If you want to generate demand on Instagram, first you have to acknowledge the need to be better. We've put together fifty ways you can begin to do just that.
Instagram now sees over 400 million active users, daily. So whether you like it or not, this isn’t a social network to be sniffed at. Any marketing channel with numbers that substantial deserves to be given some serious thought. If you’ve spent the last few years shouting about the fact that your brand or organisation is too niche or unorthodox to be on Instagram then maybe it’s time for a rethink.
As with anything, to generate demand on Instagram you are going to have to put the work in. Most of us are well aware of when we need to be better at something. In fact, “just be better Mark” is one of the most common criticisms that I hear. The problem with being better at something is it takes three steps, each requiring more investment than the last:
- Acknowledging that you need to be better: This can sometimes be difficult, but if people tell you that you need to as much as they do me, eventually it will sink in.
- Finding out how to be better: After acceptance comes seeking help. If you want to generate demand on Instagram that’s where this article comes in.
- Actually doing the things that will make you be better: Finally, the most frustrating step in the road towards being better is doing those things that you learnt about that will make you be better. In the case of Instagram, this means that you are going to have to actually use it - well.
Using Instagram correctly
Before we continue, we should probably confirm what Instagram is and isn’t. Where businesses are concerned, Instagram is a community building and demand generation tool, not a sales tool. If you overuse the word sales when referring to it, you are setting yourself up to fail. What you need to be selling is the lifestyle associated with your brand or products. You can't sell direct from Instagram, but you can generate demand on Instagram
I am going to go out on a whim in speculating here that there is more than one reason why Instagram still haven’t given us the option to embed links into normal posts yet. Reason one, (the most obvious) is that they want you to pay for their advertising. But reason two is likely that they want to retain their original sense of authenticity as a community, and not allow it to become a network full of overzealous businesses constantly shouting about how great they are.
While they have specific brand accounts now, there is still a significant feeling of consistency across the board. You need to be building demand, making people want in, building a community of people who love your stuff, encouraging organic advocacy through word of mouth and shares/user generated content.
How to generate demand on Instagram
Once you’ve decided that you want to generate demand on Instagram, get to studying the below. Almost like an Instagram marketing cheat sheet for businesses who want to be better, what follows is fifty of our top tips for generating demand and generally being better on IG.
- Write a bossing bio: You Instagram bio needs to be short, succinct, and describe who you are, what you do and why you do it. Use the rule of three and be human.
- Brand your page: Your Instagram page should live and breathe your brand. Be sure your profile picture and bio reflects your brand in colours, imagery and style.
- Brand your feed: Further to your page, all of your feed should have the feel of your brand, reflecting the feel and themes through colours and content.
- Work on your branding: If you can’t get the last two, it’s probably time to step back and take a look at your branding. Remember, it’s more than a logo, it’s about personality and how you are perceived.
- Ensure a mobile-optimised link in bio: It should be clear where your link-in-bio goes to, but alongside that, be sure that this page is optimised for mobile otherwise this reflects poorly on your brand.
- Emoji for effect: There’s nothing wrong with a good emoji - so long as it’s the right emoji! Don’t overuse them, they should be engaged only when they make sense and compliment your post.
- Post a variety of content: Variety is the aim of the game. Be sure to start building up different styles of content - post people, place, things and thoughts, not just one!
- Create a posting strategy: Having a posting strategy will make it far, far easier for you to have a rich and varied Instagram feed without having to think about what you are going to post each day.
- Post more real people: Instagram is for people! Don’t just post your products, be sure to post people engaging with and advocating your products. Generate demand on Instagram by making people want to be those people.
- Mention those real people: A simple way to expand your Instagram reach is by mentioning the people within your Instagram posts.
- Connect with locals: Connect with local businesses and give your local brand a footprint by using geo-tags and always adding location information.
- Create a custom hashtag: A custom hashtag is a great way to solidify one specific campaign or aspect of your brand. Be individual and on-brand.
- Promote your custom hashtag: There’s no use in having a custom hashtag if nobody uses it! Be sure to promote yours through posts and in-store.
- Use Instagram Stories: Instagram Stories are a great way to expand the variety of content on your Instagram feed and build demand for your brand lifestyle. Add to it regularly.
- Vary your Stories content: If you want to get more views on Instagram Stories, create better graphics, do better video, create fun Boomerangs - continually vary your content!
- Start going Live: Live streaming isn’t the past, it’s the present and the future. Live video adds a sense of exclusivity to your brand and makes your community even more committed to you.
- Promote your Live Instagram content: Obviously there isn’t much use in broadcasting if nobody knows you are going to be doing so…
- Utilise brand listening: Search for mentions of your brand, hashtags and products to see who is talking about you - and what they are saying.
- Repost mentions: User-generated content is the one. When you discover good-quality posts by advocates, respond by reposting them.
- Post behind the scenes content: Behind the scenes content fosters a sense of exclusivity for your brand and encourages more likes as users want in. New product teasers are a great way to generate demand on Instagram.
- Tag other brands: Using products or collaborating with other brands? Be sure to tag them in your posts to expand your reach.
- Engage with potential customers: Once you identify potential customers, like and comment on their posts to get your brand on their radar.
- Try active following: Active following is simply following a bunch of (relevant) users, unfollowing those who don’t follow back, and repeating the process to build your audience.
- Use better hashtags: A killer hashtag strategy is integral to a great Instagram marketing strategy. Be sure to search for the best and most relevant ones for your industry.
- Use the hashtag dots properly: Be sure to write all of your hashtags on a note with five vertical dots (not full stops) above. This will collapse your hashtag comment and make your post visually pleasing.
- Create community exclusive offers: If you want to foster a sense of community and exclusivity, post exclusive offers as content that only your Instagram community have access to. This is a great way to generate demand on Instagram.
- Show posts in-shop for offers: If you want to keep a handle on how successful these exclusive offer posts are, make it so that they have to specifically show you the post to benefit.
- Create user-generated competitions: A good way to get more users posting about your products and brand is to make competitions that require you to post a picture to enter.
- Stockpile and repost user-generated content: When you find user-generated content, make a note or stockpile it and add it to your posting strategy, ensuring you note the user when you do so.
- Try sounding human: Instagram was made for humans, by humans. It makes sense that to be successful your brand needs to sound human. Human.
- Become a microcopy boss: If you want people to read, understand, and love your posts, learn how to write microcopy like a boss.
- Try long-form text: Posts don’t always have to be about the image. Sometimes a simple picture accompanied by long-form text - e.g. a recipe or poem - can be hugely beneficial.
- Learn basic photography: Obviously on an image sharing platform like Instagram, pictures really do matter. So it’s definitely worth getting better at photography!
- Practice photo editing: Edited Instagram photos generally perform better than their unedited counterparts. Learn how to edit better.
- Create a profile for a product launch: If you are launching a new product, it can sometimes be worth making a separate profile for that product specifically. Then follow the next steps..
- Promote that profile through mentions on posts: Post about your new product, mentioning the product in the text, e.g. “Get yours @BuyNewProduct.” Finally...
- Use link-in-bio to purchase that product: When the user reaches that new profile, create a nice profile with a link-in-bio that goes direct to a buy now page.
- Reach out to influencers: Influencer marketing is a great way to build you brand notoriety. Find who the biggest players in your industry are and reach out to them.
- Respond to all comments: It’s not just about posting - to make a user an advocate you need to be responsive! Respond to all comments well, with wit and in good time.
- Promote your Instagram account across other networks: Be sure your Instagram page is promoted across your other networks, for example your website, Facebook and Twitter.
- Work on your schedule: Continually refine your posting schedule so that variety becomes your brand’s middle name.
- Never over-post: Be sure that you aren’t bombarding users with messages and turning them off. It’s important to strike a balance to ensure you aren’t over-posting.
- Post at peak times: Want to get more likes and engagement? Peak times for posting are cited to be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and weekdays at 5pm. Allegedly. This is always subject to change.
- Trial posting at different times: It’s much better practice to engage in A/B testing and trial posting a different times throughout the day to see what works for you.
- Add location info to posts: Location info will expand the reach of your post and make sure that people know where you are and what you’re up too, always.
- Get consistency for your images: If you want to maintain your brand look and feel, create your own image style right down to common colour palettes and filters/edits.
- Search keywords for prospects: Take advantage of Instagram’s search function to find new prospects for your business. Search for keywords and hashtags related to your business.
- Engage with your competitors audience: There’s nothing wrong with engaging with your competitors audience and making them aware of your brand.
- Understand your top posts: Always look at your insights to see which of your posts are doing the best. This will help you better understand what your audience like to see the most.
- Always observe, always refine: Finally, the most important thing is to endeavour to observe where likes are coming from, what works for you, where you audience is growing, and continually refine your strategy for the best possible results.