Modern Instagram Marketing: A Step-By-Step Guide to Building a Real Following on Instagram.


Instagram presents a massive traffic opportunity for marketers. It is huge. One may be asking how big Instagram is, well by June of 2018, Instagram had reached the 1 billion user milestone. What could be the number 2 years down the line? It's huge right? Think about that for a second. A lot of the platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are suffering from lagging growth rates. Instagram on the other hand, continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, when it comes to actual daily usage, Instagram leaves other platforms in the dust. These other platforms may have a lot more users, but in terms of daily usage Instagram boasts of over 500 million daily users.

That's right, 500 million Instagram app users access Instagram every single day. That's a lot of content consumption, that's a lot of likes, comments, hashtags and what have you. In fact, when measured in terms of per user engagement, it is easy to see that Instagram user’s behavior is more habitual. For example, with Facebook, many people have a love-hate relationship with the platform.

They would use it habitually for some time until they read some rough updates. They don't feel too good and they swear off Facebook for a few hours, weeks or even month if not forever. This is not so with Instagram. People not only use it every single day, but they keep coming back. In fact, a lot of people check their Instagram feed every few hours. They don't feel like they’re going out of their way to use the platform.

It is very easy to understand this dynamic because Instagram was programmed from the ground up as a mobile experience. This is a far cry from Facebook which, of course, was built primarily for the desktop. Since Instagram is a mobile-focused platform, it's very easy to have some sort of seamless perception of it.  It thus becomes part of their daily routine.  They treat Instagram the way many people used to read the newspaper first thing in the morning.

It shows no signs of saturation because there are so many niches that can be promoted on Instagram. The bottom line is as long as the niche is photo or video friendly or geographically intensive, there is an audience on Instagram for that niche. This is extremely important if you have an eCommerce website to promote.

If you are selling any kind of merchandise, Instagram should be part of your marketing strategy.  There are no two ways about it. You are leaving a lot of money on the table if you skip Instagram. Sounds awesome so far, right? well, here's the problem. Most people who try Instagram fatal out fail. They really do. If you want to learn why this is the case, continue reading.

It is easy to get excited about Instagram’s reach, user consumption patterns and overall traffic volume. It's very easy to get pumped up when it comes to those facts but the problem is, most people who try marketing on Instagram fail to get the results they are looking for. Here are just 10 of the most common reasons. I am not going to pretend that this is the most comprehensive list you will ever come across. Instead, this list sums up the most common ways people slip up on Instagram.

There are other ways but chances are, if you don't know what you're doing, you have screwed up because of one of the following;

Reason #1: "One-time big time" paid marketing campaign.

A lot of people who have access to marketing budgets are very impatient to promote their online stores on Instagram. They just jump in with both feet.  They're clueless as to what they are doing. All thy know is that they have a lot of money to spend, so they jump out ad after ad after ad.

After all the money is has been burned through, they have very little to show of it.  The reason for this is because they believe that they can just throw money at the problem. Well, the bottom-line here is return on investment. Sure, you are more than welcome to spend a tremendous amount of cash on a massive Instagram marketing campaign, but it's anybody's guess whether you will be able to meet ROI targets.

You can't just rely on the fact that you have a lot of money to spend. Believe me or not, even if you have a very modest or even small budget, you can still walk away with better results than a better financed marketing campaign. The difference? It all boils down to how systematic and methodical you are in the running of your Instagram ad campaign.

Reason #2: Promoting Direct Conversion links

A lot of people think that Instagram is just a source of traffic. You can tell from their marketing campaigns because they would create a profile with a homepage link that does not go to their homepage. It goes directly to a sales page or an email recruitment page or squeeze page.

What do you think happens? That's right, a whole lot of nothing. It doesn't really matter how engaging your content is. If you are not qualifying people or helping them overcome some serious structural questions regarding whatever it is you are trying to promote, you're probably going to achieve much with the traffic.

I am not disputing the fact that people pull a lot of traffic on Instagram. but anybody who has ever tried online marketing understands that just because you get traffic, it doesn't mean you get conversions.  Traffic, click -through rate and conversions are totally different things.

By promoting directly to your conversion page, which is your sales or squeeze page, you may have qualified the traffic well enough for you to convert those people into paying customers.  Your ROI tanks and you end up wasting a tremendous amount of time, effort and money on your Instagram campaign.

Reason #3: Unreasonable suspicion of influencers

Influencer marketing is really big on Instagram. Basically, you find people who are already influential in your niche and you pay them to mention your product or give shout outs to your profile. Whatever method they use, you leverage their existing popularity and credibility within their community.

The problem is that there are many fake influencers out there. I am not going to deny this. Nobody can. There are accounts on Instagram that are flat-out fake . Not only are they fake but the "people" following them are fake too. It is a software illusion.  It is no surprise that a lot of marketers burned by these influencers.

Maybe they are charging $20 a shout out or maybe they are charging 5$ per product mention.  But regardless of how cheap the influencer rates may be, it's wasted money because they don't really have any influence as they claim. They just have high follower numbers. These followers are not real.

Surprisingly, a lot of people have been turned off by influencers. They don't even want to deal with influencers at all. This is a serious mistake. It's one thing to be completely suspicious of fake influencers, it's another to completely close your mind to working out a mutually advantageous deal with real influencers. There is a difference.

Believe it or not, reaching out and closing deals with the right influencers can mean the difference between your online store making tens of thousands of dollars a month or your company continuing to struggle.

Reason #4: Choosing to be antisocial

There's a reason why social media is called social media.  It's supposed to allow people to be social. It's supposed to enable outreach, engagement, sharing of ideas and forming genuine communities regarding interest and topics.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers just create pages and blast out content. They don't care if people react to their materials. They don't care if people even see their materials. They're just going through the motions. Well, let me tell you, if that is how you run your Instagram campaign, you are being antisocial. You are not reaching out to influencers, nor are you engaging with the fans of your content. This leads to you failing to create a community around your content.

Believe it or not, it is your community that will add dollars to your bank account. That's how it works. By choosing to be antisocial, you kill your online community before it even forms.

Reason #5: Relying on substandard photos and videos

This should be self-explanatory. Instagram is primarily a photo sharing platform. Accordingly, accounts that feature the highest quality photos tend to get a lot more followers.  Keep it at that level. Post only high-quality photos. Post photos with high production quality This way, you would stand out from your competitors.

                                                            Poor quality, blurry image


                                                              A high quality image

Reason #6: Build it and they will come content "strategy"

Have you ever had an amazing idea regarding a hot photo that people in your niche simply cannot refuse? Chances are, you've had such ideas. Well, what would happen if you send your precious cash on such content ideas?

Let me tell you, nine times out of ten, you probably will fall slat on your face. You did not do any consumer intelligence.  You did not do any research work ahead of time to establish that your audience would actually be interested in whatever content you are putting up.

You can't just build this content and expect people to show up and come out of the wood work. It doesn't work that way. A lot of businesses fail because of this. Your content must be based on existing demand and existing interest, not based on what you think is hot.

Reason #7: Failure to re-post other's niche-specific content

Believe it or not, you can build a tremendous amount of credibility on social media by simply re-posting somebody's tried and proven content.  In other words, somebody posted content that got lots of likes, engagement, comments and what have you, you can re-post that and create some engagement on your account.

An example is the Travel search site, Momondo, which uses their bio to encourage users to tag them in photos and use hashtag # staycurious for the chance to have your content featured on their profile.

This is perfectly okay because you end up promoting that third-party account. You create a win-win situation. you build your credibility within your niche and you drive attention to that brand. Everybody wins.

If you fail to do this because you are hell bent on promoting only your stuff., your Instagram account is probably not going to grow all that quickly. You need to leverage other people's successful content. Focus on the win-win, don't just focus on monopolizing the traffic results of your efforts.

Reason #8: Failing to call Instagram feed viewers to action

Once you have developed a following, you have to make sure that those people interested in your content actually do something for you.  Obviously, you're not engaging in Instagram marketing because you have nothing else better to do.  You're not doing this for your health. You're doing this because you want to make money. There's no shame in that game.

Step up and actually call people to action. If you post pictures of nice T-shirts, tell people, "If you like this shirt, click on my profile and click on the link to get a 50% discount." Regardless of how you do it, call people to action. Otherwise, they are just going to view your account as a place where they check out cool new things without much obligation or commitment on their part. You end up training your community members to be passive. That kind of audience is worthless to you. If you want to make money from the account, call people to action.

"Which logo is your favorite? Let us know down below!-This is a sample call to action for engagement.

Reason #9: Failure to use hashtags or using the wrong ones

Hashtags establish the niche of your content. people who are interested in a certain type of content would use a certain type of hashtag. Use this habitually. It may seem like people aren't using the hashtags you use but eventually, you will get the hang of it.  You will identify the hashtags that pull in the most traffic. Regardless, you need to make it a habit from day one.

Your hashtags should be specifically branded for your business. It can be an overarching brand hashtag (e.g. #Target20) or a hashtag that you create to promote a certain campaign.

People can follow hashtags now, that means your content can end up in a users’ feed even if they don’t follow you. And if you’re sharing great content and tagging it with relevant hashtags, many of them will start following you.

Reason 10:  Posting off-niche content

I know you're excited about having an Instagram account., but don't let that excitement spill over into you just posting random personal interest posts. Your account, if you're using it for business purposes, is not about you. Instead, it's about your target audience.  Understand that they have a narrow range of interests stick within that narrow range.  Otherwise, you won't be training your community to put money in your pockets because they will view your account as essentially entertainment. Here is an example of one such post:

The phrase that was used in the ad “Girls not allowed” by the global fashion brand Benetton was mistargeted and it didn’t go over too well. 

They won't find it credible as far as the niche-specific products. They just think you are fun to follow but you really don't have much pull with them because you post about everything.

If you focus on one niche for example luxury watches, you can bet that a lot of the people following you will think that you're some sort of expert and they are more likely to give you the benefit of doubt when you start calling them to action to buy stuff from you. That's how it works.

Stick to your target niche. Focus on the big picture. Understand that you're doing this for a reason. You are not just doing this to screw around.