To help you launch your business (or just grow it!), we interviewed the team behind A Color Story and put together a list of 7 tips to help you build buzz and increase your followers on Instagram.
Whether you’re launching a new business, startup, or side project, everyone wants to know how to be popular on Instagram. Elsie Larson, co-founder of the popular blog A Beautiful Mess, has over 350,000 followers on Instagram and clearly knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Instagram. But there was one thing she thought was missing: an awesome photo-editing app that would create the same kind bright, bold, and colorful photos that her Instagram feed features. And so A Color Story was born.
By using the Instagram strategy outlined below, A Color Story was able to amass over 5,000 Instagram followers before their app was even available! Since launching two weeks ago, A Color Story has been featured in the App Store and now has over 62,000 followers, which is pretty amazing.
So, how did they do this? Having a large following base on @abeautifulmess certainly helped, but there’s a lot that you can learn from A Color Story about launching your own business on Instagram:
1. Include the Instagram community in beta testing
When you’re launching a new business, it’s important to get feedback on your ideas, concepts, and product during the early stages. But to make your business succeed on Instagram, you’ll want to include members of the Instagram community in your testing for valuable feedback.
During the beta testing period for A Color Story, the team at A Beautiful Mess created a beta testing group that involved Instagram influencers who had a similar Instagram style that matched with their app. “We brought these influencers in early on to help us narrow down the filters, (from 140 to 100), and they also helped us come up with new tools that we hadn’t thought of,” says Trey.
By including Instagram influencers in the making of the app, they were able to not only get valuable feedback, but the Instagrammers felt included in the team and were excited to then post about A Color Story and share the app with their followers.
2. Drive all traffic to your Instagram account
If you’re wanting to launch your business on Instagram, it’s important to make your Instagram the place to visit for information on your launch date, product offerings, and anything else you’ll want to communicate! By driving all traffic to your Instagram profile from blog posts, emails, and your website, you have a head start on building your Instagram community.
A Color Story was first announced in a blog post on A Beautiful Mess, and readers were encouraged to follow the app’s Instagram channel to stay informed of the launch date. They posted regularly to the channel to keep it top of mind for their followers, and started engaging their community before the app was even available.
This strategy may not work best for every business – some businesses may want to drive all traffic to a newsletter sign up page, for example – but if you’re wanting to make a splash on Instagram, your best bet is to drive everyone to your Instagram before your launch.
3. Build a following before you launch
To launch your business on Instagram successfully, you’ll want to start by building some buzz before you’re live! A Color Story was announced on their blog and Instagram about a week and a half before the actual app launch, which created anticipation and excitement among their followers. Their beta test group of Instagram influencers helped by posting about the app on their own channels, and together they were able to create a growing excitement for the app, which led to a more successful launch when the app was made available!
4. Have a beautiful preview of your Instagram feed
Before you send your friends, family, and followers to your Instagram channel, make sure that it looks amazing first! You should have a few photos already posted (3-5) to show what kind of content they can expect from you, along with visual content that communicates what your brand and business is. Wait to launch your Instagram until after you have a gorgeous preview feed in place.
For A Color Story, having an Instagram feed that was already full of beautiful and bright images was instrumental in showcasing the app’s photo editing capabilities and communicating their brand message. One look at their Instagram feed and you instantly understood their brand and wanted to follow to learn more!
5. Create an Instagram-worthy name
Naming your business is already a huge challenge, but don’t forget about Instagram! In addition to wanting an Instagram handle that is already available (and preferable available across all social media networks), you’ll want to think about your hashtags too.
With creative hashtag projects growing in popularity, having an active branded hashtag that your customers actually want to use is the pot of gold at the end of the Instagram rainbow. Herschel’s #WellTravelled hashtag has been used over 700,000 times, compared to #HerschelSupply which has been used over 150,000 times. If you’re launching a new business, having a brand name that doubles as an aspirational hashtag could be the key to your Instagram success.
The entire marketing strategy for A Color Story was focused on Instagram – even the naming of the app! “We chose A Color Story because we wanted people to feel comfortable hashtagging their photos with our brand name, which helps us increase brand awareness and get the name out there more,” says Trey. “The name ‘A Color Story’ does a good job of communicating what our app is about, but it can also be used to describe your photos.” In just a few weeks, over 40,000 Instagram photos have been tagged #acolorstory!
6. Offer exclusive Instagram perks
After you’ve built your Instagram following and have a killer Instagram feed, you’ll want to keep your customers and community engaged and excited about your business! One easy way to do this is to offer Instagram-only incentives, perks, rewards, or discounts. Whether it’s a discount code they can only find on Instagram, or an Instagram giveaway, giving a little can result in a lot!
To both reward their followers and gain new ones, A Color Story’s app features a few free filters that are only available to their Instagram followers. Users inside the app who haven’t visited their Instagram channel yet see the offer, and can unlock the filters with a simple follow. Genius!
7. Participate in Hashtags
Growing your business on Instagram takes patience and dedication, and the work is never done! Scheduling your Instagram posts ahead of time is an easy way to keep your business organized and stay on top of your Instagram schedule. After you’ve launched your business, you’ll still want to invest in networking with other Instagram users by participating in different hashtags. “Networking is huge,” says Trey.
“If you want a good following on Instagram, you will do better if you participate in hashtags. Find the hashtags that your audience is scrolling through, start using it on your photos, and people will find you.”
A Color Story went one step further, and created their own hashtag project #AColorWeek a week after their launch. Each day they featured photos from a different color of the rainbow, and people from all across the Instagram community participated!
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