Instagram is one of the sharpest and fastest-growing social media platforms in the world. There are 700+ million active monthly users and every single one of them is within a 10-second reach. Instagram is not just useful for sharing pictures of your cat or new baby; it can be an incredibly powerful lead generation platform for anyone who’s willing to do a little dirty work to make it happen. Thousands of companies are growing their business on Instagram and seeing tremendous results.
But how? That’s the (hopefully) million-dollar question.
Follow these three easy steps, and go sign up for a company account on Indeed.com. You’re going to need all the help you can get to handle all the clients pouring in!
Step 1: Find Relevant Hashtags
Think about who your target audience is and what hashtags they might use on their pictures. Trying to target the travelling type? #wanderlust #traveller #neverstopexploring #travellove.
More interested in startup CEOs who are looking to have a website developed? #startupCEO #entrepreneurship #progress #businessowner
How about dog lovers? #doggies #dogsarefamily #happydog #dogslife #dogsofinsta
It really doesn’t matter. Your clients are on Instagram — guaranteed — your job is to just go out and find them.
For the sake of the rest of this article, let’s follow one of the examples above and say that you are website developer who specialises in creating engaging websites for early-stage startups.
So you start by looking at a hashtag like #startupceo or, even better, here’s a list of 45 startup hashtags for you to sift through while you’re sitting on the train looking for something to do.
The point of this exercise is to identify a collection of hashtags that your clients use on their posts so that you can reach them directly in the next two steps! The more you can narrow it down and find hashtags that are used almost exclusively by your intended audience, the better!
Step 2: Find client profiles!
Click on every single picture that looks relevant, and follow it back to their profile. Try to get a sense of what they do.
Does this person or company line up with your intended audience? Are they active and engaged on Instagram enough to notice when you reach out to connect? Do they have high-quality content that you would be excited to work with?
Click on the website linked to their profile. If there’s no one there, you could try to search for it on Google. Once you’ve found their site, go through to figure out if it’s a decent site or if you think you could make a better one.
If it’s a good site, just move on. There’s no sense in trying to connect with them if it’s clear that they already have a very competent web development team.
If not, perfect! Step 3.
Step 3: Send them a DM.
You’ve found a company of interest, and you’ve taken a minute to briefly review the content they have put out to to see if it’s someone you may want to work with. You’ve looked at their website, noticed that there are some improvements to be made, and are confident that you’re the right person for the job.
Time to get in touch!
At this stage, effective Instagram marketing is primarily about speed and quantity, which means two things:
Don’t spend 20 minutes typing out a long professional message to every person. People are going to be much less willing to engage if they open their inbox and find that you’ve written them a short story. Keep it light, and offer value:
“Hey Joe… Kristian from Purr Traffic here. Really love what you’ve done with your Insta. You’ve got an incredible idea for a company, and I’m looking forward to following you as you turn it into a business! If you’re ever in the market for an engaging website, drop me a line. That’s my speciality! :)”
You may have to kiss 100 toads before you find the princess, and that’s ok! Marketing on Instagram is a game of quantity. If you’re serious about growing your business you need to be spending 3-4 hours per day going through profiles and sending messages.
Hell, If you can afford it, go over to the high school in the area, find some kid looking to make a few extra dollars, and employ her/him @ $8/hr to just sit in your office 6 hours per day going through Instagram. They’ll already be well-trained walking through the door and will almost certainly generate tons of leads! Worth it!
Step 4: Use micro-influencers
One of the easiest ways to grow your Instagram account quickly is to use micro-influencers.
What’s a micro-influencer?
It’s a smaller influencer that has around 10k-100k followers on the platform. In most cases, they are humble people that love what they do and post regularly about it. They usually have very small niche engaged audiences that comment and like their posts and stories. ‘
Instagram’s algorithm bumps up accounts that get mentioned by other accounts so the more mentions you get the faster your account will grow.
One example of this is the absolutely monstrous interior decor account called @_farmhouseinteriors_. It grew from 0 to 100k in 9 months. That’s basically 10k new followers every month. One of their secrets to rapid growth is to feature other micro-influencers and get featured by them in return. So they were able to dramatically grow their account by building these symbiotic relationships with other influencers in their niche.
This is also the secret behind the growth strategy of the famous company called AppSumo. They got featured over and over again, about 5 times per week by other marketing coaches and professionals. This led them to grow their account to over 50k very quickly and start collaborating with the bigger guys.
And the list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most-liked Instagram profile of all time – @NatGeo. This account is run by National Geographic (if you didn’t already guess) and it has a whopping 126 million followers! Now that’s an achievement!
What made this account a success is that early on the brilliant marketers at National Geographic started reposting other nature photographer’s work and build a nice little community. Then they created a bunch of side accounts for different causes and regions that they cover and build hundreds of thousands of followers there too. And finally if that wasn’t enough they used these side accounts to tag their main account in lots of posts and that brought them tremendous growth.
So let’s recap this strategy:
- Use micro-influencers to get consistent weekly mentions
- Create side accounts for related causes or locations or team members
- Tag your main account from the posts of those side accounts
Of course, the goal is not to become bigger than NatGeo, which is an impossible feat. The goal is to get connected to relevant leads that you can turn into customers. So don’t just “spray and pray” but collaborate with those particular micro-influencers that are relevant to your product or service.
Step 5 – Leverage Stories
Ever since stories launched they became the best way to get traffic from your Instagram page. Stories are popular for 3 reasons:
- They provide a much more personal way to engage with a brand
- They allow you to have an external link
- They go away in 24 hours so that catches peoples’ attention!
Another great benefit of the development of Instagram stories over the last few years is the huge amount of tools that you can now use to design and publish them.
One of our favourite tools to use is called Later. One of the features they have a design tool that lets you upload your stories in bulk, drag and drop them into a storyboard and edit each one.
What’s even cooler is that they have a scheduling tool that lets you schedule all of your posts and stories. So now instead of trying to be on your phone at the best time, Later tells you the optimal time to publish your content and does it all for you. This makes managing the content calendar of a busy social media team feel like a breeze.
Another great feature of stories is that you have an option of making a few of them permanent. Then they show up on your profile page right under your bio. This is your chance to show some flair, display some of your achievements, or have flash sales of your products or services.
Another way that stories are used is in affiliate marketing. You can offer your product or service to a micro-influencer for free, for a fee, or for a commission and then have them post about it. You can also include a coupon code in the link and in the design of the story itself and prompt people to click on the image or video.
By employing these five steps, you’ll be able to take your company go from 0 to overloaded quickly, cheaply, and effectively.
Don’t be discouraged if nothing pans out in the first few days; keep at it! At some point, someone is going to bite. And then another person. And another. And another. Social media is an extremely powerful lead generation tool so start using it!