Reaching potential customers with a branding message they recognize and relate to is integral if companies want to stay relevant and continue to grow. Otherwise they become outdated. Competitors start gaining traction. And over time, the company doesn’t replace lost customers with enough new ones. The business starts losing money. Product sits on the shelf. The big kahunas get mad. Bonuses get slashed.
It’s a bad scene.
Smart marketers don’t let this happen because they always keep an eye out for the newest, most impactful way to engage and interact with potential customers.
Social media has made great strides in filling the bill during the past decade, and shows no signs of slowing down. Potential clients live on social media! Posting, tweeting, and sharing selfies are mainstays of behavior across all generational groups.
Since it’s likely buyers are on social media, companies need a presence, too. But saying “social media” these days is broad. Which channel do you choose? Do you need profiles on more than one? With limited resources, how do you get the most bang for your buck?
Facebook is still the biggest social media platform, but it’s got another one nipping at its heels.
Launched in 2010, the photo-centric platform has exploded in recent years and is now in second place as the most used social media channel on the web.
According to Pew Research Center, about half of Instagram users check Instagram once a day, and a third check it several times a day. This frequency of visitation beats out all other social media sites except for Facebook.
The level of growth and engagement Instagram has reached in such a short amount of time should make marketers take notice. Thinking about reaching your audience via social media means more than just Facebook.
Not sure you understand why you should adapt Instagram into your marketing strategy? Here’s your definitive guide to marketing with Instagram.
Why is marketing with Instagram relevant?
Small business owners must spend their time working on initiatives that move the needle toward wider brand recognition, more potential customers, and bigger revenue. Advertising budgets may have grown stale over the years, and the “same old, same old” may not be producing the results they once did.
But, is this a reason to look to marketing with Instagram?
Three reasons marketing with Instagram is relevant to your business are:
Build Brand Recognition
Set yourself apart from your competition with greater brand recognition. Reaching out and engaging potential customers with interesting photos and helpful information allows them to get to know your products without a hard sell approach.
Luckily, Instagram is still wide open with possibilities. According to Instagram, there are 15 million business profiles active on their site. It sounds like a lot, but Facebook eclipses that number with 50 million!
This is good news, because chances are your competition isn’t marketing with Instagram yet. This increases the platform’s relevancy to you because it won’t be as noisy and crowded, and you will have a better chance of connecting with your audience.
Tell A Unique Story
Buyers are increasingly looking for more than a product or service. They want an overall pleasing experience. Instagram marketing gives you the stage to showcase your storytelling skills and weave a tale your current and future customers love.
Interesting blog posts, case studies, customer testimonials, and statistics can all be shared with your Instagram followers. Capitalize on the visuality of the site. Over time, these build into a completely personal marketing campaign that draws in and connects customers with your brand.
Gain More Engagement Than on Other Platforms
Another reason Instagram is relevant to your marketing goals is because their audience is more attentive and engaged. Forrester Research reported in a recent study that Instagram users are 58 times more likely to like, share, or comment on a company’s Instagram post than a similar post on Facebook.
Why is this?
Because a picture is worth a thousand words.
Instagram is photo-driven. Marketers know that visuals are crucial to content’s success. Articles and blogs with photos get 94% more total views than their picture-bare counterparts.
A consumer’s eye is naturally drawn to a picture more than to words. The mind starts crafting a story and making judgments from the context of the picture and the photo’s quality. All this happens faster than if the same consumer is reading the same information.
Perhaps the most relevant aspect of Instagram to marketers is the ability to capitalize on the value of photos in creating emotion and telling a story. Once strategically chosen picture can showcase a brand’s identity, company culture, and product.
If nothing else convinces you that your company should be marketing with Instagram, the above point should do it!
Using Instagram for marketing is relevant and can bring about positive connections and an increased customer base. But, even if you are a pro at negotiating other social media sites, Instagram may seem a bit involved and confusing. Common questions from companies looking into Instagram marketing are:
Where do I begin with marketing on Instagram?
Choose An Admin
Depending on the size of the business and the marketing team, there may be only one or several people involved in developing your social media presence. Pick the most savvy one to be the admin.
Let’s say Kate is the admin.
Kate needs to download the Instagram app onto her tablet or smartphone. This gives her the access she needs to post conveniently and adhere to the schedule marketing lays out.
Once she has the app, she should launch it and start to…
Create A Page
Kate can give either her work email or an email IT sets up specifically for social media usage. Enter that along with the other required information. This part of it should take no more than a couple of minutes.
Choose A Username
Businesses want to pick a name that their customers and prospects will recognize. Kate also needs to consider the company’s handle that she uses on Twitter, if applicable, and either use the same or something similar.
For example, if the company name is Macon Flower Shop, the handle could be @Maconflowers, @Maconflowershop, or @FlowershopMacon. Any of these are easily recognizable to people in the area.
Try to avoid alternate company spellings or a series of numbers when creating the handle.
Designate Account As “Business”
Within the Settings, Kate should note that this profile belongs to a business. This will let her add important information like the company’s store houses and physical address.
Write A Bio
An important piece of the setup includes a killer bio section.
Kate needs to drill down into what she and the company want the audience to know. What sets the company apart? The bio section will most likely take the most time to create than any other part of the setup. Companies frequently use tag lines and mission statements as part of their bio. Share a few words about the type of information the company will be sharing on Instagram. And always, ALWAYS include the website address.
Decide On A Photo
Some businesses choose their logo to be their main photo, and that’s ok. It’s better to brainstorm for a picture that shows the essence of your business. In the Macon Flower Shop example above, instead of a logo, they may showcase a beautiful bouquet of bright flowers.
How do I build Instagram followers?
Setting up an account on Instagram is the easy part. But, even the most descriptive bio and the greatest picture won’t help you market your product or service unless you figure out a way to get people to follow you.
There are several ways to build followers so your marketing efforts on Instagram reach your target audience. Here are three powerful ones.
Employ Relevant Hashtags
A hashtag, formerly known as a pound sign, is a roadmap that helps users navigate through the millions of voices on social media to find the ones that interest them.
It’s important that marketers brainstorm hashtags in advance, and plan to use them consistently in the Instagram marketing strategy.
Do a little research. Look at the hashtags your competition uses. Instagram tells you how often a particular hashtag has been used. Search hashtags that you think your followers would use and make a list of the ones that are popular.
In addition, create some of your brand-specific hashtags that you can use to build recognition. Marketing promotions, events, and product rollouts should have their own hashtags.
Remember that a post can have more than one hashtag. It’s smart marketing to add one or two popular hashtags and one or two branding hashtags. But don’t get carried away. Too many hashtags will dilute your message and make it seem like your company is trying too hard to get noticed.
Post Killer Content
Start marketing with Instagram by sharing killer content that showcases your brand. Crisp, intriguing photos with descriptive posts and relevant hashtags is critical in the beginning more than ever. Post BEFORE you try to get followers. After all, if a user looks at your profile and you only have one photo they will be less likely to follow you.
Develop a story with your posts before you rev up your “follow us” initiative. Below is an example of a new startup, Beauty Clout, posting content about their story prior to building up Instagram followers.
Once you embark on posting and using valuable hashtags to promote your brand and improve find-ability, start a mission to…
As you post interesting information with hashtags, your audience will slowly start finding you. Hurry the process along by finding your audience.
Use the hashtags that help them find you to find them. Run a search and check out the people who are using them. These could be your buyers.
In addition, follow associations and groups that tie into your business so people who follow them will have more of a chance of seeing and following you.
Contests and Giveaways
Everyone likes to win something. Create a contest and advertise it on Instagram as well as other social media channels where you already have connections. Think about an email campaign to your contacts encouraging them to follow you. And, of course, post the announcement of the winner.
What should I do to increase engagement on Instagram?
Marketing with Instagram requires more than setting up an account and watching followers flock to you and become your customers. You must understand your buyer persona and their needs and pain points. What question can they get answered or which pain points can be addressed by connecting with you? Keep these answers in mind as you share information and build your brand.
If you don’t pinpoint your buyer, which hopefully you have already done to help your other marketing efforts, your message may be off base. You could end up with a bunch of followers who aren’t viable prospects.
Entice them to engage by…
Posting Relevant Content
Posts need to back up the claims in a bio. The pictures need to be high-quality and interesting, and captions catchy. Out-of-focus photos and boring, rambling captions turn an audience off immediately.
Create a system of consistently sharing great photos with captions and hashtags. Include links to your blog, demos, videos, and other information about your company. But not on every one! Instagram is a place people go for enjoyment, not to be sold. Connecting and building rapport with them is the goal.
Aiming and FIRING
Don’t wait for prospects to knock at your door! Once your page is up and you have shared a dozen or so awesome posts, start liking and commenting on posts. Engaging your audience is essential in gaining followers and increasing visibility of your brand.
Set up a system where you like and comment on a certain number of posts every day. This organically builds your base of followers with people you want to see your content.
How can I boost sales?
Marketing with Instagram helps your company boost sales organically. By getting your message in front of potential customers, connecting with them and forming trust, you build relationships that turn into profitable partnerships.
And there are even more ways to increase your revenue using Instagram than your basic social media strategy.
Instead of a closed-ended post, prompt your audience to do something! Tempt them to click on a blog link, register for a webinar, download an eBook, and enter a contest with powerful calls-to-action (CTAs).
To work efficiently, CTAs must be concise, short, and understandable. Use them strategically to guide people through your sales process.
Amplify your efforts when marketing with Instagram by investing in advertising. According to Instagram Advertiser Statistics, 75% of Instagram users have taken action after looking at an Advertising post.
Ads are a great addition to your organic efforts because they reach further and are seen by more people than your regular posts. More visibility equals more followers and engagement, leading to greater brand recognition and finally, what we all want to hear, more sales!
Tracking and reviewing results should be part of any marketing campaign including Instagram.
Set goals ahead of time as to what you want the campaign to accomplish within a certain time frame, and then measure the results. This makes it easier to see the types of posts that work for your brand and which ones are less-than-brag-worthy.
- They Saw It!
Once your initiative is started, watch how many people viewed your posts. Is there a certain rhythm to it? Do more people like certain posts, or do they respond better on a particular day or time? This insight helps you make the most out of your efforts.
You should also measure…
- They Liked It!
Engagement is another critical analytic. Watch how many likes and comments each post receives, the average likes your post receives, and the likes and comments compared to the views. If tons of people view your post but few like it, something isn’t inspiring them to connect.
- They Went for It!
Taking action on a post should be your ultimate goal as a marketer, because it’s what ultimately moves the needle. Did the audience click through to the content or event you were offering? If so, congratulations! But don’t get too frustrated if this takes awhile. They need to get to know and trust you first.
Using those big marketing noses to sniff out new ways to reach customers and increase revenue is smart. It guards against staleness and stagnation and keeps your company efficient and competitive. Marketing with Instagram is a tool that shows great promise when used strategically and consistently. Enjoy high quality leads, a strong conversion rate, and more closed business.