It has quickly become necessary for every brand to maintain a profile on Instagram. The focus on image and mobile are likely two key features in the channel’s growth in popularity. So how can brands focus on these two aspects and grow a presence that is sought out? The brilliant Nycole Hampton from Choose Chicago joined us for #SproutChat this week to discuss. She has grown her organization’s Instagram account 17,000% in the last two years and shared valuable learnings to create a killer Instagram strategy.

Start With a Well-Conceived Plan

Strategy should be thought of holistically before posting any kind of content. Do some research on what others in your industry are doing as well as what your community is posting. Figure out what your goals are for maintaining an Instagram presence and plan posts from there. Key components to think about include:

  • Quality content
  • Consistency
  • UGC
  • Community
  • Engagement
  • Hashtags

Hashtags: How Many Is Too Many?

Hashtags enable discovery. Making them one of the most important components in Instagram. You have likely seen Instagram accounts that use an abundance of hashtags and others that use none at all. People have different opinions on the subject, but employing hashtags does increase visibility of posts. Use a mix of popular hashtags and hashtags that are exclusive to your industry or brand. One way to make hashtags less distracting is to post them in a separate comment instead of in the post copy. Keep an eye on the kind of reception you’re getting, and scale up or back from there.

Build Community to Strengthen Relationships

Similar to other social channels, building community is the best way to create a strong bond with the people within your audience. On Instagram, this can be achieved through frequent interactions: follow people with your audience, and like and comment on their posts. Incorporate their images into your content efforts (with permission, of course), and introduce people to each other. Campaigns are a good way to get people to continually return to your profile. If nothing else, be sure to maintain consistency.

Tap Influencers to Grow Your Following

Research the Instagram accounts of top influencers in your industry and figure out what motivates them. Have they partnered with brands before? What did that relationship look like, and how can you forge something even deeper? Establish a relationship that is mutually beneficial and can be maintained for the long term. Be sure not to push stiff marketing messages; instead, allow for flexibility and creativity. Your brand awareness will have a bigger impact that way.

Join Us

See you next week for a special holiday #SpoutChat. We’ll have social media trivia and give prizes to the fastest fingers (first one to Tweet the correct answer)! See you at 2 p.m. CST this Wednesday on Twitter. Be sure to join our Facebook community in the meantime to stay up to date with the chat.