A guest post by Anand Srinivasan
Sure, you want to grow your Instagram following, because it’s a hot platform we all need more numbers. But I can give you three more marketing-based reasons to do so.
First, more than 800 million people (or nearly three times the population of the United States) are active on Instagram each month. This presents a terrific marketing opportunity to increase your visibility.
Second, UK newspaper The Guardian published a report that underlined an evolution in the way we eat. According to this report, healthy but “unphotogenic” breakfasts such as cereals are giving way to attractive alternatives like avocado toast. A cursory look at the Instagram hashtag #breakfast shows you how people prefer to eat food that is “Instagram-worthy.”
And third, a report published by UK retailer Waitrose found that at least one in five people shared a photo of food with their followers every month.
Typically, this post would now go into photography tips about using natural light and finding the right angle. But I’m going to spare you this obvious advice, because my specialty is marketing.
Here are three marketing-based tips that will help you grow your Instagram following:
1. Use the right hashtags.
Hashtags are a vital component of Instagram marketing. By tagging your food photos with the right hashtags, potential users who are interested in your content will see you.
In my research for this post, however, I found that many food bloggers are not using the right hashtags. They used unique tags, but were not expanding their visibility with popular tags.
So what is the right hashtag? Hashtag marketing can be tricky. Although using generic hashtags like #cake or #pizza can help you reach the maximum number of people, they are also used heavily. For example, there are nearly 60 million posts with the hashtag #cake. How will yours stand out? You can overcome this issue by using a mix of popular and niche hashtags.
Take Jaclyn Bell of CookingClassy. She has over 242,000 followers on Instagram and does a great job with hashtags. Here’s an example of one of her posts:
Each of Jaclyn’s posts has three kinds of hashtags.
- Popular tags. Even though hashtags like #cake and #dessert are insanely popular, Jaclyn uses them. A huge number of people follow these hashtags and they are worth using, despite the heavy competition. But she doesn’t stop there.
- Niche tags. Hashtags like #tastingtable and #foodblogeats fall in this category. They are relatively less common, and followers also expect a certain type or theme to your posts. Using these hashtags provides a way to invite yourself into this more exclusive club of Instagrammers.
- Unique tags. These are hashtags used to nurture a following. If you are a food blogger who posts on a number of different themes, you may want to provide followers with a way to follow posts on one of these categories. Jacelyn uses hashtags like #cookingclassy and #eeeeeats for this purpose.
A word of caution here: Instagram allows users as many as 30 hashtags on each of their posts. That, however, is a lot. For best results, restrict your hashtags to fewer than ten per post.
2. Use partnerships to increase visibility.
Large businesses use influencer marketing by paying popular Instagrammers to spread the word about their brands. But as an individual blogger, you would probably find this strategy prohibitive to grow your Instagram following. There is a way, however, to benefit from a partnership that promotes both you and the brand.
The best approach is co-marketing. Partner with other Instagrammers with a similar following to cross-promote your posts. A typical co-marketing campaign works like this:
- Find brands that target the same demographic as you do.
- Find those who have a similar follower count to you.
- Request shout-outs and mentions from these Instagram accounts in exchange for a similar shout-out from your side. The idea is to mutually expose both your posts to followers of both accounts
- Measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
- As your Instagram following grows, find new co-marketing partners with a larger following.
Try for spontaneous shoutouts to companies as well, where you are telling a brand that you enjoyed a product. Users who are tagged in a post tend to send a shoutout back to you.
3. Promote your blog through a call to action.
The strategies above help you grow your Instagram following. They do not, however, automatically translate into visitors to your blog. Use a call to action (or CTA as it is known among marketers) to bring visitors to your blog.
In my research, I noticed that most food bloggers do not use this technique. If you want to drive traffic to your blog, you must overcome how Instagram does not allow hyperlinking within posts. You can only use a link in your profile.
Katerina from @diethood does a good job in promoting her blog posts through Instagram.
The screenshot shows that each of her posts go with specific CTAs:
- A direct link. Followers can go to the blog using a URL shortener like Bitly.
- Which keywords to search on. Followers must search on these to reach her recipe post.
- Current post link appears in her profile. A reminder that a link to her recipe is available above.
This way, followers interested in reading her recipes can choose to visit her blog using any one of these options.
By using the right hashtags and marketing strategies, you increase the visibility of your posts. In addition to growing your Instagram following, this strategy also sets your blog up for more visits with the use of relevant calls to action.
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Anand Srinivasan is a marketing consultant and the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources.
You might also like: 5 Ways to Grow Your Instagram Following