In this digital age it has become increasingly simpler to earn an income on social media. In as much as it takes hard work, if done strategically, Instagram can be a great source of income and a good way of boosting your personal brand.
The first thing to do is to convert your account into a business account, so that you can take advantage of Instagram’s algorithm to help you reach more people that are like-minded and would be interested in your content.
Having a business account will also help you to monitor insights on your posts i.e. how many people you reached, how many people engaged with your post etc. These insights will help you to see what types of posts your followers like to see, thus enabling you to tailor your posts to suit your audience.
When posting on Instagram, you need to be strategic about what you post i.e. if you are a beauty blogger, most of your posts should be centred around beauty. Beauty bloggers strategically avoid posting about every aspect of their life, as their audience mainly visits their page to see content on beauty. Thus, it is important to find your niche and stick to it.
Make sure you have a good understanding of what your audience expects from you and what kind of content they are signing up for, so as to avoid alienating them. Also ensure that whatever your niche is, it is aligned to your passion or hobbies, as you will need to spend a lot of time and effort working on your Instagram page, which will all be a waste if you are not particularly interested in what you post about.
Your profile needs to look professional and clearly outline your purpose. Put a profile picture that speaks to what your page is about and make sure your bio states clearly what is going on, on your page. For example, if you are a cricket player, you profile picture should be of you during a match game or a picture of you wearing your club’s uniform.
Your Instagram bio should be informative, easy to read, and fun. Include a headline that describes your position, niche, or self-given title.
Ensure that your contact details are available for brands and other key stakeholders to be able to get in touch with you.
Content is king on Instagram.
This goes without saying. Professionally shot and styled photos attract more engagement than low quality pictures. You can achieve this by investing in a good smartphone and using different photo editing apps which are widely available and simple to use.
If you do however have budget, you can invest in hiring a photographer on a regular basis to ensure you have beautiful photos for your page. Another aspect to be strategic about is the captions you use on your photos. Use your captions to craft your brand story and create a connection with your audience.
If you are not sure about what to write under your photos, you can use resources on the internet that can give a guide on how to caption your photos based on your niche audience.
If you want to make the most of your Instagram page, you need to interact with followers. More people will want to follow you as they will feel that you are more human-like, and similarly more brands will take notice of you and want to work with you based on your interactions with your audience.
Respond to comments and DMs, follow similar accounts, and like your followers’ posts back to engage with your audience and build relationships.
The number of followers that one has on Instagram is also important for brands to consider working with you on their campaigns. There really is not a specific number of followers that you are supposed to have, however the audience size needs to be sizeable in order for the brands to be able to track their return on investment.
For example, the popular fashion brand Fashion Nova requires accounts to have 5,000 followers to be brand ambassadors, but different brands have different thresholds.
Also do not get tempted to buy followers as there is software these days that can distinguish between fake followers and real followers. This impacts heavily on your credibility, and will make brands not want to work with you.
Research to find out which hashtags your audience follows. Use these hashtags on your posts so that you can increase visibility and also appear on the timelines of people that share the same interests as your target audience, but do not necessarily follow you. This will, in turn increase your followers and engagement.
You can also use hashtags that brands that you aspire to work with use. Since brands have social media managers who monitor activity on Instagram and other social networks, it is highly likely that these individuals will pick up on your posts and realise that you are someone that they would likely want to work with on some campaigns.
Having your own signature hashtag also helps when people search for you and it helps you to follow all content posted about you by third parties. Your own hashtag is also useful for tracking competitions and giveaways that you may run for your audience.
Instagram has great features like Stories and Reels which have high engagements that you can use to upload engaging content for your audience.
If you are verified or have more than 10,000 followers, you can use the swipe up feature on stories to drive your audience to your website.
Lastly, you should keep your posts consistent by posting at regular intervals.
Depending on your audience and the type of content that you create, you can post at least once a day. You also need to pay attention to your aesthetic (look and feel) as this will help cement your brand in the minds of your followers. For example, a luxury blogger would most likely have a clean, elegant, and sophisticated aesthetic as that is what speaks to their audience and is most likely to keep them engaged and interested.
Sibonginkosi Mlalazi is Zimbabwean born Communications Expert based in South Africa. She is the Founder of Ingenious HD, a communications company based in Cape Town.