Using pictures to talk to audiences is not something new to brands. They have been doing it for decades in print and television advertising with great effect. The two main reasons why Instagram has been such a super hit right from day one with not only users, but also businesses are, firstly, it is designed to communicate solely through images, and secondly, it is programmed to be used on mobile devices easily and intuitively. These features have made Instagram the most personal of all social media, allowing users to connect on a far more intimate level than on any other platform.
The top reason why all brands should leverage the power of Instagram:
Rapid Rise in Smartphone Usage
When Instagram was first launched there was a fair amount of doubt if people would accept it because very few at that time used smartphones that could connect to the web. However, with smartphones becoming a part of our daily lives in just a few years, this fear is a thing of the past. In fact, a majority of people are using smartphones to access the Internet instead of laptops, desktops, and tablets. While users of Facebook and Twitter are divided in their use of smartphones and computers, Instagram having been designed ground-up for the smartphone, all users are on the mobile app. With the smartphone usage shooting through the roof, it is expected that Instagram users will also increase commensurately.
Posts Are Guaranteed To Be Viewed
Ever since Facebook monetized their advertising potential, the game has swung in favor of the bigger brands that have very large marketing budgets. It is almost impossible for the smaller brands now to compete for attention on Facebook, and this had turned the tide in favor of Instagram. Even after pouring in millions of dollars no brand can be sure that customers have seen what they are trying to communicate in the absence of clicks on their Facebook page whereas Instagram followers of the brand are guaranteed to see the posts as there is no way they can block the content without unfollowing the account. More opportunity to see what your brand is doing and saying automatically creates more brand recognition and loyalty.
Instagram is a storytelling app with a vital difference – it is visual. The app offers a huge assortment of photo-editing features such as filters that can be used to add colors to normal photographs in an alluring way so that brands can use them to create more impact in their communication. Users can experience the brand over a longer time as followers can scroll through the brand profile and explore what it offers without the need of clicking on any particular picture that has been posted.
Image selection and editing can initially be a little cumbersome but it gets easier with a little practice. You can let the images showcase your brand offers and also add captions that will lend strength to your branding. Well-thought out captions can transform the post from just being a beautiful or an interesting picture to something that resonates with the brand’s followers and provokes them to share it with their own followers.
Employing Hashtags to Construct A Targeted Following
Among the most important features of Instagram is the hashtag. With the careful use of relevant hashtags, brands can specifically target their marketing communication to users who show interest in the brand. Brands should conduct an active research for hashtags that are relevant as well as popular – averagely seven different hashtags are used to attract people with specific interests. This feature of Instagram allows brands to specifically target potential customers.
5 Instagram Marketing Mistakes: Don’t Take These Photos
It can be tempting as a marketer or business owner to get your brand into the hottest social spaces as soon as possible — and you really should take part of your time and budget to explore what the latest social media has to offer for your company. However, when you finally decide to join a community like Instagram you have to make sure you have the resources to commit to it properly.
If you have the time and money to get your brand up and running on Instagram, you want to ensure you’ve got a clear idea of what your brand’s presence will be. Ask yourself if it will stand out from your other social efforts, and consider if the space works for your product or service.
Avoid Over-Saturating Your Feed With Branding
This may seem a bit counterintuitive: You may want to find ways to incorporate some branding within your Instagram feed, however you don’t want your logo to be the star of the show. Some brands can get away with a little more integration, though.
If you follow Starbucks on Instagram, you’ll see its logo and cups dominate its feed. Not every brand can get away with that. Take a browse through Starbuck’s photos and you’ll notice they do take care to post interesting and artistic photos of its products in different locations. The feed also has a lot of Starbucks-related events and features some Starbucks employees.
If your brand lacks the recognition and following of a Starbucks, concentrating on complementary content that gives a sensibility of your company or product is the direction. Take a look at home decor store West Elm’s Instagram content; the West Elm team does a great job of showcasing the brand and its sensibilities.
You’ll find behind-the-scenes images of store set ups and displays from West Elm’s locations. However, they also feature photos from design and decor events they attend. From the series of photos you get a sense of where the brand’s design inspiration comes from and where it’s going.
Don’t Repeat Content From Your Other Social Networks
Instagram is solely focused on photography, so the content strategies you employ for your Facebook and Twitter feeds shouldn’t be the same as they are with this community. Though you can use Instagram to instantly cross-post to Facebook and Twitter, ask yourself if you want to blanket your social networks with all the same content. If that’s the case, what value is it for someone to follow you on all three networks?
While it’s true that sometimes what you post to your Instagram feed will appeal to the community of followers you’ve built up on Facebook and Twitter, consider that there is some value in maintaining separate strategies across separate social networks. Not all fans and followers are created equal.
Don’t Repurpose Press Shots
Repurposing photography comes off as a lazy way to participate in Instagram. If this is the only source of photography you think will work for your brand and business on this social network, then perhaps you shouldn’t consider signing up.
When someone is a fan of your brand, there is an appetite to see something exclusive or different from an Instagram feed. Follow Showtime’s Instagram account and you’ll notice that much of its content comes from freeze frame images of their television programs. This offers little of value to followers of the account. And, you can see this in their numbers. Showtime has very few Instagram followers for such a major television brand, and the engagement on its photos is low.
Fully Commit to the Community
As we said at the outset, don’t sign up for a new social network if you don’t have the time to commit to it.
Do you really feel Instagram is a great fit for your company’s brands? Then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the time you’re spending on other social networks. If there is a way to take time away from something else or disable an under-performing social network in lieu of Instagram, then perhaps you should take the plunge.
Just as with any social activity you pursue online, regular contribution is key. It makes your brand look bad if you are hot and cold in your social networks. Regular activity with quality content is the best way to build your Instagram following.
Don’t Post Text, Quotes, or Infographics
Text and quotes in the feed are odd occurrences for regular Instagram users. They really stand out, but not in a good way. Instagram is about photography; although apps like Versagram exist to create graphically pleasing text and quotes into your Instagram feed, they may not attract the right attention. They could cheapen the look of your brand’s overall offering instead of enhancing it.
Similarly, infographics don’t seem to work well in Instagram’s square format images. If your business or brand has a niche that quotes and infographics are more suitable, then a social network like Pinterest may be a better fit. A strong niche of those following and posting that sort of content has emerged in that community.