Get the Picture: Four Ways to Expand your Reach on Instagram

Get the Picture: Four Ways to Expand your Reach on Instagram by Ken Lowery, digital strategist at LOOMIS, the country's leading challenger brand advertising agency, a leading agency in Dallas and the Voice of the Underdog

If you’ve been hesitant for your brand to jump into Instagram with both feet, now is the time. But don’t take my word for it, just look at some of the stats.

Last year, Instagram crossed the threshold into hosting nearly 1 billion active monthly users – trailing Facebook, but ahead of most other social network sites. Of those, nearly 500 million are active daily. And while the audience is smaller than Facebook’s, it’s more engaged: brands see engagement rates 10x higher on Instagram than Facebook and 70% of users look up a brand on Instagram. That means your customers are out there looking for you on Instagram, so you’d better be there when they search.

Presence is one thing, and reach is quite another. How can you make being on Instagram work for your brand? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a few tips to firm up your strategy and turn posts into engagement, brand loyalty, and conversions.

Embed your Instagram feed on your site. This one is industry- and brand-agnostic. No matter who you are, you should be embedding your social media content on-site. Not only does this double-dipping get a little extra mileage out of your Instagram posts, it adds easy eye-popping visuals to your homepage – especially if you curate which Instagram posts you show. Further, if you cultivate user-generated content, you build authenticity and conversions. Posts featuring UGC have a 4.5% higher conversion rate than non-UGC posts, which speaks for itself.

Experiment with hashtags. Yes, hashtags still work, provided you put a little care into how you use them. The most obvious benefit to hashtags is that they make your posts searchable, so people seeking out content about the things you post about are more likely to find you. Using a blend of evergreen and trending hashtags can introduce you to new audiences, and seeding in brand-specific hashtags that are both ownable and fun will help build your brand in the eyes of your audience. If you’re not sure which hashtags might be relevant to your brand, try out an app like Hashtagify. Just input a common term for your brand (say, “BBQ” if you’re a BBQ restaurant) and see what other adjacent hashtags people use when they use that one.

Build a library of evergreen stories. Instagram Stories are so hot right now, but by their nature they come and go within 24 hours. That’s why keeping your stories static by pinning them to your profile page is so important to building a secondary video channel for your brand. Create a few catch-all topics that make sense for your brand (using the BBQ restaurant example above, perhaps channels for “Pitmasters At Work,” “Food Porn,” and “Craft Cocktails”) and add Instagram Stories around them on a regular basis. That way, those 70% of Instagram users looking you up regularly can visit your profile, watch your videos, and find out what you’re about.

Run your top-performing posts as ads. A common theme in these tips is that your Instagram content can work double-duty elsewhere, and this is no different. As with Facebook, organic reach on Instagram gets tougher by the day – so it makes sense to play with Instagram’s various ad formats. Maybe start with your posts that resonated best with your audience. Double-dipping on these posts is an easy way to dip your toes into Instagram ads. You can see what works and adjust your strategy accordingly.

The reality is that no single trick is going to put your Instagram reach over the top. Instagram’s algorithm seems to change and update as often as audience preferences. Focus your efforts on what you can control: putting your best foot forward with every post and story and utilizing what you make to enrich your entire digital ecosystem. In that respect, Instagram isn’t all that different from any other marketing avenue you may be using. Keep your brand in focus day in and day out, and the reach will follow.

KEN LOWERY is the Senior Digital Copywriter for The LOOMIS Agency, the country’s leading challenger brand agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile, and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising and marketing, leadership, culture and other things that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on any of our more than 300 posts.

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