Instagram, despite its start as a place for teens and twenty-somethings to share heavily filtered photos, is quite a marketing powerhouse. The new frontier for businesses seeing diminishing returns on Facebook or Twitter, this flexible platform has a lot of potential for companies of all sizes and industries.
Currently used by nearly 50% of marketers, the advantages here aren’t exactly a secret. However, making a statement is a little harder said than done. As with all social media tactics, turning heads on Instagram requires a great plan and plenty of dedicated effort.
Simply sharing images every now and then isn’t enough; you need to create a productive, dynamic presence from the ground up. Here’s what you can do to win at Instagram marketing…
Build a Great Profile
You wouldn’t publish an advertisement in the newspaper without including contact information, so why would you do it on Instagram? Social media is, at its simplest function, an interactive, creative advertisement for your business, and a great profile is a big part of this.
When you build out your Instagram profile, think about the kinds of information that a viewer needs to know.
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why do you do it?
- How do you stand out from the hundreds of competitors in your industry?
Come up with strong answers to these questions, and use the basics to sell yourself. Choose a recognizable handle that’s as close to your company name as you can make it, make sure your image relates to your logo or brand identity, and keep things public – going private will only make you harder to find.
Have Cohesive Brand
Your brand is a big part of your business. Everything you use to stand apart, from color palate to tone of voice, helps to spread a message. Instagram, of course, is absolutely no different.
As a creative medium, some companies tend to get a little scattered when sharing on Instagram. After all, it’s easy to find a picture of pretty much anything, slap your name on it, and call it a marketing post.
Effective branding, however, isn’t quite as straightforward. Instead, you need to create a perception surrounding your business that stays consistent across your posts.
For some companies, this means using the same filters to maintain a similar style or ensuring images use the same dominant colors (or lack thereof). Others make sure to incorporate logos and brand names into every post, whether displayed on items or worked in through text.
Choose strategies that make sense for you, own them, and make sure every post follows suit.
Strategize Hashtag Use
Hashtags, or phrases preceded by the pound sign #likethis, are a big part of Instagram marketing. In fact, 7 in 10 hashtags used on Instagram are branded, highlighting just how important this simple feature is to your marketing.
Hashtags can work in a few different ways, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Many companies incorporate a brand or slogan-related tag, like Nike’s #justdoit, in addition to other relevant keywords and phrases.
Promotions can also be a good place to pursue hashtags. For example, if you’re running a seasonal advertising campaign, you can create a branded hashtag that you can use to link related posts.
Prompting your fans to use your hashtags can be very effective too, spreading your messages outside your own network.
Be Open to Advertising
When you’re just starting out, attracting new fans and followers can be an uphill battle. It’s naturally a little discouraging to share images, videos, or promos only to hear crickets chirping in response, but there are ways to work around this.
Running ads can help you gain the visibility necessary, providing an easy way to expand your audience and ensure your target demographic sees what you have to say.
Posting Instagram ads takes a finely-tuned strategy, however. First, focus on content. A well-crafted ad is a good starting place, so make sure every advertisement you design is bold, bright, and noticeable. Blue, for example, is eye-catching, attracting viewers to your message.
Targeting is also a major step in a successful ad. Instead of blasting everyone on Instagram with your advertisement (and spending a fortune to do so), hone in on the age range, location, gender, and shared interests of those most likely to spend money on your products.
Utilize Calls to Action
Instagram is a great way to connect with your target market, developing a rapport with your customer base, advertising your products, and building loyalty.
However, far too many brands have a robust Instagram following without the sales to back it up. The reason? A failure to promote action.
Sharing captivating pictures with branded hashtags is part of the equation, but posting isn’t necessarily actionable. If you want your followers to respond, you need to provide a push in the right direction.
Calls to action are a critical part of your posts, especially in sales messages. When you share new inventory, for example, don’t just post and dash; instead of leaving customers questioning your motives, let them know the name of that new purse you posted and provide a link so they can grab one for themselves.
Be clear, concise, and, if relevant, include a promo of some sort to sweeten the deal.
With 59% of Instagram users logging in every day and 33% of mobile phone users checking Instagram at least once a month, there’s a huge market to tap into for brands willing to take the leap.
Mastering Instagram may seem daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with the platform, but know that having the right strategy in place can contribute significantly to sales.