Instagram has over 500 million users and is the fastest growing social media network. Are you leveraging Instagram for your business? If not, 2017 is the year you must be on the social platform, and I want to help you get started.

Let’s begin with some general information regarding Instagram. Then, we will jump into my four tips designed to gain you reach and engagement from day one.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that Instagram, not unlike Pinterest, is an almost entirely visual medium. Before you form a final marketing plan, evaluate what leaders in similar businesses to yours are doing on the platform to innovate and be successful.

The goal is not to copy your competition. Be stimulated and challenged by it to innovate with your ideas.

Unlike Pinterest, you can not click on an image nor have clickable links in your posts. Your only clickable link is in your profile. Don’t panic! While you may have one link, your imagination is the only limitation as to how to get your audience to click it. Experiment with ideas and see what works best for you.

This outstanding article from Spout Social offers copious ideas to help you determine a content strategy that’s true to your brand. A standard approach is to change your profile link in tandem with any sale, promotion, contest or other marketing events you are running.

Persuade your audience to click on your profile link within your posts. Instagram followers expect this from brands.

It’s critical to be a user of the platform oneself to harness Instagram’s power. If you don’t use or interact with it, you will never understand how to engage your audience. Create an account and to follow competing and exciting brands. Devote a small amount of time every day to learn its nuances.

4 Tips to getting started with Instagram in 2017

4 Tips to getting started with Instagram in 2017

 1. Post consistently every day.

I cannot emphasize this point enough. The number one reason I see businesses failing on Instagram is uneven posting. Posting erratically on Instagram simply does not work, and you will get extremely frustrated. Instagram is extremely sensitive to posting frequency.

It’s necessary to post daily to stay in the feeds of your followers. I recommend to my clients to start with twice to three times a day depending on your audience size. Posting too often will hurt your reach.

For under 1000 followers, I have found that alternating posting between two and three times a day is ideal. Post for a couple of days twice per day, and then post for one day three times a day. I have had great success starting accounts with this syncopated pace.

Once you are over 1000 fans, posting consistently three times a day is the sweet spot. You should experiment with occasionally posting four times a day, albeit I have not seen this to be effective until you are over 10,000 followers.

2. Hashtags and emoji are kings of the platform.

Did you know that both hashtags and emoji are searchable on Instagram? This functionality demonstrates their importance on the platform. Therefore, embrace it! Instagram is about expressing oneself visually, ergo use emoji liberally.

Think of these two elements like a cake recipe. Hashtags describe the ingredients of the cake, while emoji are its icing. As Emoji are little pictures, why not take advantage of them in a visual medium?

This link is a great resource to find emoji for any purpose online. It’s an encyclopedia of emoji. I have found this tool to be a huge time saver on a Mac or PC versus using a smartphone.

3. Engage with other brands and your followers.

Don’t you like it when a brand or company pays attention to you? Of course, you do! No brand can grow in a vacuum. It’s imperative that we engage those who have shown interest in us and our actions. These are the people most likely to convert to customers or clients.

We want to encourage as many likes, comments, and tags as possible. Ergo, when a person or brand comments on your post, engage with them! Start a dialog or at least thank them. Little things mean a lot, especially when it comes to building trust and loyalty.

For Instagram, try asking your audience to tag their friends or mention them in the comments. This technique is the best way to create engagement on the platform. Remember, if you don’t ask, you won’t get.

4. Be yourself.

Perhaps this sounds passe. However, the brands and accounts with the largest followings all have one thing in common – they are true to themselves. If people have an interest in your unique brand or business, why would you change it for Instagram?

If your brand has incorporated an element of humor, then be silly. If you’re artsy, be so! Remember to share photos, quotes, and ideas that you find interesting. Trust your instincts. If it’s interesting to you, chances are it’s equally engaging for your audience.

Instagram has exploded. Are you ready to take advantage in 2017?

Instagram old versus new logos
I hope that these four takeaways will encourage you to build your Instagram presence in 2017. Any new platform poses a challenge. Therefore, accept it and, post every day, and grow!