The business landscape is changing rapidly. Many of the skills required for building a business today did not exist a few years ago. Social media has exploded and has transformed the ways companies find and interact with their customers. Understanding social media and its value is essential to the future of every business. This sudden shift has left many uncertain how to proceed, but it has propelled a new group of adept adopters to the top, where they are blazing a new frontier.
Instagram, which was started simply as a photo-sharing app, has become one of the most powerful ways for a company to grow its audience.
Those serious about their businesses must take social media seriously. Several universities now offer degrees in social media. Simply put, the concept is not a fad. If any were wondering why Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, it is because there is enormous value in the medium. It is the future of customer service, advertising, and public relations.
That said, many people are baffled by it. In order to understand what it takes to build a serious following on Instagram, I interviewed a few leading social media mavens. Both of these experts are young women who have been able to tap into the collective fantasy. @ellemayleckenby has an audience that rivals most newspapers and TV stations. @alexa_was has developed a strategy that allowed her to experience exponential growth, gaining close to 14,000 followers in her first few months.
These are a few of their tips for succeeding:
Post every day. The people who are most successful with social media treat it like a full-time job. They post on multiple platforms everyday - sometimes several times a day. There is a definite correlation between the number of followers and the number of posts made. You must utilize multiple platforms to maximize exposure. Different outlets fulfill different needs and attract different audiences. Develop a consistent presence in all relevant platforms.
While being consistent and almost obsessive about social media, you must ensure that the quality remains high. Don’t post the first picture you take. The people I interviewed go through several drafts before crafting the final image. You must think of a post like a mini ad-campaign. It is not something put out on a whim. It is a reflection of your company and whatever product or service you deliver. Millennials judge companies based on their websites and social media savvy. If these are lacking, it directly affects business.
The Material Should Feel Intimate
People are looking for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your life. @alexa_was attributes a large part of her success to her ability to let people into the personal, goofy moments in her life. Social media is personal. It is a way for a company to be held in the palm of a potential customer’s hand- make it something they want to hold on to.
If you use Instagram or have watched someone else use it, it’s incredible to see how quickly a person can flick through the application, making lightning-quick decisions about what to ‘like’ and what to ignore. Companies must be able to make an impact in the split second that their photo is sliding by.
Social Media Is A Two-Way Street
Social means social. It means communicating with followers. It means reaching out to people you admire. The act of following is a gesture of acknowledgement; it is a digital nod, a tip of the hat. Successful Instagramers don’t use Instagram passively. They actively reach out to their followers and build strategies to find new followers. They use it as the new customer service, a way of making themselves available to the people supporting them.
The reason that people are so addicted to social media is that it is a new way to peek into the lives of the people who run the companies they admire or the lives they wish they had. @ellemayleckenby says that people respond to her genuineness. People have gotten so used to phony advertisements and have an amazing ability to spot the difference between a genuine post and a post that is just meant to sell a product. In order to set yourself apart, you must be genuinely interested in the things you are posting and genuinely believe it is worth sharing.
Know what you are good at. You are a source that people go to for a very specific thing. Everything is instantly available today, you must offer something unique, and specific. Watch which posts get the biggest response and respond to that, always focusing on the most valuable part of your Instagram identity.
Instagram is a slice of life. When asked what has made her so successful: @ellemayleckenby said people love to see people enjoying their lives. And that is what she does. She posts beautiful, euphoric photos that make viewers want to be wherever she is.
People check their phones as a mini break. To have a moment’s respite from the tedium of whatever they are doing, they check their phones to find something inspiring, something that will help them return their work restored. This is a large part of what makes these people successful.
The main advice both experts have for people trying to build their Instagram into a business is this: Don’t wait. A strategy will take a while to perfect. Core competency will take a while to identify. You must begin. Followers bring more followers. Things will snowball, but only after you put in the work.
Do what is in your reach diligently and with passion. You must proceed with the simple goal of doing good work that satisfies yourself. You cannot make fame your aim. Follow your passion, respond to the data, change, keep going.
Success in Instagram requires understanding a basic principle of human nature: people want to be inspired. Instagram is a tight-knit, intense community of people looking for something that will enhance their lives. The first rule of finding success on Instagram is to do things worth sharing.