When done properly, Instagram marketing can give your business a major boost. The operative word here, of course, is “properly.”
After all, as with any kind of marketing, it’s all in the execution.
Why Instagram marketing matters for businesses
Before you begin your foray into the world of Instagram marketing, ask yourself: “Why should I be marketing my business on Instagram?”
With over a billion active users on Instagram per month, the platform gives your brand an incredible degree of reach. And while it only has less than half the number of monthly users its parent company Facebook has, they’re 58 times more engaged. In other words, there are more people liking and commenting on posts on Instagram than on any other platform.
Aside from that, Instagram is a “visual” social media platform. Aesthetics is its main governing principle, beauty its primary currency. This allows your business to stand out and create its own distinctive visual identity — one that your target audience can easily identify with and admire. To them, your business will have a much-needed human touch, transforming it into something more than just a faceless company out to get their money.
Furthermore, businesses on Instagram can harness the power of Facebook’s advertising platform to really get into the technical details of their paid campaigns: to see which ones resonate best with the audience, determine whether metrics are being met, and identify points for improvement.
In summary, it’s wise to invest in Instagram marketing for businesses because the platform:
- Reaches a wide and diverse audience;
- Imbues your brand with beauty and humanity; and
- Makes it easy for you to monitor your marketing campaigns.
Setting your Instagram marketing objectives
After you’ve decided to grab your slice of the Instagram marketing pie, the next question to ask yourself is: “What do I want to achieve by marketing on Instagram?”
The answer? It depends.
When you start setting up your Instagram advertising campaign, the platform allows you to set your marketing objectives.
If you want people to become more familiar with your brand, choose objectives under the Awareness category.
If you want to build a relationship with your audience and familiarize them with the product or service you are selling, select objectives under the Consideration category.
Lastly, if you want your audience to make the decision to purchase, set objectives under the Conversion category.
The art of Instagram advertising
Instagram allows you to create and run five different types of ads:
For ordinary Instagram users, the Stories feature allows them to share snippets of their day in a tidy sequence — one cohesive narrative, visible only for a limited time — without having to upload multiple photos on their feed.
For businesses getting into Instagram marketing, the Stories feature enables them to tell a multi-part story with that added “premium” element. Since it can only be viewed for a limited time, your Stories Ad creates a sense of urgency, while emphasizing the exclusivity of your offer.
A Photo Ad is exactly what it sounds: an advertisement in the form of a single photo. This is the type of ad that requires the least amount of effort. The photo may either be in square or landscape format.
Similar to Photo Ads, Video Ads can be in either the typical square or landscape format. Your Video Ad can be up to a full minute long — a major improvement from the platform’s initial 15-second restriction.
When you want your audience to swipe through a series of images or videos in one ad, you can create a Carousel Ad. Picture your standard carousel at a carnival; that’s exactly how this type of ad works, at least in theory. You can include up to ten images or videos in your Carousel Ad.
A Collection Ad lets your audience click on a main (or “hero”) image or video. Tapping on that image or video will take them to a fullscreen catalog of the products you’re selling, called the Instant Storefront.
A familiar, friendly face: Instagram influencer marketing
In the real world, brands sometimes employ celebrity endorsers to advertise their products or simply just raise their brand profile.
In the digital world, the same dynamics apply, but with a slightly more intricate execution.
Instagram influencers are high-profile users with a sizable following, a consistent Instagram presence, and a high engagement rate. They are known as the go-to people within their respective niches.
When it comes to makeup and beauty, for example, names like Huda Kattan, Nikkie de Jager, and even pop star Rihanna resonate with fans. If you’re looking for travel influencers, you can’t go wrong with Murad Osmann, Chris Burkard, or Jack Morris. There are numerous influencers out there across the different niches, each with something unique to bring to the table.
Remember Bejeweled, that popular mobile gaming app that everyone and their aunt got addicted to? Back in 2016, the brand partnered with Instagram influencers such as social media star David Lopez, fitness guru Koya Webb, and even the endearing Instagram pup star JiffPom for their #shinyplace campaign. The human stars’ Instagram posts featured them seemingly unwinding after a long day by sitting down and playing Bejeweled.
The campaign was so successful that it only took a month for Bejeweled to rise from 702 to 182 — a staggering 520 spots — on the list of the Apple US App Store’s top-grossing apps.
You may choose to work with an influencer if you feel that your target audience would have a better connection with one. However, you shouldn’t just go with any influencer out there.
A few tips for selecting the face of your Instagram influencer marketing campaign:
- Choose an influencer who can reach people who are likely to avail your product or service.
- Make sure that your influencer belongs to the right niche or specialty.
- Consider the voice — the public persona — of the influencer. Do you want your influencer to be funny or serious? Should it be an influencer who sounds more friendly than professional.
- Look at the history of the influencer in terms of driving engagement. There are online engagement calculators that you can use for this purpose.
Some essential Instagram marketing tips
1. Tailor your messaging to your audience.
Here’s a simple truth: Marketing to an audience you know next to nothing about is setting yourself up for failure.
Before anything else, get to know exactly who you should be reaching out to. What defines your target market? Which kinds of people are more likely to pay for your products or services? What types of content do they respond to?
A handy tool for this is Instagram Insights. In a nutshell, Insights gives you, well, insight into your followers: who they are, why they’re there, what they’re clicking on, and so on.
Through the Insights tool, you can measure your reach, how many views your content received, and how often your followers log in on Instagram every day. You can even see the gender, age, and general location of your followers, allowing you to craft a buyer persona upon which you can base your Instagram marketing strategy.
2. Post at the right time.
The matter of identifying the perfect time to post content on Instagram is one that has been studied and discussed time and again.
However, the simple answer is a cop-out of sorts: It varies.
You’ll need to look at your typical buyer profile and deduce how they go about their day. When are they most likely to be checking their Instagram accounts? As a general rule, lunch breaks and weekends tend to be when most users are free to browse their feeds.
Here’s an interesting fact: If you look at the Instagram engagement statistics available online, you’ll find that most of them point to 2 PM as an ideal time for posting. Again, whether this holds true or not for you depends on your target audience; however, it’s not a bad place to start.
3. Know how to use hashtags — and which ones to use.
Initially popularized on Twitter, the practice of incorporating hashtags into posts was eventually adopted by Instagram and other platforms. By appending the pound or hash sign (#) to a single word or phrase without spaces, you can categorize and organize your content, making it easier for users to find them.
One particular example of a hashtag enjoying massive success happened in 2015. Shoe manufacturer Adidas launched an Instagram campaign to promote its Neo product line. They created the hashtag #MyNeoShoot, inviting their followers to come up with their own Adidas-themed content to post along with the hashtag.
As an added incentive, Adidas chose the top content creators to take part in a professional photo shoot as models and be featured on the brand’s channel.
The brand even collaborated with musician and Instagram influencer Selena Gomez to generate buzz for the campaign. In the end, Adidas gained 41,000 new followers, and the #MyNeoShoot hashtag received a whopping 71,000 mentions.
So, how does one come up with a winning hashtag?
- Avoid generic hashtags as much as possible. Since the entire point of using hashtags is to categorize your content, why would you opt for a common hashtag that everyone else uses? Instead of a generic and overused hashtag like #shoes or #pizza, come up with unique and catchy hashtags that audiences can immediately identify with your brand.
- Quality over quantity. There’s a reason why Instagram imposed a 30-hashtag limit on posts. While you can work around that by adding hashtags in your comments, you’re much better off thinking of three to five targeted, thoughtfully composed hashtags to use on your posts.
- Stick to relevant hashtags. As a corollary to the previous point, avoid the temptation of spamming your content with hashtags. The “throw everything at a wall and see what sticks” approach can only take you so far.
4. Never settle for anything less than beautiful.
Keep in mind that Instagram is a visual platform. If you post low-quality content (such as poorly edited images or captions with typographical errors), your audience will be less likely to engage with you. Plus, those mistakes will stick to your brand like glue — and no business or brand would want to be permanently associated with anything ugly.
5. Include calls to action in your posts.
Unlike other social media platforms, you can’t just add links to your Instagram posts. Fortunately, there are ways of getting around that.
You can post a link in your bio, which is the only place Instagram allows links to be posted. You can only post one link at a time, though, and you’ll have to change that link manually if you want to drive your audience to a different page. The appropriate call to action for that would be to add even just the simple phrase “Link in bio” to your caption or image.
You can also add promo codes or discount codes to your image or caption. Just be sure to include the necessary information, such as how to use the codes and what they can get from using them.
6. Share user-generated content.
Make your users feel that they matter to you by sharing the spotlight with them.
Tailor your Instagram marketing strategy to include testimonials or reviews from satisfied customers (with their permission, of course). You can even share Stories posted by your fans about your product or service. Apart from making your followers and customers feel special, you’ll also improve your credibility, too!
Oh, and one last thing about Instagram marketing
Always remember that at the core of your Instagram marketing should be your connection with your followers. To build stronger ties with them, find ways to make them part of the conversation.
A simple yet effective way to do this is to ask a question. Whether it’s in the form of a poll, a call for suggestions, or a request for feedback, giving them the option to share their thoughts will almost certainly translate into more engagement.
Now, go out there and put your Instagram marketing game face on!