If you want access to a huge audience of visually driven, aesthetic loving potential customers, you’ve got to use social media. Instagram in particular is one of the best places for social media marketing and interaction because it’s a ready-made platform for colorful, digestible, and sellable posts.

For example, if you’re a flower shop, you’ve got the perfect product for something like Instagram. Floral arrangements are incredibly aesthetic on their own, or in the various places people use them, like weddings, holidays, and others. You want to make an impact on your business’ main audience? You want to update people regularly on events and news for your company, and show them what you’re selling? Instagram is a pretty great option.

With over a billion user, it can be hard to get in front of the right people, though. Just like the rest of the internet, IG is flooded with content. And no small amount of it is marketing or business profiles trying to do the exact same thing you are. But it’s not all doom and gloom, relegated to the cynical downfall of social liberty at the hands of unfeeling corporate types.

The cool thing about socials is that it’s a pretty real opportunity to interact directly with your customer base. People spend a ton of time on social media, they’re super vocal about what they do and don’t like, so why not snatch the opportunity to offer better products and services. It’s a win-win for both sides, and it’s a lot more personable than a focus group. With some of these tips, you can make a lot out of your Insta posts. Grow your brand recognition, show your audience that real people work there, and build a better relationship with the people you want to serve.

Use #Hashtags

Hashtags are hands down the best way to be found. Instagram’s search feature organizes posts by hashtag, so be sure to mark your posts. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, Instagram won’t dock posts with a lot of hashtags–you should be using up to 30 tags to describe your content. Of course, you can’t just use any hashtag you want. Well, you can, but without a little research and timing, it probably won’t be very effective. It’s good to know what’s trending, but you don’t have to stick to popular terms.

Think of it like this–tags with over a million posts are going to get buried fast, but a tag with no traffic won’t get seen either. Something around one thousand posts could be good if it’s related to a particular brand or location, but low traffic tags won’t do much for your post. It’s pretty common sense stuff, you’ll want to aim for the middle to get the most traction. Display Purpose is a great tool to discover hashtags and their relevancy.

Don’t be afraid to use tags integrated right into your #text. Use them as a first comment, or include them in a caption after a break… #like #this. Hashtags are an incredibly versatile tool, and for Instagram, more is better. As long as they’re specific and relevant, of course.

Keep the Conversation Going

Instagram is an amazing tool for communicating with your audience, but you have to actually communicate! To make the most of it, you should be commenting, starting conversations, and asking people questions. Don’t forget to respond to comments, either. Even if it’s just an emoji or a quick thank you, people will see that you’re actively monitoring and participating in conversations on your profile.

You can even comment on posts from people you don’t follow. Interact with pictures and posts from the explore page to build out a bigger potential network. You can do it while searching hashtags or exploring your follower’s pages. Find topics you want to associate with, and join in on the conversation, update your stories, and keep interacting. A steady content stream with plenty of social interaction is one of the best ways to get noticed and stay relevant.

Time Your Posts

Social media is constantly moving and updating. Think about when you wake up and that post from last night is gone, lost forever to a sea of pictures, announcements, and comments that came through the night. Your marketing posts are subject to the same currents, so it’s important to make timely posts when your followers are actually following.

With the built-in analytics available to business accounts, you’ll be able to see when your followers are most active. The best part about the analytics is it bases these times off the times your followers are actually active. Utilizing this will keep your current audience engaged and open up the potential to new followers.

It’s important to think of when your target audience will be most active and schedule your posts accordingly. To get the most engagement, you’ll need an engaged audience. If you manage to time it well, the early engagement can help push your post higher and higher in people’s feed, so it won’t fall off as quickly compared to a post that comes in a dead period.

Utilize a Consistent Brand Look and Language

Posting at the right time is great, but your post has to stand out too. If someone is scrolling through 50 posts, how will they know it’s you? Brand image is key here. Finding a consistent look for your posts will help your followers single out your posts while they’re browsing.

Basically, that means finding some kind of common trait or aesthetic that you can apply to every post. Instagram is visual, so a distinct look is a great place to start. Same color palette, style of photography and language, or even things like filters or icons on each post. The benefit of cohesive branding isn’t just the getting recognized part–it lends each post a professional and consistent quality that people will be able to invest in over time.

You can’t ignore the captions, either. Finding a good online voice will help improve brand recognition and set you apart from the competition. If your posts look and sound similar each time they come along, people will know what to expect. And if you switch up the actual content without shifting voice, people are more likely to engage and stay engaged over time.

Consistency is a great value on both ends. It makes your posts easier to see and pick out, but it also means you know what kind of post you’ll need to make each week. People are also far more likely to engage with a brand they recognize and associate with real posts and the people behind them.

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