We already know that instagram is a great place for posting selfies and photos of food but did you know that instagram can be a highly-targeted, visual advertising channel for your brand? In fact, a recent study found that instagram provides brands with 25% more engagement over other social platforms. And like any other social network out there, there are right ways, wrong ways, and clever ways to use it. So how can you use instagram to build an audience of customers around business? In this video, we’ll show you three concrete methods that you can use to increase engagement and build a following for your brand.

Method #1, use the right hashtags. Your goal on Instagram is to engage your current audience while also growing your following. Posting new, interesting and engaging photos will satisfy the first requirement but to begin growing, you’ll find hashtagging your photos to be extremely important. This is because hashtags make it easy for people to find your photos when they are searching for those specific terms. So, which hashtags should you use? Well, just like with Twitter and other social sites, users on Instagram use certain hashtags over others so if you want to tag your photos properly, you’ll need to find and use the most relevant hashtags.

To find relevant hashtags, you’ll want to use a free online program like IconoSquare or Webstagram, which are linked below this video. As an example, we searched the hashtag MensFashion, and were able to pull the following list of additional hashtags along with the number of times they’ve been used. Try going through this exercise using different keywords that describe your brand and products, building out your hashtag keyword list as you go. Keep in mind that Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. Additionally, the popular words will change over time, so make sure you revisit your keyword hashtags every few months to make sure you’re using the best possible terms. Now, here’s a trick you can try out for your ecommerce businesses.

For every product and product category you carry, do the keyword research to see which are the most popular Instagram hashtags around those product categories. Come up with 15-20 popular hashtags for each category of products you sell, as well as a base of 5-10 popular tags that describe your brand and product offering overall. Finally, try creating a list of popular local specific hashtags that relate to your brand. For example, if you owned a men’s fashion brand and were posting a pair of socks you carry, your hashtags might look something like this. Keep all of these groups of keyword hashtags stored on your phone using something like Evernote or your phones’ notes app. This makes it easy and efficient when you’re on the go to post a new Instagram image, optimized for the most relevant keywords. You can easily open your Evernote for example and copy your hashtags to post with each photo. Doing the work upfront of researching, organizing and saving the most applicable and popular hashtags will save you a ton of time down the road, increase your engagement and help garner new followers.

Here’s another quick tip. If you’ve been posting to Instagram for a while and feel like you’ve missed out on all these opportunities to build your audience by using keyword hashtags, fret not. You can still go back and post a comment with your new hashtag keyword lists and watch the likes and followers roll in. Method #2, steal your competitors followers. One of the best ways to find and attract new followers is by seeking out your closest competitors’ Instagram accounts and engaging with their audience. This method is extremely easy and effective. The first thing you can do is pick a local competitor whose followers you can target. You may want to add your city to your profile, to create a greater sense of familiarity between your brand and the people you’re targeting.

Now, there are three types of engagement on instagram. They are, follow a user, like a photo and comment on a photo and these are all great ways of engaging followers, however the more effort you put in the better the results. So, you can start by simply following users who follow your competitor and this will definitely get you more followers. But if you want to make more of an impact, you’ll want to take the time to like and comment on a photo of theirs. This method is guaranteed to grow your list of targeted follows, as these users have already shown some level of interest in the products you carry simply by following your competitors’ account. Method #3, sponsored posts and product reviews.

If you really want to make a big impact, you’ll want to post your products to other, larger accounts in your niche, so you can expose your brand to a wider audience. So how do you do that? Well, first, unlike the tactics above to grow your account this one isn’t free. However, if done correctly, it’s great value. To get started make a list of the larger instagram accounts in your niche. Now, you may already be following these accounts, but if not take some time to find them. One of the best ways to do this is to use Webstagram and search for some of the closest hashtag keywords you uncovered with your earlier research. When you do a search for your keywords, not only will it show you the related keywords, but it also shows you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords. Try to look for accounts with a large following, usually between 20, 000 and 200, 000 followers. If there is an email address in the profile, it usually means they’re open to sponsored posts. You can easily email them and ask them their sponsored post pricing. In general, we’ve found the average rate to be around $20-$50 per post, depending on the size of their following.

Additionally, if you’re selling an original product, you may also want to consider sending them your product to review and post. Give these methods a try with your business, and watch your list of targeted followers grow. If you’re looking for more information on starting and running a business, be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel and join the ecommerce university email list. Thanks for watching and if you found this video helpful let us know by clicking like or leaving a comment below. this video or leaving a comment below..