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With all of the different social media platforms out there today, it’s hard to know where you need to be to gain traction from your followers.

But if you’re in a business that’s marketing to Generation Y or Millennials, you need to be on Instagram, writes Ross Simmonds, a digital strategist and author of an e-book called Stand Out: A Content Marketing Guide.

He’s shared his top tips for marketers who want to build some crowd appeal on Instagram – and amazingly, they’re not all about the hashtags.

1. Supply your followers with brand-centric content.

As on any other social platform, brands need to understand the importance of telling a good story. The best way to do that on Instagram is to use photos of products, or photos of the results of their product, Simmonds writes. A good example might be the Oreo cookie’s Instagram account, which has posted hundreds of photos of creative ways to eat Oreos, as well as some very tempting-looking Oreo-centric desserts.

Oreo Instagram - Feb. 19, 2014

 2. Be reactive in your storytelling. 

If some kind of relevant event occurs, you can be timely about it and respond with their own spin on the topic. What might also work is using a unique insight or “human truth” to appeal to your followers and garner immediate feedback from them. For example, you might use a meme or pop culture reference to relate to your audience.

A good way to explain this concept might be through a formula like this:

Top of mind interesting story + brand relevant marketing message = reactive storytelling. 

A good example would be of Telus, which posted a picture of one of its branded pandas for Chinese New Year:

Telus - Chinese New Year

 

 3. Take your followers behind the scenes.

One of the main reasons your followers are following your brand in the first place is to get updates on what’s going on with their favourite products and services. Give them more of what they want with sneak peeks behind the scenes, Simmonds advises.

“The Internet has made secrets a thing of the past,” he writes. “Brands are now looking at how they can be more authentic, as it’s what consumers are asking for.”

He gives the example of Steamwhistle Brewery, which regularly posts pictures and videos of how it makes its beer. Here’s one of their video stills from Instagram:

Steamwhistle video

 

4. Inspire your followers with encouraging, motivational quotes. 

One of the best ways to connect with your audience is to appeal to their emotions. But how do you do it without coming across as cheesy or as trying too hard? The trick is to figure out what quotes will resonate with your audience, Simmonds says, and then deliver those in a creative way.

Caption on Instagram reads: "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." - Mahatma Gandhi.(Image: Lululemon, Instagram)
Caption on Instagram reads: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi.(Image: Lululemon, Instagram)

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