Few marketing channels are as critical as social media. Their large user bases have made them fertile grounds for building a brand. Instagram, in particular, has distinguished itself as a key platform in recent years.
Worldwide, this platform has some 1.2 billion unique visitors. It’s especially popular among younger users and increasingly significant influencers. It makes perfect sense that you’d want to use the network to boost your brand, but that’s not an endeavor to be taken on lightly. You’ll need a pathway to success, and this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to start building up your brand using Instagram.
Why Bother With Social Media In the First Place?
There’s a wide range of options open to savvy marketers, so you might be wondering why social media — especially Instagram — should be a priority. If the massive audiences aren’t enough to convince you that social media marketing is worth the effort, consider the following:
- There’s an increasing intersection between online commerce and online media.
- In the current digital landscape, people are using social media to discover new brands, products, and services more than any other avenue.
- Social media is now an integral part of the buyer’s journey, and many customers expect to be able to learn more about a business through social media.
- By embracing social media, you’re putting your brand in the place that prospects are spending the majority of their time, increasing the odds that they’ll learn about you.
- Neglecting social media, conversely, cuts your brand off from a major source of new customers and a clear path for audience engagement.
Taking advantage of social media also offers benefits beyond building an audience. You can use it to foster loyalty among your current customers, control the narrative surrounding your brand, provide customer service, and even as an outlet for customers to make direct purchases.
Instagram stands out among social media platforms in its ability to help you grow an e-commerce business or nurture a fledgling brand. Next, let’s take a look at some of the details that set the platform apart from other social networks from a business perspective.
How Instagram Can Benefit Your Brand
You don’t have to be a marketing genius to guess that the lion’s share of Instagram’s brand-building utility comes from its emphasis on visuals. Images and video pull double duty by showing off what you have to offer and simultaneously humanizing your content. In addition to brand awareness, though, this also helps generate brand engagement (more than text-only social media posting could ever hope to garner).
Engagement, in turn, builds the type of long-lasting connections that create repeat customers, which your business then profits from.
Now you might be wondering how, if other social media platforms allow for images, Instagram offers any significant advantages in that regard? The answer lies in Instagram’s user base, which is generally more engaged with both the platform and with business-related content than other social sites.
Roughly 60% of Instagram users are online daily, according to statistics from Sprout Social. Those same stats show that 36% of US-based Instagram users follow at least one company account (the most of any social media platform). This makes Instagram a haven for brand-building efforts, as long as you have the skills to make an impression.
Getting the Most from Your Insta Marketing
Now that you understand how Instagram is uniquely-suited for brand building, let’s talk about specific actions you can take to maximize your marketing success on the platform.
1) Pay Attention When Setting Up Your Account
Taking the time to configure your account correctly will save you from headaches trying to fix it down the road. This isn’t to say that you won’t ever be making adjustments, mind you, but putting your best foot forward can help improve your odds of social media success.
To that end, you should start by choosing an eye-catching profile picture that is consistent with your overall brand. Logos work well for this purpose, just make sure you’ve cropped yours properly so that it fits within Instagram’s circular profile photo display.
After choosing an appropriate image, you’ll need to write a 150-character bio for your page. Along with your profile photo, it’s the first thing that visitors are going to see when coming to your page. First impressions matter, so be direct and use your bio to explain what your business is about and why customers should be following.
You can also use your bio to direct visitors to other social accounts or URLs, so consider using a CTA here to nudge prospects in the direction you want. Your own website is an obvious choice, but you might also use your profile to include a link to a landing page that’s associated with one of your most recent posts (such as a deal or a special offer).
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you have all the right Instagram settings ticked for business success. This means setting up an Instagram Professional Account, which will allow you to access metrics about who is visiting and engaging with your page. Those insights will help you better understand what’s working and make changes to grow your audience faster.
2) Familiarize Yourself With the Different Types of Popular Instagram Posts (and How to Use Them)
Before you start posting, you should understand the different types of content Instagram is known for and what works best for businesses. Remember that not every post needs to be promotional, and you can build a lot of engagement with authentic imagery centered around your business, such as:
- Reposts from your team: You have a semi-regular source of content if you have employees with share-worthy Instagram content. When a member of the team does something cool, repost it, credit them, and watch as your audience forms positive associations with your brand through the human connection of your team.
- Reposts from your fans: User-generated content (UGC) is another great way to source content while involving your audience. Similar to your team member reposts, you can share a follower’s posts and tag them, encouraging engagement between potential customers and your brand in the process.
- Day-in-the-life posts: Is there something unique that makes working at your business cooler than working at another business in your industry? Why not show that off? Day-in-the-life posts are a great way to make your audience feel like a part of the action, as long as those “backstage” photos look authentic and not scripted.
- Newsjacking posts: Every so often a story will flood the mainstream that aligns with a topic that concerns your brand. You can ride that proverbial wave with a post of your own that pertains to the situation and positions your brand as an authority.
- Inspirational messaging: Sometimes, all you need is a motivational quote atop a plain background to spark up some engagement. Be forewarned, though, as these types of posts can cross over into “cheesy” or “corny” territory if you aren’t careful.
- Tutorial posts: How-to content does great on blogs, and in a condensed form it can succeed on Instagram as well. A series of photos (or videos) with simple instructions serves as an excellent hook that can get people interested in your brand.
Of course, there is also a time and place for promotional posts. These can introduce an audience to your products, help grow brand awareness, and maybe even spur a few customers to make a purchase. Examples of high-performing promotional posts include:
- Product placement: Straightforward shots of people using your products. These help build social proof and inspire potential customers to learn more.
- Giveaways: People love free stuff. It’s just as true on Instagram as anywhere else, so using your account to host a giveaway is a great way to build buzz around your products while attracting new customers to your brand.
- Contests: Similar to giveaways, contests are a way to get the audience involved. The key difference, though, is that you can also get users to submit their own content to win that prize, and the extra effort gets them more invested in both the outcome of the contest and your brand.
- Polls: You can use polls to gauge audience reactions and to let the audience feel like that reaction matters. For example, you might ask your customers to choose between two different designs for a product, or ask them what type of content they’d like to see more of on your account. It helps you refine your approach while getting them attached to the outcome and your brand.
- Sneak peeks: Think of these as behind-the-scenes views of new products you’re working on. It helps generate excitement and gets audiences invested in learning more about your new products all the way up to their eventual release.
- Reviews and testimonials: If people enjoy using your products and services, you can sometimes get them to provide a written statement of endorsement. Showcasing your reviews and testimonials helps prove to prospective customers that your brand is the real deal.
- Influencer content: Lastly, it’s worth noting that influencers are likely here to stay, so you may want to consider partnering with a few to market your brand. There’s a lot to it, though, so be sure to review the basics of influencer marketing before you decide on whether or not it’s right for your brand.
No matter what sort of content you decide to emphasize, remember that building a community is vital to success on Instagram, so you should get into the habit of responding to comments to show that your brand is listening and worth interacting with.