When Instagram first launched in 2010, it was a personal photo-sharing platform that introduced us to the world of selfies, square-format pictures, and filters.
Today, the app has grown into a multi-billion-dollar mega platform with more than one billion active monthly users. And the service isn’t just limited to personal use anymore.
Brands are now using Instagram to humanise their content, promote new products and connect with customers. The platform is great for growing brand awareness, allowing companies to promote their products and services, without directly selling to their customers.
Your strategy on Instagram can also be repurposed or replicated on other platforms like Facebook to suit the audience.
For example, create visual content for Instagram, as it is where people go to see visually crafted content that falls in their areas of interest – such as in health, travel, or lifestyle. Then turn that visual content into something that generates conversations for Facebook, as it is where people connect with their friends and family and share their views and perspectives of the world.
Here are five tips to win on Instagram:
1. Craft a unique visual identity
What makes Instagram so popular and engaging is that it is primarily a visual platform. According to research, 65 percent of us are visual learners. People prefer to gather and interpret information through sight, which is why visual marketing has become so effective.
Starbucks’ Instagram feed is pure eye candy. Showcasing their products through diverse backdrops, the consistent imagery of the cup promotes recall without being overbearing. The images evoke a pleasant, relaxed vibe, which gets followers heading out to quench their thirst with a cuppa.
How can you stand out visually? It starts with good photography. Learn how to shoot great product photos here.
2. Diversify your content
Apart from showcasing products and services, behind-the-scenes posts are an engaging way to offer a glimpse into the works of a brand.
Take IKEA for instance. The Swedish brand started an IKEA Today account on Instagram for followers to get an exclusive look at the design process for its latest collections. With posts featuring preliminary sketches, designer testimonials and product prototypes, this is a great way to personify the brand and form closer customer relationships.
You, too, can feature behind-the-scenes work such as unique employee stories or how products are made. Putting a face to the brand is a great way to connect with your followers.
With a bit of creativity, all brands – even traditional old-world businesses – can use Instagram to connect with followers. Dishthefish, a local wet market fish stall run by a young fishmonger, posts Instagram photos of dishes prepped by his customers with seafood from his store. It’s a clever two-fold strategy – the business gets to showcase its seafood produce as well as create sharable content through creative hashtags to engage customers.
3. Don’t forget your #hashtags
Hashtags allow your posts to reach out to non-followers and appear on explore pages. According to research, posts with hashtags receive twice as much engagement as those without.
Make a brand hashtag that is unique to your company. It should be short and easy to spell, as you want your customers to remember and use it correctly. For example, KitKat uses a brand hashtag from their tagline: #HaveABreak.
Remember to craft campaign hashtags too. Airbnb’s #WeAccept campaign in 2017 was highly engaging as they shared more on their stand on accepting diversity. This popular branded hashtag was a great way for the travel giant to share the universal nature of their company, while showing their support for a cause.
4. Be consistent
A good Instagram marketing strategy requires planning, so map out your content calendar in advance. Without a clear plan, it is easy to lose focus.
But how regularly should you be posting? Major brands post about once a day, because they tend to have a dedicated team working on their Instagram account. Smaller firms can be less ambitious. You could upload three posts a week to showcase your products. At the end of every month, you could do a giveaway, contest or a behind-the-scenes post.
Scoot, for example, has regular posts every Monday – the start of the week. It knows people are experiencing Monday blues back at work, and these consistent posts serve not only as a pick-me-up but also bring out the wanderlust in followers who will keep Scoot in mind for their next holiday.
5. Keep up with new features
Instagram marketing should be creative and interactive. And new features such as Instagram Stories make for quirky and light-hearted posts.
For example, Converse seamlessly connects their Instagram post content with their Instagram Story content. Their posts tend to be carefully curated, while additional details or interesting information are reserved for their Instagram Stories.
Earlier in July, Instagram also added a question sticker to Instagram Stories, allowing users to ask questions. This opens another outlet for brands to engage their customers and include them in the conversation – an important attribute of successful brands today.
Local jewellery store By Invite Only took the opportunity to invite followers to ask its founder questions, and the response was overwhelming. People wanted to know how the business started and some even asked for tips on starting an ecommerce store. It was a great way for the brand to collaborate with its supporters.
Creating and maintaining an Instagram platform is hard work, but there is also a lot of fun, value and creativity in doing so. Definitely an essential tool to help you increase your digital presence in this social media era, so don’t neglect it.