to your photos.
By using consistent gradients, colors and filters, you can make your feed feel more, well, you.
8. Work with influencers to extend your reach
As we mentioned earlier, Instagram benefits from being a platform where brands can essentially publish ads without shoving them in their followers’ faces.
Enter the rise of influencer marketing.
Simply put, influencer marketing entails a paid relationship with another Instagram account with a sizeable, engaged follower count.
Influencers’ audiences should ideally mirror your own or allow you to tap into a new sect of users that you’re trying to reach.
Influencers are akin to ads in the sense that the relationship does indeed cost money.
However, finding the right influencer can be an incredibly cost-effective way to both sell products and grow your following.
Brands can spot influencers through hashtags and manual searching, or you can try Instagram analytics tools such as Tapinfluence or search an in-depth database related to your business.
Remember: when identifying influencers, just make sure they have a following that actually engages with their content.
Engagement rate calculators such as this one from Phlanx can help give you peace of mind about any influencers in question.
9. Rethink how you present your products and promotions
This is a simple tip but is definitely something worth mentioning.
And it relates to that other kind of Instagram promotion – the one with fun giveaways or sale items and can be incredibly valuable for your brand when done well.
So when you promote your Instagram in these instances, it’s crucial to present your content as must-see.
Instagram thrives on anything and everything “new.” Anything you can do to create a sense of hype is a major point in your favor.
For example, check out how Glossier hypes up their much-requested eye cream by surprising their followers a day before it drops.
Uniqlo publishes hype-heavy Instagram promotions and content, including calls-to-action for followers to check out their exclusive merch.
Pinup Girl also does a great job of highlighting why their products rock and allows their brand voice to shine through in the process.
As a rule of thumb, think “so what” before you hit “publish” for your promotions on Instagram. Doing so will ultimately encourage you to write more compelling captions.
10. Run a contest or giveaway
Here’s some food for thought: brands that run contests grow their followings 70% faster than those that don’t.
You might notice that many brands’ contest and giveaway-related posts receive insane amounts of engagement and that’s no accident.
Done correctly, social media contests can result in followers and fans although they can also attract freebie-chasers.
We recommend running a one-time contest promotion on Instagram to test the waters and determine whether or not contests are something you want to try for the long-term.
Their bio also ticks the boxes of an optimized profile, including a clear profile picture, compelling bio, branding hashtag and trackable URL.
Everything about this Instagram bio lets us know what to expect from their feed and likewise that we’re in the right place.
They also feature their email and phone number which is something to consider if you’re running a business account.
East End also regularly tags other businesses and events to expand their profile’s reach.
Oh, and not to mention their awesome visual content that their local followers love.
12. Take advantage of Instagram Stories and its latest features
Stories are by far Instagram’s most popular feature.
Used by over 500 million users daily, brands should take advantage of Stories as often as possible when promoting on Instagram.
For many businesses, this means publishing user-generated photos and behind-the-scenes content.
The beauty of Stories is that you don’t have to worry as much about your visuals being polished or “perfect.”
That said, creativity still counts when it comes to Stories. Among Instagram’s latest features, Stories are always at the center of them.
For example, new interactive stickers such as the new Quiz sticker represent fresh ways that brands can engage with followers for a more unique and interactive type of Instagram promo.
Keeping up with Instagram means staying active and on top of its latest features.
If you’re regularly publishing to Stories and watching what other brands are doing, you’ll always be in-the-know.
13. Consider running a paid campaign
Last but not least, don’t neglect the potential of paid promotion on Instagram.
After all, social media at large is becoming increasingly pay-to-play. As part of Facebook’s insanely in-depth ad platform, you can use Instagram’s eye-popping ad options to win over new customers.
There are plenty of Instagram success stories out there including this example from Dunkin which cleverly uses both Stories and video to grab the attention of users.
Of course, we recommend that you do your research and familiarize yourself with today’s Instagram ad specs before you get too into the weeds with them.
If you do decide to use paid ads to promote Instagram to new customers, remember that you can use Sprout’s performance reporting to see how your paid efforts stack up against your organic Instagram presence.
And with that, we wrap up our guide!
So, how do you promote your Instagram?
When it comes to Instagram promotion, you have plenty of tactics to experiment with.
And hey, that’s a good thing.
Making sure that your feed stands out means understanding the platform’s best practices and evolving alongside Instagram itself.
Sticking to the tips above can help you maximize your engagement as you promote your Instagram to new followers and customers.
We want to hear from you, though. What are some challenges you face when it comes to promoting your Instagram? Let us know in the comments below!
This article is originally published on SproutSocial!