Here’s how you can change people’s search habits… said no marketer ever.

Growth hackers and digital marketers are good, genius in fact, but to be honest, they aren’t that good.

People either search for something or they don’t. There’s not a lot you can do about that. or is there?

It is almost impossible to make people Google particular keywords. That’s entirely up to them.  For example, how often do you input the search term “World Cup”?

Not very often, right? Probably just during the months of the event (and a week or two before/after).
Look up that same keyword in Google Trends, and you can quickly see that the same is true for pretty much everyone else in the world:

This is true for most seasonal events like the Olympics, the elections etc. People do all of the same searches within the duration of an event. And then they almost never do those searches any other time of the year.

Seasonal keywords are good since they get high traction seasonally, but the best keywords and brands pull in consistent attention all year long.

But what if there was another way?

What if you could create demand for a new search term and then dominate 100% of the market? (okay, maybe not 100% 🙂

With Instagram, this is entirely possible. Let us go through the steps on how to use Instagram to improve SEO without worrying about one keyword or building a single link.

1. Pay more attention to humanizing your brand

Did you know that Instagram’s 700 million users show better engagement than almost any other social network?
People love interacting, commenting, and sharing on the platform.

But you might notice something interesting when you start digging into the specific posts (and accounts) that see the highest engagement on the platform. A large proportion of them are lifestyle shots.

Nobody wants to see your product posted a million times. But put that product in a real-life scenario (or one that people wish they were in) and watch the comments roll in.

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For example, take this study: It revealed that

  1. Nike based 60% of posts on lifestyle shots.
  2. Adidas did just 32%

The result of that research revealed that Nike had 8 times the engagement that Adidas did.

The takeaway from this study is pretty obvious, right?

Posting more lifestyle shots will get you more engagement on Instagram. Doing this right is crucial to building your brand visibility.

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Your ultimate goal is to build brand awareness so that people are

  1. Interested enough to click on the link to your website in your bio (you have included your website URL in your bio right?)
  2. curious enough to go back to Google to search for who you are, what products you make, and why you’re so interesting.

In a way, it is like doing your own PR.
Companies and celebrities pay PR firms to plant stories about them in the press. However, that’s not cheap and there’s no guarantee it’s going to work, either.
By doing it yourself, you’ll get many of the same benefits for a fraction of the price.
You don’t need over-the-top Ferrari pictures with mansions and models.

Instead, shoot for real (recognize the phrase real recognize real?). For example, take shots of the places you are going, people you meet, your daily activities etc. Anything that will trigger FOMO in people and make it look like they would want to be there with you.
The easiest way to start hacking Instagram is by changing your content strategy to focus on realistic lifestyle shots. You’ll also want to post those shots more frequently each day. Humanize your brand by showing the people behind it, the people who make it happen, or the people who enjoy what you do the most.

2. Increase engagement and visibility with giveaways and contests

Giveaways are one of the best ways to increase attention and engagement on any platform.

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But they can work exceptionally well when you combine them with lifestyle shots
The first trick to running a successful Instagram giveaway is to loop in friends of friends. For example, you don’t just want one person to enter the promotion. You want to give away multiple versions of the same product to people who tag one of their friends, too.
Some companies have been able to key into this trick by running giveaways and incorporating a “tag your friend” component.

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This simple strategy does two things.

First, it brings in someone else who may not have seen the original post. So it’s exposing your brand to new people who may not have even heard of you before.

And second, it extends the ‘half life,’ or usefulness, of the original post. Most Instagram content lasts for only a few hours. The ‘half life’ (or the amount of time it takes for half the potential audience to view it) is only about one hour!
Increasing engagement on that post and consistently having your audience bring in new people can help you stretch that time out further.

The second trick with Instagram giveaways is to have other people help you promote each one.
To shoot this trick into uber mode, get an influencer related to your product/service to help get the word out about your campaign.
This extra visibility will also lead to a few important connections with other influential accounts. So even though there may not be direct ROI on the giveaway itself, those connections will easily end up covering the expenses in the long run.

3. Play your hashtag game the right way

Creating a hashtag of your own is a good idea because it helps make your content searchable.

However, it is easy to screw this up if your made-up hashtag is the only one you’re repeatedly using.

Hashtags aren’t for just being trendy or cool. There’s a real utility behind them. People use hashtags to search for new content and accounts.
Using your own hashtag is good, but you have to support it with a few others to see the best results.

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Websta keeps a running tab on the top 100 hashtags used so you can quickly see what’s taking off, trending, or falling.

Massive brands like Nike often go after the largest hashtags exclusively (and it doesn’t hurt to have one of the biggest soccer stars on the planet as an influencer, either).

Going after the most popular hashtags sounds like a good idea on the face of it. But what often happens instead is that your content gets lost in a never-ending stream.

So treat hashtags just like you would keywords for SEO.

A perfect example would be narrowing it down to something like #mensfashion (and all those related long-tail keywords under it).
You can use a tool like SocialRank to dig up these related hash tags, along with some of their basic metrics, like popularity in certain locations.
Then you can build up a database to start posting at least half a dozen hashtags per post. One study even pegs the optimal number at 11 hashtags.
Using this technique means you’re not facing the same intense competition like you do in the product-specific categories. And that’s why we’re doing this, after all!
More importantly, you want to create new brand awareness that’s going to spill out over into other channels. That way, you can slowly but surely raise your brand visibility with potential customers and start dominating the search rankings.
Conclusion
Instagram is one of the best platforms for gaining new followers and engaging with your audience.
However, that’s not the only benefit it provides.
If you can do it right, Instagram will also provide a massive increase of people who know about your brand.
That new visibility then leads them to start searching for more information. And now you’ve got them hooked to become a new customer.