Social media offers multiple opportunities to get a brand noticed. Instagram has been making its rise among social media platforms as a favorite. It Instagram hosts over seven million of users and is an opportunity for businesses to showcase their product instantly to the world. The trick is to gain followers. The more followers you have, the higher your potential for sales increases. Here are seven ways you can help your brand to grow, get that product or service noticed, and increase the net profits from all of your marketing activities. #1. Tools of the Trade Instagram has created tools specifically for businesses. These tools enable businesses to utilize their accounts to their full potential. They allow businesses to distribute their contact information along with allowing potential customers and clients to phone, text, or write to the businesses directly. In addition, analytical tools are available to give businesses data about their success in using Instagram for marketing. This data, labeled as “Insights,” helps businesses understand if their marketing strategies are working. You can access these tools to help you gain knowledge about whether your marketing is effective and determine where you may need to shift strategy. #2. Focused Personality You must create a solid personality for your business and stick with it. The photos you post must contain some sort of consistency in this personality and showcase what your business is all about. Show your audience human qualities and speak to them on their level, as if you were two peers connected by common interests. Maybe your strategy is to use pictures and create a story, or maybe it is to show a sort of color palette. Perhaps you might choose to express a specific imagery in your posts. Whatever you choose, your posts should be consistent and related. Your business should act as a single person with a clear personality, and you do that by showcasing that same personality throughout all your Instagram posts. #3. #StrategicHashtags Ever seen the skit with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake when they speak in hashtags with nearly every word? That is NOT what you want to do. Hashtags are a useful tool when it comes to marketing, especially when reaching for a wider audience; but overuse of them can bring your business down. When using hashtags there are a few simple rules to remember. You want a hashtag to be specific and targeted. Is there a certain demographic or audience for whom your post will peak interest? You also want to be relevant—again has to do with that consistency. Innovative. Catch their attention with something new and fresh, that is consistent with your personality of course. Be thoughtful—do not offend. And finally, be concise. Remember you can say a lot with very few words and a very simple photo. #4. Mix it up! Instagram is not the only platform you can use. Try overlapping your social networking. Share your most appealing Instagram post to Facebook or Twitter as well. If people are engaged in your content on Instagram, they will likely want to follow you on Facebook too. You have to be careful in not posting the exact same things every time to all accounts. Think about how you can use each platform uniquely, while still creating a solid brand personality. But if you take the best content from each, and share it with another platform, you may recruit followers from one to the other. #5. Community Focused When thinking about building a community with your target audience you want to be on alert for the top people with influence within that community. Clearly, Instagram influence marketing works, as some of the biggest celebrities make half a million per sponsored post. Take cues and network with those business and clients in your realm of products and services. Think about broader categories— are you in fashion? Food? Cars? Etc. When you have identified those other communities, you can understand what it is that is appealing to your target audience. Explore those communities looking for the hashtags they use, the personality and style of their photos, and what strategies they use to gain attention. #6. Not Too Much Everyone has that friend that posts every five minutes on Facebook, dictating every move they make, every food they eat, and every conversation they have. We are all annoyed when we open our Facebook to be inundated with posts from the same person about things we have no interest in. As a business, don’t be that annoying friend. You want to post frequently and regularly, but too much will overwhelm your audience and turn them off. Test the waters. When you are starting out, post a couple times during the day to see the response. Then try posting at two other times of day and see the response. You will eventually find times when your audience is most engaged. You will need to adapt your number of posts and times as your demographic changes. #7. Engage Your Audience Simply posting a photo a couple times a day is not enough to be effective. Try engaging your audience with contests or questions. You can ask your followers to tag their friends. These strategies will keep your following strong and help you to gain new followers. For each type, be sure to use the best hashtags for getting likes and shares! Here are some examples of contests that you could hold. Search and Find: Participants filter through photos and posts until they find the winning post. Comments: Participants make a comment on a post where the best comments wins, or each comment is an entry into a random drawing. You can use this contest to have people tag their friends and gain more followers. “Like”: Participants can win something by quickly “liking” a post or photo. This is easy for your followers and will gain attention to the post quickly. Conclusion Instagram is a great tool to reach a large audience. You can show off your product and services and quickly communicate with the public. Use the above strategies to help you gain ground on your social media marketing and put your business at the top.