Instagram is turning out to be one of the most popular social media platforms on the world wide web. An Instagram marketing strategy is an indispensable marketing tool for businesses that want to get the most out of their social media marketing. And why not?
The popular social sharing app has over 800 million total monthly active users, a number which continues to grow. So if your brand doesn’t have a business profile on Instagram (there are already 8 million business profiles), you’re definitely leaving money on the table.
Adding an Instagram marketing strategy to your digital marketing portfolio is a no-brainer. Because brands today want exposure, and with a proper Instagram marketing strategy in place, reaching out to your target audience and engaging them on a regular basis should not be difficult. The idea is to not only build your brand but also drive more business along with true social value.
If you look at the stats, you will see that over 50% of Instagram users are millennials. In other words, Instagram has managed to capture a highly valuable demographic that your business can tap into. As a business, you have direct access to more and more people who are eager to engage with the right brands and buy from them.
However, in order to derive the true value of Instagram, it’s important to focus on building a strong foundation. In other words, you need to move beyond an average Instagram user and think like a true business. If you think posting attractive photos and images is all it takes to find success on this platform, think again.
What will ultimately set you apart from the competition and also helps you strengthen your brand identity is your Instagram marketing strategy. Having one will let you create and achieve goals the right way.
Creating an Instagram marketing strategy starts with identifying your target audience and then moving on to other steps such as creating content and understanding the results. It’s a process that will get refined once you start implementing it.
Let us now look into how you too can formulate an impeccable Instagram marketing strategy and ensure that your brand is doing things differently than the rest. Because after all, how unique your approach is affects the kind of people you attract.
#1: Know the Purpose of Your Instagram Marketing Strategy
Instagram marketing can work for any business as long as it is clear about its objectives. That’s right, in order to get the most out Instagram, it’s important that you first determine your core purpose.
What exactly do you want to use Instagram for? A common answer to get this question is: marketing. But that’s very vague.
You need to focus on a specific goal that you want to achieve with the help of Instagram. Your brand needs to have utmost clarity about your Instagram marketing strategy. This applies not only to businesses who are new to Instagram but also to brands that have been using the platform for a long time.
So before you jump in and start using Instagram to grow your business, ask yourself…
- What difference will Instagram make to your overall marketing plan when compared to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter?
- Is publishing visual content integral to your online marketing efforts and does it go well with your brand’s image?
- Is your target audience actively using Instagram?
- Does your business cater to millenials who make the majority of Instagram’s user base?
- Do you want to use Instagram only for brand awareness or also to generate more sales?
- Does marketing on Instagram go well with the other social media platforms you’re using?
There are many reasons as to why businesses use Instagram. But the central agenda is the same: leverage visual content to connect to their audience in one way or the other.
Whether it is by posting user generated content or product photos, it’s all about aligning your brand with visual content that your audience finds appealing.
For example, Spell & the Gypsy is a modern online clothing store that gained popularity after leveraging Instagram to connect to its target audience. They have a well-defined Instagram profile where they feature a lot of feminine clothing that seems to strike the right chord with its followers. Which ultimately results in sales.
One of the reasons why Instagram grew so big so fast is because it tapped into the power of mobile as a predominantly mobile platform. People started using Instagram to capture visuals right in the moment and share them with their followers. As a brand, if you understand this and focus on creating visuals that look more natural and spontaneous, it will help you create a real connection with your followers. This is why it makes sense to have a number of objectives that align with your core purpose.
Your Instagram marketing strategy can focus on multiple objectives such as building brand awareness, go behind the scenes in your company, showcase different products, share company news or generate more sales.
#2: Formulate a Content Strategy
Your Instagram marketing strategy needs a strong foundation to stand on. Because without one, you’d be only shooting in the dark. Which is why formulating a proper content strategy is crucial for your Instagram marketing success.
Basically, people browsing Instagram are always looking out for content that is relevant and engaging at the same time. An effective content strategy lets you etch out your own route in the Instagram marketing jungle, and gives you the needed clarity to create visual content that your target audience will value.
If you browse Instagram, and particular accounts managed by big and small brands, you’ll find that all content posted on the site is not equal. There’s different types of content posted for different audiences.
So the first question that you need to ask yourself is, what is the type of content you want to post? What according to you will resonate with your target audience?
Every image you share on Instagram is going has to make a positive impression on your audience, especially your followers. So figuring out what content you’d be focusing on early on pays off.
Here are a few types of visual content you can start posting on your Instagram. Again, what type you choose depends on both, your objectives and your audience.
When it comes to creating a results oriented Instagram marketing strategy, it makes complete sense to focus on product-focused content. Which is nothing but photo and video content focused on your existing products.
There’s no rocket science with product-focused content because there is no hidden agenda. It’s a simple content marketing method to expose your audience to relevant products. It’s about using enticing images of your product to show where you stand and what makes your product different from the rest. This may or not result in sales, but it’s a great way to increase brand awareness.
Represent Clothing is a brand that brilliantly uses Instagram to feature their products and directly connect to their preferred audience. This is the kind of approach that can ultimately help you improve your sales numbers in the long run.
What if you are a service based company or a software firm that doesn’t sell physical products? How do you then use Instagram to post the right content?
Well, you may not have a bunch of shiny new products to take pictures of. But your brand can still have something more to offer. Why not show your audience how great your company’s culture is using visuals? It could be a behind-the-scenes shoot of how you work or collaborate. Or simply group photos of your team outings. Anything that displays what type of company culture you have, can be shared.
Creating culture-focused content is not just about clicking random pictures around the office. It’s about carefully creating visuals that show your audience who you are and what you stand for. It’s just a very effective way to make your brand identity stronger.
This is one strategy that can work great guns if you already have an established audience that raves about your brand, product or services. Since people on Instagram like getting involved and want to be a part of something, it’s always a great idea to post not your own content, but content specifically created by your own customers.
Now, obviously this is an easy tactic to pull off if you are Starbucks or Nike, but as a small business, it’s not that easy to crack. Which is why you may want to spend time on the platform and focus on building a loyal following before using UGC. But it can be done if you give it some time. Many small startups and small businesses have managed to do so, so why not you?
#3: Create Your Best Media
It’s no surprise that Instagram is a platform that rewards you for creating and posting amazing content. You get more engagement, win more followers and ultimately gain more business. If you are creating content strategically, you will see that the response you get on Instagram will be high.
This is why it pays to focus on creating worthy content that your target audience will like and share with others. So what does it take to create such content? How do you produce content that resonates with your followers? Here are a few tips to help you do it.
Focus on Quality
Instagram has various filters to make your media stand out from the crowd. But that’s not enough. When we say quality, we’re talking about the quality of the pictures and also the quality of the message it passes.
So even if you are capturing pictures with your iPhone, make sure to maximize the quality and give your followers more than what they are looking for. Over-delivering is the key to attract the attention of your target audience.
As long as you keep your pictures focused and snap them in a well-lit environment, you’d be doing much better than others. As far as the context and the message of the photo goes, see to it that it is highly relevant to who you are targeting. Remember, quality goes a long way so spend some time on creating your media.
Taking pictures is only one part of the equation, the other important part is editing them to give them the professional look and feel people expect from a brand. This doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with the editing and spoil your image. Be subtle in your approach and see to it that you’re only focused on the important elements.
Avoid using fancy filters when you don’t have to. If you find a filter that works great for you, stick to it. This also helps you keep all your images consistent on your account.
Being a business, you will at some point begin promoting posts about your products on Instagram. So when you go about promoting your products with quality photos, make sure to add a call to action to your captions.
If you’re not leveraging captions on Instagram, especially when you’re promoting products, you are leaving money on the table. It’s a good idea to send your followers/visitors to a landing page or a sales page where they can learn more about your product, or even make a purchase. Make sure to have a clear balance between promotional and non-promotional posts.
Use Proper Hashtags
Hashtags are common in the social media world, but Instagram made them even more useful. Posting quality content on your Instagram is not enough, you also need to have more and more new people discover it. Your target audience may already be searching using certain relevant hashtags, so why not reach out to them and expose them to your content?
Avoid using hashtags that are too popular because your content may get lost in between other similar content. However, product related hashtags and local hashtags work great in helping you get more engagement.
Also, getting too clever with hashtags is a strict no-no because you want people to be aware of them. And last but not the least, don’t overstuff your post with too many hashtags.
#4: Do Some Smart Monetization
Social media marketing is not just about increasing brand awareness and boosting follower numbers. As a business, you can actually use Instagram to add to your bottomline. That’s right, you can get more business and increase sales, given that you do some smart monetization.
However, you need to understand that there is a thin line between ethical monetization and downright spamming. The approach that you take towards making your Instagram account work for your business matters a lot. So how do you effective optimize your Instagram account for smart monetization?
- Call to Actions are Your Friend: Do not hesitate to add a CTA when you can because Instagram users are active in clicking on them. Adding nice pictures to your Instagram profile may get you more followers, but you also need to convert them into leads and sales.
You can start by adding link to your bio along with relevant content. And from time to time, add CTA to your captions. These call to actions don’t have to be downright salesy. In fact, you can use your Instagram profile to generate quality leads by sending traffic to a specific landing page. Get creative with your CTA’s but don’t overdo them.
- Run Promotions & Discounts: Do people buy products on Instagram? Yes, they do. But if you don’t have a strategy up your sleeve, you will find it mighty difficult to get your target audience to purchase your products or services. They expect to find something different on Instagram.
One of the most effective ways to get them to respond to your offers is to give them time-sensitive discounts. Bring in the urgency factor and push them to take action. Run time-bound promotions occasionally to generate interest from them.
By offering a discount or a coupon, you’re not only going to get your existing followers to click through, but you will also attract the attention of many non-followers. Some of whom become your followers while others convert into customers.
To start off, all you need to do is figure out what image you will post along with your discount link. Because in order to bring their attention to your CTA, you first need to attract them with high quality, relevant media. Also, make sure the CTA is not confusing or too long. Practice brevity and you’ll see a higher response rate.
#5: Move Up to Advertising
A powerful Instagram marketing strategy almost always includes ads. Once you have laid out a strong foundation for your Instagram marketing, you should move up to Instagram ads since they allow you reach your target audience in the best possible way.
Instagram advertising gives you access to tools and audiences that you may not reach the free marketing way.
If you have never tried Instagram ads before, it would be only natural to be intimidated by them. But once you are sure about what to achieve from your Instagram marketing and know your objectives, you can and should use ads to connect to your audience.
As a business, you cannot only depend on organic reach if you want your Instagram marketing strategy to perform at its best. Your content may or may not get shared, but your ad will always be seen by the right people because you’re paying for the privilege.
When it comes to Instagram ads, make sure you…
- Use Attractive Visuals: Instagram uses native advertising, which means their ads blend right with the other content in the newsfeed. So instead of standing out like a sore thumb, these native ads look like any other regular Instagram post.
They are not intrusive and users find them useful. So if you are not doing everything to make your sponsored content look different and unique, then your ad will get lost amongst all other content.
Use images and/or videos in your ads that instantly resonate with your target audience. Because if you manage to impress them, your will get further exposure as they share it with their own followers.
- Target with Precision: If you go too broad with your Instagram ad, you’ll fail to see favorable results. Because Instagram is all about precision. So when you’re choosing the audience with your ad campaign on Instagram, try to go narrow so that you can get a higher conversion rate.
Think of it as a way to reach out to a subset of your target market rather than the whole of it. If your ad tries to impress everyone in your market, it will end up impressing nobody. A better way to approach this is focus on the various segments within your target market. Identify these segments and see how you can target each with a tailored ad. The more customized your ad is for your audience, the better results you will see.
- Create an Exclusive Landing Page: Thinking about sending your Instagram ad generated traffic to your website’s homepage? Think again. Unless you want mediocre or bad results, you should always send your ad traffic to a specific landing page.
Customize this landing page so that the elements from your ad match with the one your landing page. Right from the headline to the color of the call to button, match it all. Above all, see to it that the offer you’re offering on your landing page is completely relevant to the one you’re promoting within the ad.
Creating the right Instagram marketing is all about getting the above factors right. Whether you are new to Instagram or an experienced business, getting the highest return from your Instagram marketing requires you to take educated risks and a calculated approach.
The specialists at our social media marketing agency know firsthand the kind of challenges a business may face when working with Instagram. Which is why we help businesses like yours to create an Instagram marketing strategy that simply works.
Go ahead and take a look at our social media advertising page to see how we can help your company with Instagram marketing, or simply get in touch with us today to discuss your challenges.