As of July 2021, Instagram had around 28.81 million users in the UK alone, making it the second most popular social networking platform. Those users represent an enormous pool of potential customers for small businesses, so it’s the perfect place to start networking.
But it’s not as simple as signing up and spamming out messages. The key to networking on Instagram is approaching it with a thoughtful and authentic strategy. After all, social media is all about making meaningful connections.
To help you make the most out of Instagram for your small business, here are some simple tips on how to network on Instagram.
- Show your interest with engagement.
- Start a conversation.
- Don’t scrimp on the hashtags.
- Prioritise micro-influencers.
- Tactical tagging.
- Make the most of “explore”.
- Set up an Instagram pod.
Show your interest with engagement
Social media runs on engagement, so it’s a crucial part of networking. Once you’ve found certain brands or individuals you’d like to connect with, show them some love by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts.
If you engage with enough of their content, you’re more likely to get noticed by the user, improving your chances of making a meaningful connection.
Start a conversation
Sliding into DMs isn’t just for flirting – it’s also a legitimate networking strategy. If you find somebody you’d genuinely like to connect with, don’t be shy about sending them a message to strike up a conversation.
When initiating a conversation, it’s usually best to start with a compliment and a question – keep the focus on them, so they’re more likely to respond.
For example, if you were trying to connect with a photographer, you could say something like:
- “Hey, I loved the pictures from your latest shoot. Where was the venue? It’s beautiful.”
The key part is to mention something specific, so they know you’re not just spamming out messages to everybody you see. Everybody’s had the impersonal copy and pasted messages before – they’re easy to spot and even easier to ignore.
Don’t scrimp on the hashtags
Hashtags are the bread and butter of Instagram networking. Every time you post, you can include up to 30 different hashtags, allowing you to expand your visibility and hopefully connect with others using the same ones. Although, Instagram recommends focusing on 3-5.
If you’re not sure which hashtags to use, use the search bar to find what hashtags are being used by popular accounts that you’d be interested in networking with.
As nice as it would be, you’re probably not going to get a response from the Instagram juggernauts with a million followers – they’re just too busy, and many of them don’t even manage their own accounts.
Instead, reach out to influencers with smaller dedicated followings. They’re much more likely to respond and agree to work with you.
And even though they might have smaller followings, it doesn’t mean they’re inherently less valuable, especially if you are trying to reach a more niche audience. A small, dedicated following is a more valuable marketing opportunity than a hugely competitive one.
Whenever you see a quote or meme on your Instagram feed, it’s an opportunity to tag some contacts and strengthen your relationship. Just make sure it’s something you’re sure they’d appreciate, and don’t tag too many people, or it’ll just feel impersonal.
Alternatively, you can create your own posts and tag others in them. Memes, blog posts, photos, and videos – anything you think might be of value to them. With any luck, they’ll interact and reshare the post, exposing it to their own audience.
Make the most of “explore”
Instagram’s explore page shows you different content based on your account history. The algorithm they use highlights accounts that you should be interested in based on the sort of content you’ve already shown interest in, so it’s the perfect place for you to find new connections.
If you see something you like, you can follow the creator, engage with their content, and send them a direct message. Because the explore page mainly shows you posts from users you’ve not connected with before, make sure to be polite and up-front with your direct messaging, following the tips we mentioned before, and don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a reply.
Make the most of new connections
Whenever you do get a response from your networking efforts it’s important to make the most out of it.
First of all, you should always respond to their messages quickly and regularly. This doesn’t mean hounding them with follow up emails and questions, but just showing them the respect they deserve by being a good communicator – too many late replies and they might lose interest altogether.
Next, always keep the conversation moving forward. You’re the one who reached out, so you need to be the one to offer value to the new relationship – don’t just sit back and wait for them to come up with ideas.
Instead, ask them about their work and the sort of things they’d like to do in the future. From there, you can begin suggesting ideas for new collaborations and projects. You need to prove to them that a professional relationship is going to benefit them just as much as you.
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