Instagram is a powerful social tool. With over one billion active monthly users since being acquired by Facebook  in 2012, it is no wonder businesses want to use it to their advantage.  As the content manager for TRO and a local food blog, here are four tips that I wish someone told me when I first started on the platform.

1. Use Relevant Hashtags.

This may be common sense, but I’ve seen so many accounts not do this simple step and their post attention reach starts to plummet.  When using hashtags, I find it is most effective to post them as a comment immediately after posting the picture/video. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post so I always save 25 tags that are relevant to all my posts in my phone’s notes. This way I can just copy & paste them quickly.

The hashtags you want to use are dependent on what market you’re in. Find a popular profile in your market and see what hashtags they are using. Most likely they are using ones that give the most reach so these should be a good guide for you as well.  I use this technique on my own posts and it constantly generates relevant traffic.

A recent post I did on my food blog got a higher amount of likes and comments and I credit that to using the right hashtags. It required a long process of trial and error, so don’t be surprised if your first few posts don’t blow up like you expect them to. Just keep seeing what works and experiment when you can.

2. Comment on Related Posts.

Instagram changes their algorithm to be featured on the “explore” page often, but for right now comments are key.  Go to a hashtag that is centered around your brand. Draft up a short comment to copy/paste on all the posts in that hashtag that are relevant to your page.  Use a broad comment along the lines of “Cool post, check out my page” or “Looks awesome, have you seen my recent post?” The key here is that more people are likely to view your profile and comment on your content. The more comments on your post means you’re higher up on the “explore page” which will increase your post’s reach. This will help grow your brands awareness which can later be transformed into real customers.

3. Post Often, Without Over-Posting.

There’s a sweet little line between posting too much and not enough.  I find that 1-3 times a day works best. Always post once a day if you can, but never go over three.  If you’re posting more than that people that follow you will become irritated because you are hogging their feed.  On the flip side not posting enough just means you’re missing out on getting attention to your profile and brand.

These are great guidelines but each profile is unique. Experiment and see which post frequency works best for you and your audience.

4. Have a Clean and Unique Profile Bio.

This is key because you want to be remembered by people who saw your profile but didn’t follow you. First impressions are key, so set up a unique and aesthetic bio. Put your company’s motto and maybe some emojis that go with your brand.  If your bio stands out, people will notice the creativity and be more likely to follow. This goes with your profile’s timeline feed as well, so mind what your posts look like as a whole.

Use these four tips and you will slowly see your page grow and develop, which you can eventual use to generate leads and convert customers.  Don’t be too overwhelmed if you’re starting from scratch like I did. Work your way to follower mile-marks like 100, 500, 1000, then 10,000. Instagram can be such a powerful tool for your business, so use it to its full potential.