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How to Use Instagram Direct Messages to Drive Business

Instagram Direct is the direct messaging service offered by Instagram. Currently, it’s available to all users without restriction. That’s good news because it means, as a business owner, you can reach out directly to anyone who has an active account on the platform. Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t taking advantage of this valuable opportunity.

The ability to connect with your followers and customers in a direct way offers many advantages. The key is knowing how to use Instagram Direct messages to drive business in a way that provides value and doesn’t come across as spammy.

Keep reading below to learn more about Instagram Direct, its benefits and how you can use it to its maximum potential.

About Instagram Direct Messages

Instagram Direct messages allow you to communicate directly with another Instagram user. You can send text messages, photos, and videos through the service. It’s much like direct messages (DMs) on other platforms.

Businesses are using Facebook Messenger in a way that allows them to reach their customers and potential customers in a more personal way. Instagram messaging lets you accomplish the same thing. Instagram Direct can serve as a much more efficient and useful marketing approach than more traditional methods like direct mail or other forms of advertising.

You can send direct messages to any of your followers. If someone isn’t following you, it’s still possible to send them a message. The difference is that these message requests will need to be approved before an exchange can occur.

If they approve your message, you’ll be able to communicate freely in the future. Look for the paper airplane icon at the top of your Instagram home screen in order to find your Instagram messages.

Benefits of Instagram Direct

Messaging Instagram users directly lets you control the narrative. You can get to narrow down the message and target it to an individual or small group, rather than the type of post you would put out to all of your followers.

This can provide you and your business with a number of benefits, including increased sales. Social media is all about building relationships. This is particularly important for business. People respond to a more personalized sales approach in a way that simply isn’t possible through mass marketing methods.

Instagram Direct can be a convenient way to reach out to a customer. It’s easier and faster than typing up a long-winded email, and it usually elicits a quicker response. In addition, this type of communication can increase brand loyalty because the user can feel seen and validated by your business.

You can also improve your lead generation by slipping into someone’s DMs in a professional manner. You can even cultivate connections within your industry through messaging on Instagram. This type of virtual networking can prove to be quite valuable.

Types of Direct Messages to Send

You may wonder how to use Instagram Direct in a professional way that gets results. There are a lot of strategies you can use that are likely to be well-received by Instagram users. Messaging can work really well when you want to connect with influencers or find ways to collaborate with other businesses.

You can drop a micro-influencer a line introducing your business and letting them know what you like about their profile. Suggest types of collaboration that could be mutually beneficial as a way to start the conversation. You can also offer to trade services with another business that complements yours but isn’t direct competition.

It’s a win-win for everyone. If you’re an influencer, Instagram Direct can also work well for you. Pay attention to the brands that appeal to you and don’t hesitate to reach out with an introduction and initial proposal of the ways you might work together.

Your customers or potential customers will appreciate recognition or offers targeted specifically to them. Give a shout out to Instagram users who demonstrate characteristics that are compatible with your brand. Tell them you love what they’re doing.

Send an exclusive discount code to followers who consistently interact with your account as a thank you for their engagement. You can get really creative with these direct messages in ways that foster relationships and offer genuine value. When you do, your efforts are likely to be rewarded.

How to Use Direct Messages for Your Business

There are lots of ways your business can connect with potential customers through Instagram Direct. You’ll need to first find the accounts you wish to target and reach out to. Search for which users are using certain hashtags relevant to your business.

You can also do a direct search for your brand’s name. If folks are already talking about you, it makes sense to reach out to them. You may also want to find users by geographic location if that makes sense based on your product or service.

Take a quick audit of user accounts to find the best ways to approach each one. If you see someone has a lot of engagement with their followers, this person might be an influencer worth collaborating with.

Someone who has used your product would likely appreciate a discount code in return for their loyalty. They might even give your business a shoutout as a thank you. Remember, it’s all about relationships.

The key, no matter who you approach and what you offer, is that you bring people value. Strive to give them what they need or want. Remember that any interaction you have with people should be about them, not about you or your business.

That’s the best way to make genuine connections and build relationships. Once that happens, sales and profits are likely to follow. Provide more value than your competitors, and you’ll soon see your momentum building.

Instagram Direct is a great tool for connecting with people, building relationships and adding value to the social space. All of these things combined will improve your bottom line significantly.

Your followers and those who can benefit from your business will usually be pleased to hear from you as long as you approach them in a professional way with an end goal to help them in some way. Give it a try to see the results for yourself.

How to Use Instagram Live to Grow Your Followers

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms around. They boast at least a billion monthly users. They’re second in popularity only to Facebook. People seem to love this image sharing site, so it makes sense that businesses, brands, and bloggers should be using it to market themselves.

One feature that was rolled out a few years ago and is gaining traction is Instagram Live. Using this service, you can post live video clips to your Instagram Stories. It’s a fun and meaningful way to engage your audience.

However, there are definitely some best practices when it comes to using this feature. Take a look below to discover how to use Instagram Live to grow your followers.

1. Decide on Your Purpose

Before you create a video, you want to determine its purpose. This helps to give you direction and keep you on task when recording. It also lets you inform your audience of what the video will include when you promote it. You want to build anticipation, right? IG Live videos only stick around for 24 hours, and then they’re gone. There are a number of reasons why this format can be beneficial.

Many marketers use these short videos to announce a product launch or give a tutorial on how to use a product. They might also do interesting and relevant interviews with other Instagram users. Hosting an audience Q&A is a great way to boost engagement.

People also like to see the ins and outs of your business through video tours of your headquarters or behind-the-scenes highlights of your staff. These are just some of the more popular ways people are using Instagram Live video these days.

2. Promote Your Video Ahead of Time

Create hype about your video by promoting it before its launch. Let your followers know when you will broadcast your video. A date and time are both necessary to ensure your audience will show up.

You can write an Instagram post to create some buzz and get the word of mouth going. If people know ahead of time, they’re more likely to tune in.

3. Provide Incentives

Now that folks know when your video will launch, you can also sweeten the deal by offering them some incentives to attend the viewing. Giveaways are always a good draw when it comes to enticing viewers. Exclusive discount codes are also good.

If you have some loyal and engaged followers already, it may be enough to promise them a big announcement they’ll learn about first by watching your video. Some type of incentive is always good when it comes to any live event.

4. Practice and Prep

As they say, practice makes perfect. You don’t want your video to be overly scripted. However, having a plan in place and running through it a few times is a good idea.

It will help to calm your nerves and make sure you know what you’re going to say during your live stream. It will also give you an idea of how long the video will be and can alert you to any potential problems ahead of time.

You don’t want to find yourself stumbling over something that could have been prevented with just a bit of practice. In addition, take the time to prepare your supplies ahead of time. If you are doing a demonstration, you may need certain products or props. Have everything on hand when you’re ready to launch to avoid any potential embarrassment.

5. Hype Up the Urgency

You can use the fact that Instagram Live videos are only around for 24 hours to your advantage.

Be sure to remind your audience that they will only have a limited time to see your video. This will provide a sense of urgency around the event. They may want to mark it on their calendars so they don’t miss it.

The fleeting nature of these video broadcasts makes them ideal to offer exclusive discounts. People hate the idea of missing out. If they’ve been thinking about buying your product or investing in your webinar, now might be the best time for them to take the leap while they can get it at a great price.

6. Set Settings to Automatically Save Your Video

The settings in your Instagram stories let you upload your video to your story, share it to Facebook and save your video.

The settings icon is shaped like a gear and is located in the upper left-hand corner of the Stories screen. Make sure you set your video to be saved automatically so that you don’t lose it.

You may want to take advantage of some of the other features to expand your overall reach. It’s possible to share your video only with select followers. This can be great if you want to offer exclusive access to a particular group.

7. Engage With Viewers

There are some steps you should take during your live video to ensure things go as smoothly and effectively as possible. Engaging with your viewers is always recommended because it adds a personal touch and helps them to feel invested in your content.

Take a look to see which users are watching. Give them a shout out if you can, especially if you’re familiar with them. Also, take time to welcome new people.

Answer questions if any are coming in. If you’re not able to pay attention and answer them right away, be sure to let your viewers know you intend to follow up on those questions. Any type of engagement will help you video session to flow more naturally.

8. Make It Personal

An Instagram Live video is the perfect outlet to add some personal touches to your content. People like to attach a face and voice to a brand. Let them into your world by sharing your personality.

If you’re quirky and fun by nature, let your audience see that. If you’re shy, it’s okay to admit it. Video live streaming opens you up to being vulnerable, and that’s okay. In fact, you can actually use that vulnerability to your advantage.

Hopefully, these eight tips will help you to get started using Instagram Live to grow your followers. This feature is a fun and effective way to facilitate engagement and expand your reach. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Before long, you’ll overcome your nerves and feel like you’ve been doing video forever.

Instagram vs Snapchat: Which Is Better for Business?

Many companies make the mistake of trying to be everywhere at once, when they would get a far better return on investment just by sticking to one or two platforms they know their audience is a part of and doing those well.

Instagram is a free online photo-sharing App and social network platform. it was founded in 2010 and acquired by Facebook in 2012. Users can edit and upload photos and short videos through a mobile app. They can add a caption to each of their posts and use hashtags along with location-based geotags index supposed and make them searchable by other users within the app.

Snapchat, on the other hand, is a mobile app that allows users to send and receive self-destructing photos and videos. Photos and videos taken within the app are called snaps. The nurse can draw or insert text on their snap and determine how many seconds the recipient can review it before the files and Spears. Messages can only be used once and during viewing. The recipient must maintain contact with the device’s touch screen or the snap disappears. It was developed in 2011.

In response to Snapchat popularity, both Facebook and Instagram added a similar feature call Stories which disappear from the platform within 24 hours.

So, which one is better for business? Let’s take a look at six key areas so you can decide which platform would work better for you.

1. Users and Demographics

Instagram has more than 500 million daily users, with more than one billion monthly active users, and Snapchat on the other hand only has 310.7 million monthly active users and 190 million daily active users.

  • 52% of Instagram users are females, and 42% are male.
  • 110 million Instagram users are from the United States. 43% of American women and 31% of American men use the platform.
  •  37% of adults use Instagram in the United States and the USA has the most number of Instagram users.
  •  32% of all internet users are on Instagram.
  •  31% of Internet users between the ages of 18 and 24 use Instagram and 32% of Internet users between the ages of 25 and 34 use Instagram.
  •  72% of teenagers use Instagram. 35% of us teenagers say Instagram is the preferred social media platform.
  • An estimated 71% of us businesses are on Instagram as of 2018.
  • 200 million+ Instagrammers visit at least one business profile every day.
  • 130 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month.

In contrast:

  • 24% of U.S. social media users use Snapchat.
  • 73% of 18 to 24-year-olds in the U.S. use Snapchat
  • 75% of Snapchat users are younger than 34-years-old
  • 90% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13 and 24-years-old
  • 69% of U.S. teenagers say they use Snapchat
  • 24% of U.S. adults use Snapchat.
  • 61% of Snapchat users are female while 38% are male.
  • People under the age of 25 use Snapchat for an average of 40 minutes a day.

According to a Facebook survey the most popular topics on Instagram among young adults are food, fashion and Beauty, Hobbies, music, and TV and films. Instagram users tend to follow celebrities, get do-it-yourself inspiration and look at Travel photos.

Research shows that 71% of Snapchat users use it only or mostly for peer-to-peer messaging. 60% of the interactions on Snapchat are made between close friends. 46% of Snapchat users in the United States don’t use Instagram.

2. Content Types

Instagram posts are usually polished and high-resolution photos while Snaps are generally unedited and raw.

Stories are available on both platforms. They can either be images or videos. Besides Stories, images and videos are the other types of content available on both platforms. But, they are displayed differently between the two.

Images and videos are published as posts on Instagram and snaps on Snapchat. Unless your Instagram account is private, posts are public. Snaps are mostly private between two accounts.

Instagram posts can be square, vertical, or horizontal. Snaps are usually a vertical because they are displayed in full screen.

Instagram posts remain on your profile in your feed but snaps disappear after 24 hours.

When it comes to Instagram Stories, people are beginning to post more unedited content there than they would in their feeds.

3. Engagement Rates

Comparing engagement levels between the two platforms is a bit tricky because the forms of engagement across the two are different. On Instagram, people like, comment, and watch a video. On Snapchat people view a snap and reply privately.

It’s impossible to compare engagement levels as a whole but it is worth looking at the engagement level of Stories because Stories are on both platforms and similar and how they behave.

report from TechCrunch indicates the businesses are seeing higher engagement rates with Instagram Stories than Snapchat Stories.

Analyzing 21,500 Snapchat Stories found that the average unique viewers per Snapchat Stories fell about 40% in 2016 after Instagram launched their Stories. The Amplify Influencer Community saw 28% higher view rates for Instagram Stories than Snapchat Stories.

4. Discoverability

It will be easier for people to discover your brand on Instagram. It’s important to look at three areas in regards to discoverability: your profile, engagement, and user-generated content.

 On Instagram, you have a public profile that shows your follower count and all of your posts. Instagram suggests profiles to follow and curates relevant content in the Discover tab which helps people find you.

 With Snapchat, your profile can only be viewed by friends and people who have added you. There’s not a lot of information on your Snapchat profile because the snaps at Stories you post disappear after 24 hours.

With Instagram, likes and comments on your post can be seen by everyone. Direct messages can only be seen by you.

On Snapchat, there’s not a lot of room for engagement because only you can see who has replied to your snaps or Stories.

When it comes to user-generated content, on Instagram, people, including yourself can find any post that mentions you. People can discover your profile through hashtags and  @mentions. Because of this, user-generated content is a common marketing strategy on Instagram because it can help you grow your account and increase your reach.

 Comparatively, on Snapchat, snaps or Stories and it’s in your brand can only be seen by the friends of the person who posted them.

Your brand is more discoverable on Instagram than on Snapchat. This is wonderful if you want to raise brand Awareness on social media and use social proof to build your brand. That said, there are many brands who prefer the privacy of Snapchat because it allows them to build more meaningful one-to-one relationships with their followers.

5. Ads

When it comes to ads, both platforms offer powerful targeting options along with several ad formats. Instagram launched its advertising platform in late 2015 and since then has seen the number of businesses that advertise on the platform growth over a million. Because Instagram is part of Facebook, these businesses have been easily able to create Instagram ads through the Facebook ad manager.

 In the beginning, Snapchat advertising used to be fairly inaccessible for most businesses. Other than using SnapChat geofilters, businesses that wanted to advertise on Snapchat had to purchase ads from Snapchat ad partners which were often cost-prohibitive. Earlier this year, Snapchat launched its self-serve Snapchat ad manager to make it easy for businesses to run ads on Snapchat themselves.

Using either of the ad manager as you can easily create a target audience for your ads based on factors such as behaviors, interests and demographics. You can also reach people using your own data such as people who have interacted with your business and the platform’s data such as users who look like your customers.

Both platforms offer a variety of ad formats. with Instagram, you can run ads in feeds, ads in Stories, or boost your existing posts. With Snapchat, you can run snap ads, use geofilters or lenses.

6. Analytics

The ability to measure and analyze your social media performance allows you to improve your social media marketing efforts. Instagram natively provides business profiles with Instagram Insights which is an in-app analytics platform for posts, Stories, ads, and followers.

 Snapchat, on the other hand, does not provide any analytics data except for ads and many marketers have been left to track their Snapchat marketing activity manually.

There are a number of third-party tools and free Instagram analytics options available such as Union Metrics, Keyhole, and Websta.

When you go looking for Snapchat analytics tools, there are fewer to choose from and they aren’t free. Snaplytics, one of the most popular Snapchat analytics tools costs $19 per month per Snapchat account for very basic metrics such as completion rate, screenshots, and views.

Just by looking at this comparison, it’s clear that Instagram seems to be the better choice. However, it’s important to consider which platform your target audience prefers. If you are targeting students, young adults and teenagers, it may be more effective to reach them on Snapchat rather than Instagram.

And because a huge percentage of Snapchat users aren’t on Instagram, being on Snapchat could be the only way to reach them.

10 Proven Methods for Boosting Conversions on Instagram

Instagram is one of the most widely used social media platforms, and as such, is one of the best marketing channels for brands. Many large brands are using the platform everyday to connect with their customers and make sales.

The unique photo-sharing platform gives businesses the chance to create one-of-a-kind opportunities to engage with their customers and increase brand awareness and visibility.

While it’s likely you’re doing everything you can to strengthen your presence on Instagram, but here are a few tips to help you increase your conversions and boost sales from the social channel.

1. Connect with Influencers

Influencers are the people on Instagram who have an established audience – and the audience is similar to the one you’re going after.

Their followers look to them for, and trust their product and service recommendations. Spend time cultivating relationships with influencers in your niche that have high engagement rates – not necessarily large audience sizes.

2. Invest in Ads

Advertising on Instagram is one of the best ways to reach a new, yet targeted audience. The investment is worth it, but can make an especially large difference if your brand or business is still in its infancy.

You can plan your ads in such a manner that you reach customers who are most likely to be interested in your products. You can include a Shop Now button that takes users to a category or a product page.

3. Use Retargeting Campaigns

To make your Instagram ads even more effective, you can use retargeting to engage people who’ve already been to your website.

These people have already expressed interest in whatever your brand provides, so retargeting them helps keep your brand at the front of their mind. You can set the retargeting campaigns to advertise to people who’ve left your website without making a purchase.

4. Show Products in Action

High quality images can do a certain bit to show off your products, but they generally aren’t enough to drive sales. Use video posts, too, of course, but beyond that, showcase the experience of using your products.

Tell a story with the photos and videos, and make the most of your caption space. Describe the textures of the material if you sell clothes. Include recipes if you sell ingredients, and so on.

5. Make Your Instagram Shoppable

This makes it easier for people to buy the products they see in your images, which will of course boost conversions. There are several ways to do this – the easiest one creating a Facebook product catalog and linking Facebook to Instagram.

6. Vary the Link in Your Bio

As you run different campaigns on Instagram, you should change the link in your bio to the appropriate landing page. This, aside from Stories, is the only place you can put a link.

You can also use space in your bio to provide a call to action. Tell people where to go and what to do next, and you’ll likely see an increase in your conversion rate.

7. Go Live on Instagram

Rather than just showing your products in photos, you can use the Instagram Live video feature to show your products in action. Sephora, for example, uses the platform to do product demonstrations so their fans can see exactly what they’re getting before they buy it, which makes it easier for them to shop when they’re ready.

This is meant as an expansion of tip number 4 – because you don’t want all of your live videos and other content to be about your products. You should also use the platform to show your company culture.

8. Share User-Generated Content

User-generated content comes from reposting people who use your products and services taking photos or video and sharing it across social media. It’s another form of word-of-mouth advertising that can help grow your business. Your existing customers are creating content that shows your product, which you then share with your audience.

Some people may not share images of your product without you encouraging them to do so. One of the best ways to do this is to offer an incentive for their content, such as a chance to win a prize if they post photos that feature your product or hashtag.

Whenever you share any kind of user-generated content, make sure you give appropriate credit to the person who created the original photos, as they will appreciate the shout out.

This fosters a deeper connection with the people who are already your customers, while serving as social proof for the people who may still have doubts.

9. Use Hashtags

Instagram hashtags are a great tool for discovery. They help you expand your audience, but they can also be used to boost conversions. Do some hashtag research to find popular hashtags that are relevant to your niche and create a branded hashtag for each of your promotions.

You can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but you shouldn’t try too hard to max them out with every post.

10. Host Giveaways

Running a contest is a great way to build buzz about your brand, and get your products in the hands of people who will use them and talk about it. But before you decide to post about a give away, do some planning. This way, you’ll be able to track the buzz you generate, and determine how well your efforts pay off.

Using all of these tips as part of your Instagram strategy will most definitely increase your conversion rates. If you don’t notice a boost over time, take a look at your analytics to see if there are adjustments you can make to the time and frequency of your posts.

If it still doesn’t work the way you want, study your competition a bit more and work on boosting your overall engagement rates.

The 12 Funniest Brands on Instagram You Should Be Following

Social media can be a fickle place. It’s tough to know what’s going to be a hit with your audience or what will attract new followers. One thing that seems to be quite popular and shared frequently is humor.

If you can use it strategically and tastefully, there’s a good chance these types of posts can really take you far. People love to share funny stuff, and humorous posts are often quick to go viral and helps brands boost their conversions.

To get some pointers, check out these 12 funny brands on Instagram.

1. The Honest Company

The Honest Company is a baby product brand that prides itself on, well, its honesty. Their products are good for the environment and ethically manufactured. Their approach to humor is simple.

Among adorable images of babies and their own products, The Honest Company Instagram feed is sprinkled with inspirational, funny and relatable sayings about parenthood and family. They even throw some inspirational quotes in for good measure. People identify with these sayings and respond favorably to the brand.

2. Taco Bell

Taco Bell takes a novel approach to their Instagram use, and it’s proven to work quite well. Their images are colorful and eye-catching, but may not strike you as humorous at first. It’s when you take a closer look and read the captions that you’re in for a belly laugh.

These one-liners are pithy and succinct, yet usually strike with humor that’s relevant to their audience. They go all out with creativity, even soliciting the participation of their followers at times. We can all learn a lot by examining Taco Bell’s clever use of captions.

3. Old Spice

Old Spice has sprinted its way to Instagram stardom and social media popularity in general with its hysterical new image. They’ve rebranded themselves in recent years with wildly beloved television commercials featuring Terry Crews and Isaiah Mustafa.

The brand has springboarded that popularity into their social media campaigns and is quite well-followed on Instagram. Their corny, yet quirky, edge is one that users have come to recognize and to  seek in droves.

Old Spice uses video, along with several of Instagram’s newest features, to prove they’re not afraid of innovation. Don’t be afraid to show your true, weird personality if it fits your brand image and audience.

4. Denny’s

Denny’s is the iconic family restaurant chain that’s been around for since the 1950’s. If their use of social media is any indication, they’re proving to be able to remain current through the decades. Check out their Instagram profile, and you’ll see innovative use of the platform’s reliance on sharp visuals. They use photoshop to create unusual imagery that makes you do a double-take.

The humor is usually an interplay between the clever graphic and witty caption to provide an experience their followers seem to love. Denny’s shows you can push the envelope just enough to remain relevant and tasteful, yet humorous to a wide audience.

5. Arby’s

Arby’s, the roast beef joint we all know and love, has had a social media turnaround of sorts. They’re showing how a brand can truly find and cater to its niche.

Check out their Instagram feed, and you’ll see image after image of unique art crafted out of paper to represent pop culture figures. Arby’s uses these creations to speak to a very specific audience in ways only they might understand, it’s proving to be incredibly well-received. They’re going for the “geek” crowd, those who are into anime, science fiction, video games and more.

And it’s working! These crowds eat it up, no pun intended, and they seem to love the inside jokes the brand is able to deliver. This just goes to show the ways in which brands must be ready to evolve to meet the needs of their audience.

6. Totino’s

You can see Totino’s humor before even viewing their content. Just check out their bio, where they list their name as “Pete Zaroll.” Get it? Pizza roll! That’s funny.

Totino’s claim to social media fame is actually their meme game. They pay attention to what’s trending with regard to the latest meme and then incorporate their own version of the trends. The results are hilarious and loved by many.

7. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is the afford, quality razor club that everyone seems to be raving about lately. Not only do they offer a popular service, their social media presence is pretty likable, too. They stick to their brand and have developed a voice that’s easily identifiable. Much of their humor is corny or revolves around puns.

They stick with a comic theme related to grooming, with an acceptable smidge of bathroom humor thrown in for good measure. Sometimes you should just go with what you know, rather than trying to be hip and trendy.

8. JetBlue

JetBlue has developed a consistent Instagram following with their tried and true clever approach to humor. Their signature move is to use simple graphics and infographics infused with subtle humor to hook their audience, while delivering consistent and useful sales information.

It’s quite genius, really. You might also enjoy the beautiful travel photography they feature.

9. MTV

MTV is a classic when it comes to pioneering visual spaces. It should come as no surprise that they’d be great on social media. Their visual branding is young and vibrant, with funny memes thrown in for good measure.

The brand definitely gears its humor toward a specific, modern audience. They speak to their core demographic, which is a golden rule of digital marketing.

10. Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon is a beer brand that’s long been loved for its affordability. The brand knows its strength and embraces it. You can definitely see this in their approach to humor, and it’s fabulous.

Pabst embraces their followers, which these days seem to be hipsters who love cheap beer. They cater to this group with the images they choose of concerts, nightlife and young people, along with some goofy gags showcasing cans of their beer.

11. Skittles

Skittles definitely shows their personality with their Instagram presence. The candy brand’s approach to humor is zany and silly, totally appropriate for its youthful demographic.

Most of their content features actual photos of their candy being used in some dramatic or unique way. So it’s not all about the middle school humor. There is some real thought and ingenuity throw in, as well.

12. Oreo

Oreo has gained a reputation of being on top of current events and addressing them head on. Sometimes they do this with a serious or inspirational perspective, when the occasion calls for such.

But there are other circumstances where you can count on the cookie giant to come through with something hilarious. In addition to current events, Oreo is up on their pop culture. Look for graphics featuring the most relevant trends, with their iconic cookies displayed in prominent, unexpected ways.

There you have it. These are a dozen brands that each have a unique approach to humor that their Instagram fans flock to. See which of their lessons you can incorporate into your brand’s identity.

How to Turn Your Instagram Followers Into Paying Customers

If you want your Instagram profile to help you increase sales and grow your business, you have to treat your Instagram followers as if they are all prospects and make them want to buy your products.

1. Offer Value

To grab prospect’s attention and increase your chances of converting them to a paying (and loyal) customer, you need to offer value in two key places in your Instagram profile – in your bio and on your feed. Tell the prospective qualified audience why they should follow your content and the benefit it will offer them.

Give them a lead magnet with the link in your bio. (You can change the link as needed to go along with any offer you’re currently running.) This way, they know immediately, what’s in it for them if they decide to follow you and will boost your conversions in turn.

The posts you share on Instagram should also be filled with value. You achieve this by focusing on your unique selling proposition, or the biggest thing that makes you different from the competition and post valuable content based on that.

Another way you can offer value is to create Instagram exclusive content – that is content you don’t share on your other social media channels. Use it to reveal new products, so your followers feel special.

Use it to create an offer, such as a discount code, that you don’t release anywhere else. Launch your product or event live on Instagram, and then post the replay later on your other networks, to encourage people who follow you on other channels to follow you on Instagram, too.

2. Make Your Account About Your Audience – Not You

If the account is about you and the sales you need or want to make, your audience will feel it. If you’re lucky enough to keep the followers in the first place, chances are most of them will ignore you. Otherwise, many of them will just unfollow your account.

This means taking time to focus on what your audience needs from you, and what you can do to meet those needs. Be different from most brands that focus on their products and services. Focus on your target market instead, and you’ll be giving them value while also standing apart from what the competition is doing.

3. Engage With Your Followers

Engaging with your followers is critical for your success on social media because it shows them you’re building a two-way relationship with them. You’re listening, and you care. There are several ways you can do this.

First, make sure you’re taking the time to reply to any comments people leave on your posts. It takes a few seconds to like a photo, but taking the time to leave a comment is important because everyone’s time is valuable. If you don’t respond, your audience knows you’re not paying attention, and doesn’t have much motivation to continue reaching out to you with comments.

Take the time to ask questions. Have a conversation around your big idea. This builds trust and lets your followers know you’re looking to build relationships – not just make sales. When you ask questions, they’ll be much more likely to engage – especially if you’ve set a precedent by replying to the comments they make.

4. Make it Easy for Them to Buy Your Products

Most of the time, if people have to go through multiple steps to be able to buy your products, they’re just not going to do it. That’s why you should take advantage of the fact that you can now tag your products in Instagram photos, and people can click to buy from you without ever having to leave the Instagram platform. Super easy for them means more likely sales for you.

Your account must first be approved for shopping on Instagram, which means you must sell physical, tangible products. (If you sell services, you can change out the link in your bio as often as you need to, changing your landing pages based on the current specials and deals you’re running and direct people to the link in your bio in your caption.)

You must connect your Instagram business profile to a Facebook catalog. You can either connect to an existing Facebook catalog or use a catalog on Business Manager account that owns the Facebook Page linked to your Instagram business account.

From there, you’ll either need to create a new catalog with products or connect to the existing catalog you want to use for shopping on Instagram.

From there, you’ll be able to tag any products in the catalog in the photos they appear in, so people can click and buy. You can tag up to five products per single image post, or 20 products in a multi-image post – and use one product sticker per story. You can use the sticker with highlights, videos, and swipe up.

Ultimately, all it takes to be successful and build an engaged audience of followers who are willing to become customers is to be authentic and meet their needs. The second you make your social activity about your company and not about your audience, that’s the second you fail.

When you act from a place of concern for your audience and a desire to help them meet their needs, that’s when you will be able to earn trust and build the necessary relationships to earn revenue from Instagram.

5 Rules to Follow When Reposting on Instagram

Instagram is a great network for connecting with your audience, and if your business is just getting started, it can be a bit overwhelming to learn the ropes. Sometimes, it can be difficult to have your own original content when you’re a brand new account, so that’s why it’s a good idea to learn the etiquette associated with regramming.

One of the most common reasons to regram a photo on Instagram is because an influencer or customer has created and shared content about your brand.

Whether it’s because of a collaboration you started, a sponsored post you paid for, or an organic mention, there aren’t too many issues with using someone else’s image, as long as you remember to follow these rules, and consider that you don’t own the content – even in cases when you brand is mentioned or featured.

1. Always Give Credit

There’s a fine line between sharing someone else’s content and stealing it. Instagram doesn’t have a native sharing feature like you see on Facebook and Twitter. It’s not because they don’t want you to do it – but it’s because they want everything to be shared in “this instant” and re-sharing others content takes away from that.

That said, there are a few different ways you can do it, but you should always give credit back to the original poster, because it is their content – not yours.

You can do this by tagging the original account in the caption of your regram. It can be as simple as “Credit: @username” or, you can work into a sentence like, “We love this photo by @username.”

2. Ask for Permission

While most people won’t mind that you regrammed their content with credit back to them, it’s still a good idea to ask them for permission. This way, you’re completely covered legally.

When you come across a photo you want to regram on your own account, comment and simply ask. All you have to say is, “We love this photo! Can we repost it?” or, “Thanks for sharing our brand/product/service. Can we regram your photo?” Ask however you want, as long as you remain kind.

Wait for the account to respond with yes before you add the photo to your queue for regramming. If the person says no, respect that and move on.

3. Make it Clear It’s a Regram

Attribution should be enough to let your audience know your photo is a regram of someone else’s, but it’s always best to make sure your followers know this content did not originate with you. Use hashtags like #regram and #repost, too.

That way it is very clear you are not stealing other people’s work. When they see that you’re crediting another person with their work, they will be more apt to submit user-generated content for you to share.

You can even use it as a chance to invite people to submit content to you for that purpose. You can say something like, “Want your photo featured on our Instagram? Tag it with #brandhashtag for a chance to be included.” Then, monitor the hashtag for photos, and reach out to ask permission for the ones you want to use. You could make it a weekly feature if you get enough interest.

4. Don’t Edit from the Original

If possible, avoid making any edits to the original, because it’s not your work and you don’t want to change it in anyway. You can make minor edits like cropping the photo slightly, but too much and it becomes a different work – one that you’re stealing, since it’s not really something you can give credit back to the original poster for because it’s so different from the original.

If you feel the need to edit something before you regram it, then you probably should just skip regramming it in the first place.

5. Don’t Only Regram Other People’s Content

While it’s okay to regram other people’s content from time to time, it’s not acceptable to create your entire Instagram feed with curated content from other people. In fact, the time it takes you to ask and get permission from other people could mean that you’re left with nothing to post anyway, so you may as well spend time creating original content to share on your own.

You never know when someone might find something you share worth regramming. It’s always a good way to get exposure to other audiences’ and increase your overall following.

How to Save an Instagram Photo to Regram

Because there’s no built-in sharing option, you’ll have to go through some extra steps to get photos ready to regram to your account. You’ll need to save the photo to your phone and add it from your camera roll, or use a third-party Instagram tool like Repost for Instagram or Iconosquare. These will make it easy for you to give credit to the original poster, too.

Regramming quality photos that are related to your company or brand, or feature your company or brand, is a great way to engage your audience without having to constantly come up with your own unique and original content. But if you rely on it too much, or don’t take the right steps to get permission, you could land your brand in a lot of trouble.

8 Tips for Writing Better Instagram Captions

Instagram is a social media platform that’s driven by images. You know how important it is to craft professional and interesting photos. What some online marketers neglect to give as much attention to is their words. What you say matters just as much as the visuals you produce.

The captions that go along with your images matter a great deal. They tell who you are and convey your brand’s voice. Getting into a groove of crafting captions that resonate with your followers can be a bit of a process. It will likely take some trial and error, but these eight tips for writing better Instagram captions should get you started on the right foot.

1. Use Your Brand’s Voice

First and foremost, be sure to write your captions in the tone you wish your brand to convey. You want everything you say to reflect who you are, so think about your tone when writing each and every caption. Use wording that sets a mood and shows the personality you want to be known for.

2. Put the Important Information First

Depending on the device being used, captions usually are cut off after only a few lines. Users can view more, they just have to click through.

That’s why you should add the most important stuff first to be sure your message is seen. Writing longer captions is fine and is often necessary. Just keep in mind that the point of your post should be clear at the beginning.

3. Cross Promote

Cross promotion is when you share your social media profiles across platforms. It’s okay to mention your Twitter or Facebook accounts on Instagram.

You can invite users to follow you in those places, as well. This is an easy and efficient way to increase your social media engagement across your various social media properties.

4. Add Some Hashtags

Strategic hashtag use is important to driving audience engagement, so be sure you’re adding them to your captions. Incorporating hashtags that are relevant and specific to your brand and your post helps people with interest in your niche find you. You can do some easy hashtag research simply by looking for your subject matter in the search box or by checking out what your competition is using.

Try to seek out hashtags that specifically hone in on your niche, rather than more broad topical ones. This will allow users with interests that align with yours to find you. When you go too general, you’re more likely to get lost in an overcrowded sea of hashtags. You can even come up with your own branded hashtags. People can use them as a way to get your attention, participate in a contest or share your products with others.

5. Mix Up the Length

Sometimes people use captions as an afterthought, which is a mistake. This small area is a marketing goldmine. It allows you to impart the information you think is most relevant in a way that will resonate with your target demographic.

People may also underestimate the power of captions. You can truly tell a story that resonates with people within the caption. This is a very effective strategy when you have a post that lends itself well to emotion or when your goal is to truly show who you are. Longer story captions should be used sparingly, though. Mix it up with shorter captions that are to the point, as well. Sometimes a longer explanation isn’t necessary, and your photos can stand alone.

6. Give a Shout Out

Your Instagram captions are the perfect place to add tags. Tagging other users is a great way to engage followers or those you would like to follow you. You can give a shout out to anyone you’d like to recognize or show your appreciation for. You can even ask users to tag a friend on occasion. These types of posts are fun, and they introduce new people to your brand.

Don’t go overboard, though, as this could be seen as a blatant way to gain attention. Be genuine and sincere in your shout outs. Only tag users whose content you truly love or whose content is relevant to yours.

7. Be Strategic

You should always plan your caption. A hastily written caption typed out at the last minute wastes valuable social media real estate. Remember, your caption is an extension of your marketing goals.

Take time to write them with strategy in mind. If you want to increase engagement, ask users to tag a friend or give a shout out, as was mentioned above. When you want to drive sales conversions, focus on the benefits of your products. Emphasizing your specific knowledge is a way to portray you as a knowledge influencer. Be sure your messaging matches your intent.

8. Give a Call to Action

Finally, don’t forget to tell your followers what you’d like from them. When done in a non-pushy way, this approach can be quite effective. A quick call to action is a great way to accomplish your marketing objectives.

A simple one sentence CTA is all you need. You can ask people to follow you, sign up for your newsletter, enter your contest or visit your latest sale. Just be intentional and not too salesy, and you may be surprised just how effective this tactic can be.

Writing Instagram captions doesn’t have to be tricky or intimidating. Use these tips to create a strategy that works for your brand, and you’ll soon see increased engagement and more followers come your way.

11 Steps to Monetize Your Instagram Following

Instagram started out as an image-sharing app. Over the years, it has evolved into something much more valuable to marketers.

After Facebook acquired it, it grew to become number 3 on the list of the 15 most popular social networking sites with more than 1 billion monthly users. It falls behind Facebook and YouTube.

Step One: Define Your Audience

If you’re starting from the ground up, it is crucial to define the audience you want to attract. Unless you know exactly who your target audience is you could be wasting time and effort and end up attracting the wrong type of people. If the audience you cultivate isn’t in line with what you want to sell, you will have a hard time monetizing your Instagram following.

Think about what it is you want to market and sell through Instagram whether it is through sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, or your own products. Take some time to develop customer avatars for the various personas in your target market. The more well-defined these are, the better off you will be when trying to build your target following.

Step Two: Start Building Your Following

Whether you build your following before or after your marketing efforts doesn’t really matter. Before you can monetize your Instagram following, you have to have one. The more you have, the more you are seen and the greater your chance of turning leads to sales.

There are many ways you can grow your Instagram following. These include liking photos in your Niche, simply asking people to follow you, running contests, and running Instagram ads. it’s also important to research hashtags that are relevant to your niche and use them in your photos to extend your reach.

Step Three: Always Include a Link and Call to Action

Though you can only include a single live link on Instagram in your bio, It’s always important to include product links and links to your blog if you want to make money on Instagram through sales.

All your posts, whether they are images, videos, or stories should include calls to action with information about where your followers can go to purchase the item. Make sure to use product tags linked to your Facebook catalog to allow users to make purchases directly from Instagram.

Step Four: Create a High-Quality Feed Aesthetic

No matter how many new features Instagram adds, it is and always will be about sharing beautiful images. Nothing will encourage your prospects or monetize your account more than high-quality images.

Focus on sharing images and videos that show your followers what your brand is about and appeal to the visual senses. Tell them your brand story, and show off your products.

But beyond the individual images, think about how each piece plays into your overall feed aesthetic. Pay close attention to the colors you use as research indicates color influences buying decisions by around 85% and color increases brand recognition by 80%.

Spend some time planning your feed so you can see which posts look best to each other and which post do not. Though it may seem like a waste of time to plan, planning your Instagram feed could save you time and enhance your overall aesthetic.

There are free tools like Planoly available that allow you to drag and drop without actually posting anything until you’re ready. Once you find out where you want everything to go, you can use scheduling tools to save even more time.

Step Five: Make Use of the Right Hashtags

Hashtags help categorize and improve the discoverability of your content. Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags but it seems using 10 to 15 helps you get the maximum effect.

 While it may be tempting to use random hashtags, you’re better off conducting a bit of research beforehand to use the ones that are relevant to your post and will help you reach bigger audiences.

Remember, some hashtags even those that are seemingly innocent such as #dogsofinstagram are banned because of high spam activity. Check your hashtag list to make sure you’re not inadvertently using any that has been banned.

If you want to ensure the hashtags don’t ruin the aesthetic of your captions, you can place a few line breaks between the end of your caption and the list of hashtags. You can also include them in a comment on the post.

If you choose to do this however, it’s worth noting that images are shown based on the time they are posted rather than when the hashtags were added. This means that you will want to immediately add the hashtags in a comment as soon as the image or video is published to your feed.

Step Six: Build Relationships With Other Content Creators

As someone who is just getting started with monetizing Instagram, quality content and compelling captions are only going to get you so far. An important part of growing your influence and reach is building relationships with other content creators inside your niche.

You could always get in touch with them and ask for a shoutout on one of their posts or you could actively engage with them and their followers on their posts. Better yet you can work together with them to create content together that you can both use.

Step Seven: Choose Your Monetization Methods

 There are numerous ways to monetize your Instagram following in the ways that work best for you depends highly on your Niche and your overall go. If you are a brand that has products and services to sell, it makes sense to use your Instagram following to drive traffic to your website and promote sales there.

If on the other hand, you are an influencer, it may make more sense to focus on sponsored posts and affiliate marketing.

Instead of randomly trying monetization methods with your audience, focus on what you think your audience will respond best to the next steps, we will focus on various ways to monetize your Instagram audience.

Step Eight: Offer Sponsored Posts

Once you have cultivated a large enough following to reach influencer status whether it is a micro-influencer or a macro influencer, you can leverage that influence to promote Brands. After you have established thought leadership within your Niche, you can start monetizing your Instagram audience with sponsored posts.

 Brands often partner with influencers for sponsored posts that help them spread the word about what they’re offering. Typically these posts revolve around the product itself with a small review from you.

Though it may be tempting to take every sponsored post you can get your hands on for the sake of money, it’s important to remember that doing so will cause your audience to alienate you. And without an audience, you are no longer an influencer.

 As such, you should practice moderation with your sponsored posts and carefully consider whether or not it’s a good fit for you and your audience. Your sponsored posts need to blend in with your content so there is not seen as overly promotional.

Step Nine: Use Affiliate Marketing

One of the easiest ways to monetize your Instagram following is to become an affiliate marketer. Essentially, you are a brand ambassador for the products and services you use and believe in.

Your audience may find it helpful if you share a discount code or link within for the products you’re promoting on your page. Whenever someone makes a purchase through your link, you get a percentage of the revenue.

Affiliate marketing is a good starting point because there were any real barriers to entry. Most products have a self-enrollment program so all you need to do is sign up and they will provide you with the link to share on Instagram and other social platforms.

 The key is to use compelling copy and attractive photos that give users a reason to consider the product you’re marketing.

Step 10: Sell Your Own Products

If you have a strong personal brand and would rather not promote other companies on your page, you could always use it to market your own products.

As long as you have a strong following, you can design and sell your own products such as books, merchandise, cosmetics, and clothing. As long as the items relate to your niche and speak to your audience, you can use Instagram as a platform to sell them.

Step 11: Keep it Real

Above all, regardless of which monetization methods you choose, the key to maintaining a highly engaged audience is to keep it real.

Authenticity and transparency are important to Millennials and Gen Zers, so if you come off as nothing but a constant sales pitch, you will turn off your audience and likely decrease the chances of making any kind of money with the Instagram platform.

10 Ways to Build a Massive Instagram Following

If you run any kind of business, you know social media is a necessary part of modern marketing. In order to be seen and make sales, you need to have a presence where your audience is. Chances are, your target demographic is on Instagram. After all, it’s the second most popular social media site, right behind Facebook.

Having a profile on the site won’t do you any good if you don’t have an audience. Let’s take a look at some of the fastest ways to build an Instagram following. These ten ideas should give you a good start.

1. Post at the best times.

Remember, a post is no good if no one sees it. That’s why it’s crucial that you post at times when your audience and potential followers are online most. This is a process that will take some trial and error.

You’ll need to try posting at various times and then analyze which seem to get the most engagement. If you have a business account, you can use Instagram Insights to discover such important metrics as reach, impressions and interactions.

Adjust future posting according to the patterns you see and then continue to monitor your progress.

2. Use relevant hashtags.

If you’re not using hashtags, you’re missing out. These short phrases help people to find the topics they’re interested in and care about most. Hashtags are key to growing your audience.

However, you won’t be likely to attract the followers that fit your target demographic unless you’re using hashtags in a strategic way. You can find tags relevant to your industry by doing a search on Instagram for keywords people might use to find you. That’s a good start.

Another way to discover popular hashtags within your niche is to check out accounts similar to yours to see what they’re using and what seems to be getting engagement.

Try to use a variety of hashtags in order to increase your chances of reaching your intended audience. Broad tags will get you more eyes, but using ones that are more specific will attract those who are most interested in what you have to offer.

3. Use consistent filters.

Cohesiveness matters in the look of your Instagram feed. You want people to be able to recognize your brand as you begin to grow your followers. The filters and colors you use in your images can help tie things together and provide brand recognition.

You can try different filters as you’re starting out and use Insights to see if one outperforms the others. However, you’ll want to find a filter and color scheme and stick with it consistently in order to create the aesthetic that fits your brand and is recognizable by your audience.

4. Work with influencers.

When you need to grow your following, Instagram influencers can help. These are users who have grown large and engaged followings within their particular niche.

Take a look at some of your current followers or profiles you find through search of your keyword. See who has decent sized followings and which seem to get a lot of likes and comments.

You can then approach them through direct message or email, if they have one listed, to discuss the possibility of collaboration. You’ll want to ask their rate per post. This type of marketing isn’t free, but it can provide a strong ROI, as you can get exposure to their followers and may gain some new ones of your own.

5. Engage with your competitors’ followers.

A strategic way to find followers who are interested in your product or service is to research the competition. Take a look at the feeds of your closest competitors.

See who is engaging with their posts, and then take time to reach out to those people. You can do this very simply by following them. Folks will often reciprocate and follow you back.

Liking or commenting on their photos is also a good way to get relevant followers to notice you. In addition, by engaging with these users, you’re working to create a relationship. This is crucial to both social media and business success.

6. Add Instagram Highlights.

Instagram Stories are a fun way to feature multiple posts, but they only last for 24 hours. You can extend the life of your Stories by adding them to your profile as Instagram Highlights.

These are tabs featured at the top of your page that allow potential followers a deeper look into what you’re all about. You can organize your Highlights by theme or use them to showcase some of your featured products.

Clicking on your Highlights gives users an idea of your style and content so they know what to expect should they decide to follow you. If they’re like what they see, they’ll be more likely to give you a follow.

7. Use geotags so locals can find you.

If you want people in your area to find you, geotags are the way to go. A geotag is simply a hashtag that includes a location. This can be as broad as a city or it can be very specific, such as a venue or building. You can use these tags in your posts and in your Stories. Geotags are searchable.

When a user searches for a particular location, your post or Story will show up in the results. It’s a great way to be found. You can also search by location as a way of interacting with users who are in the area.

8. Follow the trends.

Following relevant things such as holidays, current events or other trending topics can help you to engage in a timely manner with new followers. Fun hashtag holidays like #CheeseLoversDay, #WorldEmojiDay or #TalkLikeaPirateDay are also a great way to get creative and generate interest among new potential followers.

You’ll expand your reach to people who may not otherwise have come across your profile, and there’s a good chance they’ll become your follower if they like what they see. Stick with trends that are relevant to your niche.

Otherwise, your current audience may be turned off or annoyed. You can research different holidays and events ahead of time. Then add them to your posting calendar so that you’ll always be prepared with fresh, timely content.

9. Ask for followers.

It may sound counterintuitive, but simply asking people to follow you on occasion is an efficient way to gain more followers. You can find creative ways to work the ask into photos or add it to a caption as a call to action.

Sometimes this simple reminder will spur users into action and get you the follow you seek. If someone likes what they see, they’ll likely take you up on your suggestion.

10. Run a giveaway.

One strategic way of gaining followers is to have users tag a friend in the comments of your post. This increases your reach, allowing you to potentially gain new followers. It also gains you engagement on your posts, which is favorable when it comes to Instagram’s algorithm.

More people will see your posts when you have higher engagement. Contests or giveaways are  useful when it comes to encouraging people to tag their friends. Just make this a requirement for entry, and you’ll see your follower numbers rise.

These are just ten of the best ways you can build a massive Instagram following for your business. Give them a try and see which are most successful for you.