Instagram — a Powerful Tool for Regional Publishers

Instagram - Basics for Publishers

While Instagram might not seem like an obvious choice for regional magazine publishers to utilize, it has become an incredibly powerful marketing tool when used correctly and strategically. With over one billion users, of which more than 500 million log on each day, Instagram is one of the top three most-used social channels among adults in the United States.

Compared to other popular platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter, Instagram has the only notable percentage gain in use– up seven percentage points in the last two years, according to Pew Research Center.

With Instagram’s growing user base, there’s never been a better time to leverage your brand among this platform’s audience.

So, let’s get started. If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of this visually-driven platform, read on to learn all about getting going and the best practices for growing your following.

What is it?

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is a free photo and video sharing app on which anyone older than 13 years of age can create an account.

Who uses it?

According to a Pew Research Center survey done in January of 2018, 35% of adults in the United States use this platform. The survey also showed use among all age groups, with the highest use by people aged 18 to 24. This makes it a great platform for magazine publishers to reach new readers.

How to set up a business account

You can easily set up a business account from either your mobile phone or desktop. If you already have a personal account, you can be logged in to both your personal and business accounts and just toggle between the two.

Make the most of your company bio

Once you’ve set up your account and chosen your username, make sure your company bio is direct and to the point. Give a clear snapshot of what your business does and if you’ve won any awards or been featured in a noteworthy publication, mention it. Most importantly, don’t forget to include a link to your website in the link space. This serves as your Call to Action and makes it easy for people to connect with you outside of Instagram.

Know your audience

Know your audience, be strategic about your content and lean into your niche. Nicolas Cole, founder and Editor-In-Chief of Digital Press advises, “At the end of the day, success on Instagram all depends on your niche and your desired audience. Those are the variables that end up setting the expectations.”

For example, if your focus is culinary, you’re competing with other people in the culinary food space and want to have content that compels people to follow you. Your page should show striking photographs and videos that revolve around that topic.

If your focus is a region or a specific city, share captivating visuals that educate and inform people about the history and happenings of that place.

Know your audience and how to engage them, and allow them to guide what you create. As Cole further explains, “Understanding the expectation from your desired audience members is what will help guide your own content creation.”

Don’t forget a great caption and hashtag

It doesn’t stop at posting thoughtfully curated, beautiful photos—captions are important, too. Cole advises, “In each and every caption, ask yourself what additional value you can provide. Maybe you can tell the story of how you captured the beautiful shot that you did. … The key is to provide more value. More value. Always more value.”

Additionally, to increase visibility of your posts, consider adding strategic hashtags. On average, posts with at least one hashtag have on average a 12.6% higher engagement rate than posts without any hashtags. Because Instagram allows users to follow particular hashtags, finding the right ones can not only help your posts reach a target audience, but they can also help your audience find you and attract new followers within your niche.

If you aren’t sure which hashtags to use, spend some time looking at similar accounts or searching hashtags to see which ones are most often used.

Give them something to do

Once you’ve engaged your audience with great content that garnered a like, guide them toward action. Make it easy for people to do something by directing them to the link in your bio, or if you have additional content on other channels like Facebook or YouTube, direct them to those channels to see more. The goal is to have your audience look for you in other places, not just on one channel, so by sharing where your content is, you build the connections for them.

Lastly, test and learn

If you’re new to Instagram, invest time in seeing what works in terms of engagement and likes. Post different types of images and videos with different lengths of captions to see what elicits the highest response. In general you can expect higher likes on photos and more comments on videos.

If you aren’t sure what might work best in your niche, look at what other accounts are doing or follow some hashtags that you use to see what’s working well.

Understanding the ins and outs of how to engage your audience and show your personality through Instagram can do wonders for increasing your visibility and reach by attracting followers to your other social channels, increasing traffic to your website and increasing readership of your publication.

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