How to create connections on Instagram: 2 features of focus

Instagram is one of the most powerful social media platforms for marketers looking to build a community of engaged and loyal followers.

With over 400 million active daily users, and over 3.5 billion likes per day, there is a ton of activity and engagement happening on Instagram.

Instagram is a powerful platform for marketers looking to build their credibility and brand awareness. 

However, it takes a lot of strategic planning and research to utilize all of the features and functionality that Instagram offers users.

Strategy:

In order to see success as a brand or business on Instagram, you need to build a solid strategy for how you’re going to use Instagram to grow leads, build brand awareness and generate sales.

Your Instagram strategy should detail the type of content you’re going to post, how often you’ll post and how you’re going to structure your posts. 

The strategy will help guide you in the types of stories you tell on the platform, giveaways you’ll run, hashtags you’ll use, and how often you’ll engage fans to contribute user-generated content.

You also need to post consistently because, just like Facebook’s, Instagram’s algorithm favors consistency.

Consistency is key to growing your Instagram audience and engagement, so be sure to create a plan that involves a regular, reliable posting schedule. 

Competitive intelligence should also be a part of your strategy; check out what your competitors are doing on Instagram as a way to spark ideas for your own feed.

Be sure to spend time engaging on the platform regularly, as likes, reposts and comments are the best way to nurture your community.

Analytics are important as well; tools like Iconosquare are great for helping you dive in to see what filters, days of the week and hashtags are most impactful in your Instagram efforts.

Last but not least, when it comes to Instagram, aesthetics are everything. 

When possible, make your photos branded by adding your logo/watermark. There are tons of tools available to help you save time in doing this.

Your photos should have a cohesive look so that your feed looks beautiful, branded and inviting. You also want to have a theme for your content; your audience should know the types of photos to expect to see from you.

Functionality:

While Instagram has a whole ton of features and functionality that is beneficial for marketers, there are two that I have found to be of critical importance.

These are the two features you need to utilize when trying to grow credibility and community on the platform: 

  1. Bio link: Be smart about the link you insert for your bio. Since Instagram only gives you one URL, you want to make it good. Insert a link to a free guide or giveaway that will help you build your email list while also delivering value to your audience. This link is going to be what drives traffic to your website and leads to your list, so be sure to shorten it using a tool like bit.ly so that it looks clean. It’s critical that your landing page be mobile-friendly, as most Instagram users access the platform from their phones. You want to make it as easy and seamless as possible to get onto your email list from Instagram.
  2. Direct message: Direct messages (DMs) are a fantastic way to strengthen existing relationships, and deliver personalized messages and communications. Instagram lets you send DMs to individuals or groups; you can send one to a group of up to 15 people, which is a wonderful way to build communities, connect groups of people and/or deliver coupon codes or special promos to your audience. Sending a DM isn’t difficult; you can do it by uploading a photo as you normally would and click “direct” at the top of the screen instead of followers. You can also send a DM directly from a post by clicking the arrow located next to the comment bubble, OR by searching for a specific hashtag or geotag feed and using the arrow located at the top of the screen. These messages help you be more personal on a platform where connection is key.

The reason why your bio link, and a direct message, is so powerful is that it is personal. 

Instagram is about building relationships and connecting to others; it’s not about self-promotion and sales.

Through your bio link, you can deliver value to your audience and grow your email list. Through your email list, you can deliver shout-outs and share exclusive content and/or coupon codes.

Through direct messages, you can ask people for permission to repost their photos, send exclusive coupons and contact giveaway winners to let them know they’ve won.

Since Instagram, just like all other social media platforms, constantly evolves, it’s critical to stay knowledgeable of how you can apply platform-specific best practices in order to grow your audience and engagement.

Utilizing your bio link and sending direct messages, will allow you to deliver more personalized, relevant, valuable messages to your Instagram community. 

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