You’ve probably been told that “Instagram contests are great for business!” But maybe you don’t understand how that works. The #1 glaring issue is that social media followers do not necessarily mean customers.
While we are on the subject of using Instagram for business, let’s talk about how engaged the Instagram community is. A 2015 Forrester Research study found that Instagram users are more likely to engage with a brand’s post (i.e., like, comment, or share) When you see followers replying in Instagram comments with a simple @mybestfriend, this is bringing a new follower to your brand who it has literally be referred there by their best friend. When you see people tagging their friends, this is an example of building a community of followers who have not only been referred by someone they likely trust, but a new follower who is interested in your brand niche that you may have not been able to reach out to before.
According to outdoor brand Poler, “Instagram has allowed us to build a community that is based on interaction and sharing, which we believe is the best possible way to inspire your audience.”
I remember when Poler started with fewer than 1,000 followers, two years later they have a super engaged audience.
Collaborate with like-minded businesses or creatives who share a similar niche to your own. Not only will you likely learn a thing or two by collaborating with another creative, you can engage your own peer community to build a support system. It's a win-win, but likely a little scary. It’s hard to reach out over the internet and feel like your brand may be safe with another person, but if you find the right creative it is a great opportunity.
Some of the best collaborations on Instagram have been Instagram Takeovers, where you share your Instagram feed with another Intsa user or you takeover someone else’s Insta feed. This is great exposure for your brand. Loyal followers will get to see another point of view and support a new brand that likely matches up with their own aesthetic.
Before a takeover, you’ll need to meet with your fellow creative and figure out a plan. Use Google Doc, Skype meetings and other tools to really connect on the plan. Typically a Takeover is used when one creative wants to take a break for a week or so, but you could easily just switch Insta feeds for a week instead. Schedule your posts through Latergram.
Make sure your audience knows when you’re going to hold a Takeover. Promote beforehand to really garner interest and make sure to note every single Takeover post, “this is a Takeover”. And, lastly, always agree which photos will be posted before the Takeover; you want to know your brand is being represented well and the other creative will want to know the same.
This is the best way to really share the wealth with another creative, while also adding exposure and building engagement for your own brand.
Now it’s time to talk about contests. They’re tried and true, but it really takes loyal followers and authentic engagement for contests to be a long-run success.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of contest you are going to hold: a new photo inspired by your brand, re-posts of your brand’s old photos or photos using your product. Setup, the rules and the prize. Make it short and simple, 1 to 5 bullet point directions. And really think about the length of time you would like to hold your contest. Are you promoting an upcoming event? Are you wanting to showcase a brand new product? Are you hoping to engage the audience you already have? These goals will help you define your contest style, your rules and the length of time you hold your contest.
For timing, use Iconsquare (The small fee to see your analytics is worth it) to check out when your audience is engaging with your Insta content. Schedule your contest accordingly. 48 hours is a good time frame for hosting your first contest.
Promote, promote, promote. Make sure your directions are clear and your call-to-action is short but direct.
For both Contests and Takeovers, think of a hashtag you could create to let your audience know this is a special event. Use this hashtag every time so that your audience becomes used to it, and don’t be afraid to use the common hashtag along with a special hashtag, i.e.: #SpecialTakeover #ThisBrandIsTakingOver
Contests and Takeovers are tricky, it’s a great way to engage your community, but staggering these types of engagements out is important. Unless your brand is all about other brands, make sure you host these types of events sparingly throughout the year and really think out how it might benefit your business needs.