Remember the times when Instagram was a new innocent platform for sharing images of lattes, sneakers, and selfies? While the overall quality of content wasn't that amazing at first, it was designed to do one thing: to instantly share little snapshots of our day. This core idea is what attracted the first marketers to it. Then, when the troves of advertisers, artists, and other content creators moved into the space, the platform has lost its initial appeal. Don't get me wrong, I love Instagram's artistic side and the aspirational feel that comes with it, but Instagram is anything but instant these days. While I am not suggesting going back to blurry or pixelated images with questionable filters slapped onto them, you need to bring a sense of immediacy back; because a feeling of being "in the moment" is what creates a sense of "a special club" to your followers. And whether we admit it or not, people like to feel special and belong to cool clubs. Besides, a sense of exclusivity not only gives your customers a reason to follow you on Instagram, but it also creates a sense of deeper connection.
While the competition is strong on Instagram, it's not only about perfect images. In fact, Instagram users get noticeably tired of flawless appearances. Instead, once in a while, opt for something perfectly imperfect. People connect much better with other humans instead of flawless robots. Get personal and share a story of how your business began, share your fears or insecurities, tell a story of a failure and how you've come back from it. Ask people for advice on some topics you know very little about. You will be amazed at how many responses you can get to a simple question because people love to share their tips. Plus, you can always pull away the curtain on the inner workings of your business. Show them your processes, your production line, or share the stories of your team. Even something as simple as office celebrations or "bring your dog to work" day make your brand more approachable, and thus, likeable. When doing this, make sure to keep in mind the overall aesthetics of your Instagram feed and try not to ruin the cohesiveness of your brand with one badly-lit, blurry image. Don't be afraid to depart from the perfectly-orchestrated images you usually post. Give your Instagram followers access to some bits of your brand they wouldn't see otherwise.
Instagram Stories is the tool you need to leverage if you want to create a sense of exclusivity. Because, conventionally, Stories are up for just 24 hours, your followers feel like they're in on something fun and less-known than the traditional content you're putting out there. At this point, people are pretty accustomed to watching Stories from handles they love, because of this urgency factor. Plus, Stories make it very simple to go "unfiltered" without ruining the vibe of the traditional feed. So, if you're not quite sure yet how to balance the editorial and the raw in your profile, experiment with the content you publish to Stories. Of course, pay attention to the reception this content gets from your followers. Do they love it? Do they engage with it? Does it prompt them to send you a DM? Those are all great indicators that you should try these techniques in the feed. Read: Learn how to schedule Stories on Instagram using PLANOLYWatch: IG Live - Creating a Cohesive Feed
We all love giveaways, sales, and coupon codes (even if we don't want to confess it!). So, what's a better way to show your appreciation for your followers than with special deals or codes? You don't have to do it all the time or break the bank to show them your gratitude, but an occasional exclusive coupon code that's only published on Instagram will do wonders. Want to take it a step further? Share a coupon code in Stories and see how many times it will be redeemed on your website! This will give people plenty of incentives to not only follow you on Instagram but to also to pay special attention to your content. Instagram is known for its aspirational content. Why not make your followers feel like the insiders of a special club or a community? This will only make them feel so much more loyal to your brand, converting them into ambassadors for your company.
Lesya Liu helps creative entrepreneurs create a meaningful and profitable Instagram presence that feels right and attracts the right kind of clients. Her passion lies in art and marketing (and combining the two). Visit her website here.