Facebook and Twitter are regularly the first ports of call for brands attempting to build a wider customer base via social media, but with Instagram now having surpassed Twitter in terms of the volume of monthly active users, perhaps the Facebook-owned image sharing network should rank higher on the list of channels, in the plans of social marketers.
Instagram’s young, trendy and image conscious audience, and it’s image-based format, make it the perfect place to sharing brand imagery and spread your brand’s message. In fact, it’s one of the most suitable places on the Internet to use high-quality visuals to give potential customers a look behind the scenes of your brand.
According to market research firm Forrester, there is even further reason to start evangelising your brand on Instagram. According to an article they published, Instagram users are particularly likely to interact with brands on the platform. They reported that Instagram users are 58 times more likely to engage with a brand than Facebook users and 120 times more likely than Twitter users. These figures make logical sense – Twitter is the home of topical discussion and Facebook is the home of banter with friends. Instagram, however, has carved a large niche as the home of fashion and trends, making is the idea place for consumer brands, especially those with a trendy brand image.
Where should I start?
The first thing to do when begining to market your brand via Instagram, is to follow theInstagram for Business blog. This official blog, written by the Instagram team, offers tips on how to make the most of the platform, showcases brands who are doing a great job on Instagram, gives examples of how people are using the Instagram API in clever ways, and updates you on news from Instagram headquaters. It’s a great source of inspiration for your Instagram campaigns, and means that you will be on top of any changes to the Instagram service.
Your Instagram profile
One of the few drawbacks of marketing on Instagram, is that images cannot be linked to webpages, and even URLs left by brand teams in the comments are not clickable. This means that Instagram is not likely to be a great source of click through, but rather best used to showcase brand identity and build up brand recognition. Use Instagram to make your brand cool and you may find that clicks on other channels will become cheaper and higher converting.
The only place you can place a clickable link on your Instagram profile is in your bio. Be sure to insert it so that people who love your images are more likely to end up on your website.
Using third-pary tools such as Curalate’s Like2Buy, you can place a link in your bio which directs followers to a page where they can purchase the items featured in the Instagram feed.
If you brand already has some advocates, you might be able to encourage them to sign up to a service such as LiketoKnow.it where they can earn money for evangelising your brand on Instagram.
How do I find people to follow and should I follow them back?
Often, following relevant users (such as people who have mentioned your brand or list your niche market in their bios) is a good way of introducing them to your brand.SocialBro can help you do this on Instagram and Twitter without being spammy or breaking any rules. It allows you to find hundreds of users on each platform who have expressed an interest in jelly shoes, skateboards or whatever it is that you sell.
It’s always worth following your followers back. You don’t want to risk portions of your audience feeling snubbed, and some users will unfollow you if you don’t follow back (in order to protect their follower to following ratio). Follow them back to show that you appreciate their attention.
How often should you be posting on Instagram?
Unlike Twitter of Facebook, it’s not essential to be posting every day on Instagram. Once you begin to use the service, you’ll find that the pace on Instagram is slower than that of Twitter, for example.
It’s about finding a balance. If you post too regularly, you can quite easily flood your follower’s feeds and alientate them. Posting too often could also encourage you to post low quality content, which can diminish your brand. At the same time, not posting frequently enough can cause you stop engaging your audience and is a missed oppourtunity to make the most of your audience. See what works with your audience.
Tools for Instagram power-users
Make sure to use some of the many available apps for Instgram powers users. Apps like Buffer and Hootsuite support posting to Instagram, as do many other social media management and monitoring tools. Use them to make posting content easier and to quantify your progress.
Posting engaging content
When you use Instagram as a brand, it’s an oppourtunity to share a little peek behind the scenes of your brand with your brand advocates. You can tease with a little preview of things to come or share a little reminder of your brand’s heritage.
An image is worth a thousand words, and communicating in-dpeth elements of your brand identity is exactly what Instagram excels at. By following you on Instagram, a follower indicated that they are interested in hearing more from your brand than they already do through traditional advertising. Don’t bore these engaged users with generic marketing messages – create value-added content that rewards your brand’s fans for engaging on a deeper level.
On social media, you have more real estate than ever, on social, so don’t be shy to tell a longer story. Mix up quick, fun images from the inner workings of the brand with photos from your expensive photoshoot. Why not include a behind the scenes Instagram video, showing the models goofing around in the make up chair, before sharing images from the big shoot itself?
Another thing to think about is how you will integrate your Instagram content into the wider web. With this much valuable content, you won’t want to keep your content on Instagram alone. See how you can imbed your posts or streams into your website or other properties.
In terms of the actual content you post, it’s important to remember that you are using Instagram to disseminate your brand image. Your content should demonstrate a world-view that is distinctly that of your brand. A brand like Chanel shouldn’t be posting photos of the team stopping off at McDonald’s, for example.
Posts should have a visual style that is both consistant between images and consistant with your brand as a whole. Your digital marketers will need to understand exactly what is interesting to your tribe, and need to find ways to repeatedly produce that type of content. They need to develop an eye for oppourtunities to engage the audience and create sharable content.
Generally, Instagram isn’t about converting sufters into shoppers.
It’s about converting those who couldn’t care less about your offering, into brand advocates. Like all social media for businesses, it’s about developing engagement and building relationships with your customers. It’s about creating a tribe, who are loyal to your brand and what it represents, and who have a high customer lifetime value.
While these metrics are difficult to meature and put a monetary value on, they are an essential part of business, especially if your business is all about the brand.