CREATING YOUR VISUAL BRAND
Instagram has seen a surge in popularity over recent months, and boasts impressive stats such as 40 billion images shared to date and 400 million active monthly users generating an average 80 million images per day. It’s a mobile based photo and video social network that is offering brands the unique opportunity to connect with their fans, both existing and potential.
ARE YOU USING INSTAGRAM YET?
It’s important to understand that success on Instagram takes more than just uploading an image. You need to create a detailed strategy so think carefully about how your business can tell stories through imagery in order to really connect with your audience. If you are looking for a little inspiration to help kick-start this process then make sure you follow @instagramforbusiness and check out the official Instagram blog.
OUR (SHORT) INSTAGRAM GUIDE
UNDERSTANDING YOUR OBJECTIVES:
Ask yourself the following:
- Who is my target audience?
- Is my target audience active on Instagram
- How will Instagram integrate into our wider marketing strategy?
Always remember that Instagram is a VISUAL platform. The nature of the app lends itself to instantaneous sharing, giving followers the chance to interact with your business in real time. But what do you want to share with them? Will it be all product focussed, or will you incorporate images that show off your business, its culture and staff?
WHAT DO I WANT TO GET OUT OF INSTAGRAM?
Your ideal outcomes will vary by industry and the types of products and/or services you are offering, but your KPIs may well include a mixture of the following:
- Demonstrate company culture.
- Increase brand awareness
- Showcase your team and recruit new talent.
- Increase customer engagement and loyalty.
- Showcase products and services.
- Enhance and complement event experiences.
- Incentivize consumer engagement with your brand.
- Share company news.
- Grow your community.
- Connect with influencers.
- Drive sales through a third-party app.
Bear these goals in mind as you continue to develop your Instagram marketing strategy.
Planned, well thought out content should form part of your strategy. How will you theme your images? Do you intend to post solely about your products and services or do you want to open up your business to your audience, showcasing your staff, culture, environment. Perhaps you want to go further and add free how-to videos or tutorials that provide cost-free value to your audience? Pay attention to the time of year and tie posts into the various date-sensitive events that occur throughout the year.
DETERMINE TYPES OF CONTENT & RATIO
Instagram started life as an image sharing app, but now allows for video and GIFs too. Make use of all types of media but consider the balance bearing in mind what you think you can achieve with the resources you have and what your audience will want to see from you. It is important to remember that with Instagram quality and composition matters. Take time to produce the best photos or videos you possibly can.
CREATE A CONTENT CALENDAR
With all social media it’s a good idea to create a content calendar. Plot all your key internal dates (product launch dates, external advertising dates etc.) and also mark off key seasonal dates and times that you think are important to your customer, such as Christmas and New Year. Be aware that Instagram does not currently allow you to schedule, either from within the app of via a third party publishing tool so you will need to be ready to post in real time. You should try and prepare your content in advance, so it’s ready and waiting to be shared but don’t be afraid to create posts and share them spontaneously. Some of the best posts on Instagram are reactive to trends.
CONSIDER USER GENERATED CONTENT
If you are lucky enough to find that your customers are already sharing your brand through their own content then reach out to them and share this content with your followers. By working WITH your customers you can foster audience engagement and incentivise them to share their own creative ways of interacting with your products and/or services. Share what they do, but be courteous and give them credit.
UNDERSTAND HASHTAGS, GEO-TAGGING AND SHARING
Hashtags are popular on Instagram and they provide users with a quick and easy way of searching for a particular topic. They also make it easier to find interesting people to follow. Don’t be afraid of using hashtags in your posts – Instagram allows up to 30 in each post and whilst you don’t necessarily need that many you don’t need to be too shy either. You can create your own hashtags that are relevant to your brand, or make use of popular hashtags already in use and join in with the conversation.
Make time to browse trending hashtags and ask yourself if any could fit with your posting / content strategy. By exploring trends and understanding what people are talking about you can really start to engage with a huge audience.
If location is key to your business then also make use of the location / geo-tagging functions. Great if you are a restaurant, hotel or travel destination.
You can connect your Instagram account to your other social profiles, including Facebook and Twitter, so your Instagram posts automatically share on those platforms. Think if you want to share your posts in this way though as cross-posting is not always ideal – it can be a time saver but if you don’t pay close attention to the wording on your posts they may not appear great on the other platforms.
FOLLOW OTHER ACCOUNTS
If you want to keep your finger on the Instagram pulse you should try and follow other accounts that are popular and relevant to your business. Are key industry leaders in your niche using Instagram? Follow them. Are there any highly influential bloggers on there, posting about things relevant to your business? Follow them! This will help you keep an eye on interesting content and even find inspiration for your own posts.
MANAGE COMMENTS AND @ MENTIONS
Social media is all about being social, and Instagram is no different. Don’t ignore your notifications. If people are talking to you, talk back. Have a plan in place for the types of messages you could receive, and have a team in lace if you are expecting a high volume of inbound messages. Types of messages could include:
- Support or customer service inquiries
- Negative or disparaging comments
- Career inquiries
- Sales leads
MONITOR YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
Understanding what you have achieved for all your efforts is important. Tracking how well your content performs and how your follower numbers have grown will help you to adapt your marketing strategy over time. This should then enable you to deliver more of the content that your audience responds to while optimizing your plans for future campaigns. When looking at your sent messages, analysing the number of comments and likes received, as well as the engagement rate for each post, will show you how different types of content perform.
The engagement rate is a percentage of likes plus comments on the post, divided by followers of the account at the time the post was sent. Making use of a social monitoring tool (we love Sprout Social here at Bigfoot Digital) makes it easy to monitor your achievements via their reporting tool.
By developing an Instagram marketing strategy you will in time discover the types of content work well for you and that are best received by your audience. Building a brand on Instagram will take time and it can be a challenge, but it is a social network that is becoming impossible to ignore.