Instagram: The Missing Piece to Your Marketing Strategy
With 75 million people using Instagram daily, Instagram is an effective tool for your social media marketing strategy. Here’s some tips to get you started.
There was a time when Instagram was the underdog in the social media race. Five years after its launch, it’s risen to the top. In December of last year, Instagram surpassed the 300-million user mark, making it more popular than Twitter. About a third of those users were gained in just nine months. Now, more than 75 million people use Instagram on a daily basis. The numbers just seem to keep rising. Indeed, Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012 may go down in business history as the best $1 billion decision of all time.
This is good news for marketers. The popularity of Instagram can be leveraged to help brands makes strides in advertising, leads, and conversions. Twitter and Facebook are effective social media marketing tools, too, but nothing beats a good visual to drive home a point. The majority of social media content – about 63% – is visual. If you think about it, most marketing content in general is mostly visual, too. Viewers of advertisements may barely hear the message, but if they’re looking, they’ll see it and their mind will absorb it quickly. Ultimately, it was the iconic image of the mysterious and masculine Marlboro Man that made men want to buy filtered cigarettes (which were considered feminine when first on the market).
If you’re not using Instagram already to market your brand, now is a good time to start. Instagram has a designated Instagram for business service, and provides tips on their blog for leveraging your account to gain followers and clients. Marketers can take advantage of Instagram’s quick image-sharing capabilities to lure in new business with visual content that entertains, informs, and inspires.
Here’s how to leverage Instagram to take your marketing strategy to the next level:
Use a Variety of Images
The purpose of a business Instagram account is to promote your brand. That doesn’t mean that everything you post on Instagram has to be directly related to your services. Some of the most followed social media accounts – actor George Takei’s Facebook page, for example – post completely unrelated content that they think viewers will enjoy. You can attract followers with this kind of frivolous content, which will later expose them to your targeted marketing content. Just don’t go overboard with the cute cat videos – the majority of your content should be relevant to the product or service you provide. You still want to be taken seriously as a brand. Include a variety of photos that represent your brand – for example, Whole Foods posts content about healthy living in general, as well as pictures of sale items and in-store events.
Write Marketing Copy in Your Captions
Many images speak for themselves, but one or two solid sentences can give some impactful context to your visual posts. Instagram allows for short captions to describe or provide additional information about images and video. When writing your captions, remember that you’re on social media, not in your work e-mail or a business document. Keep it conversational and make your sentences clear and concise. The captions sections is also an opportunity to throw out some popular hashtags or start a hashtag trend all your own. As with Twitter, hashtags in Instagram help potential customers find you and connect with your brand.
Show Where You’ve Been
As a brand on the move, you get around. The geotagging feature on Instagram gives you the option of revealing where images you post were taken. These locations are collected and pinned on a photo map that can be shared with followers. Geotagging informs your followers of your business locations and places you’ve visited to promote your brand or do outreach work. For example, a retail store might post a picture from a buying trip across the country, or an author could catalog all the places they visited on their book tour. This information makes your posts more interesting and tells followers whether you’ve been or will be in their area.
Host an Image Contest
A rising trend for businesses on Instagram is hosting a contest where followers send in pictures relating to a specific theme. These photos are posted on the brand’s account, and either users or the business itself selects the winner. Online contests are a no-risk situation for followers, so they have a big appeal. Increase the visibility of your brand by selecting a contest theme related to your product or service and offering a desirable prize for the winner. In 2014, Travelocity’s #IWannaGo contest asked users to submit pictures of travel destinations where they wanted to go for the opportunity to win a trip there. Brand awareness increased 5 percent during the contest, and purchases from existing customers rose by 11 percent.
Spotlight Your Events
Social media is how many people keep up with events happening in their area. Make it easy for them to discover your events by promoting them on Instagram and offering special discounts for followers. Teaser photos of event-related updates leading up to the day will build user interest and optimize your reach. Create stories surrounding your event as it happens and keep the content flowing after it’s done – like requesting that users who attended share their favorite moments and photos. This is not only a good way to generate followers, but it also attracts media attention and garners mass publicity.
When you can get people really interested in your product or service, they will genuinely enjoy interacting with your brand on social media. Millions of users are exchanging millions of gigabytes of content on social media everyday. Standing out as a favorite social media go-to page will inspire brand loyalty and get you noticed by followers’ friends and family. Social networks are influential, and visual content is persuasive – these two things make Instagram a powerful business tool.
As you develop your Instagram account and marketing strategy, never lose sight of who you’re doing it for – ultimately, it’s for your followers and customers. Strive to understand them by following their accounts too, and paying attention to the images they post. The better you can cater to them, the more engaged they’ll be with your content.