Instagram influencer marketing is booming. It grew by nearly 40 percent in 2018 and it shows no signs of slowing down. While this creates plenty of opportunities for influencers to make their mark, it also means competition is incredibly fierce. Statistics reveal there are more than 558,000 influencers with over 15,000 followers, making it difficult to hear new voices. If you want to improve your presence and make yourself known as an influencer of note on Instagram, consider these top tips.

1. Get a Creator Account

Instagram offers three types of account: Personal, Business and Creator. If you’re an influencer you need a Creator account. These accounts make it easier to analyze data and understand which content is successful, and they also make it easier to monitor messages. While Creator accounts were originally limited to users with large audiences and linked Facebook accounts, they’re gradually becoming available to anyone.

To set up a Creator account go to the Account options on Instagram and select to switch to a Creator account. You need to select a category that best reflects what you do, and you have the option to link a Facebook account. Your profile becomes public once you have a Creator account.

2. Make Instagram Your Own

Instagram is a powerful tool that grants access to a huge audience. As of June 2018, there were 1 billion monthly users on the platform, according to Business of Apps. However, it’s likely the majority of those users aren’t interested in your particular brand of content. The aim isn’t to appeal to everyone, it’s to build a loyal following of the people you do appeal to. When deciding how to approach Instagram, there are two things to keep in mind:

  • Your niche: What subjects do you cover? What is your personality? What makes you stand out compared to the competition?
  • Your audience: The audience you speak to is directly tied to your subject matter. For example, if you’re a local food critic, your target market is predominantly local foodies, although tourists may also be interested. If you’re an online videogamer, your audience is going to skew younger than if you give business advice to startups.

Once you’ve defined your niche and target audience, it’s easier to construct tailored, targeted content. Rather than guessing what people want, it’s possible to create content you’re confident your audience wants. It’s also possible to create content that feels personal. This makes it easier to engage with your audience and develop the trust and rapport that influencers need to thrive.

Building an audience is just the start; don’t forget to interact with them frequently too. By answering questions, or even just liking their comments, you help to build a relationship. This is how your followers start to feel like they know you and relate to you, making you a stronger influencer.

3. Use Hashtags

Hashtags make it possible to categorize your content so it’s more visible. Instagram allows you to put up to 30 hashtags on every post. While you shouldn’t necessarily use 30, you should always use some, and it pays to learn how to use them effectively.

Hashtags are important because they make it easier for users to find your content. Users have the option to search for specific hashtags or to select to follow specific hashtags so they automatically appear in their feeds. When you’re picking hashtags, consider these simple tips:

  • Be knowledgeable: Often you’re going to have to choose from a wide range of hashtags that are all equally relevant to your content. Before you make your choice, do some research. Check online to see which hashtags are the most popular or commonly used. Check Instagram’s own data to see how many times users employ specific tags.
  • Be on trend: Keep in mind that the most popular hashtags change. For example, tags relating to Halloween are obviously going to perform better around October 31.
  • Be specific: Generic hashtags, such as #art and #love, have wide-reaching appeal. That means they’re very popular so vanish from the related hashtag page quickly. It’s often better to mix these more generic hashtags with some that are more focused on your target market.
  • Be relevant: Keep in mind that users search for and follow hashtags to find content they like. They’re going to be unhappy if you use unrelated hashtags to promote your content. Users have the option to block creators who use hashtags they follow, so always be relevant and ensure the right people see your work.
  • Be succinct: Although Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, using them all may look “spammy.” The optimal number of hashtags is around nine, according to Sprout Social.
  • Be unique: Mix up the hashtags you use. Trying new tags lets you learn which ones perform the best and also prevents your posts from looking too similar.
  • Be Adaptable: If you have a Creator account, you have access to insights on your posts. When viewing insights, take note of how many people found your content through hashtags. If the figures are low, find better hashtags. If figures are high, you’re on to a winner.

4. Build Your Profile

Your account profile is your calling card. It needs to sell you and your brand and encourage people to explore your content. Space is limited, but there are plenty of tricks to maximize what you do with it:

  • Add a URL: There’s one field to add a URL. Make this a link to your blog, Facebook page or another social media platform. To make the link do more, use a linking site that enables one link to branch out to multiple locations.
  • Enhance your bio: You only get 150 characters for your bio. Make the most of it by using the @ symbol to link an account or the # symbol to include your brand hashtags.
  • Include contact links: If you have an email and telephone number, it’s possible to include links that make it easier for people to get in contact.

5. Register With a Marketplace

If you want to start working with businesses on brand deals, you need to be as visible as possible. A good way to do this is by registering with an influencer marketplace. Marketers use these platforms to search for opt-in content creators who are a good fit for their next campaign. There are many types of marketplace available. Some of the best have functionality that facilitates communication and negotiations to streamline campaign setup.

Final Thought: There Is No Quick Fix

Instagram influencer marketing has become a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. Faced with that daunting challenge of gaining recognition, it may be tempting to look for shortcuts such as buying likes and followers, but you must resist that urge. As with anything else, becoming a successful Instagram influencer takes time, dedication and determination.

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