In today’s world of what’s trending now…Instagram is leading the charge. But what many users and businesses have found is that building an audience and trying to connect with people on Instagram can be difficult. People are definitely more selective on Instagram.

When Facebook and Twitter were new, you accepted friend requests from everyone. You sent a friend request to all the new people you met at a party and you followed thousands of profiles on Twitter in the hopes that they’d follow you back. While you can build large audiences this way, what also happens is that you have a feed full of throw away information and a steady flow of random updates from folks you barely remember.

On Instagram, people don’t follow as readily. This poses a new challenge for brands, making them work harder for attention. But once you do win over new followers, they’re far more likely to become customers, because they’re following based on actual interest in what you post.

So how do you win over more resistant Instagram audiences and build an engaged following?

Instagram has added half a billion new users within the last two years, while Instagram Stories, launched in August 2016, just hit a new milestone of 500 million daily users. It’s clear that Instagram is getting more attention but a particularly relevant finding of the study for marketers is that many users are actually going to Instagram to connect with brands.

“When we asked people what they associated with Instagram, some of their top responses were that the platform allows interaction with celebrities and influencers. Additionally, 2 in 3 respondents (66%) told us that Instagram is a platform that allows interaction with brands. These interactions might take the form of a snack company using polls in Instagram Stories to let fans vote on a new chip flavor, or a fashion brand reposting photos of the chic outfit of the day.”

While Facebook has been actively working to boost interaction with friends and family members in order to increase in-platform engagement, the findings for Instagram almost reflect the opposite. Users are coming to see content from influencers and brands, and welcoming that within their feed – when they choose to follow those profiles.

So what do Instagram users expect to see from brands on the platform and how can you reach those users?

Create short and well-targeted posts and focus on eye-catching content. Familiarize yourself with what works, and not just in terms of posting like-baiting inspirational quotes, but in regards to creating content that both works to promote your business, and connects with what your target audience responds to.

Do you know the importance of using Instagram Stories?

The newest trend on Instagram that businesses need to incorporate is the use of Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories is a feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours.

The feature feels much like Snapchat Stories, a Snapchat feature that was introduced in 2013 and a pivotal part of the company’s growth. And like Snapchat, the photos and videos shared in your Instagram Story are ephemeral and can’t be viewed once 24 hours have elapsed.

With Stories, brands have a chance to take their followers on a journey and tell the story behind the posts in their feed. Live video is extremely engaging, and though Instagram Stories won’t allow for a long, uninterrupted broadcast like Facebook Live or Periscope, it could allow brands to make their Instagram accounts the place to go for live, interactive content.

Conclusion

Given the habitual changes, building an audience on Instagram is not easy, it’s not as simple as liking every post from every person who engages with a certain hashtag, or using the old ‘follow back’ approach to build up your numbers. Research the platform, look at what others in your industry are posting, what their audiences are responding to, and scan through the relevant hashtag lists to see what people are posting. Once you’ve got a handle on what you should be sharing, stick to a schedule and build up response data. It takes time, but with the right focus, you can tap into the rising Instagram

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