At this point, you'll want to pull out your phone, log into your account, and start playing. Take half a day, a whole day, it doesn't really matter, this is all part of the learning process. That's exactly what we did with our first Instagram experiment. Start playing with the channel and where its boundaries lie. Reach out to people, make contact, find touch points. Do so in a sincere and meaningful way, even if the process is arduous and extremely time consuming.
The difference between spam and initiating a conversation is the thought and effort you put into it.
After about a day of experimentation and testing, we found the method that works the best for us is something we call "follow like like like." The process is simple - go to the most recent section for the hashtag we chose to target and select the top picture. Follow that account, go to their photos, and like their most recent three photos.
This shows the user that not only did someone who is kind of
like them follow them, but they also dug a little bit and really
liked what they found.
Here's the crazy part: When we did this, the follow-back percentage approached 25%. Meaning for every four people we followed, one would follow us back. Why? Because it was authentic engagement; we actually cared about the people we were following, and they could see that we actually cared about them. They weren't bothered to be contacted; they were honored and grateful.
Interestingly, from a growth perspective, we could see a decent amount of traffic going through to the pre-launch landing page we had set up, and we saw the emails filling up our list.