Many would agree that Facebook has revolutionised social communication. But Instagram has certainly taken the smartphone space by storm. To many, it is second only to social media giant Facebook. To others, Instagram is second to none. It is fast sweeping the smartphone industry with its highly personalised style and interactivity. And it is highly suited to the ever changing user behaviour.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs underappreciate the platform as they would rather focus on networks like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook and use Instagram only for their personal photo posts.
Overlooking the power of Instagram for your business isn’t a good idea. Contrary to what some people believe, Instagram is not just for personal use. It can be a great means of getting your business out to the eyes and even hearts of thousands of potential customers.
You don’t have to take my word for it, the numbers who have jumped on board should speak volumes. Instagram recently confirmed it has well over 400 million monthly active users. This is way above the 300 million monthly active subscribers that your favourite network Twitter has.
Which one came first? And why is the younger network so big already? Instagram is hugely important. You just have to look at those who have made it on the platform to find this out. Here is an example of an India-based fashion guru who owes part of her fame and business success to Instagram.
Here is a good example of how you can convert your Instagram profile into a business portfolio. And in a world where marketers pay millions for milliseconds, you should wake up and realise how awesome it is to enjoy the same privileges for free.
We are living in an increasingly visual-orientated world. And if you are familiar with the line, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, imagine how much a mix of both pictures and videos would paint.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Step up your Instagram game now, or sit back and watch your competition beat you in your own game in 2016. Today, we are here to help you figure out precisely how to make the adjustment.
1. Learn the Instagram basics and techniques
Here is just a few of the key basics and techniques of Instagram
Perhaps someone has asked you what your favourite colour is. Well, we all tend to have preferences for particular colours, and Instagram respects that. So it gives you an option to edit your photo to assume a particular colour and feel. Here is a sample image in its original form and how it looks under different filters.
If you are on Twitter, then either you know what we mean or you can log in right now and see one. They are always there, every day, every hour, every minute and each second you log into Twitter. The blue word preceded by a ‘#’ symbol. We say a word because a hashtag must be written as a single word, without any spaces. On social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, adding the ‘#’ before a word converts it into a hashtag. The list of trends on Twitter is a popular example.
You can use this type of label or metadata tag of your Instagram portfolio and microblogging service to make it easier for your audience to find your messages on a specific theme or content.
You can identify the popularity of a subject or product you post on Instagram by the number of likes it generates. When your followers, or non-followers, like your post then they are voting on it. On the contrary, a post that attracts fewer likes would mean it did not reach many people, but in normal circumstances, people will opt not to like it because it is not appealing enough. These should give you an idea what people like and what is likely to sell.
People won’t be so pleased if your posts are all about business. We won’t deny our intent here; it is clear we are stressing on the business side of Instagram. But don’t get us wrong, this does not in any way change its original identity as a social network. Meaning that, a little fun is welcome.
So, using the throwback times tool is a great way of connecting with your audiences as you remind them of those special moments that did count. It will show that you care and mind them. Everyone wants to stick with someone that cares about them.
Needless to say, videos are one of the most popular marketing tools in social media today. The mix of audio and visual signals are memorable and attention grabbing. Just what you need to launch a successful campaign. Remember to keep your message short and fun, because Instagram videos are characteristically short, up to 30 seconds long.
You won’t, however, need 60 seconds. As a marketer, you have just 10 seconds to grab and engage an audience before they proceed to scroll down or click away. Engagement significantly drops off beyond that. So always keep it short.
2. Take your followers behind the scene
People are more effectively persuaded by depth. And nothing is as appealing as an in-depth disclosure. Take an instance when a popular TV station took a break from its usual programmes and gave you a sleek peek of say a reporter blushing before the camera. The others with him or her must have made fun of that. How did that feel?
A look at what goes on deep inside your business; behind the curtains will help develop brand intimacy with your followers. Let them in by disclosing a photo or video of a behind-the-scenes moment. When you can see deeper, you begin to identify with the inherent weaknesses of the disclosing party. And you naturally become easy in their company. That is the same way brand disclosure will work to your advantage. Such images work great in providing an authentic voice of your brand. Here is an example.
3. Make sure what you are posting on IG casts your brand in the best light
While disclosure can be a great means to earn people’s affection, if not done well, it can work against you. What you disclose has to be something that is carefully selected, and not just anything you capture on camera. Every video or photograph you post on Instagram should link to your brand identity. It should always be something that adds value and presents your business in a positive light.
4. Keep it fun
Posting photos of your business is a great thing to do, but be sure to throw in some fun photos as well. Being ‘all business’ may create distance between you and your followers.
Fun brings your followers closer. It helps them share a lighter moment with you. And in the process, they get closer to your brand.
You don’t have to be a comic to create a light moment on Instagram. Sometimes you could just create a meme about your product or business and that will be sufficient. Just like in this case:
5. Feature your customers
If there is a good photo or video of your customer using your service of product; post it. Suppose you run a professional yoga service then a photo of your client performing it would be great. The same would go for a drink seller- a photo showing a customer, especially a popular person, drinking the product.
6. Keep the profile simple
Always keep your profile and name tied to your brand. Avoid crowding it with abstract and irrelevant details that add no value.
These details create the immediate impression on your business and remember that first impressions matter. In a one on one meeting with someone for the first time, you have just seven seconds to make a good impression. Studies indicate that it takes under two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an impression of your brand or you. This is all the time you have to mess up your chance with or hook your new profile visitor – less than two-tenths of a second.
7. Give customers a chance to interact with your brand by hosting photo contests
Including Instagram photo contests to your social media marketing mix can fast-track your online follower engagement and expand your reach. Look around at every corner of the social networks, you’ll notice that the most popular profiles are those that are consistently updated with content that the audiences are interested in.
This is true for Twitter, Facebook and every other social network, Instagram centrally included. The idea is to keep the followers engaged and get more visibility each time. And nothing does that better on Instagram than photo contests.
8. Create a posting plan
You don’t want your followers’ feed to be saturated with your business posts. This can lead them to click the unfollow button. And believe it or not, once a follower is lost, it will take a miracle to bring them back. Unfortunately, that is what you’ll get from giving them too much of your stuff.
9. Don’t go crazy with filters
Stick to a theme. This will add to establishing your brand identity. If you keep jumping from one filter to another, some followers will find it irritating. Others may also get bored when you keep going farther and farther from what they like. The least such a follower may do is to unfollow you. And that will mean a loss to you.
These are all very simple tips, some of them are even intuitive. They are all you need to create and build a thriving business on Instagram. More ideas may come up, but in any case, these guidelines will always remain central in every Instagram marketing campaign.