Daniel A. Ogiku
Instagram marketing includes any promotional strategies and tactics a brand or business uses on Instagram to reach its target market. Acquired by Facebook in August 2012, Instagram is currently one of the most popular social networks in the world, dominating the photo-video sharing space with over 60 million photos posted daily. The media has evolved from a simple platform of sharing selfies, photos and videos with loved ones or people with similar interests, to a pivotal medium for brands to use to market themselves. While the site has some serious strengths, there are also limitations and with over 800 million active monthly users, you need to equip yourself with at least the basics to stay relevant and maximize your presence on the platform.
Here are some powerful Instagram marketing tips that will help you do just that.
1. Set Goals And Objectives
The first step to Instagram marketing for your online business is defining your end-game and strategizing your budget. The first question you need to ask for a startup brand or a business undergoing restructuring is, “What do you want?” This is the stage when you need to decide what is of importance to you and your business;
- Why are you investing in Instagram for business in the first place?
- Are you looking for brand awareness or conversions?
- Do you want to extend your reach or maximize local exposure?
These are not trick questions. These answers directly influence your entire Instagram marketing strategy. When properly stated and answered, it helps you in keeping track of what has been done and what needs to be accomplished. Start prioritizing your goals. What are your most immediate needs and your most important long-term objective? Put down the answers to these questions for a start.
2. Switch To Business Account
After setting your goals and objectives for your Instagram marketing plan, be sure that you have an Instagram business account. If you are treating your business Instagram account the same way you are treating your personal account, you are missing out on key optimizations. Having a business profile comes with some benefits. For example, followers can click on your contact button to get in touch with you right from your Instagram page just like they would from your website. A business profile allows you to create and publish Instagram ads without needing to use Facebook’s advertising tools. Not only do business profiles allow you to display additional information, such as a contact button, they also provide some handy analysis tools that will help you understand your page and your audience better.
Switching your current profile to a business account is quite easy. Just head to your settings and click on “Switch to Business Profile” to get started.
3. Pay To Play
The first thing you realize if you have a physical space for your business is that you have to spend money to earn money. Online marketing is the same way and most business owners are ignorant of this—if you want to make a positive impact, you are going to have to spend some of your marketing budget on paid advertising (search ads, display ads, social ads, etc). It can be intimidating at first. Especially when your head is spinning with questions like;
- how to get started,
- how much it costs,
- how to know if the advertising platform even works.
Whether you tackle this yourself or hire someone else to help, it can be so worth it!
Why You Should Invest in Instagram Ads
According to Instagram, 60 percent of people say they discover new products on the platform, and 20 percent of users visit a business profile every single day. Plus, 33 percent of the most popular Instagram stories are shared by businesses like yours. Similar to Facebook ads, throwing some money behind a post will lead to more exposure for your brand, as well as more control over who can see your post.
4. Listen, Survey, Learn
This is where many online business owners get it wrong. Most business owners feel they have a 100 percent understanding of their customers and this could end up being a constraint to the progress of the business. Always look for feedback because the best companies are constantly improving. After completing a service, ask your customers to comment on their experience. Offer a discount to customers who complete a survey, have your customers complete a survey on their mobile devices to get a discount before purchasing. The feedback is great in two parts; you get to know your business’ best practices and highlight the areas that need improvement. Your customers get discounts, you get to know more areas you can improve your business, everybody wins.
5. Focus On Your Messaging – CONTENT
In Instagram marketing, your ability to grab customers’ attention starts from your bio then works its way to the contents on the business page.
- Who are you?
- What do you offer?
- What do you want followers to know about your business right now?
Your profile’s bio should answer those questions, and you should not be afraid to add some personality to it. Remember, everyone is trying to sell, but those that can inform are more likely to get sales. People will attribute a certain level of expertise to a company, making that company known for providing that particular service and this instils confidence in the consumer. There is a huge misunderstanding that content is limited to just text (captions) for posts. This is so wrong, contents can be presented in so many forms, including but not limited to; videos, photos, podcasts, pdf, newsletters, webinars, infographics and so on. A proper content strategy revolves around giving prospective customer information about your product or service, as well as information in general not limited to text alone.
You should create relevant content showcasing your business values and how your products or services can resolve people’s problems. Don’t be afraid to be different! Stand out from the crowd. Be a unicorn in a herd of donkeys. Be original, quirky and uniquely represent your business through your contents. Show everyone not only why your business is awesome, but why it is head-and-shoulders above everyone else.
6. Use Hashtags and Mentions to Increase Visibility
Knowing how to effectively use hashtags and mentions is essential to growing your influence on Instagram. When used properly, hashtags will help you gain exposure by creating or contributing to trends, and mentioning other users can introduce you to their following. The great thing about this strategy is that it can be leveraged across other social networks like Twitter and Pinterest, but works so well on Instagram and is the perfect way to get your audience to engage with your brand. Adding a location to your Instagram posts and stories is helpful especially if you are a brick-and-mortar business and need to increase foot traffic. Hashtags related to seasonal or popular events will trend on Instagram, and on occasion, you should consider hopping on board to gain some exposure. Any time a hashtag relatable to your brand trends on Instagram, it may be appropriate to either post fun content or make a statement.
A word of warning, though. If the topic surrounding the hashtag is completely irrelevant to your products and services, or it’s controversial, just stay away. The last thing you want is to create negative publicity with your brand. For example, back in 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending in the aftermath of a video showing former NFL player Ray Rice in a violent altercation with his fiance. DiGiorno Pizza, in an attempt at humour, without investigating why the hashtag was trending decided to post a tweet using it. I’m sure they never intended to make light of domestic abuse, as they explained, but that mistake made them suffer some serious negative PR as a result.
6. Please, Don’t over-post
This is pretty much self-explanatory, but for those new to the Gram, over-posting is a surefire way to turn off your existing followers. This is usually a common mistake made by newbies on Instagram. After launching a page, they bombard their followers with pictures. The truth is no matter how eye-catching your pictures are, after a while it becomes spammy and very annoying. If you are tempted to post more, then use Instagram’s carousel album feature to post multiple images in a slideshow format. That way, you won’t clog your followers’ feeds and cause them to unfollow you. The whole point is to get more followers not to chase them away.
According to research from CoSchedule, the best times of day to post are between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM. This makes sense because the hour correlates with the time of day when people are getting ready for work or commuting to their daily jobs (and checking social media for the day).
You can also find when your followers are most active on Instagram Insights, so your best days and times to post may be a bit different, depending on your specific audience.
You probably implement many of these strategies already, and if you are implementing all, congratulations, you are killing it! If you are not, take a moment to see where these tips can fill the voids in your current efforts. You will be well on your way to making your business stand out on Instagram. And if your business is not yet on Instagram, it is not too late to get started. The beauty of using Instagram for business is that the platform is not reserved for any specific brand. So whether you are running a brick-and-mortar business, an e-commerce empire, or maybe you are a solo business trying to snag some clout, there is an audience on Instagram that is waiting for your business.
Daniel A. Ogiku is a content writer, a social media influencer, a digital marketing strategist and an enthusiast of all things Internet. Follow him on twitter @daniambitious_ and Instagram @mister.ambitious.