Build a following on Instagram

Joining Instagram — the photo-sharing social-media platform — is a quick and simple way for financial advisors to add to their engagement strategy, says Richard Heft, president of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto.

This smartphone application is attractive, in part, because it requires much less of a time commitment than other online strategies, such as blogging.

That said, Heft doesn’t recommend that you forgo LinkedIn and Twitter just because you have an Instagram account. Rather, you can use the visual appeal of Instagram to add creative flare to your social-media strategy and attract a larger audience.

As with any social-media platform, you have use it properly in order to reap its benefits and avoid problems. Here are three tips for using Instagram in a professional capacity:

1. Engage with other users
There is not much point in investing time and energy in posting high-quality images if no one is going to see them. Your first challenge after setting up an account is to get some followers. And the best way to start getting followers, Heft says, is to become a follower yourself.

“One of the big tricks with Instagram,” he says, “is that you have to start following others for them to start following you.”

Instagram can sync with your smartphone’s contact list and show you who on that list has an Instagram account. Heft suggests you request to follow clients who have accounts, in hopes that they will follow you back.
You can also follow industry leaders or other advisors who are posting content that you find interesting.

2. Follow “Instagram etiquette”
The best practices of other social media platforms don’t necessarily apply to Instagram.

For example, on Twitter, you might live-tweet an event — such as a charity fundraiser or a financial seminar — which means posting as many facts, opinions and updates as you want while the event is occurring. On Instagram, however, nobody wants to see fourteen posts by the same user in one day, Heft says.

Adds Alison Walke, regulatory coordinator at Ext. Marketing: “Creating one quality post for the week is much better than sharing five posts in a row just because you forgot to add them earlier.”

Be sure to keep your Instagram posts professional. Posting multiple cat photos, daily selfies and badly filtered images are considered faux pas.

3. Inspire a response
To encourage followers to spend more time with your posts — and your business — it’s helpful to provide a call to action, Walke says.

As an example, Walke suggests using the caption section of your post to ask followers for their opinions on a particular photo or statistic.

If you want to send followers to a blog post or your website, take note that Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links in the caption section. Provide the link on your profile page and lead followers to find it there.

Another way to get a conversation started is to use the direct messaging feature, Walke adds, which is a tool for private conversations.

This is the second part in a two-part series on Instagram.

Click here for part one.

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