Instagram, the image-centric social network, now has over 500 million registered users (more than rival Twitter) – 300 million of which are active every single day. These users have made a total of over 40 billion posts since the platform was launched in 2010, while the daily figure is now averaging 95 million. This is tremendous growth for a network that has only been around for six years and there’s no sign of its popularity waning.
In light of its huge reach, businesses are increasingly recognizing its power as a marketing tool. Data hints that by 2017 over 70% of all brands will have a registered profile. The current number of paid advertisers (500,000) is also set to jump as more tools and advertising options are made available to laser target audiences.
Beyond the sheer numbers, what also makes Instagram particularly appealing is its high rate of user engagement. On average your Instagram followers are much more likely to share, like, comment, or take some other kind of action than they are on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, around half of all users follow at least one business. Is yours one of them?
If you want it to be, now’s the time to formulate a killer Instagram marketing campaign. With help from WebsiteBuilder.org’s new ‘Instagram facts’ research report, our following guide is here to help you get started.
It’s easy to setup an account, but make sure you choose a “business account” as this has some extra features. Your username should be the name of your business/brand, and your profile picture should by the business logo or at least something recognizable within your branding. Don’t forget to include a short but exciting bio, with a link to your website. This will help you drive traffic.
You can also connect your Facebook account with Instagram (Facebook owns Instagram), which allows you to automatically share Instagram posts on Facebook.
It’s All about Visual Content
It’s no good registering a profile and hard-selling right away. Instagram has its own unique style and its users respond differently than those on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. The focus is solely on visual content (images & photos, video, live streaming, and 24-hour stories). You can, of course, add a caption to your posts, but you need to convey the bulk of your message visually to catch people’s eye.
While you can certainly hit users over the head with a vibrant sales pitch once in a while (e.g. “20% off all products, this week only,”) the best approach is to open up the unique personality of your brand by capturing the fun and interesting moments. For example, if you sell a physical product, perhaps new stock has arrived at the warehouse. Take a picture of this with an enthusiastic caption. Letting your audience behind the scenes helps build a lasting relationship.
Hashtags Are Important
You can leverage your website and other social media accounts to bring your existing followers over to Instagram, but if you want the potential for a significant amount of new conversions you also need to gain unique followers on the new platform. One of the key ways to do this is through proper use of hashtags. These are keywords and descriptors related to your post that link out to a chronological feed of all posts made by users with the same hashtag. Users interested in a topic will follow related hashtags or search them. The trick is to use a tag that is relevant but popular, allowing new eyes to see your content. You can also use these in a comical way (e.g. #BusyAsHell) or for your own branding (e.g. #BobSummerSale). Of course, your posts themselves also need to be interesting, as followers sharing them with their friends will also help grow your audience.
Know Your Audience
Obviously, to reach your audience in the most efficient way, you need to know when they’re online. You’ll need to do your own testing to determine this (posting at different times of the day and monitoring engagement), but in general, Instagram is busiest on Wednesday at 5 pm. This is also the most active time to post on Sunday. Monday it’s 7 pm and 10 pm, Tuesday 3 am and 10 pm, Thursday 7 am and 11 pm, Friday 1 is and 8 pm, and Saturday is 12 am and 2 am.
It’s also important to remember not to over-post and annoy your audience. Currently, top brands post on average 4.9 times a week, so you should aim for a similar amount.
Interact With Your Audience
Interacting with your audience is a great way to build brand loyalty. If they ask a question, answer. If a follower posts something interesting (even if not directly related to your brand), like the post or leaves a relevant comment. If users are excited enough to post about your brand, make sure to share this with your own followers. This will make the original poster feel special and will also encourage others to do the same.
Don’t Be Afraid To Pay
You can definitely have big success organically on Instagram, but that doesn’t mean you should utilize a budget to reach even more people. The network now offers paid posts, which will connect you immediately with the audience you target. You can also reach out to influencers in your niche, offering them free review copies of your product or access to your service, or even paying for them to promote your brand in various ways.
For lots of interesting facts about Instagram, how it works, demographics and statistics, and other info that can help your campaign, be sure to check out the full infographic from Website Builder.