Instagram is an odd sort of animal. We all love the artistic images, but as a promotional tool, the platform really challenges our creativity. Directing traffic to external websites with Instagram is extremely difficult, as it is essentially a closed loop.
That’s not to say, however, that Instagram is useless for promoting our brands. On the contrary. If we employ a few imaginative strategies, we can indirectly drive traffic to and from our Instagram feed towards the larger goal of increasing our brand awareness. And that’s precisely what Instagram does best.
9 Ways to Increase Brand Awareness with Instagram
ONE: Create a dedicated page on your website for your Instagram gallery. There are WordPress plug-ins to help you set this up with ease. This article lists 12 of the best ones to seamlessly integrate Instagram with your website or blog. Now your blog readers will see your cool pics, and be able to follow you on Instagram with just one click.
TWO. Join your local “igers” community to connect with other Instagrammer’s in your area. Usually, these are defined by the handle @igersplace, where “place” can be a country, a specific city, other geographically defined area. Then look for #instameet events within this group to network and grow your influence.
You can go to meetup.com and find meet-ups happening in your city. Don’t see an upcoming event in your area? Better still! Organize one yourself and you’ll be the center of the network. Just choose a photogenic location, select a unique hashtag, and spread the word across all social media platforms. Don’t forget to let Instagram know and they might even post your event photos on their main site.
THREE. Ask your email list to follow you on Instagram, and offer bonus content in return for following you and/or using your pre-chosen #hashtag on one of their photos that relates to your brand. The bonus content could be an eGuide or video (photography tips), or anything else that would be reserved exclusively for new Instagram followers.
FOUR: Reach out to prominent bloggers in your niche and ask if you can write a guest post on their blog. Within the post, include a few of your Instagram photos with a watermark of your Instagram name in the corner. Better yet, if the host blogger will let you, embed a link to your Instagram account within the photos, or place a link in your author bio.
FIVE: Reddit is a good place to connect with other shutterbugs. Post a photo on one of the more popular subreddits such as “Earthporn,” which focuses on landscapes, or “PhotoshopBattles,” which tends to be silly, but entertaining. Better still, if your niche or your interests are very visual (food, travel, design, fashion, etc.), then go to the subreddit for that topic and post your photos there. Reddit has the potential to make any type of content go viral.
SIX: Enter a contest to get more eyes on your images. Search sites such as Iconosquare to find open contests in your country that might be relevant to your industry. The contest organizer will have already chosen a hashtag, so you just add the tag to your entry.
If your photo is awesome, you might just win the contest. But in any case, you’ll get tons of people who are already active on Instagram looking at your entry. A good number of them are likely to follow you. Mission accomplished.
SEVEN: To reach even more people, host a contest yourself. The prize doesn’t have to be huge, just appropriate to your brand and valuable to your audience. The most important factor is selecting a hashtag that: 1) is clever; 2) identifies your brand, and: 3) defines what the contest is about.
You can then promote your contest on ALL of your social channels, as well as submitting it to contest websites. For a great overview of how to maximize this incredibly powerful marketing technique, go this article to understand some of the finer points.
EIGHT: Run “Instagram only” offers and discounts for your followers. This isn’t a contest, but more like a coupon that requires a validation code. The “code,” in this situation, would be a photo of a subject that you define (“selfie,” your product, location, etc), along with an offer-specific hashtag. For example, Home Depot might ask for a photo of you in front of your house with the hashtag #HomeDepotDIY in order to get 15% off exterior paint.
NINE: We already know that you can import your Facebook friends to your Instagram followers directly through your smart device. But how can you get your Facebook Page Fans to notice your Instagram account?
Use a third party app such as Iconosquare to create an Instagram feed tab for your Facebook Page. When your fans see all your amazing photos, naturally they’ll want to follow your Instagram account, too! Iconosquare can also create a cool Timeline cover from your 50 most recent shots.
Instagram is not your parents’ Facebook. It speaks to a younger, hipper generation who is more visually oriented. Your content should reflect this demographic shift. Don’t try to repurpose your Facebook photos for Instagram; instead use native content. Tell stories with your images. Remember, your primary goal with Instagram should be brand awareness, and not direct conversions.
But Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform today. So we’d all better jump on board or risk being left behind. Now go take some pictures!