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How To Improve Your Engagement on Instagram

Marketing is essential to any successful business and Instagram is one of the most valuable marketing tools we have today. The key to Instagram marketing, though, is adding value. Here's why.

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When I started HydroJug, one core value stuck out above everything else — we wanted to add value. I wanted our products to improve the way people lived and for our partners to grow because of our connection. I’ve implemented this mission of adding value in every aspect of what we do, including our social media marketing.

Social media has become one of the best options available to connect with your company’s audience. Instagram, in particular, provides amazing opportunities to grow your brand, business and connect with your buyers. Instagram offers the chance for you to add value from all angles, which is why we have made it a central part of our marketing strategy. If you’re just getting started, though, how do you leverage this platform to add value not only to your business but also Instagram users?

Why Instagram?

Look at Instagram by the numbers. With more than 500 million accounts, Instagram is one of the best ways to reach younger markets. The platform has 320 million users who are 18-24 years old and another 354 million who are 25-34. Within that, 73 percent of teenagers say Instagram is the best way for brands to reach them, and 130 million accounts tap on a shopping post every month to learn about products. As they view stories and accounts, users follow and share content. If something interesting pops up, they pay attention. Instagram provides a platform of millions of people ready to pay attention to your brand and buy.

Related: 7 Ways to Boost Your Business Instagram Account

The foundational rule: Add value in all directions

For success on Instagram, make delivering value your top priority. All of your giveaways, all of the collaborations you might do with influencers — they all have to give users something meaningful. To do that, you have to look past your own product for a second and really understand the customer persona. What does their typical day look like? What kind of hobbies do they have? What can they afford, and what goals do they have?

The value-add idea extends to the people who help you deliver to your customers, too. If you go to an influencer to collaborate, both of you should grow from the collaboration. In every interaction, you must consider how your product or service enhances what they’re already doing and vice versa. 

At HydroJug, we saw that there was an overlap between good hydration, cooking and health. So we wondered: How can we bring that all together in a fun way to add value to HydroJug, influencer partners and Instagram users? We found people in the healthy cooking space and created “Tasty Tuesdays,” where the cooks shared healthy recipes on our page and theirs. For another campaign, we knew that a lot of our users were hitting the gym or doing other workouts with their HydroJugs. We knew getting or staying in shape mattered to them, so we pulled in trainers to help them out and hosted “Workout Wednesdays.” In both instances, everybody won — the users got something they were interested in and that added value to their social media, the partners got more exposure and we got more engagement.

Instagram, and all marketing, is all about just zooming out to find all the spaces where your brand intersects with other brands and what the users actually do in their lives. The more variety of value you can bring, the more interesting and engaging your Instagram account will be, and the more likely it is that followers and collaborators will stay with you.

What to consider with your partnerships

When it comes to getting partnerships, first look at how many followers or likes your potential partner has. The stronger their presence and engagement, the better. But more important than numbers, look at how the content fits your brand. If the content fits like a glove for you, the influencer or company can still be a great choice even with a smaller following because the followers they do have are going to see how your products align with their lives. Once users see that alignment, they’ll buy and your conversion rate will go up. 

Think about how you’ll evolve, too. In the beginning, it might be harder to get people to work with you merely because you don’t have as much clout or as strong of a reputation yet. But if you’re creative, you can find ways to add value even as a beginner. Over time, your reputation will get bigger and better. You’ll attract new people and businesses. Those new people and businesses might be very different from your first partners, but your core value doesn’t change.

Related: 3 Fundamentals of Marketing You Must Understand to Reach the Hearts and Minds of Your Customers

Think about what YOU do to get out of the gate 

When Instagram or other social media accounts fail, it’s often because they stagnate. They just repost things from other people, and they never really approach what they’re doing from the value-add perspective. That doesn’t work, because people are interested in seeing how you are active and how you are making a difference. They want to see people like them using your product, because then they can imagine themselves using it like the people they see. They want a conversation they can be involved in, not just to read your commentary. If you just shout out existing content that you haven’t really participated in or inserted yourself into, people are less likely to share or engage. 

But it is possible to be different. Think about how you personally use Instagram. Why do you go there and follow certain pages? Are they giving you a certain kind of content that really appeals to you? What specific products do they have that make you excited? Use that lens to organize highlights, pick titles and give more details and mass information through Instagram than users could get from a quick glance at your website. For example, on our HydroJug account, we post different pictures of our products, but we also link to our blog, highlight athletes and workouts, offer gift guides, share videos of our users and tag other user accounts. This way, the space is much more interactive and becomes a way to market with different options. All information is in one place for users to come back and reference any time they want. Take the time to train people through your setup to know they can trust your account for up-to-date information or access. Integrate all of that with your customer service so your support team knows what your account has and can direct people to Instagram when it makes sense.

All this said, you probably hear all the “gurus” shouting at you to put out lots of content. If you’re a one-person show who is doing everything yourself with just a few hundred followers — the way I was when I started — then it can be really tough to feel like all the effort to create all those posts is worth it. But the reality is that Instagram is a slow burn. Things usually don’t take off until you hit 10,000 followers. You might not see a lot of traction immediately, but that doesn’t mean you’re not on the right path. Don’t be discouraged. Be patient. As long as your target demographic is clear in your mind and you know what your value is and stick to it, you can maintain the mission of delivering that value as you grow and be an Instagram success.

Hayden Wadsworth

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Hayden Wadsworth is the CEO and co-founder of HydroJug, whose sole mission is to help others live healthier lives by making it easier to drink more water.