Instagram is one of the best tools we have to stay in touch with family and friends, but it can also be a powerful tool for your business if harnessed wisely.
ComScore’s 2017 study on digital trends pegs mobile at almost 70 per cent of digital media time spent, and that figure has been growing with each passing year. And what’s at the vanguard of this growth? Apps like Instagram and Snapchat – something savvy marketers have long since picked up on.
Like other social media platforms, it’s not enough to just broadcast advertisements and wait for the dollars to roll in. Instead, careful consideration should be taken to build a community of followers made up of like-minded people to whom you can speak directly about things they’re interested in. Social media marketing extraordinaire and CEO of small business SmartSweets, Tara Bosch, says, “I don’t like to call it social marketing, it’s more connecting with like-minded people.”
Whether you’re an old-hand at social marketing, or a complete novice, the following four tips will set your Instagram strategy off on the right foot.
Content is King
“An important first step in building your social community is to create and curate great content,” – Shane Gibson, Co-Founder of SalesAcademy.ca and one of the world’s foremost speakers on social selling .
It’s all too easy for marketers to take a photo of their product and slap an Instagram filter on it, but this simply isn’t good enough. Nothing is likely to make followers disengage and unfollow quicker than the traditional, “Sell, Sell, Sell” school of thought. We take great care with our personal social profiles to tell interesting and enjoyable stories. Take this thought, and use it in your marketing strategy. Your audience needs to enjoy seeing your brand’s posts, and not feel like they’re constantly being pitched to.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you likely haven’t reached the point where your company/brand has a style guide. Even so, it’s important to retain a well-defined and consistent brand identity in your social media posts. Take the example of Vancouver’s own Postmark Brewing. Their brand identity revolves around an outdoor, distinctly West Coast vibe. Each of their Instagram posts is carefully curated to reflect this style, mingling shots of BC’s beautiful scenery alongside pictures of people enjoying their products in the great outdoors. It’s an effective strategy to convey who and what you are as a brand, and it doesn’t cost anything to implement except a little thought.
Hashtags rose to prominence through their use on Twitter, but they’re also a fantastic tool for growing your reach on Instagram. Avoid the temptation to spam hashtags, as it’s almost as off-putting to your audience as bad content. A study on Instagram Marketing by TrackMaven suggests “four or five” hashtags as being the optimal figure for engagement. Think of crafting a brand or company hashtag that you use across all your Instagram posts. Alternatively, use popular hashtags like #tbt (Throwback Thursday) alongside fun, tailored content to join in massive conversations. After a while, you may even find customers tagging your brand, creating a vein of user generated content you can tap into.
Keep Abreast of Trends
Cast your mind back to 2012. The “Big Three” of social media consisted of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, while Instagram didn’t even register with advertisers as it was mobile only and hadn’t yet reached critical mass. Marketers obsessed over growing their desktop audience on these three platforms through “likes and follows”, viewing it as a reliable distribution platform for advertisements. Time moves fast in the digital world, and Instagram is now at the forefront of a mobile-first strategy focused on building communities and engaging in conversations. 2018 is likely to be just as interesting, with Apple’s new phones boasting advanced augmented reality features that will lead to interesting new ways to market. Instagram Stories continue to grow in popularity, while influencers continue to see strong growth in their reach and use by brands. Catering to Millennials has been one of the hottest trends in recent years, but it’s time to start considering the generation that’s coming after them: Generation Z.