To use Instagram for marketing you set up an account and start posting pictures, right?! But what kind of pictures should you post? What kind of content should you share? As with anything, there’s a general formula for what works when it comes to marketing your brand on Instagram.
Focus on Relevant Content
In this case relevant content is content that’s relevant to your target market and your particular business. Some people get confused here, thinking that relevant content to their business is only their products and services. Wrong. No one will follow you to have you speak only about your products all day long, unless what you say also provide value for their lives.
If you have a toy company and produce videos featuring your toys then, yes, you provide value if people’s kids enjoy the videos. If you provide cute, or funny, pictures of the products you can also engage followers, but the keyword here is engage. You need to engage them. And that’s by providing value, whether you teach them interesting facts, teach them how to use your products in cool ways, have stunning photos with your products that take people’s breaths away, or share something funny.
Get Behind Closed Doors
These days brands are kind of like celebrities: people follow them and gossip about them. People follow brands because they have a strong brand voice, provide engaging and/or informative content and share behind the scenes info that’s mesmerizing.
There was a time when a brand was either an anonymous corporation, or Jerry and Jenny down the road running a mom and pop shop. Today brands are real people who have real blogs and social media accounts. They may not be mom and pop shops where you know the owners personally, but you either know them, or their brand, through social media. People expect transparency. They expect to be able to speak to a brand and get a response. And they expect a level of humanity within the brand itself.
People want to find out about the people behind the brand. They want to follow the humans that make the brand come alive. It makes it exciting. It’s like following a reality TV show, only hopefully a lot more sophisticated.
By letting people in behind the scenes they have a chance to connect with you. With the human. That, believe it or not, will engage them more in your brand.
Keep It Stylish
Instagram is a visual forum — it’s all about images. Some of these images come with text, in fact there are accounts that only share quotes, or poems. However, those quotes and poems are also stylized. They are stylized because people only quickly glance at them to decide whether it’s attractive, or interesting, enough to have a closer look.
This is why it’s important to a) choose a style that’s congruent at all times so people learn to recognize your posts b) choose a style that’s aligned with your overall brand c) choose images that are visually attractive.
While you can post both quotes and images, you need to have an overall touch that make your images recognizable. You may use two complementary styles, but you can’t use five different styles in the same account or post ugly pictures and hope to engage followers.
Engage with Others
To get a large following on Instagram you need to a) follow and engage with relevant people b) engage with your own followers. Instagram is a tool for connecting with others. That means that just pouring out content isn’t enough — you need to acknowledge your followers by replying to their comments.
There are different ways of gaining followers, but most brands follow people who they feel are aligned with their brand and start conversations with them. In turn, they’re likely to follow back and engage with their content.
Some brands don’t want to follow others, so they simply like and comment on posts by people they hope will follow them. Still, they reply to comments on their own posts, so as to acknowledge their followers.
How to Find Followers
To find followers you wish to engage with you can either search for brands with a similar target market and follow and/or interact with their followers, or you can search for people using hashtags relevant to your brand. You can also use hashtags for your posts so that others can find you. Usually you’d combine all three of these strategies to gain as many followers as possible.
To find out what hashtags are working for your audience, have a look at similar accounts and find out what they are using, then do searches using those hashtags and see what comes up!
Another tip is to find users in your location and interact with them.
To Use Bots or Not to Use Bots
These days you can use online solutions that like, or comment, on posts based on location, people the account owner follows, or hashtags used in the post or often liked by the owner. Likewise, bots can follow other accounts based on these variables.
On the one hand, these bots are great. It saves you a lot of time. On the other hand, if you over use them chances are Instagram will turn off your account and/or your followers will stop engaging with you. Why? Would you really want to talk to someone using bots to like and comment on your posts? No, you wouldn’t.
That’s why bots are only really great for:
- automatically following certain accounts, so you don’t have to sit and do it manually
- liking posts with certain hashtags in the hope that the people whose posts you liked will look you up and engage with you
- unfollowing people who unfollowed you
Once the interaction has started though, you have to follow through. That means that when you see someone liking your posts, you should like theirs ever so often. When you see someone commenting on your posts, you have to comment on theirs, so that they feel you take an interest in them. When someone follows you, you have to follow back if you’re interested in their content. You have to continue the conversation, or interaction, that was started by the bot. Otherwise people will soon figure out you’re a robot and stop interacting with you.
Instagram allows for so-called promoted posts. That means you can pay Instagram to have a post show up in your target market’s feed. The cool thing is that you can choose that target market, or let Instagram’s algorithms help you. This is an inexpensive way of reaching your target market. It’s excellent if you want to gain more followers, or have a product promotion going on.
The other thing you can do is host competitions. Whether you promote a post, or not, you can launch a competition where you encourage people to follow you and comment under the post to be entered into the competition. Once there’s an interesting price to be won, people tend to be very happy to engage.
You can also use Instagram to post discount codes. Again, you can choose whether you promote the post, or not.
See What Works
If you have a company account on Instagram you can check your statistics at all times, so it’s easy to see what posts work. You can also see when your followers tend to be online, so as to figure out what’s the best time to post.
Instagram is an excellent marketing tool as it, unlike Facebook, doesn’t require you to pay to be seen (Facebook tends to hide your posts unless you pay for them), but you can pay to be exposed to a lot of Instagram users as well. And it’s easy to find your target market by searching for people using certain hashtags, or people following certain accounts. For the same reason, it’s easy to be found.
Instagram works best if you engage your audience (potential and existing customers) by providing interesting and/or visually beautiful content. Once you’ve engaged them, you can sell to them ever so often by marketing your actual products. Because by that time they care about you, so they will care about your products.
Have a look at your competition, or similar companies in other locations, as well as looking up hashtags you think will be relevant to your products and services and see what you find. Which are the biggest accounts with the most engaged followers and why?