Recently, we read Foundr Magazine’s eBook called, “How to get your First 10,000 Instagram Followers.” Despite the title, the book isn’t just about numbers. It is chock-full of how-to’s and strategies for using social media with intention. It is about cultivating community and strengthening brand loyalty.
Instagram has become an incredible tool for entrepreneurs to build the brands of their business, as well as their personal brands. We’re going to take you through some of our favorite aspects of Foundr’s guide, including a Deep South Social’s own take on Instagram and community- building for entrepreneurs.
Why is Instagram different? A big focus for Foundr is on what makes Instagram unique compared to other social media outlets. First, there’s where Instagram began: Mobile. For a while, you could only access Instagram on your phone or device. Even now, the website is never the preferred way to post or scroll the feed. The portability of the social network “makes it a highly personal experience.”
Then there’s the obvious: Instagram is all about the visual. There’s room for text in the post description, and you can use text blocking to make your images into text, but the real punch is packed in the photo. Instagram succeeds at cutting clutter and drawing attention only to the image, and that’s good for any brand. It’s all about grabbing and holding attention, and Instagram makes that easier. Each photo you post has the ability to tell a story, and when you have a creative brand or one with a strong mission statement, storytelling is key.
The lack of hyperlinks is both a plus and a minus. Plus? Again, less clutter. Users don’t feel forced to click on anything they don’t want to. Minus? Generating clicks. Most brands post on any social media network with the hopes of diverting web traffic to their site or to a page where the user can sign up for something, buy something, read something, etc. Being unable to include hyperlinks in the caption is a downer in that case, but if you’re using your images right, having a strategic hyperlink in your profile bio is enough.
Strategies to make Instagram work for you. Foundr loves Instagram (and so does Deep South Social!) because it lets brands connect. In order to connect you have to know your community and “their needs, desires, struggles and language.” This goes back to storytelling, and posting “content that resonates with your define, ideal audience.” In order to resonate, you have to research. Spend some time on Instagram checking out the competition from brands that do what you do, or something similar. See what they post and what works for them, including hashtags, types of images, and captions. But researching doesn’t mean copying. You are your own brand, and the only way to show that is by being different than the other guys. Use your research as a jumping off point, but stay true to your unique selling points.
Once you’ve defined your audience, think strategically. Develop content that covers “the wide range of emotions and ideas that your product supports.” That means not always posting pictures of your product or information about promotions. As Foundr says, don’t talk about yourself too much. That may seem strange, seeing as the whole idea is to grow your brand, but here at Deep South Social we think that focusing on ideas, inspirations and useful knowledge that your audience would appreciate shows them that you care about more than just self- promotion — you care about them. That’s connection.
So, what kind of content should you post? Of course, the content posted will be different for each brand, but there are some guidelines and recommendations you can follow to aid your process of brand growth. Foundr sums it up in three points: Content Alignment, Consistent Delivery and Engagement. Here’s what we interpret that as: Make sure your content matches your brand at all times, post often and at similar times of day, and invite your audiences to interact with you via your posts. One of the biggest takeaways from Foundr’s guide is not to fear Calls to Action, or CTAs. Don’t be afraid to ask or invite your audiences to comment and like your posts. It’s important to note, though, that asking them to engage with you every time you post could come across advertisement-like, and thus discourage that interaction. At Deep South Social, we believe in softer CTAs and letting the content speak for itself most times, but we do think throwing strong CTAs out there ever so often is important to remind your followers why you’re there and why they follow you. A follower is more likely to say, “Hey, I’ll visit that website!” or “I want to buy one of those!” if you’re not incessantly asking them to do something for you. That’s another thing Foundr says about asking for engagement: “You’re asking them to do something that makes them feel good, helps them to engage with their friends, or reaffirms their beliefs and goals.” Make sure your audience enjoys interacting with you. Foundr uses CTAs like, “Tag someone who you know will be very successful” and “Tag a friend that motivates you.” This fits with their brand as a young entrepreneur magazine.
Tips & tricks. So, what kind of tools can you use to make your images pop and your posts get noticed? Foundr’s strategy is often to use text overlays on their pictures. They do a great job of using images that aren’t obvious, but connect on a metaphorical or emotional level to the text that overlays them. At Deep South Social, we like the clean look, so we suggest overlaying text on a colored background or simple texture. Text overlays can be used for inspirational quotes, CTAs and more. However, we don’t believe in using too many of these. Clean, striking images are great by themselves, too. Text overlays should be used to break through the usual and grab extra attention. Foundr’s favorite app for text overlays: Wordswag. Deep South Social’s favorite app for text overlays: Typorama.
1. The description section on the photo is often wasted, even though it’s valuable. “Consider your post description as an extension of all of your other content efforts. Create a consistent voice by setting parameters and sticking with those rules for every post,” Foundr says. We agree! If there’s always nothing of substance in your description, no one is going to even glance there at the times when you do use it for something worthwhile. Add a quick bit of insight on the picture you posted or the message you’re communicating. Keep it short and easy to digest. Foundr uses things like “Double tap if you agree” and more “Tag a friend” style copy. But at Deep South Social we like to keep it insightful and sweet most of the time. We’re all about offering knowledge and inspiration that elicits its own response from users.
2. Don’t put tons of hashtags in your description section. One or two is acceptable, and can work well. Overloading your description section with hashtags, though, comes across as spam or advertising — two things that Instagram so far has little of. Instagram users are less tolerable of this kind of thing, because Instagram is clean and users want it to stay that way. You can however put those hashtags in the comments section. Post your content, then go back and comment. Hashtags drive traffic to your posts, and they are great for that. But too many can ruin your aesthetic and your credibility with followers.
So much advice on how to use Instagram may have you intimidated — don’t worry! It’s all about intentionality. At Deep South Social we focus our attention on creating high-quality photographic and motivational content that hits on the kind of things our group of creative and mindful followers wants to see. Stay consistent, even when encouraging engagement, and don’t get too self-involved. It’s all about building and maintaining a loyal community, and that means caring about the people that are a part of it. Instagram is your tool; use it wisely!