This time last year, Instagram reached the 1 billion monthly active user mark. Recognized now as one of the most popular social networks worldwide, individuals and brands alike are captivated by the photo sharing platform. Aside from the social aspect of Instagram, it has also grown into a tremendously effective business tool over the past few years. Companies of all industries are utilizing Instagram to improve brand visibility, customer engagement and increase sales. We’re sharing everything you need to know to ensure your Instagram marketing efforts are reaching their full potential.
In 2016, Instagram introduced business profiles, which totally changed the game for how effective Instagram can truly be for advertising and organic reach. In lieu of the classic benefits and uses of Instagram, business profiles offer additional features that allow brands to fully maximize their Instagram accounts. If you haven’t made the switch to a business profile yet, that should be your immediate first step in this process. A few of the benefits a business profile provides include:
Accessibility: To ensure potential customers don’t get lost in the transition from social media to branded websites or purchase pages, business profiles allow for direct links within your account description. Followers can click on a designated contact button to instantly reach a member of your team directly from your page.
Advertising: Advertising on Instagram is simplified by eliminating the need for any additional tools. Once you have a Facebook page linked up with your Instagram, all you have to do is create your ad or select a past post, set a budget and publish!
Metrics: Measuring the success of your Instagram marketing can all be completed within the app. Business profiles offer access to various analytic tools, called Insights, that provide data on the impressions and reach of your posts. You can even indicate specific insights you want to receive on posts in a given week to see how many impressions you earned and what your top posts were.
Because everyone is sharing self-promoting photos on Instagram, showing off your company offerings doesn’t come across as pushy. Product teasers, sale announcements, collaborations and more can all be tactfully shared with followers to present your brand in it’s most flattering light.
Launching something new? Instagram is the ideal platform for hyping up a new product or service to loyal fans and those who come across your posts. Behind-the-scenes glimpses at the production process, sneak peeks of products before they become available and aesthetically pleasing images demonstrating new items are all great options for Instagram posts.
Sponsored ads are commonplace on Instagram these days, with brands frequently sharing a single ad or multiple using the carousel feature. This feature creates an opportunity for brands to share their best posts with followers, as well as those who aren’t followers but fit within the target audience. When creating a sponsored post you’ll be given the opportunity to choose targeting features which allow you to specify the audience you want for your ads based on qualified demographics, thereby increasing your reach.
Instagram stories launched in 2016 and provide users the opportunity to share less structured short-lived posts. Behind-the-scenes office tours, product demonstrations, influencer takeovers, polling questions, and spontaneous occurrences are all highly engaging and easily shared via the stories feature. The beauty behind stories for brand purposes is they don’t necessarily require much planning ahead, excess editing tools or fancy equipment. Additionally, because there are so many types of stories to experiment with, you can keep your content fresh and exciting. Here are a few popular uses of Instagram stories other brands have had success with:
Polling: A fun way to engage your audience, the polling feature allows you to ask viewers a question and receive their responses in real time. These can be used to gauge opinions on products and brand ideas or just ask silly questions to interact with followers.
Boomerang: A unique take on a classic video, boomerangs are quick videos that rewind and repeat. This is a great option for a flash moment such as a group “cheers” at an employee happy hour or sneak peek of a new product in action.
Story Highlights: If you have any particularly successful stories or choose to categorize your stories to serve as a resource to your followers, you can save them to your Story Highlights. Anything saved to Story Highlights will live at the top of your page and are available to watch and rewatch anytime without the usual 24-hour expiration.
Shoppable: Particularly popular among fashion brands, the shoppable feature on Instagram stories is a great way to help facilitate viewers through the customer journey. Providing a link to click on can take viewers to a webpage or “swipe up” feature, which allows accounts with 10,000 or more followers to access their shoppable products directly from the story.
The rise of social media influencers stemmed strongly from the increased usage of Instagram for business. Based on the idea that people trust the opinions of their peers over traditional advertisements, influencers are a highly effective asset any brand with a social media presence should consider using.
Find your ideal influencer
To ensure your influencer marketing efforts resonate well with your followers, it’s important to work with influencers that align with your brand voice. Depending on your focus and ideal consumer, do your research on what similar brands are doing with influencers and how they’re finding success. For example, smaller local businesses usually have the most success with micro-influencers who have a much smaller but fiercely loyal following that trust these influencers opinions. Major name brands on the other hand often use mega-influencers and celebrities for the status of a popular public figure using their brand exudes.
Build a successful influencer campaign
If you’ve never worked with an influencer before, it’s important to trust their judgment and include them in the planning process of your campaign. Most successful influencers today are highly business oriented and therefore know what they’re talking about when it comes to their craft. Remember, an influencer campaign is only as successful as their fans allow it to be, so trust that the influencer knows what their followers like and let them guide the way in creating an impactful marketing plan.
Social media is an ideal tool for boosting customer engagement. Because of its casual tone and broad reach, Instagram, in particular, gives customers the opportunity to interact with brands directly while also staying up-to-date with company happenings. In fact, according to a Forrester study, Instagram was found to generate the highest consumer engagement level of all the social networks. The study reported that Instagram delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
Once again, social media is the perfect platform for consumers and brands to interact directly with one another. Use this opportunity to your advantage and let your followers know you see what they’re saying about you. This can be as simple as replying to comments or as in-depth as reposting a photo of a customer and your brand to your profile. Acts of engagement like these demonstrate the value you feel toward your customers and humanize your brand.
Hashtags are the perfect solution to gaining visibility to a branded announcement or event. Have an event coming up? Promote it using a relevant and unique hashtag. Once the event is picked up by your loyal followers via the hashtag, your account extends its reach all the way to your followers’ followers. Providing giveaways or exclusive offers for using branded hashtags are also effective strategies to get consumers using your hashtag and engaging with your brand.
Amongst the numerous benefits we’ve listed out here, one thing that makes Instagram such a great asset for businesses is that it’s accessible to everyone. Whether you’re a start-up company, a freelancer running your own business, or a major enterprise, there are plenty of ways to make Instagram marketing work for you.