I’ve been thinking about Instagram a lot lately. Although I manage dozens of websites in different niches, I’ve stayed away from it as a platform, unsure of how to use it effectively. In my last two projects, I have finally ventured to create an Instagram account.
I discovered the secret to effective marketing on Instagram by accident. I have the pocket plugin in my Chrome browser, which puts three trending stories underneath the Google search box (my default browser home). I must have accidentally installed it because I would never have added a feature like that deliberately. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the stories it pulls up, which have been genuinely interested and articles I would otherwise not have come across.
In any case, one article from Adweek recently appeared highlighting a campaign by an anti-drinking nonprofit in France. From scratch they created an insanely popular Instagram account, of Louise Delage, a beautiful young woman, seemingly living a glamorous life, from pools to parties to closeups of a girl about town. However, the subtext was that in every photo she always had a drink in her hand or a straw in her lips. Still, the account collected a ton of followers (reaching nearly 17,000), got promoted by influencers, and went viral.
Then, the campaign revealed everyone got catfished and that the account was not that of a real person, but an alcoholism awareness campaign!
Depending on your outlook it was either genius or backfired. (Some have asked, how many new alcoholics did the campaign create before the big reveal? Did everyone who followed the account get the memo that it was a hoax? You can imagine there are potentially a lot of problems with the strategy.) After the cover-up was revealed, the site got thousands of hits (the goal of any campaign) and the social account attracted thousands of new followers.
It is an interesting story, but what I was amazed at is how, in the interview, the nonprofit reveals their EXACT BLUEPRINT for success on Instagram!
In an interview with Adweek, the head of the organization, Stephane Xiberras Paris explains the strategy was rooted in mimicking Instagram content and user behaviors around four key pillars:
“content, hashtags, bots and a KOL [key opinion leader] strategy”
The article goes on to detail how they carried out each step. I highlight the relevant bits below.
- 1 1. Post Content Frequently and At the Right Time
- 2 2. Add the right kind of content
- 3 3. Add Hashtags…LOTS of them
- 4 Use Automation to Scale
- 5 Reach Out to Opinion Leaders in Your Niche
1. Post Content Frequently and At the Right Time
“The team posted two to three posts per day at high-traffic moments—in the morning, at lunchtime and late at night”
In this, they were imitating the behaviors of popular fashion bloggers. Now, depending on your niche, you might have a different schedule that matches the top accounts in your sector. Make sure you follow what works in your niche.
2. Add the right kind of content
Following the training of Scott Moran (Co-Founder of SamCart), I’ve found that posting motivational messages with images works really well on Instagram. Hey, I like seeing content that gets me fired up as well, so join the party! There are tools that automate the process. I use Typorama on my iPhone to make eye-catching images with fancy attention-getting text. The app even has built in quotes if you don’t have your own, but I like making and finding my own quotes, as Brendon Burchard and a number of other motivational marketers do.
It also wasn’t enough to just post, but the structure of the post matters:
“To ensure the content was found, each post included a mix of 20-30 hashtags related to fashion, food, nature and parties.”
Now see, I would have thought that would be excessive or perceived negatively, but apparently not!
The choice of hashtags is really important, not only for identifying the niche focus of your own brand on Instagram, but in terms of using automated scripts, as detailed in the next section.
The best thing you can do is search hashtags within Instagram and finde ones that have lots of followers and use those in your messages. You can post some with your original post and then reply to your own post in the comments with more hashtags. Using hashtags helps to ensure your contents gets into the feeds of like-minded folks.
Use Automation to Scale
The Robot Revolution will not be televised:
“We also set up a well-known bot to like and follow specific people—like women interested in fashion bloggers, journalists and celebrities”
So, what is this popular robot? I decided to do a little digging around the internet and found there are a number of options out there like Instagress ($10/month min but they also have 3 day and 10 day plans for less), Zen-Promo.com (same pricing) or Instamacro (more costly at $10 for 3 days).
As this blogger on hootsuite writes,
“Instagress allows you to enter specific hashtags you want to be associated with and then automatically like photos or follow people based on those hashtags. “
While the author did gain a lot of followers, he noted that the quality of the followers and comments were poor and awkward. However, one person commenting on the story, Michelle, had a geat experience with Instagreess and recommended the following for a better quality of results:
“Did the 3 day trial using only Likes and Comments….I have it using Tags and I thought about what tags I wanted to target. I also put some words in the Blacklist to stay away from posts that don’t align with my brand.”
Another commenter with a positive bot experience, Christopher, recommended the following:
“Comments on photos you’ve never seen is disingenuous and dumb . Pick the like option it’s much safer less intrusive and less likely to get you in trouble. (though it still can if you don’t check your hashtags closely which will lead to awkward conversations , so do some research and choose carefully )…You should target followers of the biggest names in your field and only with likes . Targeting the followers of the big boys instead of hashtags pinpoints people who have already expressed an interest in the kind of work you do and are more likely to respond positively to your likes.”
He reported adding over 500 new followers this way, with 200 new blog sign ups. Seriously, they need to publish his comments as a testimonial. Based on his experience, I definitely plan to try out Instagress.
Scott Moran is not big on automated tools, particularly ones that post from Instagram to Facebook, as the latter treats those posts differently than manual posts and you won’t get as much reach. He advocates using App Action for Instagram automation.
I have yet to try either, but plan to soon. If either works, I’ll report back here! If you’ve used automation for your Instagram and integrated social media marketing and experienced success, share your tips in the comments below!
And one more set of recommendations from Monique I plan to follow:
“ONLY use emoji’s as your ‘comments’ – far less awkward.”
Don’t follow SUCH GENERIC terms like ‘awesome’ – go after your niche. You’ll find a lot less spam accounts there.
Even better, instead of going after hashtags, go after your competitor accounts. And use the automated unfollow to get rid of the excess of accounts you follow over a duration.”
I’m super excited now and can’t wait to try out these strategies!
Others mentioned posting regular content to Instagram. There is no truly automated way to do this — Instagram’s API is very strict and doesn’t allow third parties to store your username and password.
That’s why most 3rd party Instagram tools are focused on saving time, but still manually take you to the login page to post. There is one, ScheduGram, that is more automated, but they are forthcoming about the risks.
Of course, if you are looking for so-called White Hat Instagram promotion, try these eight tips.
Reach Out to Opinion Leaders in Your Niche
So, back to the original article on the effective Instagram campaign…What other strategies did they use besides the three detailed above? The last tactic involved getting on the radar of what they call KOLs, or teenaged Key Opinion Leaders.
KOLs are accounts with 20K to 100K followers. You can call out specific accounts on Instagram inside your posts. Similar to how on Twitter you can get someone’s attention by putting @TwitterUsername inside your post along with your content and hashtags.
In the end, the story generated the following results:
- 140 articles
- a trending topic on Twitter in France
- 500,000 total video views across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook
- posts by key opinion leaders
All for $0 cost. Not bad! Hope you find this useful. If you have useful Instagram promotion tips to share, please do so in the comments. Wishing you success!