How to Use Instagram to Connect With Your Audience
Let’s go behind the scenes for some of the most current trends in social media, at DigiPublish NYC 2019.
I recently attended DigiPublish NYC, a one-day event hosted in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, by World Forum Disrupt. DigiPublish NYC is a platform by which leaders in the media industry share evolving trends, methods for growing business and engagement and online initiatives that are soon going to affect everyone.
Throughout a day of networking, learning, conversing and observing, I was able to get a glimpse into what’s going on in media right now and what’s coming soon. The overall goal was a spread of knowledge to help every attendee improve brands, businesses and methods for connecting with audiences.
Of greatest interest to me were the panel discussions and presentations that had to do with social media and growing a brand. The staged discussion and interview that stood out most was the one with Smriti Sinha from Thrive Global and Michaela Atkinson of Dash Hudson. Thrive promotes wellness over social media and has had success with enormous audience engagement tactics. Dash Hudson is a visual marketing platform that uses visual intelligence technology to delve into branding and find trends within social media.
Here’s what I learned, and here’s what you can do in order to stay connected with your audience on Instagram, while enabling better discovery and creating your brand!
Show your Instagram audience more of what they love.
Your audience wouldn’t be following you if they didn’t love your mission and ideas, your photography nor your graphics. Your audience is following you because they want to learn more about you, your talents and your brand (if you are creating one, either a personal brand or a business of your services). That’s why we made an “About Us” page!
We’ve found that we get varying engagement based on different types of photos and content we share. Photos of us together get the most engagement, and photos of coffee, food or mountains (with no people or human figures) get less.
We’ve found, over time, that this is because people love people. Similarly, we get the most hits to our blog when we share some expert advice we have, whether it has to do with photography, remote work and travel or packing lists.
Find out what makes your audience interact with your Instagram, through posts or stories, and keep doing it! If your audience comments the most when you show one of your baking secrets, then do it again! If your audience answers the questions box the most when you ask for help on making a decision, do it again! This helps everyone feel connected and valued.
Stay positive and radiate positivity on Instagram.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably un-followed anyone who complains, whines, bashes others or fails to provide enough positive vibes. I don’t like my day being dampened by anything less than what’s positive and forward-thinking.
If you want to shine like a star on social media, stay positive. Always.
Nobody is perfect. That’s a fact! You can be honest about having a bad day or failing at something, but it helps to pick yourself back up (or your text or your posting strategy) by asking for positive advice, or acknowledgement of a goal of doing better and improving. You never know who you’ll be inspiring!
Provide your Instagram audience with help and tips.
We are living in this special age where we can surf Instagram and learn things. Isn’t that incredible?
Are you an expert in something? It could be anything, from painting to baking. Your audience wants to see some behind-the-scenes tips and tricks, as you likely want to see from the industry experts. Everyone loves a good tip here and there, either when we’re seeking them or even when we least expect it.
Make someone’s day by showing a trick you learned recently, or provide help on a common problem. You’ll likely make a connection and have people thanking you soon.
Create unique interactions with Instagram stories.
Instagram stories have provided Insta-users with a quick way to reply to photos or videos, send direct messages and answer interactive features like quizzes, polls and questions. These are the ways in which we’ve learned about what our audience wants to see, and also the way in which we’ve formed connections with people around the world.
You’re probably using Instagram to get some type of interaction. Maybe you want to be following others with your trade, skill or talent for some inspiration. Maybe you want to learn some tips from experts. Maybe you want to look at photos of birds all day – who knows!
By creating ways to interact with your audience and ways for them to interact and contact you, voilà – you’ll start making connections! Be sure to keep asking questions, getting answers and replying to them and keep the conversation moving from day to day.
Be consistent with visuals and branding.
Everyone considers the idea of the Instagram aesthetic differently. For us, it’s a consistent half-half effect that continues with our visuals. For others, it may be text, followed by a photo, followed by text, for a checkerboard look. I’ve seen other accounts that have a green period, followed by a blue period, or interconnecting horizon lines. The sky’s the limit!
If you don’t care about any of the meticulous visuals, but you still want to grow a consistent brand, think about what you have to provide to create awareness that you exist among the Instagram clutter. Provide what your audience expects, and always think about if you’re answering a certain question someone may have, whether it’s, “How can I make any recipe gluten-free?” or, “Which oil paints can I buy for a beginner?”
If your brand is you, point out what you’re doing and exemplify how you’re doing it expertly. You can be a video gamer, a gardener, a portrait photographer or a marathoner. Show us (your audience) what you’re doing and how you got there, so that we see your story.
Make a link in bio, to continue the ideas beyond Instagram.
You’ve probably seen Instagram users make a call to action for accessing a “link in bio.” This means providing a URL in the profile link where you can link to virtually anything online.
If you aren’t selling anything and you don’t have a website online, show us an article we may like, or something you’re thinking about this week. You can provide value in all sorts of ways on Instagram.
Grow your brand through discovery.
So, you’re doing something cool, right? You probably want more people to know and find out about it. Unless you’re Beyoncé, there’s likely always going to be someone or something bigger out there that has already created a following.
What can you do? Tag a relevant brand in a photo, or tag that brand in your story.
Use a hashtag (or 30, the maximum for Instagram in-feed posts). Send some direct messages to brands or influencers in a particular field and ask for a feature. Answer calls for questions. Enter contests.
Work collaboratively and then showcase your work by having someone else who can publicize. That’s what we’ve been doing with our series of awesome travelers who all have a different sort of super talent in “@halfhalftravel & Friends”.
Open up dialogue on Instagram to build community.
If you’ve started building a brand or a following (or if you downloaded Instagram for the first time today), you are unlocking a powerful tool. You can build community around an idea and provide a way for people to connect with each other.
Even if you don’t know where to start, think about your strengths, your background, your passions and your talents. If you can’t figure out what any of those are for you, think about something you did today. Did you do it well? Do you want to do it better? It could be anything from making your bed to making a perfect bowl of cereal. You can start there.
Anytime you ask a question, you’re giving people a way to answer. When people answer, they may see another answer they like. This gives them a reason to make a connection, get an idea or keep building toward a goal. We’ve learned so much when our community contributes toward our blog posts.
You can use moments in time like a trend, holiday or season to switch gears and ask new questions. Or, you can use something like your birthday, a hobby you’re working on or something you saw in the news, to trigger an emotion or start a conversation.
Good luck connecting with your audience and using all the tools that are now available. You’ll do great!