Instagram Marketing Interview with Rachel & Ruben: GAMINtraveler
How to supercharge your organic growth on Instagram in 2018?
Cornelia: Thanks for joining us today. I know you guys are in the Philippines right now and it’s late there, so I appreciate you talking with us.
Now, I know you have close to 130,000 engaged followers on your Instagram account @gamintraveler. Can you tell us when that started?
GAMINtraveler: We started in March of 2016. We took a course and studied Instagram.
At the time, we were doing both, a blog and Instagram, but then we started liking taking pictures and telling a story with Instagram, and with only 10k followers, we started getting endorsements with companies, so it encouraged us to use Instagram more than the blog.
Cornelia: That’s every influencers dream! You’re not only doing it for the travel industry, but you also do it for your clients. What are some industries that you have worked with?
GAMINtraveler: We started working on Instagram to supplement our travel writing. Then we started working with clients such as personal coaches, small businesses, e-commerce brands. It’s a mix of personal brands, depending on the strategy of the business.
Cornelia: In your opinion, is Instagram over-saturated? And why do you think it’s so important for personal brands to build a tribe on Instagram?
GAMINtraveler: Instagram is one of THE fastest growing channels right now.
Compared to Facebook, it is still very possible to grow quickly in 2018. We are hoping that it will continue. We know that it will eventually move to paid advertising, but for now, there are still many strategies to build your brand organically.
I think the oversaturation is a common worry for everyone, but there are always new users. And there are so many new features like stories. And the platform will only continue to grow.
Cornelia: Speaking of stories, a lot of people are confused how to utilize it. What is the benefit to using stories?
GAMINtraveler: There are many benefits to using stories, especially for business.
Now, on Instagram stories, you can add hashtags and locations, which is very simple and helpful. You can show a day in your life and get even more active in your social media. Now with the swipe up, it’s a great way to incorporate links and generate leads!
There is a little limitation with the swipe up feature. You need to have at least 10k followers to be able to use this function. However, one of our favorite features in stories is the poll. It’s a great way to get to know who is watching your stories by asking them questions and getting feedback.
For example, if you’re a personal health coach, you inspire by sharing your morning routine, so it’s a great chance to hold a poll and ask: are you a coffee person or a tea person?
People LOVE to engage in polls because it only takes them a second to answer, as opposed to writing a full message. So, from there, you have an idea on how to start a conversation.
Cornelia: I really like that. You can do free market research because it’s engaging. And you don’t have to have 10k followers to use that.
Let’s talk about daily engagement. What is a good number on how many times per day you should post? And do you have any tips on what you should post?
GAMINtraveler: The short answer – At least once per day.
But if you’re just starting out, posting a lot of content every day will help you to get more likes and engagement.
Right now, Instagram isn’t exactly chronological.
They use an algorithm that makes it so the people whose posts you actively like and comment on will appear higher and more immediate on your feed.
So, if you’re just building your following, posting frequently will give you better a chance of getting more engagement.
Cornelia: Is there such a thing as too much?
GAMINtraveler: In the beginning, 5-7 times a day is good. You want to cover many time zones and just be out there.
When we started, we would check the popular hashtags in our field for people who had posted in the last few minutes. We would comment and engage with these posts so that the people, who we know are active on the app, would come check out who we are.
It can sound like a lot of work, but like any organic marketing, it’s exponential. You have to put the work in in the beginning.
Cornelia: Can you use stock images or do you have to use your own images?
GAMINtraveler: The first thing you should do is decide on what kind of account you want to have, whether it’s personal or business.
If you’re a blogger, you’ll want to focus more on your personal photos, like a fitness blogger might focus on selfies, and a travel blogger might focus on landscapes.
Decide in the beginning what focus you will have on your account.
What worked for us is that we were very sincere. The caption is a good place to play around.
Cornelia: Should posts in your story be separate from your feed?
In the feed, your photos are usually more highly rated. Most people take a little more time on these images, and in stories, you can be a little more raw.
Stories is a playful side.
They’re a chance to show your personality, and in time, you’ll learn what your viewers want to see.
Cornelia: I’ve noticed the great thing about stories is that when I post something like what I’m reading, people can respond by messaging me on more of a personal level because they feel like they know me.
GAMINtraveler: I think the only challenge is that the hashtag is part of the platform.
If you automatically post on Facebook, all of the hashtags will appear, and it might be a little weird. Sometimes we just go into Facebook and edit those hashtags out after it posts.
You also have to be aware of what voice you use in each of your social media accounts so that you can stick with that.
Cornelia: What about the stories? Would it be redundant to post your Instagram stories to Facebook?
GAMINtraveler: Well, you probably have a different audience on Facebook than you have on Instagram. So, you might have to cater your content to your audience.
Cornelia: That’s a good point. Your audience on each platform comes for a different purpose and from a different place.
Speaking of hashtags, how many are allowed? And how many would you recommend?
GAMINtraveler: You’re allowed 30 hashtags on Instagram. We recommend 27-28 and try to change most of them reflecting whatever picture you post. We usually use a specific 7 or 8 hashtags every time.
And you should put the hashtag in the post. For a while, people were hiding them in the comment section, but that doesn’t seem to be working anymore, so it’s best to just put them in the post.
Cornelia: Is it true that Instagram will shadow ban you if you use too many hashtags too much?
GAMINtraveler: We have heard of this happening to accounts that we were watching, so it’s important to change up your hashtags every time. If you post the same hashtags every time, it makes you look more like a bot than a real person.
We always keep in mind that we don’t know 100% what Instagram is trying to do with the platform. So, there’s not strict rules and it’s not like if you’re shadow banned, you’ll be banned forever. Just try to stick to the rules and change your hashtags up.
Cornelia: I know hashtags are a really important way to not only categorize your posts, but also to be found by new followers. Do you have any practice tips for using hashtags?
GAMINtraveler: When posting, if you use very broad hashtags, it will be hard to gain exposure because you will be so far down the list of posts in that collection. But if you find a good combination of niche and broad hashtags, you will have better chances of being found.
Cornelia: How often do you mix up your hashtags?
GAMINtraveler: About every two weeks. We have a set of 6-7 hashtags that we rotate to make sure that we are hitting our target audience.
Cornelia: Are engagement groups still working?
GAMINtraveler: Yes, they are still working if you engage when posting.
For us, networking is at the heart of our strategy. For example, if you’re in travel and you have a group of fellow travel bloggers and travel accounts, you can all post at the same time and engage with each other to gain each other’s followers.
Cornelia: Can you share how to put together an engagement group?
GAMINtraveler: One of the biggest strategies is to network with big accounts, and what we noticed is that once you posted a new picture, when you get engagement in the first half hour, the more engagement you get, and when you get engagement with accounts with high following, then your accounts get more exposure. It can become viral content.
Start hitting people in the DM’s. Send them an awesome first message like,
“Hey, I’m a traveler and I’m trying to build engagement group for accounts for people with 50k follower,” and then you can add yourself as the organizer. People don’t want to be organizers, so it’s up to you start it.
Cornelia: How important is it to be original and not just reuse content from other accounts?
GAMINtraveler: For us, we do a mix.
If you’re a new Instagram user and you don’t have a lot of content, there are many feature pages out there that you can repost. Whatever you do, be intentional and give credit to the right people.
To be honest, in the business accounts we grow, reposting is a big part of the strategy. If you see an account that is growing well, and they’re posting a certain type of content, you just need to copy that style. Repurpose that content. Usually, there’s just a trend.
Cornelia: Do you have to reply to every comment?
GAMINtraveler: The faster you can reply, the better. If you reply in the first fifteen minutes, it makes the post stronger and more active.
Something that travel bloggers have been doing is posting in their stories that they will be posting and the people who comment within the first ten minutes will get a shout out. It’s a great way to promote engagement.
If you comment back quickly, your posts get stronger in the algorithm.
Cornelia: Do you use any tools or apps in your IG strategy?
GAMINtraveler: We do. Schedulers are a very important part of our work. If you can schedule out a few days or weeks in advance, it’s more efficient. Trying to post in the moment every day can be difficult. This way you can schedule a lot at once, and it helps with staying consistent.
Command for Instagram is an app that allows you to see the most popular posts in someone’s account. We would use this research in our field for repurposing content. Recently, I think it’s limited to the last two months, but it’s still useful.
Regram is good for reposting very quickly.
Cornelia: When is the best time to change from a personal account to a business account?
GAMINtraveler: With the new changes in Instagram, right now. So many of the 3rd party tools will be limited to show results. You have to be a business account.
If you want to use your insights, you’ll have to be a business account. And you’ll never know when engagement will be good, so it’s best to take advantage of those tools now.
Cornelia: How do you find top accounts?
GAMINtraveler: Start with hashtags.
The Instagram algorithm continues to grow smarter, and if you start interacting with travel content. In your search, you’ll start seeing all of the viral and trending content in your category.
Cornelia: How important is geotagging?
GAMINtraveler: If you’re posting in travel, it can help with getting reposted and find new followers. For example, if you know in advance you know you’ll be posting about Bali, we will do advanced research and know the top posts in Bali and we will tag them in our posts.
In the stories, we will put the location and hashtag in every story. Even if you’re not there, you can be featured in that town. People in that location can find you easier.
Cornelia: Do you have particular tips or strategies for service-based businesses?
GAMINtraveler: You want to think about the target audience. People will gravitate toward motivational content, but that can become saturated, so if you know the type of people you want to attract, research what kind of content they like.
People can get overwhelmed by focusing too much aesthetics, and while that is important, it’s more important to focus on what is trending in your category. Test a lot in the beginning and if something stops working, use the archive feature so that you keep your insights, but the post is no longer visible in your account.
Cornelia: Any last tips and advice?
GAMINtraveler: Do your research and really look at the growing, popular accounts in your niche.
See what the trends are and follow them. If you want to network with people, check the people who are commenting in the first ten minutes. Reach out to them and in time, you’ll be able to build your own engagement groups. They will likely to be inside your circle.
In the beginning there will be a lot of testing, but you’ll have to find the balance between what works for you and what people are connecting with. Focus on your audience. Find your voice.
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