Instagram is a fast-growing social media site that provides many opportunities for businesses wanting to increase their reach and attract more customers. There’s more to marketing on Instagram than starting an account and posting a few photos, though.
Why Your Business Needs Instagram
When deciding which social media sites to focus on, it’s important to look at trends as well as absolute numbers. For example, while Facebook is still the biggest social media platform in terms of active users, Instagram is actually growing faster. Statista reports that the number of users increased from 600 million to 800 million between December 2016 and September 2017 alone. Instagram is especially popular among teens and millennials.
As a visual platform, Instagram is part of the overall trend of images and videos dominating the internet. Instagram is also primarily a mobile-based platform (users can access feeds from computers but must use the mobile app to post). As mobile devices supplant computers as the primary way people go online, Instagram is likely to grow even more. In other words, if you want to reach a young audience who mainly go online using smartphones (and, to a lesser extent, tablets), you need Instagram.
While images are particularly useful if you sell physical products, there are also many ways to leverage the site for services and digital products. Social Media Today reports that 71% of businesses use Instagram. This means you risk falling behind the competition if you’re not using it. Now let’s look at some of the most effective Instagram marketing strategies.BLOG: Awesome #Instagram Marketing Tips | #JSBTalksDigital Click To Tweet
Identify Your Audience
As noted, Instagram is a powerful platform for younger, visually oriented mobile users. For marketing purposes, though, you need to drill down and identify a much more specific audience. Otherwise, it’s difficult to attract followers who engage with your posts. There are a couple of ways to approach this. You can start by targeting the people who fit your customer persona based on market research. Understanding the demographics of your customers is essential for any type of marketing. For example, if you’re selling nutritional supplements for weight loss, your typical customer might be a suburban woman between the ages of 35 and 55.
Knowing your audience goes hand-in-hand with analytics. When you track your results, you can constantly improve your knowledge and take steps to reach your particular audience. It’s essential to know who’s following you, which followers are most likely to click on your links and turn into customers, what time of day and days of the week you get the most engagement and other such data.
Once you start using Instagram, your analytics provide you with more precise information about your audience. Since Facebook owns Instagram, you have access to Facebook Insights, which supply many useful metrics about followers and engagement. This lets you know what type of content gets you the best results in terms of reach, impressions, clicks, and other activity. As you study these numbers, you can refine your knowledge about your audience and make adjustments accordingly.#Instagram Marketing Tip: Post attractive and compelling images. | #JSBTalksDigital Click To Tweet
How to Create Popular Content for Instagram
You know that Instagram is a visual platform that lets you post images as well as short videos. How do you choose the right kind of content that stands out, inspires your followers, and gets them to click on your links?
- Post attractive and compelling images. This may seem obvious, but many businesses simply post photos of their products, staff, or location. Keep in mind that Instagram is a social site and people are mainly there for fun, entertainment and, in some cases, education. Find ways to make your images stand out. Take quality photos. Avoid using generic stock photos. If you want to feature your products, do so in a way that’s original and fun. Place your products in a compelling context, such as people using them in interesting locations or in a humorous way.
- Use relevant hashtags. Like Twitter, Instagram is largely driven by hashtags. In addition to including hashtags relevant to your posts, remember to use branded hashtags as well so people get used to seeing your business name with all your posts.
- Share interesting content. As with other social media sites, you can curate content from all over the web on Instagram. It’s best to keep a balance between your own posts and ones shared from other sites. After all, you want to build your own brand. However, sharing helpful and entertaining content from other sites is a good way to keep your followers interested. It also takes some of the workload off your shoulders. Just be careful not to share competitors’ content.
- Provide benefits. Use your Instagram posts to provide your followers with unique benefits. Post promo codes that let people save money. Create contests with fun prizes. Link to news stories and articles that provide your followers with useful tips.
Engage With Your Followers
If you want to build a loyal following on Instagram, it’s crucial to remember that social media is all about engagement. This works both ways, of course. If you want people to engage with your posts, return the favor and acknowledge your followers.
- Engagement doesn’t mean following everyone back. As you build your account, it gets harder and harder to engage with people on equal footing. That’s why celebrities with over a million followers seldom comment or follow anyone back. Even as your following reaches the hundreds and thousands, engagement gets challenging. So don’t try to follow everyone back or comment on every post. Pick and choose the ones that are most relevant. Liking posts is the simplest action and one that still shows that you’re paying attention to your followers.
- Encourage your followers to post their own content. You can do this around holidays are particular themes such as seasons, back-to-school, summer vacations, pets, or anything that relates to your business. You can also hold photo contests, which are a good way to get people to share your posts. Sharing and liking your followers’ content encourages to keep engaging with you.
- Create Instagram stories. Instagram Stories are posts that are connected in a slideshow type format. The idea here is to create a story or narrative that gives people more insight into your business. Stories are only visible for 24 hours, so this is only for timely content. You can use stories for highlighting special events, promotions, new products, or giving people an inside look at your business.
Work With Influencers
One way to get better results from your Instagram marketing is to borrow the popularity and credibility of influencers. These are celebrities or anyone in your industry with a sizeable following. When people talk about social media influencers, they often think of high-profile celebrities like Taylor Swift or the Kardashians. However, there are thousands of lesser-known but still popular influencers in your niche who can help to build your brand. Search for influencers who have a solid following and who your customers admire. Here are a few ways influencers can help your business.
- Paid shoutouts. In this case, you pay the influencer to spread the message about your business or product. Rates vary according to the influencer’s popularity and the rates he or she sets. You can work with agencies where you order shoutouts. You can also search on your own and contact people with popular accounts and ask them for a shoutout. The latter approach is often cheaper as you can find people who haven’t really thought about monetizing their accounts.
- Offer them products. Some influencers recommend products they like without taking payment. Contact them and offer to send them a sample, download, free trial, or whatever you’re trying to promote.
- Ask them to do a takeover. A takeover is when an influencer takes control of your Instagram (or other social media) account for a certain number of hours or days. In this case, the influencer gets to pitch his or her products as well as yours. This is not usually a viable strategy if you’re brand new to Instagram marketing. You may need to build up your account to a certain level in order to make a takeover interesting to influencers.
These are some of the best ways to leverage Instagram for marketing. To get the best results from any type of social media marketing, it’s necessary to constantly test your results and refine your approach. You also want to stay current with the latest trends and features of the platforms you’re using.