Gary Vaynerchuck (a.k.a. “Gary Vee”), the CEO of digital media agency VaynerMedia, is a popular speaker, author, and podcaster in the digital marketing space. He's also an Instagram evangelist.
Personally, I am bearish on Instagram's value as a marketing tool for radio stations. First, because radio is not an inherently visual medium. Second, because Instagram — unlike, for example, Pinterest — does not allow users to include clickable links inside individual posts. You can only include a clickable link in the account profile. This makes it very difficult to use Instagram to drive traffic back to your radio station's website, where you can steer visitors towards actions that contribute to your station's bottom line.
Nonetheless, as Facebook tweaks its algorithm to show users less content from businesses and media outlets, many radio stations are expressing a desire to invest more time and energy into other social networks, including Instagram. (Note: Facebook owns Instagram.) If your radio station is looking for some practical advice for approaching Instagram, you may want to adopt Vaynerchuck's $1.80 Instagram strategy.
1. Identify Popular Hashtags in Your Market
Last year, Instagram enabled people to search posts by hashtag. To do this, open Instagram on your phone and click the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen. When the search bar appears at the top of your screen, click in it. Four tabs will appear: Top, People, Tags, and Places. Click on “Tags” and type in the tag that you want to search for.
One way to find popular hashtags in your market is to choose a big venue, such as a convention center, university, or park. Go to the calendar on the venue's website. Browse the upcoming events, find the websites for the most popular events, and scan their social media feeds for hashtags. Using this technique, you may discover local hashtags like #ComicConSLC or #DenverBeerFest.
You can also find hashtags with a site like TrendsMap.com. Although Trends Map tracks Twitter hashtags, not Instagram hashtags, the two social networks are likely to have overlapping hashtags.
Vaynerchuck recommends identifying the ten hashtags that are most relevant to your audience. Some of those hashtags, such as #Orlando, may stay the same over time. Others, such as #FinalFour, may come and go.
2. Leave Thoughtful Comments
For each of these ten hashtags, you'll want to identify the top nine posts. When considering posts, look at a number of factors — the number of followers the posting account has, the number of likes, the number of comments, the relevance to your audience, etc. This is not an exact science; you're eyeballing the post and making an educated guess. On each of these top posts, leave a thoughtful comment. Gary refers to this as “adding your 2 cents,” which is where the $1.80 strategy comes from: 10 hashtags * 9 posts * $.02 = $1.80.
It's important to make sure the comments you leave are relevant and engaging to the publisher of the original post. A good example: Reply to a local comedy club who posts about an upcoming show with Kathleen Madigan by saying “She's hilarious! Can't wait for the show!” A bad example: Replying with a generic “That's awesome!” on multiple posts.
3. Browse Local Posts and Comment
Because radio stations have geographic boundaries that many other companies don't, you can also identify top relevant posts by conducting a search for local images. To do this, when you search Instagram, simply click on the “Places” tab instead of the “Tags” tab.
4. Repeat Daily
Gary claims that if you do this every day for a month, you will see substantial growth in your Instagram following. It's worth noting that he's measuring success in terms of the number of Instagram followers you have. I think it's far more important to keep an eye on your Google Analytics to see if the amount of incoming website visitors from Instagram increases. Also, watch to see how many of these visitors produce goal conversions.
The $1.80 strategy is time-consuming. Vaynerchuck suggests spending about three hours per day finding and responding to posts. At this point, I can't endorse it as a tried-and-true method for stations with limited resources. However, for radio brands/personalities looking for a practical way to experiment with Instagram strategies, this is a good place to start. You can then refine your strategy based on the results.
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