When Nathan Chan made the decision to launch a digital magazine for startup entrepreneurs, called Foundr, he had decisions to make. A key one was exactly where and how to market this “infant.” His choice? Use Instagram exclusively – it was a growing social media platform that was primarily visual, and he had a strategy. Post many times throughout the day with a theme – amazing photos, with inspirational quotes superimposed on them. That strategy paid off. He grew his following to 10K within two weeks, and, today, has reached the one million mark.

Of course, Chan’s strategy involved more than mere amazing posts – it was about hooking followers with a host of tactics, and you can read his story and suggestions here.

The point is this: Developing an amazing brand voice on Instagram can translate into an exponential growth in followers. And that growth can only mean one thing – more sales.

So, exactly how do you go about creating that strong brand “voice” on Instagram? Here are some key strategies.

  1. Begin with Goals and a Strategy – what’s Your Game Plan?

The questions to ask yourself is this: Why would anyone want to follow me on Instagram? What am I offering that presents value to them?

You cannot answer these questions until you truly know your audience. And this is where real consumer research comes into play. You have to figure out what excites and motivates your target customer. Look at your competition – how are they representing themselves to your customer? What are their most popular posts? What hashtags are getting the most play?

What the research should show you is the type of content your audience wants to see. And your strategy going forward should address this above all else.

  1. Choosing the Tone and Voice of Your Brand

It’s easy to understand the difference between a brand like Red Bull and Rolex Watches. Their language, tone, and style of posting will be very different, not to mention color and visuals. These two extremes, though, point out the importance of a brand “voice.” And that vice has to be consistent with the product or service you are marketing. Yours probably falls within the middle between Red Bull and Rolex, but it must be a match for your audience’s tastes – in humor, inspiration, emotional needs, etc. – not just in your visual posts but in your captions, your bio, and your invitation to become involved. And because Instagram is primarily a visual platform, the “look” and “feel” of what you post must be compatible too.

If you already have a website and specific colors that speak your brand’s voice, then when you create a visual for your platform, it should be consistent. But because you will often be using photos, perhaps video, etc., color is not critical the way tone and style is.

Chan of Foundr Magazine established a tone and a theme when he launched his Instagram campaign. He placed inspirational quotes atop of amazing photographs. He kept with that theme, and followers not only kept coming back to see the next one, they shared – a lot. Of course, he had some other strategies as well, but he chose a brand tone and style that obviously resonated with his audience.

  1. Tell Your Story

It’s true – everyone loves a story. And visuals can tell your story very well. If you have a fun, “kicky” team, for example, feature that team with great action photos or videos of them at work. People want to see the faces behind a brand. It develops those connections and relationships with followers that are so critical to a brand narrative – in short, consumers want to trust a brand and its voice.

User-generated content is also a must. Reach out to your followers and ask them to send you photos or videos using your product or service. This not only tells a story but provides the social proof you need.

ModCloth, a millennial-focused female clothing retailer is a master of telling stories through its user-generated content. It aggressively solicits photos from its customers and regularly posts them on its Instagram account. They tell stories to which anyone can relate.

One key element of ModCloth’s “voice” is inclusion, equality, and diversity. And many of its posts tell that story as well – perfect for its millennial audience.

ModCloth has a clear voice, and it obviously knows its audience well. It continues to grow its Instagram following because its voice is consistent, honest, and transparent.

  1. Be Consistent with Your Posts

The biggest failure of businesses trying to establish a presence and a brand voice on Instagram is the failure to post often and consistently. Once a following is established, no matter how small, that following expects to come back and find something new each time they return. And they expect those posts to be consistent with your brand voice. If they don’t find this, they abandon you. If they do find this, they stick around, and they share your content with their tribes.

If you are struggling with consistency, then you need to get some outside help. You can use a variety of tools and services for this, such as Trust My Paper, a writing service with an entire department devoted to social media post creation. And you can use other services that will schedule your posting automatically.

This is not an area in which you want to scrimp to save costs. If you cannot be consistent and frequent, get that help. In the beginning, you will want to post many times a day. you can back off a bit once your following is established and growing, but at least a couple times a day should be your goal.

You should also do a bit of research on the best times of the day to post on Instagram. There’s lots of good information out there – use it, so that you get maximum viewing.

That’s a Wrap

Establishing your “voice” on Instagram takes work. You have to know your audience intimately, understand what motivates them and emotionally connects them to a brand, and how your brand “voice” can capture that in everything you develop for your posts. These four tips should get you started. Go forth and make your mark on this popular and valuable social media platform.

Diana Nadim Adjadj is a writer and editor who has a Master degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Diana also runs her own 3to5Marketing blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people.