It's not just foodies and beautiful hipsters that are active on Instagram today. If you want to social media marketing, you need to consider all the different opportunities you have to interact with your target market, across all platforms. And while Facebook and Twitter might be great for posting company updates, Instagram is quickly emerging as a visual solution for inspiring and captivating your audience.
Now with more than 700 million users, Instagram is a powerful marketing platform for companies from a wide range of different industries. However, just like any other kind of marketing, you need to make sure that you're taking steps to increase your success on a steady, and frequent basis. The more you expand your following on Instagram, the larger your potential sales opportunities will be.
In this post, I'm going to outline some quick and simple ways to filter your Instagram marketing strategy for success, with tips that will help boost brand authority, enhance engagement, and draw in those all-important profits.
1. Use the Tools Available
Want to make the most of Instagram? Why not take advantage of the resources they've designed just for business users?
Instagram's only recently begun to roll out new tools for business users to help them the most out of their accounts, and many of the resources on offer are similar to the options you'll also see on Facebook business Pages, complete with contact call-to-action solutions which enable users to call, text, or email your business directly.
Along with contact options, business profiles also have access analytics tools to help them evaluate the success of their Instagram marketing strategies. These "Insights" provide access to engagement and impression data, which should give you everything you need to make informed decisions about your future campaign efforts. The more you know about how your users interact with your social content, the more precise your engagement efforts will be.
2. Find Your Personality, and Be Consistent with It
When you first get started on Instagram, either as a business or from a personal perspective, it can be tempting to post anything you think is pretty or interesting. However, if you want to see real success, you can't just post photos without direction.
Being successful on Instagram and getting Instagram followers relies on many of the same rules that go into any other kind of brand development. You need to have a personality that prompts your followers to see you as one of their peers, and that means showcasing your human element.
While your voice in text can go a long way towards representing a personality, the images you share can have a defined character too.
For example, the pictures that you post might tell a story, or the type of imagery, colors, and filters you use might have a distinct atmosphere. Like this post from Magnum:
It's romantic, luxurious, and contemporary - all things that help to showcase the personality of the brand.
Of course, it's not enough to simply identify your personality and infuse it within your posts whenever you feel like it. You also need to show consistency.
The only way your followers are going to associate certain characteristics with your brand is if you show it to them in every post. If you saw one picture of a puppy on an Instagram account, you wouldn't assume that account was entirely about dogs - however, if every picture they posted was dog-related, then you'd quickly come to associate the brand with your favorite four-legged friend.
3. Use Hashtags (But Be STRICT)
Hashtags can be a fantastic way to boost your exposure on Instagram and generate more engagement with your content. But at the same time, it's all too easy to become a hashtag abuser, someone who relies on hashtags too often to get their point across.
When you want to add something special to your Instagram campaigns, hashtags can be a great way to enhance your brand, but make sure that you keep the rules of hashtag use in mind.
It's all about being STRICT:
Don't just throw hashtags into the ether - use them as the valuable tool they are.
4. Cross-Promote your Posts
Want to get a head start on your Instagram marketing efforts by appealing to followers that already know and love your brand? Cross-promote on your other social media platforms.
It doesn't matter whether you're engaging through Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn - you can encourage your followers to check out what you're posting elsewhere, and you have a good chance of grabbing their attention too. After all, they're already interested enough in your brand to follow you on one platform.
You might not be able to copy and paste your entire Facebook following onto your Instagram account, but it could help provide that initial boost you need to give your new account a dose of social proof. Remember, people are more inclined to follow social media groups that already have a large fan base, simply because we assume that the things that appeal to other people will appeal to us too.
You can even share some of the posts that are particularly popular on your Instagram account with followers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms too. While you shouldn't do this with every post, you can draw attention to key posts that might convince followers that see your brand to join your fan base elsewhere.
And worth noting, because Instagram is owned by Facebook, Instagram cross-posts to Facebook do tend to perform well.
5. Find Your Community
Once you've started to build your Instagram following, you'll be able to improve your reach even further by exploring the communities that already exist within this unique social networking platform. The great thing about Instagram is that there are groups out there with an interest in just about everything - from food and fashion to health and technology.
If you can identify communities that are relevant to your industry or brand, you should be able to improve your chances of appealing to the right customers with your posts.
Pay attention to:
- The top influencers in your community
- The hashtags commonly used by your community
- The style of photos shared by the most popular accounts
- Tactics for engagement used within the community (i.e. question posts and competitions)
Once you've begun to immerse yourself into the communities that you choose, you'll be able to gather information that'll guide the direction of your Instagram strategy.
6. Don't be Overwhelming
There's a delicate balancing act involved in creating an Instagram marketing campaign.
First and foremost, you need to make sure that you're posting at a frequency that gives your followers plenty of fresh and relevant content - but you also need to ensure that you don't post so often that you're constantly clogging up their feed.
Ideally, the best solution will be to test different posting schedules and determine the formula that works best for your brand. I'd generally recommend starting your Instagram experience with two posts a day, and you can alternate the times that you post to determine which periods deliver the best engagement.
Remember, there's no such thing as finding a posting sweet spot that's going to last a lifetime. As your following adapts and increases, you'll need to adjust your frequency to meet their changing preferences.
7. Be Engaging
Finally, we come to the "social" part of social media marketing - interacting with your following.
On Instagram, just like any other social media marketing platform, you need to make sure that you're constantly taking steps to reach out and interact with your audience. People like to know that their favorite brands are fundamentally run by people - and images can be the perfect way to give your audience a peek behind the scenes. However, you need to do more than snap photos twice a day.
Remember to engage with your customers by asking questions, joining existing conversations, and hosting contests that incentivize consumer engagement. Competitions can lead to huge increases in follower numbers, and it's also a great way to reward your current followers, while attracting new people to your brand's page (particularly if you ask your current fans to tag friends in the comments of your images).
Ideas for competitions might include:
- Choose your own adventure contests - where participants move through a series of photos to find a winning post
- Commenting contests - where participants comment (and sometimes tag a friend) to enter
- "Like" contests, where participants can enter by simply liking a photo.
Filtering for Success
Instagram can be a fantastic way to interact with your target audience and enhance your social media marketing strategy - but it's important to make sure that you're creating the right posts to engage and influence your followers. The above tips should help you to filter out posting mistakes, and enhance your marketing efforts so that you end up with better brand awareness - and bigger profits overall.