Instagram has come a long way and is now the second-largest social media network in the world. It has grown year over year. This growth was only accelerated when Facebook purchased LinkedIn. For a network that has surpassed Twitter in growth, there are obviously more ways it can influence startups. We get to look at how a startup can leverage this massive social media network to market its business and create leads:

1. Follow people

The best thing about Instagram apart from the photos shared on the platform is that people are very generous with their follow-back mojo. It’s very easy to get a thousand followers for your business within the first two to four weeks depending on how interesting your content is. Instagram allows you to follow 50 people every 10 minutes. You could follow as many as possible in a day, then take a break for three to four days as you wait to be followed back. You can unfollow those who don’t follow you back. There are several mobile apps that can help you unfollow people who don’t follow back.

2. Freebies

I have always said again and again on Pressfarm that startups should be aware of how many wonders freebies can do. Dropbox is the most recent example in my previous article where I wrote about how Dropbox managed to beat fierce rivals and thrive in a market where other startups had failed. Make sure you read the article if you missed it. On Instagram, I recommend reaching out to those influential instagram personalities that you know. Offer them some free package if you are a software company, or a free item if you deal in tangible stuff. Tell them to use it and give you a shout-out on their Instagram profile if they like the product. Most of the time the most difficult thing is to get these influential people to pay attention to you. After getting their attention, and getting them to use the product you are offering, it’s almost a surety that they will shout out your product on their profiles and include your handle with the photo. It’s a win-win situation: they have a product they probably needed, for free, and you have your shout-out.

3. Engage with your audience

The most rewarding effort ever for startups on any social media network is to engage with your audience. Reply to their comments and requests or questions. It makes more sense to engage with them in a fun but respectful way because they will become more open to your company and are even prone to give you a lot of feedback.

4. Use hashtags

I can never emphasize this enough. Hashtags are everything on Instagram. On Twitter you can only use about 2 hashtags at most because there is also limits in the number of characters. On Instagram that is not the case. Some successful brands use up-to 15 hashtags in one post. People such for things on Instagram using hashtags a lot more than they do on other social networks. The more you use, the more you are exposed to a wider range of people. I’m not implying that you should use as many hashtags as possible but following up your post with a short description and about 5 to 10 hashtags is good for you.

5. Be somewhat loose with your posts

People like it when you open up to them. People like it when they know more about you because it calms their nerves and gives you lots of credibility. Startups can leverage this weakness associated to people to gain more credibility on Instagram. Posting photos that show your staff playing around, or taking coffee and telling stories may work wonders than showing your actual product every other time you are posting a photo. In short, bring your followers into your behind the scenes. Let them in on your company culture, strategies, team, etc. It goes a long way.

6. Run contests

Contests are amazing. They make people fight for something. They push people to the need of wanting to win. One of the best contests I have ever seen on Instagram involves Mashable though it’s no longer a startup if startups are what I believe they are. Often they will run a contest whereby users will be required to tag their posts with a hashtag created by Mashable, for example, #MashPics – for a chance to be featured on the company’s Instagram page. They do it well, and it pays because occasionally you will find that their followers are competing for that spot to be featured by a huge brand. Imagine the amount of marketing this contest has done for the company in the past few years. Incredible. Maybe your startup should create a contest too.

7. Time your posts

There is nothing as painful as posting one of your best shots as a company then realizing that it didn’t get the number of likes you anticipated. It’s all about timing. Understand your audience and know when they are online. Only that way will you get the amount of exposure you want when posting your photos and videos too.

While those tips can help grow your Instagram account organically and may take some time, there are other ways to establish yourself after receiving a slight boost through purchasing an existing Instagram account and building up your company and brand there. It is a way to search specifically for your target audience and have a slight leg up from the beginning.

Once you’ve developed an active presence on Instagram, it’s important to make sure you have quality content that can capture attention.

Many brands may be able to create this type of content on their own. But some may need PR professionals’ help to turn their ideas into actual words. PR agencies like Pressfarm help you create newsworthy content to gain the attention of media professionals and influencers. They also go the extra mile by providing companies with access to their PR database of over 1 million journalists. These contacts are filtered so that you can find your perfect media match easily.

Thanks to Pressfarm’s understanding of digital PR and marketing they can help companies like yours gain media attention through relevant search results on multiple search engines. Pressfarm’s team of PR specialists, expert writers and certified designers has what it takes to help your brand stand out online.