In recent years Instagram’s popularity has exploded, with over 200 million active users now using the image sharing platform. With this constant growth in popularity it makes sense for businesses to be integrating Instagram into their marketing strategies.
No longer is Instagram a platform simply used for sharing pictures of your food and posting countless selfies, Instagram has quickly developed into an important marketing tool.
Using Instagram can be a perfect way to market to a younger audience, with younger people now preferring to engage on Instagram, over the likes of Twitter and Facebook and whilst a simple platform in concert, getting started with marketing on Instagram can be more challenging than you may expect.
Plan your content
Start by doing research, check your competitors and those in similar industries before opening your account. Without directly copying, seeing what others are doing can be a great way to get inspiration of what type of content you could be posting. This also allows you to come up with ideas of how you can improve on what your competition might be doing, in order to stand out.
Once you’re familiar with the app and have an idea of how others are using it, it’s time to plan both your goals and your content. Realistically your Instagram goals should mirror the goals of your other social media websites, be it to increase engagement, increase brand awareness or create more leads.
Once you know what your mission for Instagram is, you then have a better understanding of when to post, what to post and what likely themes your Instagram will have.
Build your brand
As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Instagram is all about the visuals, which is why it’s important that your build your brand to be instantly recognisable. From your logo to your brand voice to the style of images you post on Instagram, they all play a huge part is building your brand.
Consider the style you want for your brand, do you want clean imagery? Filter heavy imagery? Bright images? Black and white? Whatever it may be, you need to find the visual style you want for your brand.
A good idea is to choose one filter or a couple of filters that you will us and stick to for most, if not all of your images. Using tis same style over and over will make yo and your
images more recognisable to your followers.
It’s not just the visual images that are important to your Instagram branding, you also need to incorporate things like hashtags and captions into your strategy. A popular method of creating brand recognition is to use a ‘branded hashtag’ such as a word that embodies your company an can be used amongst followers in order to create a buzz around your brand.
You’ve got your strategy, you’ve got your imagery, now it’s time to start posting. Don’t be fooled into believing that once you start sharing followers will come flocking. Not only do you need to post high quality images, you need to make sure your captions and the way you speak to your audience is high quality too.
Instagram is an informal platform, don’t be afraid to speak to your followers in a friendly tone, your followers don’t want to be talked down to, Instagram is a casual platform and you treat it that way.
Try and communicate with your followers, it’s always a good idea to reply to comments, offering advice, making fun comments or even thanking them for their original comments. It’s important to bear in mind that there’s nothing wrong with following some of your followers, especially the ones who have large accounts of their own and could even inspire your posts or provide an opportunity for collaboration work.
Though it isn’t available for all brands, Instagram is beginning to roll out it’s own advertising options for businesses and whilst this isn’t here yet, it’s another step forward in securing Instagram's place as a marketing tool.