With the start of 2016 underway, most brands should be doing what they can to make this year the best they've had for business. Regardless of industry (in most cases), it's no surprise that companies need social media as part of an omni-channel marketing plan in order to reach their audience as effectively as possible.
Instagram allows brands the opportunity to tell a story and ultimately share their products, services, culture, and employees with the world. A lot of the time, we'll see companies making the mistake of using Instagram like they would another social platform, however given its unique and visually-captivating nature, there are certain guidelines and best practices that make it unlike the other social platforms. To make sure your Instagram strategy is optimized for success, consider these 5 resolutions this year.
Give Users an Inside Look
Instagram is a transparent and highly visual platform, so it's important for brands to use captivating imagery. Your posts shouldn't be overly promotional, and should be more focused on offering an inside look at the brand, and considering a "behind the scenes" type of approach. This is an effective way to humanize the brand and show that there is a story and group of people behind your products or services. Think: Show your audience who you really are.
For example, if you're a clothing retailer, show the textiles that are used, highlight the pantone of the season, or share a photo of your employees at the latest fashion event. Post content that will make your brand stand apart, and show your customers that there's more to your brand than just a product in a store - Instagram should be used to help solidify an identity for your brand. Tell a story with your photos to define who you are as a brand, giving a personal touch to the business and ultimately introducing your audience to the human side of the brand.
Keep Your Genuine Appeal
Instagram is no longer simply an organic platform. With advertising available, brands really have the ability have the ability to get their content in front of their target audience. The advertising options are incredibly effective; however it's so important that brands remember to maintain the genuine feel across both promoted AND non-promoted posts.
Instagram ads should speak to users just as much as an organic post would in terms of imagery and copy. Avoid language that is overly-salesy and not aligned with the traditional branding-it has to blend in. With the ads, you can include a CTA such as 'Shop Now' or 'Learn More" to help drive users to your website, but this should be the only prominent differentiator that users see between organic and paid posts. Just remember, keep it real.
Interact with Followers
So many brands are active on Instagram to the extent of this: Log in, post, log out. Take the time to expand your following, engage with users on the Instagram platform, and ultimately, get involved in the conversation surrounding your brand. This is crucial - Take the time to see who may be interacting with you, and engage with influencers as well as your target audience. To do this, try searching hashtags that are relevant to your brand, and ultimately take the time to have a quality interaction with others on the platform. Respond to users, ask questions, and get involved in the conversation to build a strong sense of community.
Showcase Content Your Followers Are Pushing Out
Maybe your customers on Instagram have shared photos wearing one of your products at a popular event, or maybe an influencer in the industry is promoting how they use your product/service on the regular. Share away - Incorporate this user-generated content into your content strategy. This is essential for gaining the trust of your users, and shows that you are authentic in your love for your brand AND for your audience.
On Instagram, users can search for what they're looking for by searching for specific hashtags, so if you're looking to be discovered by someone who may be interested in what you're sharing, consider your approach to the use of hashtags. Instagram is a moving feed, so unless you're highly active with sharing fresh content, your content will most likely not reach all of your followers. By including industry-relevant and branded hashtags, you'll extend the lifetime reach of your Instagram posts.
Now, I said industry-relevant AND branded hashtags. Hosting a contest? Create a unique branded hashtag to help give your campaign something special, to ultimately build your brand. Use those hashtags in tandem with hashtags that are related to your products and services, and you'll extend the size of your audience, hopefully attracting the eyes of some new followers as well.
With plenty of innovation and opportunity happening this year, marketing on Instagram can be extremely beneficial if your strategy is conceptualized and executed appropriately. Consider these 5 Instagram resolutions when building out your company's social media marketing plan and you'll be sure to increase the value that the platform brings to your brand!