Instagram is like the gentle giant of social media. Where Facebook and Twitter are more intensive, interactive behemoths and hotspots for opinionated people to take a pedestal on any and every topic, Instagram is a respite where people mostly go to look at pictures. When scrolling through an Instagram feed, users are more likely to tap the heart icon and leave a positive message or comment rather than stoke an ideological war, because they’re processing the content in front of them in a much different way. Not that it doesn’t happen on an Instagram thread, but the way the app is formatted and delivered makes inflammatory remarks far less appealing or inviting.
This is important to know because engaging with your target audience on the Instagram app is much different than engaging through Twitter or Facebook. Of course, there are similarities, but knowing how and why people interact with each other on Instagram is vital for establishing a brand identity efficiently. This guide is meant to help your brand curate an Instagram marketing campaign that solidifies your identity and drives more traffic to your business.
Before jumping into Instagram-specific strategies, let’s start by breaking down a few social networking similarities. Here are some conventional approaches and advice that can be shared among virtually every social media networking strategy:
-Analytics monitoring: just like the other two sites, tracking and staying on top of Instagram analytics is necessary to help plan and tweak your strategy over time. What works now may not work when your company goes through its next growth spurt, or when the next big trending disruptor comes along and slightly changes how people think or participate in social media.
-Targeting an audience: It’s marketing 101, but how you effectively target your audience can also vary in relatively short timeframes. As new generations begin using social media and become consumers themselves, and older generations become savvier with technology and social networking, there will be a whole new set of eyes to put yourself in front of. Doing what you can to hone in on who those people are, and how to influence them, is one of the most important steps.
-Post scheduling: Like the other social networking strategies, it’s wise to plan posts so they can be as accurate, engaging, and
-Adaptability: This summarizes everything typical of social media marketing because all strategies involve being adaptable to change. It’s best to think of anything on the internet as fluid and constantly shifting, so by staying ahead of the trends and reading forecasts you can more quickly and seamlessly adapt your approach.
For some business owners, Instagram holds slightly more mystique than other networking channels, but in many ways, it’s even more straightforward.
Don’t approach Instagram as a way to generate an enormous following or become “Instagram famous.” Instead, focus on building your audience and establishing solid grounds for your brand to shine. There is truth to the adage that “if you build it, they will come,” but it still takes effort on your part. Here are a few tips for maximizing your Instagram account as a part of your business marketing strategy:
1. Post high-quality, highly-tailored content.
Instagram has all manner of styles of posts, from beautiful, high-definition photography, day-to-day captures of people, places, pets, and commercial outings, and artwork, to more lo-fi, ironic content that attracts a niche of its own. What your business decides to post is virtually inseparable from the niche audience whose attention you’re hoping to catch. It’s perhaps more important here than on any other site to be mindful of and specific with your audience because otherwise, they’ll scroll right past.
2. Actively participate in communities you want to be a part of
This could easily be filed in the “all social media” category, but we’ll talk about how unique the Instagram community can be. The app has a robust search feature, with which you can either browse suggested posts or search by word, category, hashtag, or name. Someone running a pet products business might find the Instagram niches devoted to specific breeds of dogs, for instance (which, by the way, can make for some incredibly cute browsing), and “like” photos posted by various users. Quite often, when you follow a mega-account that already has a ton of followers, you’re bound to get some follows back from those accounts. In turn, you begin to show up on consumers’ radars, and before you know it, your customer base is finding your account and actively participating in it. Drop friendly or complimentary comments here and there on accounts that have great content, and show people you’re part of the community as well.
3. Be hashtag #saavy
Twitter relies in large part on hashtags for connecting people, businesses, events, and ideas, and while it’s the same in practice as Instagram, the latter has an entirely separate universe of what trends as hashtags. Instagram has a distinctive culture of hashtags that generate followers, whereas Twitter users tend to shun similar pleas and approaches. Instagram is also handy for telling you how many people have already used the hashtag you’re considering while you type it out in your post. From there, you can gauge how popular or relevant it is, and even glean suggestions from similar hashtags. (Possible follow-up post on most popular business generating hashtags?)
4. Show people inside your brand’s world.
Don’t just throw a bunch of stock or generic photos up and leave people with a generic inspirational quote. Vary your content and help people feel a personal connection with what you’re posting. Participate in daily hashtag trends (#tbt=Throwback Thursday, #mcm=Man Crush Monday….you get the picture) and share what’s going on around your office or workspace. Show the team’s faces, and put some of your interests on display. If you’re a major retailer, you’re probably going to be more focused on your products because they’re likely already ubiquitous in consumers’ lives, but smaller, local branches of larger companies or independent companies will benefit from interspersing product photos and features with something fun, like photos from a company picnic or a picture evidencing your CEO’s Trekkie side. Be professional and poised, but don’t be afraid to occasionally be humorous and lively, because nobody wants to be bombarded with robotic, straightforward business all the time.
5. Determine how your Instagram will set you apart from other social media endeavors.
Once you start to dissect how Instagram is different, you’ll break away from unnecessary habits established through more familiar sites like Twitter and Facebook. For one, Instagram is almost exclusively tailored for mobile use—there is an Instagram website that is functional, but isn’t nearly as user-friendly or convenient as the mobile app. Knowing how the mobile-exclusive presence of Instagram can influence people on the go is a great start. The way you structure a post will be different in several ways. For one thing, since it’s a mobile app, it’s all about capturing things in the moment. The caption for a photo might follow a more organic and spontaneous flow, and invite positive comments or interactions. There is more of an expectation of real-time updates balanced with carefully curated posts that are planned out ahead of time.
Instagram can be one of the more fun platforms to use for your business, so take some creative leaps and show your audience a side of you they didn’t know was there!