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.
- Pick Theme and Color Palette – The most successful Instagram influencers curate their feeds with the precision of an art director. They are extremely aware of their brand as an influencer and treat their feeds accounts as an extension of that brand. They’ll stick to a specific theme and only upload images with specific filters, to adhere to their creative visions and color palettes. While you might not have the time to spend hours on Instagram photo editor apps, you might want to consider using the same filter on all your photos or sticking within a consistent theme. I highly recommend checking out vloggers Edward Zo and Kelsey Simone – they both share some insights on their Youtube channels on what it takes to curate an excellent Instagram feed (along with explaining things like color toning and “filler images” in detail.) Tashie from Tashie Tinks also has a few great pointers on her channel too.
- Keep Your Images Bright and Light – There’s a reason why most vloggers opt to film in front of their windows – a shot that is well-lit with natural light always fairs best. While there are a number of Instagram photo editor apps that you can use to tweak the brightness of your images, you’re better off shooting yourself or your subjects in plain old daylight. Otherwise, if you need lighting extra help on the go, invest in a small Ring Light that can easily be clipped to your phone for nights out with your friends.
- Post Unique Content – We hear this over and over again in the blogging world: post unique content. Finding a way to stand out really is essential in order to gain followers, and increase the number of likes and comments on your Instagram posts. It’s easy to get into the routine of uploading snaps of your morning coffee or your outfits of the day – so think outside the box, and find a way to switch it up. While Instagram itself can be a good source of inspiration, the best way to find new backdrops (and artisanal coffee shops) is to get out of the house and explore a new neighborhood. Team up with a fellow blogger friend and spend a weekend outside of your usual haunts.
- Get Your Face Out There – According to Social Envy, you’re likely to have a 38% increase in post engagement on Instagram when you upload images with an actual face in the picture (and even more interaction if you’re smiling.) That means that potential followers are more likely to throw you some likes and a follow when you’re looking at the camera with a happy expression on your face. If you’re not a top model, keep the vogue-inspired posts to a minimum. This also means that if you’re a budding beauty blogger, looking to build up your following, you’re best off taking a selfie holding the beauty products next to your cheek – and forgo the shot of the products on their own. If you're planning on using other apps to edit your features, use them sparingly. You definitely don’t want to over-edit your images – it’s always obvious when someone gets a bit too carried away with Facetune.
Go Viral By Doing Something Incredible
This is the real opportunity. Put yourself out there and do something incredible. If you’re not interested in being patient and building your audience slowly over time, then you need to be creating something that is truly mind-blowing.
The volume of noise from other bloggers, social media, and all the other distractions of the world means people simply do not have time for another “same-as-everyone” blog. They don’t even have time for something “pretty great.” You have to be absolutely fantastic. Going viral is hard, so you’ll probably want to put some thought into your “stunt”. You may also want to consider putting some funds towards this project. Destroy luxury brand items, do outrageous acts in public, chronicle any controversial life changes, being brash or overly sexy when doing something mundane – all of these things can receive lots of engagement from viewers when posted online. Just make sure you aren’t breaking any laws or are putting yourself at legal risk.
Schedule Your Content
Managing a brand takes a lot of time. When you're not writing content, sourcing photos or marketing yourself, you also have to think about regularly posting on Instagram. Instead of hoping you'll get to it when you're through with more pressing tasks, plan your content ahead of time. Draft your posts, find pictures and write the captions. After you have your content, schedule your posts in advance with management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite. They'll post on the date and time you decide so that you can save time and focus on bigger things.
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.
Focus on Your Niche
It’s also recommended that users focus on niche-specific tags, as opposed to more generic ones. For example, a Miami-based fashion blogger should consider tagging #miamistyle, #miamibeachstyle, #southbeachstyle and #miamistyleblogger in their posts, instead of #styleblogger and #fashionblogger.
As your following on Instagram grows, consider creating your own hashtag and throwing it into the mix. Bottom line: keep it authentic and focus on hashtags that are relevant to your niche market. This will make it easier for potential customers, followers and marketers to find your account.
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.
Your Followers Might Be Existing Customers
And keep in mind that many of your followers might be existing customers. If they already own your product or subscribe to your service, don’t keep pushing your product over social media. Instead, make them feel like one of the cool kids for owning your product or using your service. Show them new ways of using it, and encourage them to tag your account in their posts about your product/service.
This creates a sense of community and brand loyalty, amongst those followers who are already spending money on your products.
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.
Be Authentic & Stick to Your Image
While it’s important you have a marketing strategy when it comes to selling products, services, or your brand as a blogger/influencers on Instagram, it’s also important to be spontaneous with your posts.
Always be authentic and remain true to your brand values, when showcasing what you have to offer on Instagram.
It's easy to stick with your brand image when you're posting content that relates directly to fashion. When it comes time for personal posts, it might get a bit more challenging to stay on topic. Find new ways to connect every picture to your blog (brand) by getting creative.
If you travel and decide to go camping, you can make it a glamping trip and host a photoshoot for future Instagram or blog content. Off-topic posts or stories on Instagram will confuse your readers and potentially cause some to unfollow you. Think about your brand image and how you can make everything relate to your brand.