As 2017 comes to a close, social media has become an all but inevitable contact point between businesses and their customers. It shouldn’t come as a shock—advertising on social media is extremely cheap, offers highly detailed user targeting, and makes building a relationship with your customers easy.
Regardless of what platform you end up seeing the highest engagement on, it’s important to take a multi-faceted approach to social media marketing and test all of your options. Here are a few tips on how to start leveraging content to build a following on social media.
Using Instagram to Grow Organically
With over 800 million highly engaged users and Facebook’s powerful targeting features, it’s no surprise Instagram has quickly become a cornerstone of digital marketing. When it comes to advertising on social media, targeting is everything. Instagram offers a wide range of free tools to help businesses hone in on their target customers organically.
Optimize Your Hashtag Strategy
Hashtags are one of the most effective ways to gain traction with your target customers. All hashtags on Instagram have a different amount of posts—it’s best to start with a mix of hashtags that have varying amounts of posts. Larger hashtags are good for engagement, but your audience won’t be that targeted. Smaller hashtags are much better for targeting a niche to test engagement, but they’re not going to drastically increase your follower count.
The best approach is a mix of both—all ones for targeting, and larger ones to grow engagement and build social proof on your profiles. As a small account, it’s easier to rise to the top of hashtags with low post volume. When you don’t have that many followers, use a higher percentage of small, targeted hashtags so you can frequent the top and maximize organic exposure. As your account gets bigger, it’s easier to reach the top of more competitive hashtags and generate even higher organic engagement.
Make the First Move
The fastest way to grow an Instagram account organically is surprisingly simple: follow users and engage with their content. Instagram makes it easy to target users and get their attention with just a few taps. The process is simple—go to the profiles of your competitors and check out their audience.
If their followers fit your target audience, simply give them a follow. If you’re worried about your follower-following ratio, it’s fine to start unfollowing users a few days after you sent out the original notification.
Commenting on photos from a niche hashtag will also get the attention of users within your target audience. However, keep in mind, this may only work with smaller accounts that have all of their notifications still turned on. Don’t waste your time commenting on photos from people that have more than a few thousand followers, there’s a high probability they’ve already turned comment notifications off.
Running Your First Ad Campaign on Facebook
While Instagram may get most of the attention for organic growth, combining forces with Facebook can make a powerful combination. Soon after purchasing Instagram, Facebook made it super easy to run amazing ads on both products straight from Ads Manager and Power Editor.
If you’re new to the world of paid advertising, Facebook is definitely the easiest way to get started. You can test audiences with spends as little as $5-$10, and the level of control you have over your campaign is unbeatable. Facebook lets you advertise on Instagram, Audience Network, of course, Facebook itself.
One of the main talking points of Facebook advertising is the platform’s extremely detailed targeting features. When it comes to Facebook ad campaigns, the more specific you can be, the better. Engaged audiences that result in cheap CPCs start with detailed customer profiles.
It doesn’t matter how good the content of your ad is if the person isn’t interested in your product—you can’t solve someone’s problem if they don’t have it.
That’s why it’s always important to start with cheap tests. Regardless of how good you think you described your target audience, it’s best to try out a few different options to make sure you’re getting the most out of your spend. It’s better to run a cheap split test to optimize your audience than spending a few weeks serving ads to users that don’t care about your product.
Always Cross-Promote Your Content
First, it’s important to take note of the difference between cross-posting and cross-promotion. Cross-posting means publishing the same content across an array of different channels. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer make it easy to do this. While they’re great if you’re managing a lot of social accounts and you need to automate the busywork, cross-posting apps don’t allow you to optimize your content for each individual platform.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but don’t rely on it as your only publishing tactic.
This is where cross-promotion comes in. Certain content works better on certain platforms, and for that reason, it’s better to just send people directly there in the first place. Cross-promotion also helps you leverage your following in a particular location to grow your following on another. For example, featuring your Instagram feed on your website is a great way to turn site traffic into new followers.
Quality Social Media Posts Are Your Most Important Funnel
Organic discovery is at the top of any business’s marketing funnel, and for now, social media is the easiest and easiest way to rapidly increase your discoverability. But like any other marketing channel, quality content is going to be your key to success.
There’s no workaround to putting in the effort. The better your content is, the easier it will be to go viral. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not the only brand on social media these days. If you’re not providing value, your followers simply around going to stick around. Quality content isn’t expensive—for businesses willing to go internal, content creation is free.
Don’t be afraid to curate content from other accounts if you need to give your publishing schedule a boost. It’s quite common to see bigger Instagram accounts repost content from smaller profiles and give them credit in the caption. If you ask, most people will say yes. Reposting benefits both parties—the original account gets more exposure, and you get content to post.
However, like anything else, reposting is best done in moderation. If you want followers to resonate with your message, make sure you post content from your brand.