Instagram is a visual media giant and a prime social channel for individuals and businesses alike. And if you haven’t already considered Instagram for marketing your business, then here are a few stats to give you that much-needed nudge.
With that kind of user base and demographics, you are missing out on a ton of marketing opportunities for your business. But fret not. I’m here to walk you through the steps and ways in which you can become an Instagram marketing pro.
VISUAL CONTENT STRATEGY
If you have already used Facebook or Twitter for marketing your business, then you must already know that content strategy is key to any marketing strategy. If the content—be it text or visual—is not interesting enough or relevant to your audience, then you can be sure of a failed marketing strategy.
To begin with, you need to decide on the content type that you are planning to post on Instagram. You need to decide on the kind of images that make up most of your company’s Instagram gallery. There are four categories that you can pick from depending on your business or brand.
I understand that not all businesses are as exciting as Buzzfeed or Disneyland. Most SaaS providers struggle to find a solution to this situation. “How do I create engaging visual content for a bunch of software?” echoes most of their concerns around Instagram marketing. So, then what do we do?
Monetizing or bringing leads is not the only goal of marketing on social channels. You can use this opportunity to showcase your company’s work culture. This works best to create and enhance your brand identity on Instagram. Zendesk does a fantastic job at showing their fans and followers what they are up to and what their brand is all about through their Instagram profile.
This approach doesn’t need a lot of detailing. This is a common and straightforward strategy that most businesses use for Instagram marketing. This strategy allows you to post images and videos of your products. In short, you are exhibiting all the products that your business sells on your Instagram gallery.
One of the top businesses that have taken full advantage of this strategy is Tasty by Buzzfeed. They share short bite-sized videos and delicious looking images that have won the hearts of their audience.
User-generated Content Strategy
A brand’s best marketers are their customers and users. If your brand has enough number of loyal customers and plenty of fans, user-generated content is the way to go. This gets your users automatically engaged with your brand. Your gallery looks credible and real without all the HD images and videos shot in big studios.
This account curates images from its followers and look how pretty their gallery is.
Users are happy to have their images featured on their favorite brand’s Instagram gallery. And it also saves a lot of your marketing team’s time and budget to come up with fresh and quality visual content.
Mixed Content Approach
You can try balancing product and user-generated content as well. And if you can pull it off, you will be able to not just publish product images but also get a lot of engagement through images curated from users. Lululemon is one good example to follow suit but just make sure that this approach is relevant to your business. For instance, it would be a bad idea for a software company to try this strategy because the chances of scoring it big on user-generated content is less.
Partnering with Influencers
Influencer marketing is growing exponentially and it is expected to reach $1.07 billion by the end of 2017. If it is growing, it is working. Beauty Products and Fashion are the two biggest players in influencer marketing on Instagram. But that’s no reason to stop you from exploring it for your own business.
Now there are three ways to do this.
- Collaborate with micro-influencers or users who post high-quality images. Curate these images to create an Instagram gallery for your brand.
- Create individual brand accounts for influencers. They can post images only of your products on this account in a way to promote them.
- Run an influencer marketing campaign. This gives you the opportunity to tap into a community of the influencer’s engaged followers.
Instagram is mobile-only. This not only means that publishing on Instagram can happen only on the mobile but it also allows you to quickly capture and share moments on the go. It allows for instantaneous interaction from your brand’s followers. However, you can’t just post images and videos. You need to navigate your content approach towards a particular goal or objective.
Depending on the industry that your brand or business belongs to here are a few objectives for you to choose from.
- Brand awareness
- Show work culture
- Increase user engagement
- Build customer loyalty
- Host online events
- Visual PR
- Build and grow brand community
- Generate leads and sales
- Drive app downloads
- Recruit talent.
- Showcase products and services
It’s all visual around here on Instagram. Most of your content depends on images and so it is important that you use this checklist when creating posts for Instagram.
Anyone can click images and upload them to Instagram. Quality is what sets a brand apart from an average Instagram gallery. Upload only high-quality images and videos. This not only adds value to your gallery but also makes it look professional.
Editing and Filters
Instagram has a lot of filters in-house to offer its users. However, there is a style that your brand has and this should resonate through your images. Choose wisely when it comes to using filters. Avoid them if they affect your brand image in any way.
Every image you post requires a caption. How else would a user or fan know what your creative image is about? You can write captions as long as 2200 characters. And captions work wonders for your SEO. Yes, you read that right. So make sure you add a line or two to complement the image or video you upload.
What’s Instagram without hashtags (and images)! Hashtags are like keywords that people use to search for images. Instagram allows users to add up to 30 hashtags. While you can use hashtags relevant to the image, I strongly recommend that you create hashtags specific to your brand. This is something that users will eventually come to recognize as your brand or Instagram gallery.
Get creative. Add text within an image to pep it up a little. You don’t really require Photoshop expertise to do this.
There are plenty of tools to help you create such images and some of the popular ones are listed here.
If you have already used Snapchat, then you’d reckon that Instagram Stories are similar to Snapchat. However, this feature is a great way to connect more directly with your audience instead of the sophisticated images.
Instagram stories feature on the top on your feeds. They have a better chance of being seen than the images in your followers’ feeds.
Ever wished you could show all the products in your latest collection in one go? Well, say hello to Instagram Carousels. Instagram allows you to add up to 10 images in each carousel. This feature has been extended to videos and boomerangs. They work great when you have a story to tell through images or visuals.
I wouldn’t recommend taking this route unless you already have a bunch of loyal fan following. However, the best situations to use this feature would be for a product launch or to run a Q&A session with your customers.
Similar to Instagram Stories, these live videos show up on top of the news feeds. The chances of your brand being seen go up. To know how it’s done, take a look at the help article by Instagram.
A STEP AHEAD OF THE GAME
So, apart from uploading visual content in different formats, what else can you do to promote your brand on Instagram? Here are a few ideas for you to explore.
Promotions and Discounts
It can be challenging sometimes to get followers to make a purchase from you on Instagram. Beyond liking, commenting, and following your Brand on Instagram, you need to drive them to buy from you. One way to get them to do that is by featuring a limited-time offer on one of your products. May be throw in a discount or coupon that they can redeem.
With tools to help you add text on an image, you can add the coupon code to your image and add the discount link in your caption. Get them to act on FOMO (fear of missing out). It works almost every time.
You could also run contests on Instagram for your brand. These could be anything like sweepstakes, photo contests, or comment-and-like to participate. This will directly affect the way users interact with your images and also get them excited about your brand.
Plugin and Tools
Instagram is a social channel while your website is a place where you host your store or products. However, you can bring the two together and get your Instagram followers to become your customers. It is sort of a missing link.
There are tools and plugin that let customers make a purchase directly from within Instagram.
It is well known that no marketing strategy can stand alone with content publishing. You need to invest in paid campaigns. Instagram offers different ways to advertise on its channel as listed here.
- Photo Adverts
- Video Adverts
- Carousel Adverts
- Stories Adverts
No matter which advert you choose, there are a few key points to remember.
Good Great Images
The good thing about Instagram adverts is that they don’t look like “ads”. They blend in with the news feeds which makes them less annoying to users. But this also means that they are most likely to be overlooked. So, you need to add the best, captivating, and relevant image out there in those ads.
Similar to Facebook, there are plenty of options to help you narrow down Instagram users to your niche. It is not a good idea to run an ad that is shown to all the people out there! You will end up with a long list of invalid leads and most of your budget gone down the drain.
Your target audience has seen the ad. Now what? You need to drive these users to take some kind of action. It could be anything that helps you achieve your social media marketing goals. This also requires that you word your CTA appropriately to match your marketing goals.
IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE IT ALREADY
Clean profile and bio
Your company’s Instagram profile picture should be a clear image of the brand logo. Instagram allows you 150 characters to describe your brand. Pack the necessary information along with your brand hashtag. Instagram does not allow clicking links in post captions. Make use of the only place where you can add a link—in the bio. If you want to allow users to make purchases from with Instagram then, make sure to include the right links.
You need to be social and make connections on social channels. Don’t be shy about following others on Instagram. Follow influencers, fans, loyal users, etc. who can help boost your social presence.
It’s only fair that when people engage and comment on your images and gallery, you be responsive. Be honest with your replies to comments and be welcoming of feedback. If customers complain, then handle them gracefully. But never ignore a comment or reply from your fans and users.
Well, there you go. Everything you need to know about Instagram Marketing is spelled out for you. It’s time to click and share some amazing images. Go, achieve those social media marketing goals already.