How to leverage Instagram to promote your brand
Why Instagram should be part of your marketing strategy
For something that started in likeness to the Polaroid camera, Instagram has evolved into a modern master of social media. There are huge implications to this since social media goes far beyond social these days. Now backed with a user base of 700 million, it has massive potential for visibility. This exposure is especially crucial when you look at the types of folks using the app. 90% of users are under the age of 35, slotting them in with the Millenials, a generation that is not only the largest in US history but also a group notorious for shifting the weight in favor of online shopping.
Instagram has become a useful instrument in marketing, now with 8 million business profiles on the app. One of the reasons companies have started turning to Instagram as part of their marketing strategy is that it has the potential for significant return from very little investment. Instagram has even made active strides in making it easier for companies to measure their ROI within the app. With visual content on the rise and not appearing to slow down, it’s the best time to use quality photo and video to bolster your name.
1. Write an engaging bio
It’s helpful to think of your Instagram bio as your “elevator pitch.” Give your business name, a quick summary of what you offer, and a compelling nugget to pique users’ interest. Keep it concise, personable, engaging. And include a link to your website.
2. Quality over quantity
Don’t scrimp on quality when it comes to content. If you don’t have one on staff, hire a photographer or video producer. (Or at the very least, delegate someone in the office who has an eye for design.) If you’re cramped on time or money, there are a number of free resources for high quality photography, like Unsplash. Be sure to always credit outside sources.
It’s also important to be mindful of the square, which is to say format your content to fit within Instagram’s image parameters. Put some thought into the design. Consider what colors to use (for instance, images that are predominantly blue are better received than those that are predominantly red). Use filters. Add text over images with free apps like After Photo.
Make sure each post aligns with your brand. Keep up with trends. Write witty captions that encourage action. Above all, be creative. (In a sea of 8 million, the aim is to stand out.)
Quality always wins over quantity. I always like to look at the ratio between posts and followers on any given profile. Fewer posts with more followers usually indicate they’re doing something right.
3. Use hashtags to broaden exposure
Smart use of hashtags can significantly widen your audience. Given the type of user base mentioned above, the more exposure, the better. Maintain a mashup of both common and unique hashtags. Common hashtags will reach a wider number of people while original hashtag campaigns have the potential of piquing curiosity and building brand recognition.
4. Nod to other businesses & influencers
The modern market is all about collaboration. This is especially discernible in the social media sphere. It’s important to foster community. Collaborate with other businesses on Instagram. Share content from other pages. Tag businesses when sharing content that aligns with their ideals. And be sure to choose businesses and influencers that are in harmony with your own brand.
5. Engage with your audience
In a similar vein as above, engaging with your audience is key. The modern digital user is looking for community and authenticity—a story that she can place herself in. Share relevant content from your followers’ pages. Tag followers in your own content. Share testimonials.
Part of engagement also means showing the human side of your company (employee spotlights, behind-the-scenes, company outings, humor). Try to cultivate an organic following with user-generated content.
Think of inventive ways to connect or enhance user experience. The Offline app, for example, includes an Instagram Connect feature, which allows its users to “check off” when they’ve attended a local event. By tagging their location on Instagram and using the hashtag #checkitoff, the user’s content will autopost to both Instagram and Offline.
6. Use video
Video content has become a fast-growing contender in content marketing. With increased video length and the advent of Instagram Stories, video is proving to be just as important as photos on the app.
7. Try Instagram advertising
8. Measure your progress
As with any marketing strategy, analytics are key in knowing what’s working and what isn’t. Determine your strategy from the beginning (What’s your primary purpose in using Instagram? What audience are you targeting? What’s your intended outcome?). Be as specific as possible. Automate when possible. There are a large number of programs for tracking Instagram analytics, like Iconosquare, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social.
There’s no denying that Instagram has become a force in social media. And with the number of tools now at your disposal, it’s a vital conduit for nearly every kind of business.