We get it. You took an amazing photo, put on the perfect filter, uploaded it and now you’re waiting for the likes and comments to roll in your feed. It’s a great feeling and payoff when you know your content does well on Instagram. And for your brand, you want that feeling to be consistent.

However, getting others to engage with your Instagram isn’t as simple as uploading decent content and calling it a day. Your brand must understand how to promote your Instagram to reach your biggest audience possible. There’s more than 700 million users and casting the perfect net with your promotions can reel in big rewards.

The hard part is just learning how to promote your Instagram for success. It shouldn’t take a PR expert to make you successful, so skip the pay-per-follower sites and follow these 12 tips to organically grow and promote your Instagram:

1. Take Advantage of Instagram’s Environment

Instagram has turned into a must-have social network for marketers. Even more so, younger audiences continue to seek Instagram for brand interactions, engagement and personality. According to the Sprout Social Q2 2017 Index, 51% of millennials enjoy brand personality on Instagram.

consumer social preference sprout q2 2017 index

The platform continues to be an environment of sharing, liking, tagging and commenting. Additionally, younger generations can be inspired to make purchases on Instagram, despite its limited “link in bio.”

Instagram’s core users can navigate the app seamlessly, although it’s not as traditional as marketing on Facebook or Twitter. The visual appeal of the app is unlike other networks as well. Images and videos from brands drive engagement, which only help you promote your Instagram even further.

According to our Q1 2017 Index, 60% millennials and 67% of Gen Xer’s said they were more likely to make a purchase from a brand they follow on social media. And the single-scroll environment of Instagram puts your content front and center in the viewer’s smartphone or tablet.

Think about how much more engaged your brand’s audience would be if they had to scroll through each Tweet one at a time. It should be no surprise that a report from Forrester discovered brands see user interactions on 2.2% of their posts, which is the highest by far per network.

forrester report graphic

If you’re a brand looking to promote your Instagram, this is the perfect network to boost audience engagement. It’s all about learning the environment and taking advantage of how users interact.

2. Professionally Showcase Your Brand Personality

When you want to promote your Instagram for your brand, the first thing to do is make a clear distinction between your business and personal accounts. For starters, you should optimize your Instagram account so you’re focusing on the audience and not just the product.

This means selfies, friend groups and travel photos need to stay out of your brand’s Instagram account. While it seems completely obvious, a surprising amount of personal content makes its way to brand feeds. Think of what your audience wants to see–not your friends or an inside joke.

Absolutely stunning / #lovepolaroid by @zoefortuna

A post shared by Polaroid (@polaroid) on

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean your brand’s Instagram feed should only be full of products. Polaroid does an excellent job of separating the business from personal without taking out the personality. Its feed is extremely inviting to both newcomers and fans alike.

Striking a good balance between business and personal can give a little something to all of your followers on Instagram.

3. Make Your Username Simple & Searchable

The majority of your customers know they can probably find you by doing a quick search on Instagram Explore. Your job is to make it as painless as possible to find you. Don’t make it harder by using different profile names across all your networks. Keep all your social media handles consistent and simple by following these best practices:

  • Simple and easy to spell
  • Same across social networks
  • Will last forever
  • True to your brand and company values
  • No underscores, special characters or numbers

For example, Revolution Brewery uses the same handle across networks, simply titled RevBrewChicago. The shortened username makes it easier for users to find the brewery, but by adding “Revolution Brewery” as the Instagram profile name, both are searchable.

4. Don’t Cut Corners on Your Instagram Bio & Link

In the same vein as your username, your bio should be just as simple and match your brand. Keep Instagram bios to a minimum, but at the same time, make sure you mention who you are and what you do. Because at the end of the day, this is one of the few places to truly promote your Instagram.

barkbox instagram bio

That’s why it’s essential to always have a link in your bio. Using URL shortening tools such as Bit.ly helps you keep your link concise and easily trackable. And within Sprout’s social media publishing tools, you have instant access to Bit.ly shortening for social posts, including Instagram.

sprout social url shortener gif example

While linking to your homepage isn’t the worst idea, several brands use this space to link to promotional, sales or other marketing landing pages. This way you can keep the move from Instagram to your site more cohesive.

5. Make Instagram Hashtags Your Best Friend

As a rule of thumb, hashtags are a great source of discovery on Instagram. Whether you want to increase your visibility or find exactly what you’re looking for, hashtags for Instagram are the best way to do so.

It’s a good idea to continually search the newest hashtags in your industry. The hashtag doesn’t have to exactly correlate with your brand, but it should still be relevant. Once you find some candidates, use them in campaigns, to find new followers and get that little extra reach!

Did you know 7 in 10 Instagram hashtags are branded? That’s why you should also look to craft your own unique branded hashtag to build more awareness around your profile. Using a combination of both branded and standard hashtags is a great way to track engagement.

instagram outbound hashtag performance

With Sprout’s Instagram analytics tools, you have the flexibility to track outbound hashtag performance by selecting any number of profiles. See what garners the most engagement and how your branded hashtags work in broader industries.

Let your creative side shine with hashtags like Nest’s #Caughtonnest, which shows real-life events captured on customer’s security cameras. Even hashtags like #AskWestElm show you simple party favors that can make your home a little fancier.

Lastly, monitor hashtags your competitors use too. While it may not be your intention to compete on certain hashtags, you could still end up discovering ways to better reach your potential customers.

6. Show Users Where You’re Located & Where You Visit

With geotagging features on Instagram, it’s easy to make yourself seen across your city or in other parts of the world. If your business has multiple locations, use geotags to promote your Instagram in various locations. This gives Instagram users a chance to see an assortment of photos and videos tagged at a specific location.

Geotags create a hub of stored content. It also gives you a great opportunity to see user-generated content showcasing your brand or place of business. From there, you can engage with customers that tagged you and thank them for using your services.

rock and roll hall of fame example

For example, if you search The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you would find the Instagram location tag. This is the official tag of the venue where you can get tickets or see others posting. Thousands of people use this geotag when they’re in Cleveland, which gives the brand plenty of engagement opportunities.

If you’re a brick and mortar store, Instagram geotags can be critical to effectively promoting your Instagram. Make sure your business is geotagged so customers can post their photos. Additionally, Instagram uses Facebook’s API to locate business results on the platform. Check your Facebook location settings to ensure you’re set up correctly.

instagram management gif

7. Avoid Hard Sells & Focus on Recognition

Promoting your Instagram needs its subtleties–otherwise, your page will look like a billboard of advertisements. It’s always best to mix up your feed by avoiding constant hard-sell posts.

Unless you’re a major brand with massive recognition, you have to be a bit more subtle with selling. When users come to your feed, try to engage instead of directly sell. There are so many other creative ways you can sell to your audience without seeming like a shady used-car salesman.

Seanik is packed with ingredients from the sea: Japanese nori seaweed to soften hair and sea salt for volume. 🌊🌊🌊

A post shared by Lush Cosmetics North America (@lushcosmetics) on

For example, Lush Cosmetics is smart about the way they sell its product. Instead of going into grave detail about why you need it, the Instagram photo does all the talking alongside an informative caption. This is a visual space, so having your most creative folks handle your Instagram is a smart way to always look fresh.

Try to see Instagram as a promotional tool that drives traffic to your product pages. There you can do hard-selling calls to action and phrases. You’ll go far on Instagram if you can produce amazing photos and videos, but your message shouldn’t be lost or overbearing.

8. Stay True to Bright & Blue

If you’re following the appropriate steps to promote your Instagram, here’s a trick you might want to explore. According to Curalate, a visual analytics and marketing platform, images with high levels of blue can generate up to 24% more likes than those with red or orange colors.

expedia instagram blue example

Additionally, photos that are brighter-colored can increase engagement by 24% as well when compared to darker images. With nearly 65% of Instagram posts receiving between 0 and 10 likes, it’s important to find any way possible to get more people to like, engage and respond to your posts.

We’re definitely not recommending for every single Instagram photo to be blue, but when you put in the time and effort into a post, you’re more likely to see your audience participate.

9. Use Other Networks to Promote Your Instagram

While it’s important to focus on new ways to promote your Instagram, you can’t keep your efforts to just one network. To truly build your audience and promote your brand on Instagram, post links to your feed on other social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

According to Social Media Examiner, each social channel has its own uniqueness when it comes to building an audience and promotion. On the other hand, you can’t put all your eggs in one Instagram basket.

Try to promote across primary channels to boost Instagram traffic and followers. For example, the Blackhawks Store promotes its Instagram with giveaways.

10. Make Your Instagram Stand Out Among the Crowd

It’s a good idea to use Instagram’s visual appeal to your advantage. You want to show off your product, services or employees in the best light, so why would you ever take poor pictures of them?

You can make Instagram special for your audience so they know this is where they can go to see the products or services in action. Or you try to use Instagram as a sole creative space for your brand, much like the company Reynolds Wrap.

reynolds kitchens instagram profile

The second you amaze your audience with your content, you earn their trust to follow and engage with you. At the same time, don’t veer off the path too much. Some businesses use Instagram a little too freely to express their brand. Try to stick to your brand voice and make sure each post resonates with that vibe.

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Jump on a Popular Trend

While it’s great to use unique Instagram post ideas, it’s not always so easy coming up with them. If you’re struggling for new ideas, try something you know is popular. Various social media trends change with the weather, but if you strike gold, you’ll see the payoff.

For example, one of the biggest trends in social media is face filters for selfies. Even though Snapchat started the game, both Facebook and Instagram are in the space. You can also take advantage of Instagram Stories to post fun and unique content with stickers, filters and other effects.

taco bell story

Taco Bell frequently uses Instagram Stories to make content resonate with viewers. This provides them with more ways to showcase their brand personality and ultimately helps promote their Instagram feed.

In-the-moment videos are popular enough for brands to get in the game. A report from Recode found Instagram Stories hit 250 million users, growing more than Snapchat.

recode instagram stats

It’s always good to be in the know of social trends because they can easily help you drive traffic and build awareness without consistently creating new ideas.

12. Track Your Growth for Success

How will you know where to improve your promotion strategy on Instagram if you’re not tracking anything? This is an important question to ask yourself because so many brands tend to pick and choose different ways to promote their Instagram. But many don’t track their steps to see if it developed a positive outcome.

top instagram posts report

With Instagram analytics, you can successfully measure the performance of each post with presentation-ready reports to back up your claims. By monitoring your Instagram activity, you have better insights on engagement ratings and overall audience growth.

Whether you have to manage one or multiple Instagram accounts, Sprout Social gives you the tools to measure the performance of each social profile. If you try to blindly promote your Instagram, you’ll end up missing out on what changes worked well and which ones fell short.

There’s so much that can go into a successful post, so make sure you have a better idea on your Instagram strategy by tracking key metrics.

Keep on Promoting

As Instagram continues to surge in popularity, your brand has to take a slice of the pie and get active! Visual and interactive content is dominating the social scene, so take the right steps to get your Instagram visible.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on how to promote your Instagram? Comment and share your experiences below!