Instagram is a social media force to reckon with. It’s steadily growing into a powerful platform that allows individuals and businesses alike to share images across its vast network. If you don’t have an Instagram marketing strategy, it’s time to develop one.
By the end of December of 2016, Instagram had more than 600 million users. Approximately 100 million of them joined between June and December. To put that into perspective, that is six new users every second. With growth potential like this, it’s no wonder why so many marketers are trying to take advantage of the social hub.
Because the system works similar to other social sharing apps, like Twitter, a lot of the same strategies work on Instagram. However, there are other things to consider which may vastly improve your business. For instance, a strong Instagram following may easily play a part in boosting online sales.
Below, I’ve cultivated 15 expert Instagram marketing tips for business.
1. Be Creative
It’s not enough to simply take a snapshot of a product or service and send it to Instagram. There needs to be a creative flare to the practice if you want to engage the audience. You don’t need to create some elegant work of art. However, adding a bit of personality doesn’t help.
Look at most restaurant Instagram accounts. While some pictures depict the facility, especially if it has an attractive theme, most will use images of the food. In fact, you may find some of the most delicious-looking pictures for just about any type of edible you can think of on Instagram.
Something creative could be akin to a picture of a shark ordering the fish sandwich off of a menu. It’s all about creating something that stands out to the audience and offers visual appeal.
2. Use Scheduling Apps
Although a large portion of people on Instagram take improvisational shots, there is nothing wrong with scheduling content. In fact, it’s very helpful to keep any social media account active even when you’re not. For instance, tools like Buffer and Sprout Social offer incredible benefits for scheduling content.
As top brands post nearly five times per week on Instagram, scheduling updates is greatly beneficial. It helps you maintain organization while making sure posts are released timely.
The hardest part about using scheduling apps such as these is figuring out the optimal time of the day when it comes to the audience interacting with pictures.
3. Focus On Posting for the Whole Week
A lot of experts will take one day to crunch out all of their posts for the entire week. Not only does this help keep you focused on the task, but using the scheduling apps frees up the rest of your time afterwards.
Part of this belief is derived form recent studies signifying how multitasking in your day may be harmful to productivity. Not everyone has the capacity to quickly switch gears in any given day across vastly different projects. As a result, the productivity is actually quite lower.
Personally, I like the idea of getting everything done in one shot so I can focus on other tasks throughout the week. There is a sense of peace that comes from knowing the project is complete.
4. Repurpose Your Posts
You’ve probably heard of repurposing your content for social media. It’s when you post an evergreen article on sites like Facebook and then share it again a few months later. Since it’s evergreen, it’s always relevant and can engage another round of readers.
Repurposing can also work across platforms. For instance, an image you share on Twitter can easily be uploaded to Instagram. Even if it was an image posted on Facebook a couple of years ago it can still be effective. As long as the picture is relevant, throw it up on Instagram – especially if it engaged a wide audience in the past.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve successfully re-shared past images on various social outlets.
5. Engage Your Audience
Posting new images is only part of Instagram marketing. A big contributor to success is engagement. You need to converse with your followers and fans and integrate them into the experience. After all, that’s what social media is all about…being social.
I’m not just talking about your new posts, either. Take a few moments and take a look at some of the people who follow you or the hashtags you’re using. Engage by commenting on the images of others. It shows that your business is more than just an automated picture producer.
People like to feel connected to the brands they follow. It builds trust and enhances the brand reputation making it more likeable. Engaging in this fashion is part of boosting the business.
6. Use Desktop Apps to Publish
The majority of people use Instagram from smartphones. A few will use tablets. However, posting all of your pictures directly from a mobile device denies access to superior editing tools. I know Instagram has a few functions, but it pales in comparison to things like Photoshop or Canva.
Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t currently have the capacity to post images directly from desktop computers. That’s where sharing apps come into play. When you use tools like Buffer, you can edit that perfect image and post it to your Instagram account. At which point, you simply access your mobile device and add your text or hashtags.
The point is you can use desktop apps to create enhanced and primed photos for marketing.
7. Stick to Edits that Work
The majority of brands with an Instagram marketing strategy consistently use the same filters and edits. Not only does this shave time off of trying to do something new, but it also plays into keeping content uniform. Although there isn’t truly anything wrong with experimenting once in a while with new filters or editing techniques, sometimes it can result in fewer responses.
In the beginning, it may be worth the time to discover which filters and visual additions are the most effective when engaging the audience. A lot of people simply stick to the original layout of an image, but sometimes an artistic flare could be warranted.
If fewer people “like” the image, then move on to something else. It’s as easy as that.
8. Know Your Tags
If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google+, you might already know how to use hashtags. But do you know how to use tags efficiently? Tagging your post has potential to put it in front of a very large audience. It’s knowing which of these topics best suits your company that makes the difference.
Hashtags are not the only ones you should be worried about, though. Location tags are also vital when it comes to engaging an audience. In fact, posts which use both hashtags and locations receive roughly a 33 percent boost in total number of engagements.
While simple text can still be attractive to the audience, it’s calling out topics and locales that is more effective.
9. Don’t Flood the Account
On average, the top brands submit a post on Instagram about once per day. This is a good number to have as it doesn’t saturate a profile. When you start adding new images every 20 minutes, followers can begin to feel overwhelmed. In reality, many people will unfollow the account because of this.
Saturating a timeline is a big problem for a lot of people. Not everyone has the time to scroll through a seemingly endless collection of content only for a new post to pop up before they had a chance to read the last one.
Be engaging, but realize you don’t have to upload a new picture every second of the day.
10. Reposting User-Generated Content Often
Reposting images from other users is a widely accepted practice. Not only is it kind of like a call-out to fans, but it shows engagement. A lot of successful Instagram posts consist mostly of showing user-generated content.
The reality is that user-generated content is more trusted than branded content by 50 percent. It’s also more memorable and will connect better with your audience. This doesn’t mean you should give up your own posts, though.
Incorporate a way to include the images of others in your Instagram marketing.
11. Inspire Interactive Hashtags
Interactive hashtags are those that inspire others to essentially “join the conversation.” For instance, telling people to send their pictures or comments to a specific hashtag gets the ball rolling. You see this a lot, especially in fashion brands.
This works by engaging your audience while having those individuals market your brand on their own accounts. Other people you may not have a connection with will see your follower taking a picture of your product or service with your hashtag.
Interactive hashtags are kind of like indirect marketing channels that boost the awareness of the brand. All of those individuals who join the hashtag are essentially spreading your reach even further.
12. Consider Instagram Influencers
Social media influencers are those who have a massive following who “influence” people to buy a certain product or service. In many regards, these social media giants are more effective than singers and TV actors.
With more than one million active users, there is bound to be Instagram influencers who will be happy to market your business. Just make sure your return on investment stays on track for each person you contract.
When looking for an Instagram influencer, you want someone who will be beneficial for your business. For instance, a family-friendly oriented company might not want to use someone who appears vulgar or obscene. You can find this out by viewing past images the influencer has shared.
13. Keep an Eye On Analytics
When it comes to any marketing strategy in the business world, keeping an eye on analytics is vital. This includes everything from the ROI of using influencers to what kind of images get the best response from followers.
Analytics plays into Instagram marketing by giving you the ability to monitor effectiveness on the social media platform. Analytics can show reach as well as the number of likes any image receives. If you delve even deeper into these statistics, you can actually see patterns emerge from what people find the most engaging.
There are a number of tools you can use to get this information. Nearly every sharing application has features like this built in, including the two I mentioned above. The information is invaluable when it comes to developing a good image strategy.
14. Use Sponsored Posts
So, one of the most obvious aspects to an Instagram marketing strategy is the use of sponsored ads. These are essentially the advertisements you pay Instagram to host. They work in much the same way that Facebook sponsored posts as they show your image to a wider audience and not just those who follow the account.
Sponsored posts can work wonders for boosting awareness of the brand. However, the other side of the coin is they can also drain your budget. Like any advertising method online, you need to keep a close eye on the ROI of the post.
If a particular sponsored post isn’t helping, it’s time to move on to another.
15. Use All the Free Tools You Can
While there are paid tools you can use to accentuate your social engagement, never underestimate the value of those that are free. Everything from trending data to content development are available online free of charge.
This isn’t saying that paid tools don’t have their place. However, you want to keep your mind open to using something that may offer an ability you’ve never seen before. This ability may prove to be ultimately effective when sharing content.
Hashtags, image editors and even trending color palettes can influence how others interact with your content. An example of this is how Canva helps people develop images specifically for Instagram by formatting the size perfectly for the platform.
Engaging a Wider Audience
Social media can play a prominent role to boost the traffic to your web hosted account. It is believed that Instagram will be used by more than 70 percent of businesses in the United States by the end of 2017. Although platfoms like Twitter show a slight growth over time, the leaps and bounds Instagram has achieved is nothing short of impressive. Get started engaging your audience today and improve your marketing strategy. It’s safe to assume your competition is doing just that.