Instagram is all about the images – or is it? Well, you certainly need great images to turn Instagram into a marketing machine, but there’s more to it than posting eye candy and hoping for the best. If you’d like to see Instagram marketing done properly, catch up with the big influencers: Starbucks, Nike, and Nordstrom are all on top of their game.

The first thing you’ll notice is that they’re really quite calculating with what they post, so that’s lesson one: have a plan! With the right Instagram presence, even smaller brands can get top exposure. Here are a few things that many companies are missing out on with Instagram.

1. Promote others

Tag them, promote them – are we crazy? Not really. It’s a great way to share the love and grow your audience. Everyone gets more attention too. Where should you begin? Look to your suppliers, to begin with. Then look to your clients. No, you won’t promote your competitors directly, but by boosting suppliers and clients, you also boost your own presence.

2. Use trending hashtags – but only if appropriate

Trending hashtags are a great way to get more attention – but be careful. You don’t want to gain fame for all the wrong reasons, so only use a hashtag if you can contribute something relevant. Hijacking a serious social issue for commercial gain, for example, is not going to win you any friends – but if you come out supportively, it’s a great chance to build your image.

3. Turn interest into leads and sales

Having an interesting Instagram page doesn’t mean you have to give up on selling. Yes, social media is there to build engagement with your brand and build your image, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell. So how do you draw people in?

Give them something of value! By that, I mean good information. If you have a great newsletter, get folks to sign up. If you can give them a free eBook on something they’re interested in, give it away in exchange for an email address. Now put your money where your mouth is and deliver valuable information every time you touch base. When they’re ready to buy, who will they support?

So, give them the image. Make the offer. Redirect them to a landing page that’s relevant to the call to action you made. Draw them into your other online presences.

4. Mix it up with video

Video is a great tool for keeping your content fresh, fun and interesting. GoPro gets consumers to upload their own videos, a clever strategy that gets them masses of new followers. Nike uses very strong videos, so take a look at their Instagram if you need inspiration. Whatever you do, keep it focused on your audience rather than the product you’re promoting.

The main thing to remember is that you’re going for something your audience will love to look at. That’s what makes you memorable on Instagram.

5. Hit sponsored ads

Knowing your top audience demographic helps you to target them with a paid spot on their feeds. If you target well and give them what they want, you will be amazed at how much exposure this gives you and how many new followers you will acquire.

There are some great examples of paid Instagram ads on their website. Tell your brand story in a compelling way and grow your brand awareness. The tighter you target, the less it costs, so small, local businesses can afford to target their customers and get top exposure.

6. Drive traffic

Ideally, you want to move your viewers off Instagram and to your website or blog where they’ll find all your top content. The only problem is that you can’t add a clickable link to a photo description. So, what now?

The trick is to put the links you want to promote in your bio. Now, when you post an image or a video, tell people to check out the link in your bio for more in-depth info. If you can link to very current, related content, you’re helping your Instagram viewer to get something they want. You pull them onto your website or blog and provided they like what they see; you’ll win them over.

7. Take sponsored posts

Borrowing a bit of power from the top movers and shakers on Instagram is a great way to get noticed. The best part is that it isn’t a hard sell. There are accounts that cater to interest groups, and the reason why they exist is sometimes just to get and publish sponsored content. If their following is relevant to you, it’s worth creating content for them to publish on your behalf.

8. Use contests

Everybody loves a freebie, so getting people to enter contests, especially if all they have to do is click “like” to enter, is easy. At the same time, you grow your reach and your following – and if you’re smart, your winner might buy more than they win! For instance, a restaurant can offer a free meal as a prize, and the winner may come to collect it with his or her whole family in tow.

Get as much mileage out of your contest as you can. Announce the winners, and ask them if they’ll allow you to take pics of them collecting their prizes. They’ll definitely share them with everyone in their network, and your other followers will want to be the winners next time around, so they’ll keep a close eye on their feeds!

Do it right, and Instagram your way to fame

As with all forms of social media marketing, your success depends on pleasing your fans. Do it right, and you’re on the road to success. Although gorgeous images help, you can get away with something much less polished provided you have appeal. Plan, strategise but remember it’s about your audience first and about your business second. Win them over first and benefit the latter.

Thanks for reading one of my posts again and I hope it provided you with some value and I hope to see you back next time!

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