Instagram has emerged as a social media powerhouse – with over 800 million active monthly users worldwide – but, despite its size, not every brand understands exactly how to get the most out of the platform to boost their online presence and increase real world sales.
The platform is particularly powerful in the architecture, design and property space – with its focus on visuals giving companies and creative professionals a unique opportunity to showcase their new projects and innovative designs, share behind-the-scenes insights, and build lasting relationships with their target market.
Not having an online presence – especially on Instagram – can be the difference between increasing your client base or staying stagnant.
That’s why we use Instagram to grow our business, and with over 24k followers we want to show you how we’re using this platform to gain leads, create brand advocates and to grow our business – in 9 steps.
Step 1: Define Your Brand On Instagram
Your Instagram page should reflect and define your brand, who you are and the personality behind your business. By being strategic and setting objectives for your posts, you are able to stay consistent with your branding and begin resonating with your target audience on Instagram (similar to what we talked about here and here).
Ask yourself, what’s the purpose of your Instagram profile. Will it highlight the newest innovations in the industry? Will it be a home to showcase your own work and projects? Will it provide behind the scenes access? Provide inspiration to others? Or help gain brand recognition?
Answering these sorts of questions will clearly define how your brand needs to be represented on Instagram, and will give you a clear purpose. Bear in mind that you need to be comfortable with what you’re posting, and your content needs to be interesting and engaging for your target market.
Step 2: Share Images Consistently
Consistency is the key to social media growth. People’s attention is now divided between so many different channels that producing consistent, authentic and quality content is essential for growing and maintaining the right audience online.
It took a while for us to get into the habit of posting regular content on Instagram, but as soon as we did our audience and likes started to grow organically. While we always want to share more, we understand that the consistency has been paramount to our success – so committing to a few times a week is far better than biting off more than we can chew.
Another team that are nailing the balance between consistency and variety is the one behind the Ray White Group Instagram (@raywhitegroup). They post every 1-2 days and utilise a combination of beautiful architecture snaps and short dynamic videos. This consistency has seen them grow their following to over 12k. Their New Farm branch also post a regular video series called ‘Auction Under the Stars’ that gets up to 1,000 views on each post.
There are a range of apps that can help you remain consistent on social media, including popular scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer. However, most of these apps just send a notification to your phone to remind you to post your scheduled content on your Instagram app.
Schedugram is the only app that actually allows you to schedule Instagram posts directly through its platform. Plan and upload your content in bulk, add hashtags (in both the original post and first comment), set the post time and date, then publish – Schedugram will post on your behalf without needing any further action from your end.
Step 3: Share Posts At The Right Time
Think about it: What time of day do people most use their phones? When are we checking social media? Are you trying to appeal to an audience that live across different time zones? The answer to these questions will help you post the right picture, at the right time, to get the best results.
If you’re always posting at 2am when your audience is asleep, you’re not going to get results. Try testing posts at different times of the day to see which ones get the most engagement, and use insights to continue refining it as you progress.
For the building and construction industry on the East Coast, we found the best time to post was in the evening at around 7.30 or 8pm (EST).
Want to get results quicker? Check out the website iconosquare.com. The basic paid analytics package is less than $30 per year, and it will show you exactly which days and times are ideal for your audience. The elite package is a little less than $150 per year, and includes reporting on your hashtags as well as other more detailed reports.
Step 4: Create Quality Images
Since Instagram is so popular, it can be difficult to cut through the noise. That’s why you need to create high-quality images that make people stop scrolling and engage with your content.
If you are trying to sell property, you could share lifestyle images or design ideas. If you’re working on a particular development, consider sharing some shots of the local lifestyle in the area. Trying to make people feel like they are part of the journey is a really valuable tool in selling.
Although you should always be striving to share the highest quality content, it can be easy to fall into the trap of not posting things if you think they’re not ‘perfect enough’. This is a bad thought process that can be more harmful to your success on Instagram. Remember: it is better to maintain your posting consistency (even if you have to post some less-than perfect images), than failing to post at all.
Step 5: Instagram Stories
Part of your strategy for success on Instagram should include Instagram Stories. They’re a new feature of the platform that lets users post images and videos that are live for 24 hours. With Instagram stories you can share all the moments of your day, rather than just choosing a single image to post.
The advantage of this for businesses is that this content can be less polished and more interactive for your followers. They can be used to show the ‘raw’ and ‘real’ side of your brand – adding a sense of personality to your brand, which will build rapport with your followers. You can frequently update your story and include extra features such as:
- Live voting polls
- Behind the scenes video
- Boomerang videos
- ‘Swipe Up’ feature that connects your followers to additional online content such as a blog or Facebook page.
Instagram stories give you the opportunity to engage directly with your audience and add another – more interactive – dimension to your social media presence.
Step 6: Research & Use Hashtags
The single most important thing you can do to drive engagement and find desired followers is to integrate a hashtag strategy into your Instagram posts. A hashtag begins with the # symbol, and is used to aggregate posts on related topics into one stream.
An easy way to start your hashtag research is by searching for common words in your industry, and watch to see which hashtags other competitors or influencers in your industry are using. This will give you a good idea on what hashtags are resulting in the most engagement for brands on Instagram.
Check out the size and popularity of the hashtag. If there are over a billion posts to that tag, there is a good chance yours will get lost in the crowd. If there are only a few hundred, there aren’t enough people looking to make it worthwhile.
Here are some of the most popular hashtags in the industry you might want to check out:
Step 7: Leverage Influencers
A great way to build your audience quickly is to have other channels with larger audiences repost or share your content. This puts your name and brand in front of a new audience on Instagram – which unlocks a pool of potential clients and followers for you.
If you can get popular accounts (preferably with over 50k followers) to repost your content to their audience, you are much more likely to pick up new followers than if you do not engage with other users.
There are a few ways to get reposted. Firstly, always tag people in a post if the content is relevant to them, if it mentions them or if you know they have some involvement in the project. Make a habit of tagging other brands or companies who regularly curate content of a similar vein to you. This increases the chance of them sharing it, or at least commenting back.
If you have strategic partnerships with other people in the industry, or are collaborating with other businesses with big followings, you could always ask them directly. Supply them with images of your project, or something you’re working on with them and encourage them to share it with their following (always getting them to mention you and your brand directly).
Step 8: Engage
One of the most unique and useful elements of Instagram is that it acts as a large community. Much like a workplace or industry environment, it encourages networking and communication with like-minded people – which is why engagement is absolutely crucial.
It’s simple: the more you engage with other people, the bigger your presence on the platform will become and the more chances you have to reach your audience in a meaningful way.
Spend some time each day or week, commenting on other posts and hashtags that you wish to target. Add value to the conversation and provide insights where you can to make your brand stand out.
If people engage with you by tagging you in posts or commenting on your images, make sure you take the time to respond to those messages as well. At Blank Canvas, we often find this one of the most challenging aspects of our social media strategy. Engagement really requires someone to monitor your profile and feed regularly, and spend a lot of time searching and commenting on other accounts.
However, if you can afford the time it takes to action this strategy, you will see results.
Step 9: Practice Patience
Success doesn’t happen overnight and this is especially true on social media. It takes time, energy and effort to implement a successful Instagram strategy, and to grow a relevant following that attracts potential clients.
Don’t be discouraged when it takes a little longer than you thought to start gaining traction on the platform. Just trust in your strategy and keep interacting with other brands in your industry, their followers and your own following.
It took Blank Canvas over two years to build the following that we have today, and that was only through consistent posting, engagement and trusting our strategy. Don’t expect your following to skyrocket overnight – just keep up the consistency and the results will follow.
Remember: staying connected to and interacting with the leaders and innovators of your field is a great way to position yourself at the forefront of your industry online. Commit to regular posting and always revisit your digital strategy and objectives to see what can be improved. This goes back to building trust with your potential customers, which should be a key pillar of your digital marketing strategy.
Instagram is one of the most underutilised marketing platforms in our industry. It is more than just an image-sharing platform, it’s a worldwide community that can be used to translate online followers into real clients and brand advocates.
These 9 steps helped us grow our following, and we know that they’ll be able to help your brand make your mark too. Put them in your Instagram strategy and see the results for yourself.
At Blank Canvas we work to create stunning visuals for architects, designers and property developers across Australia, get in touch with us to see how we can help create content that leaves a mark on your Instagram following.