In this article I am going to show you how I built an Instagram account to a few thousand cult followers in a few months.
The exciting part?
It is easy to do and you can literally create a following in a few months.
First of all – why should you be marketing on Instagram?
The greatest virtue of Instagram is that it is one of the less exploited territories in the social media sphere (at least commercially).
It has a large following of young people and hipsters who are the core opinion makers that drive new brands. Instagram also benefits from not being done to death by entry-level marketers as has happened on Twitter.
The shorter version is that Instagram sits in the sweet spot for social media marketing. Its demographic is old enough to have money but young enough that they are still assimilating new brands into their lives.
Translation: if you have a product or service for the 15-30 market, you need to be on Instagram.
So how do you get your product or service started with Instagram?
Step 1: Quality Engagement
First, grab a handle and profile picture that will capture the attention of people.
Next, it is time for engagement. Instagram is all about engagement. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, people’s walls are down on Instagram. It might not always be like that, but right now it is easy to get someone to follow you on Instagram.
In my case, I built an Instagram account that cultivated fans of J Cole. So the process of engagement was finding the most qualified J Cole fans.
At this point, most people would be tempted to go straight to J Cole’s official Instagram to engage with his fans. But there are over 390,000 Instagram followers on his account. Are those people really the fanatics? Some – but not most of them.
I took it a step further and went after users who are liking and commenting on photos of J Cole. Or, users who have followed other J Cole fan accounts. Those are the more targeted users that, in turn, will most likely be buyers.
The idea is to connect with 40-50 niche Instagram users per day. You can also do a hashtag search for your niche, and find users who have uploaded photos that pertain to your niche.
Take some time to like and comment on these uploads. If your Instagram account name and picture make it clear that it is related to what they are posting, there is a good chance you will get a follow, not to mention all of the other users that will see your comments and likes.
Note: People find what they want on Instagram using hashtags, just like a search engine. Hashtags are those #sometimesannoying bits at the end of social media messages. Use Top-Hashtag.com for hashtag ideas.
Doing this consistently for 3-4 months or so, I was able to build an account with over 2,100 niche followers.
Here is the kicker, though (and proof that it works)…
Each picture post usually gets 450-500 likes, sometimes more (see picture below). In other words, these are users who love and engage with the content.
Step 2: Keep Your Content Hypnotic
You need to remember why people buy things.
People really don’t buy products, they buy feelings. They buy products because of how it will make them feel. So the goal of your Instagram account is to hypnotically sell a lifestyle.
Don’t sell your product! Throwing your product into an Instagram feed seems like a good plan, but in most cases it is counterintuitive. You want to be the Red Bull of your industry. At the core of each Red Bull ad or commercial, it is never the drink, it is the lifestyle.
Engagement through social media can easily get out of hand.
You do not want to talk about your company or brand too often, no matter how awesome it is. Throwing a website and CTA on each Instagram upload will only make your community grow tired of you.
Although there is a time and place for this (more on that in the last step), the vast majority of your pictures need to portray a lifestyle. For the most part, we just want to focus on building our brand and creating our own Instagram community.
Step 3: Getting Direct Sales Using Coupon Codes & a Strong CTA
“Wait a minute, Jeremy…you said no CTA (call-to-actions) on Instagram!”
I meant 95% of the time. However, the rare CTA with a blatant picture of your product or service is highly effective. But, the reason why it is so effective is because you do this once — maybe twice — a month. That’s it. Make sure your website takes Paypal and credit cards (not all hipsters use Paypal — use this resource page to find best credit card processors for your website).
The other huge principle: overdeliver to your Instagram community with an irresistible offer.
In other words, reward them for following you on Instagram. This completely turns the table. Instead of you pleading to your followers to buy something, they are constantly on the look-out for the next offer.
Make your offers time sensitive and exclusive. The best way I have found to do this is through a coupon code. A coupon code that is exclusive to your Instagram users (see below):
This methodology creates urgency and exclusivity. I actually botched this post and didn’t say how much of a discount I was offering (I think it was 40%), but you get the point.
And notice the overabundance of hashtags that aren’t just “J Cole”. I went after his associated acts (Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, etc) and hopefully gained the post a little more exposure.
As a final reminder, remember that the real value of Instagram marketing is in the brand awareness. I am pretty sure you could still get an ROI with your quick sales (coupon code sales) alone, but the real benefit is developing a cult following for your brand on Instagram.
Just as companies spend thousands to build their fan pages, you are cultivating a community of users that can be a long-term asset for your company. This makes your brand more authentic, transparent and real. And for the new age hipsters on Instagram, that is never a bad thing.
Anyone else find marketing success on Instagram? Chime in the comments…