Instagram recently announced that they’ve gained over 300 million users, even surpassing their much older cousin Twitter. “Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” writes co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom of Instagram, a Facebook-owned social photo-sharing app born in 2010. Not to mention users tap the like button 2.5 million times daily, proving that I am not the only like-aholic out there.
If that isn’t the audience you’re targeting, you still should not dismiss the social network as a useless opportunity, because almost every male I know is on Instagram, and I would predict that each year more and more adults over 34 will be hopping on the Instagram bandwagon. Why do I predict this?Because it’s exactly what happened with Instagram’s parent company, Facebook. As most of you are aware Facebook started at Harvard, branched out slowly to other ivy-leagues, colleges across the country, and now has a wide international presence and includes demographics of every age, gender, race, etc. (I’d be willing to bet that your parents are on Facebook).
Advertising On Instagram
Now that we’re clear that Instagram is the new golden-child of social media, what about advertising on Instagram? Well, it’s not cheap, and it’s probably not available for most businesses. I know, life’s tough. With that said according to an interview with co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom and the Wall Street Journal, “Our real value in the long run is going to be in the advertising space…We’re taking it slow on purpose because we don’t want to alienate the community that is so important to Instagram’s growth.”
1. Build A Community Around Hashtag
The great thing about this strategy is that it can be leveraged across other social networks like Twitter and Pinterest, but works so well on Instagram and is the perfect way to get your audience to engage with your brand. Nike did it so well with their winter campaign Choose Your Winter.
Being an avid runner and one of the crazy people that runs the Charles River in 10 degree weather during Boston winters, I might be a bit biased, but Nike really did knock it out of the park with this campaign. Not only is the timing exceptional, but it gives Instagram users the ability to interact with your brand. Since the campaign launched in mid-November the hashtag #chooseyourwinter has gained substantial ground on Instagram.
Instagram themselves have recognized Nike for having the ability to start a movement with their #runfree campaign months back.
2. Partner With Other Brands
I’ve observed a few brands that I follow who take a unique approach to their posts by promoting and sharing their partnerships with their followers. For instance SweetGreen, one of my favorite lunch spots for salads, soups, and fro-yo, prides themselves on serving local and organically sourced ingredients from farmers and trusted partners.
I could praise their business decisions all day, but one in particular is the relationship they’ve developed with the non-profit, FoodCorps. This partnership aligns seamlessly with SweetGreen’s healthy-living values since FoodCorps mission is to enable children to make healthier choices when it comes to food. This SweetGreen gram below beautifully demonstrates their partnership with FoodCorps and displays how their values align and what their company stands for.
The post is relevant, well-crafted, and also raises awareness for the incredible things FoodCorps and SweetGreen are working on. If you can align your company’s values with your consumers, this is golden.
3. Relate To Your Followers
You always want to be thinking in the mindset of your target consumer(s). Likely you’ve already established a few buyer personas and have an idea of the makeup of the leads you’re nurturing and the customers you’re delighting. But now you need to think about why they’re on Instagram.
To kill time? To see what’s up with their friends? To check-in on what their children are up to? Let’s pretend you sell financial consulting services and you’ve established that your clients love sport cars and tend to follow popular car brands on Instagram. Ok, perfect solution: post pictures of fancy sports cars! Right? Well, not quite – you need to keep relevant to what you’re selling so perhaps you post an attractive sports car, but write a catchy description reading “Wouldn’t you love to buy this lightning fast beamer?
You can if you start making better financial decisions! Call us today for a free 30 minute consultation.” And then stop posting cars for a while because you don’t want your market to think you sell sports cars.
4. Don’t Over Post
This tip is pretty self-explanatory, but for those new to the platform please note that over-posting is a big insta-no-no! I remember when my good friend first joined and posted an entire Facebook album to his page, until friends from all locations were yelling at him to chill-out!
This is not Facebook where pictures will all be grouped into a compact album. We don’t want our photo feeds cluttered with posts from one person, that’s when your posts go from enjoyable to migraine-inducing, and your followers lose interest and visit your page for the last time to unsubscribe for life.
5. Promote Your Instagram Everywhere
This one is also somewhat self-explanatory, but you need to leverage this channel in the same way you do your other social networks. For example do you have social icons on your homepage or product pages connecting visitors to your social channels? An Instagram icon needs to be added as well.
When setting up your account you should first be connecting with Facebook to pull in your friends, but this is just the start of promoting your channel. You should be running Instagram campaigns across your social networks and sending out reminders to employees, brand-ambassadors, and partners (basically anyone who’s established a positive relationship with your brand) to use your business hashtag and any hashtags that are relevant or important to a marketing campaign running. Force (or encourage) your employees, especially those frequently communicating with leads and customers, to add a link to your company Instagram in their email signatures.
Add an icon of your Instagram handle to your LinkedIn profile and business card. Repost your Instagram photos to your business Twitter and personal accounts. The opportunities are endless, but once your Instagram is enticing get it in front of people and start building your follower base.
6. Find Beauty In Your Brand
A lot of B2B companies have already ruled Instagram out as an unusable platform for their business. Their mind-set being that they don’t sell food, beer, or clothing; their products are either unattractive or intangible so why would they use a photo-sharing application?
I get it, perhaps you sell software, so images of your product aren’t super attractive to your Instagram audience. I feel your pain, but I will not be sympathetic if you rule Instagram out all together because there are so many other ways to build your brand without directly showcasing photographs of your products.
Take photographs in the office or of your work environment to give your followers a sneak-peak into the day-to-day of your company’s unique culture. Get your employees involved so all of the work doesn’t fall on your shoulders; for example create a unique hashtag for your company’s holiday party and have all of your employees add the hashtag to the pictures they take at the soiree.
This way you can re-post pictures taken by employees and create buzz around popular hashtags.
7. Utilize Your Tools
Since Instagram’s birth 4 years ago they’ve continued to make changes to the application at a decently fast pace (although, take a deep breath, I’m not talking about a Google algorithm update pace).
There’s a lot you can do on Instagram to beautify your photos, track performance, and stay on-top of changes. Follow these three tips when navigating your way through the app:
- Get to know all of Instagram’s filters, special effects, and editing tools. Utilize your creative team to help manipulate your photos to get the most visually compelling result. If you’re a one-man-band, and not skilled at photo-manipulation, seek alternative opinions. Some of the most popular rated filters include Low-Fi, Valencia, and X-Pro II.
- Three months ago Instagram released a suite of business tools to help brands analyze the performance of their posts. The highlight of this release is that these tools are available to all businesses, not just the select brands with advertising capabilities. The tools include account insights like impressions, reach, engagement, ad insights – this feature is for paid advertisements only, but gives the advertise more detail into brand analytics, and ad staging, which allows businesses to work together to preview, save, and collaborate on their ad creative. No, these tools are not perfect, but they’re a start into getting a clearer picture on how effective your posts are performing.
8. Get Inspired From others
“Steal ideas from other companies”: this was the advice my first manager at my first job gave me when I hit an inspirational road blocker. It became obvious advice once I thought it through and is genius when it comes to Instagram. There are so many incredible brands out there on the platform and you should be following all of them.
Follow Charity Water, GoPro, Starbucks, Adidas, Taco Bell, all of the brands listed in this article, as well as anyone in your field or a related field and copy their best strategies with your own unique spin. Aside from mimicking other companies, mimic your fans. According to Fast Company’s Rachel Gillet, “In 2011 Chobani discovered that, even before the brand joined Instagram, their fans were posting photos of their artful concoction using the Greek yogurt.
The Chobani fans used hashtags like #creationaday and #chobani to showcase the yogurt as a core ingredient so it seemed only fitting for Chobani to build their following by piggybacking off of their fans’ creativity.”
9. Show Your Beautiful Brand
General Electric is a pro at this. You wouldn’t think wind turbines were photogenic, but look at this stunning photograph below. According to the Instagram blog, “Show how your company sees the world and make it meaningful to people.” Not a photographer? Not all of us can be Annie Leibovitz.
Instead start a hashtag campaign (see tip #1) and post photographs that your fans capture. We often catch a stellar sunset at the WordStream office in Boston – this is another easy win for a great Instagram
10. Interact With Others On Instagram
I’ve talked a lot about promoting your Instagram, posting engaging, quality images, using hashtags to create buzz, and gaining inspiration from others, but another critical step in the process is interacting with your followers and the people you want to follow you. If you’re already posting follow-worthy content then start liking, commenting and following others.
“If you expect people to engage with your posts, they expect the same as well,” writes TINT CEO, Tim Sae Koo. “The more active you are, the more exposed your username/account is to the owner and owner’s followers.”
So search popular hashtags and like away! Write complementary comments on peoples post and #regram images while giving credit to the original post.
I Hope You Enjoyed It !!