We understand that it can sometimes feel like maintaining your social media channels is a full-time job. If one of your 2019 goals is to grow your social media presence, consider investing a bit more time and effort into your Instagram channel. Instagram’s simple, visual platform shows constant growth, and new opportunities continue to unfold as the platform develops. Here are some quick stats about Instagram that might give you pause:
- Instagram is the fastest growing social network with over 1 billion users [Source]
- 65% of Instagram users are between the ages of 18-35 with an even split between women and men [Source]
- Instagram has edged out Snapchat and Facebook as the top social platform for teenagers, raising questions about the future popularity of each social medium [Source]
Further, thanks to Instagram’s more straight-forward privacy settings, public photos from Instagram can be embedded onto websites using third party tools, which can extend the reach of either your posts, or those of your visitors. For WordPress-based websites, there are plugins available to embed and display your own feed on your website, and an app like Repost is great for sharing posts from other Instagrammers while giving them credit.
We embed galleries on ComeWander.ca, like in this recent story featuring four local bakeries, and popular websites like Narcity also use embedded Instagram photos for visuals, which click through to the source on Instagram, as illustrated here:
Have I piqued your interest yet? If so, here are a few small things you can do to start growing your Instagram channel today.
The premise of Instagram is simple: it’s a venue for sharing photos. You can do so in one of two ways – by uploading your own, or by reposting someone else’s. The easiest way to get your account started is to post your own photos. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to snap a pic of a sunset from the dock, a mouth-watering meal, or your new summer product display. You can always share content from other businesses or organizations nearby that your followers will find relevant, like an upcoming event or exciting news from the community.
Sharing photos of your customers’ experience is a great tactic that may not be available to you when you start out, but with a bit of encouragement it can become a viable source of photos for your own feed. When customers engage with you on Instagram through tagging, you simply ask if you can share their photo on your own feed and remember to give them credit in your post.
It can be hard to get the ball rolling on Instagram, so sometimes the best place to start is in person. Consider printing out and framing a simple sign that encourages visitors to “follow and tag us on Instagram” with your username readily available. If you do this, be ready to monitor hashtags and geotags (wondering what these are? Keep reading!) as often as you can to interact with these users and thank them for sharing their experience. You should also include a link to your Instagram on your website so that potential visitors in the planning stage can browse your pictures and follow you too.
Put aside a bit of time to engage with relevant tags based on location and interest. Here’s an overview of the types of tags you can include in your posts:
Hashtag: Using the pound sign in front of any word or combination of words publicly classifies your photo under searchable tags. Examples include #MyHaliburtonHighlands, #kayak, #whitewaterbrewingco, #fridayfeeling, etc. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post.
Geotag: Instagram allows you to assign one searchable geotag, many of which already exist and will prepopulate based on your location. Examples include Carleton Place, Bonnechere Caves, and Bon Echo Provincial Park. It is possible to create a geotag if it doesn’t already exist – something you might want to do for your business so visitors can tag their location when they visit.
Username tag: You can also tag an account in your photo or in the caption so that they receive a notification that they’ve been tagged. Your followers will also see that they have been tagged in the photo. For example, you can tag us using @onhighlands.
Don’t forget to also monitor your own tags closely and engage with those users who share their experiences.
You’re not limited to your own tags! Hashtags and geotags present an opportunity for any user to find and interact with other users who may share their interests. Post a pic of #AlmonteOntario with the appropriate tags and you might suddenly find yourself getting likes and comments from locals and fans chiming in with their support.
In this instance @almontelobbybar has commented on this photo of their neighbour @tinbarnmarket. Not only does the poster (in this case, us) now have a new chance to engage with Almonte Lobby Bar, but our followers who might be planning a trip to Almonte are now aware of this business as well. A few clicks later, just a single comment has the potential to result in more followers, website views, and of course, visitors!
I hope this has been helpful to understanding and unlocking Instagram’s potential in sharing experiences and tapping into word of mouth marketing. When you’re ready to take action, don’t forget to use our regional hashtag #ComeWander – we’ll be there to cheer you on.
OHTO’s Digital Communications Specialist