With more than 200 million monthly active users, 60 million images shared daily, and 1.6 billion daily "likes," Instagram is growing at an astonishing rate and crushing the alternatives when it comes to brand engagement. According to one study from Forrester, Instagram delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter. The opportunities on Instagram are simply too good to ignore.
If you're new to the network, struggling to engage followers, or ready to take your numbers to the next level, these quick tips are for you.
1.Actively encourage your fans
The secret sauce behind Instagram's engagement levels is user-generated content (UGC). The best brands deliver an ongoing stream of expressive, emotional and inspirational photos - and they often come straight from their fans.
To get more UGC, simply ask; you'd be surprised at how willing consumers are to engage with their favorite brands. For example, the Ritz-Carlton pulls in celebratory UGC by asking guests to share photos using the hashtag #RCMemories. Followers see the photos and think, "Wow, I'd like to go there!" For guests who participated, the celebration is amplified by the likes, re-grams and comments that their photos receive - it's powerful and authentic social validation.
2.Dish out the social "high five"
When followers share photos of your brand-using your hashtag, handle or even a location tag associated with your establishment-demonstrate that you hear them with a social "high five" (e.g., a comment, like or re-gram). Publicly thanking fans encourages them to engage again, and it inspires others to join in as well. If you want to re-gram a fan's photo or video, just remember to request permission and credit the photographer using one of the many rights management tools available.
3.Make Instagram a jumping off point
The lines between ecommerce and social networking are blurring, and that is good news for brands on Instagram. To get the most out of social engagement on this powerful platform, it's important to drive your fans from Instagram to your website with as little friction as possible.
This strategy works particularly well if you're promoting clothing, electronics, hotels and other items that rely on reviews. By leveraging Instagram's social dynamics, you can now start thinking of ways to drive consumers quickly to your website, where they can learn more about the products they see. More on-site traffic translates into more awareness and consideration (and of course more revenue).
4.Partner with Instagram influencers
Social influencers, well-known for their huge fan-bases and awe-inspiring photos, can ramp up awareness and drive engagement when you empower them to reach your audience.
A relevant example is the Ford Fiesta Movement, which put 100 "agents" in Ford Fiestas and sent them to document thousands of "missions" around the country. They staged a running of the bulls at Venice Beach with Guillermo Rodriguez from Jimmy Kimmel Live; they made music videos using the Fiesta as an instrument; they wrestled alligators; and they posted it all on social networks. According to the Harvard Business Review, these influencers generated 50,000 requests for information and sold 10,000 fiestas in the first six days of sales.
5.Incentivize Your Audience
UGC campaigns can achieve mind-blowing levels of engagement when fans can participate in memorable experiences and earn meaningful rewards. For instance, Coca-Cola's "This is AHH" campaign invited users to submit videos of themselves enjoying the beverage - with the prospect of appearing in a TV commercial that would stitch together submissions. Followers submitted roughly 400 videos using the hashtag #ThisisAHH, all of which were shared via social networks like Instagram.
Instagram is one enormous visual celebration, and the most engaging brands are quickly establishing themselves as the best hosts. They elicit excitement, acknowledge their followers, and launch unforgettable campaigns to keep the party roaring. Make it fun, exciting and rewarding for your followers to engage with you, and they will.
Apu Gupta is the CEO & Co-founder of Curalate, the world's leading marketing and analytics suite for the visual web. Over 450 of the world's most loved brands, including Gap, Neiman Marcus, Campbell's, Swarovski, Sephora, Better Homes & Gardens, and Michaels, rely on Curalate's advanced image-analytics algorithms and robust marketing tools to understand visual conversations, increase fan engagement, and grow revenue across Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook
As the Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine and President of Website Services, Peter has established himself as a prominent figure in the digital marketing industry. With a wealth of experience and knowledge, Peter has been a driving force in shaping the landscape of digital marketing. His leadership in creating innovative and targeted marketing campaigns has helped numerous businesses achieve their revenue growth goals. Under his direction, Website Magazine has become a trusted source of information and insights for digital marketers worldwide. As President of Website Services, Peter oversees a team of talented professionals who specialize in SEO/SEM, email marketing, social media, and digital advertising. Through his hands-on approach, he ensures that his team delivers exceptional results to their clients. With a passion for digital marketing, Peter is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies, making him a sought-after thought leader in the field.