17 Jan How your Business can Find Success on Instagram
Since its launch 7 years ago, Instagram has gone from a place to share blurry over-filtered iPhone pictures to one of the leading social media platforms worldwide. With over 800 million active monthly users, Instagram is now third to Facebook and YouTube on the list of most popular social networking sites. The apps continuous growth over the past few years has caught the attention of brands and businesses of all shapes and sizes, and has become a favorite for social advertising. If you’ve decided to hop on the bandwagon, here are some tips on how your business can find success on Instagram.
As with any social media platform, Instagram is not something you can just “set and forget”. If you’re going to join the site, you have to be prepared to go all in. Planning content, posting regularly, building a strong following, and engaging with others needs to be something that is done consistently. While it is a good idea to plan posts ahead of time, it is also important to stay flexible and adapt the schedule if necessary.
Since you want your brand to be easy to find, choose a username that is the same or very similar to your username on other social media platforms. Once you have a username secured, add your logo as your profile picture and create a short bio that describes your brand, what you do, contact info, and any branded hashtags you may use. Adding the URL to your company website on your profile is also a great way to drive traffic to your site.
A consistent brand voice is essential to any marketing strategy, but especially when it comes to social media. If you haven’t already, decide how you want customers or clients to view your brand. Do you want to come off as fun and friendly or do you want to keep your brands social media sites more serious and informational? Whatever you decide, make sure you stick with this voice and keep it consistent on Instagram as well as other social media sites your brand may be on. This is key if you are trying to find out how your business can find success on Instagram.
Besides keeping your brand voice consistent, it is also extremely important to keep the images posted on your page consistent. More than any other social network, Instagram is all about the visuals. Creating a visual strategy and focusing on visual composition is key to finding success on the social network and standing out among your competition.
While your company or brand may not have the budget to hire a professional photographer, anyone with an iPhone and a photo editing app can create beautiful Instagram worthy posts right on their phone. Remember to stick to your visual strategy and make sure your photos have similar colors, composition, and lighting. One of my favorite tools for creating a cohesive Instagram feed is a free iPhone app, UNUM. It gives you the ability to edit photos, schedule posting reminders, and pre-plan your posts to see exactly how the thumbnail view of your page will look before posting. This helps create a consistent theme and takes the guesswork out of daily posts.
Use Hashtags Effectively
Using hashtags on Instagram is an effective way to expand your reach and gain new followers. Hashtags are used as a way to categorize Instagram content and make the content you post discoverable. If you’re posting a picture of pizza and use the hashtag #Pizza on your photo, that photo will be put into a discoverable category with every other post that included the hashtag #Pizza. Hmmmmm…suddenly I’m craving a pizza! Anyway, it is important to use hashtags that are relevant to your posts or company, so that there is a good chance someone who may be interested in your brand will see you picture.
Using branded hashtags is another great way categorize your posts, and it also gives you the ability to get user generated content from people that follow your brand. Create a hashtag that is specific to your company, this may include your brand name, your products or a specific campaign. Encourage your customers and followers to use your branded hashtag if they are mentioning your brand or product in an instagram post. By doing this, you can see all the photos with that hashtag in one place and with the permission of the person, you can repost those pictures on your own page.
A recent update made by Instagram, now allows you to follow hashtags just as you would follow an account. This change allows you to discover even more content you may be interested in, because the most popular photos with the hashtags you’re following will show up right in your feed. This new feature gives you the opportunity to expand your reach and gives hashtags an even greater importance.
Share your Story
Seth Godin said it best when he said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell”. Instagram is a wonderful tool for storytelling, and brands that tell an interesting story receive higher engagement and grow a larger audience. If you want people to follow your brand and actually like and comment, you must create visual content that will stand out among all the other posts your followers may see in their crowded feed. Show your followers what your company does, talk about your history, show the products you make, the people that work for your company, and anything else that relates to the mission or passion of your brand. Show these topics in a creative, consistent way, and post content that your audience will be excited to see.
Besides posting images and videos on your profile, you should also take advantage of the stories feature on Instagram. The disappearing photo trend started on Snapchat, but has traveled to Instagram in the form of stories which disappear in 24 hours. Stories are an awesome way to share behind the scenes content, sales and promotions, special announcements and much more. They are less pressure than a photo you post on your profile, because 24 hours later, the photo or video is gone.
Instagram is clearly here to stay, and it is a platform that any business or brand can successfully use. With commitment, an iPhone, some editing apps, and a little creativity, anyone can leverage the social platform for brand growth and social media success. We hope these tips will help you discover how your business can find success on Instagram. In fact, 898 Marketing just recently hopped on the bandwagon and created our own Instagram account! You can follow along with us and hear the stories we have to tell by following @898Marketing.
About the Author
Cailyn Chrystal is a Project Manager at 898 Marketing. Cailyn develops strategies and manages implementation of content through social media channels for 898 Marketing and it’s clients, as well as optimization strategies for websites and content. Cailyn is a native of Youngstown, Ohio, and a graduate of Duquesne University where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Communications.