Did you know that as of April 2017, Instagram has over 700 million users across the globe? More than half of them (400 million) are active on a daily basis and 8 million of which are brand profiles.
It's no wonder people and brands are flocking to the network because it is such a great platform to engage with followers and advertise your brand through visual content. However, setting yourself apart from other brands on Instagram has become increasingly hard.
Which brings us to these questions: How can you make your content stand out among the millions of photos and videos posted each day? How can you continually produce beautiful photos? Where do you get started?
These are questions we'd love to help you out on in this guide.
The Ultimate Instagram Marketing Playbook For Your Business
Since more and more people want to connect through Instagram, this photo-sharing app has become an important tool for every brand. Research shows that brands enjoy the following benefits and advantages:
- According to Socialbakers, brands have more regular engagement with their followers on Instagram than on Facebook.
- 60% of Instagram users log in daily making it the second most engaged network after Facebook, according to Brandwatch.
- Only 36% percent use Instagram to market their brand, according to Selfstartr, compared to 93% of marketers who use Facebook as their main platform.
One report by Deloitte found that social media has proven its influence on purchasing decisions. So, if you can find the right marketing strategy and produce the right mix of content, people will start soaking it up. They might even buy from you without having to do a sales pitch.
How To Achieve Success On Instagram
It's more than just simply publishing a few beautiful photos on Instagram. You also need to have these elements you see below if you want to generate good results:
- A clear vision and visual style
- A consistent posting schedule
- Audience familiarity
- An effective marketing strategy
When you combine all of these together, you will be able to produce wonderful results for your business. Let's take Starbucks for example. Instagram has become a key marketing channel for them as they amassed over 15 million followers and get about 200k to 300k likes per post. This enables them to reach out to hundreds of thousands of potential customers per day.
So, how were they able to set themselves apart from other brands? We have put together this guide to help you create a killer Instagram and make your own marketing strategy that will work best for you. With a clear vision and results that you can measure, you will bring your Instagram game to the next level.
Creating The Perfect Instagram Marketing Strategy
It’s important to have clear goals in mind whether you are just starting on Instagram or already established but wanting to boost your presence more on the platform.
The reason why setting goals are significant is that it will help you craft your marketing strategy on Instagram and produce content to achieve your targets.
Common brand goals:
- Advertise business services or products
- Build or expand the community
- Increase business awareness
- Exhibit company culture and values
- Reach out to potential customers
It’s best to have at least one or two goals for your Instagram profile. You can either choose from the options above or create goals of your own. To pick goals that match your visions, you should consider the following questions below:
- Are your target audience on Instagram?
- How much time and budget can you commit to Instagram?
- How can Instagram help in achieving your target goals?
- How does Instagram differ from other social media platforms?
- Can you commit to producing regular content for maximum engagement?
Just like any other social network, we want to focus on our engagement rate by producing content regularly. Engagement is what brings in more potential customers. It is an important marketing strategy that every brand should have for their Instagram accounts.
Want to know which members of your target audience are currently on Instagram?
Search and understand the demographics. This will help ensure you are reaching the right people on Instagram. Pew Research released a breakdown of demographics of Instagram users in 2015.
Now that you already have an idea of the demographics and target goals in mind, it's time to focus on growing a presence on Instagram. Let's begin:
Crafting The Ideal Instagram Profile
Your profile picture is the first thing that people will see, so be sure to make it good and recognizable. Why? People recognize brands and people love to connect with brands. Once they see you on the platform, they can instantly recognize your brand with just your profile picture. Many brands typically use their logos or mascot as their picture and will use the same logo across all of their social networks for consistency purposes. Sephora is a good example.
Bio Or Introduction
Right next to your profile photo, your profile description should include a brand slogan and an outline of who you are and what you do to show your followers what your business is about. American Express and Warby Parker are solid examples of strong profile descriptions.
Since Instagram does not allow clickable links to be included in posts, you may add your link in profile description. Here is an example of a website link in The Honest Company's description:
A lot of brands use this opportunity to drive traffic from their Instagram to their website. This can also help in generating traffic to individual pieces of content or campaign-specific landing pages. For example, you can change the link in your description out based on the content you are posting, and in your post itself, tell people to go to your profile for the link. This forces people back to your profile and drives traffic to the specific piece of content you're speaking about - a win-win scenario for you. Here is an example of Mashable using this strategy:
How To Define Your Content Strategy For Instagram
1. Post photos that users want to follow
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, that is why when we post we always remember this power and use it to its full, customer-hooking advantage. Because Instagram is an image-centric platform and people are wired to prefer images than words, we need to make our photos stand out and convert them to sales!
Not only that but the content you post always needs to be well thought out and in line with the interests of your target audience. If you're posting content that interests you, to be blunt, you won't achieve the results you're looking for. Types of content to keep in mind that will resonate well with your target audience include user-generated content, behind the scenes images, educational content, influencer images, and motivational images.
2. Avoid hard selling
While the audience are proven to be strongly influenced by social media when considering a purchase, people are generally annoyed when you post a plain product photo and description after product photo and description. This comes off as a hard sell and will not translate to sales. Instagrammers likes photos that are attention-grabbing, unique, and full of personality. Let your amazing visuals do the talking and revenue will follow.
Keep the 80/20 rule in mind - 80% of the content you post should be content that provides value to your audience and the other 20% can be promotional content. Sticking to this rule will increase the chances of your audience responding and engaging at a higher level to your promotional content.
3. Promote your products with creative, professional photos
Instagrammers share over 95 million photos and videos everyday which can make your post easily overlooked by better-looking ones. For you to get noticed, you need to stand out by either being creative and posting high-resolution photos or using famous people (brand ambassadors or social influencers) to attract an audience.
For example, brands like Oreo use famous celebrities to promote their brand. They also share a variety of creative ways to take a cookie photo. How many ways can you take a picture of the same cookie? It turns out, a lot!
There's no definite rule when it comes to strategies as they will always vary from business to business. What worked for them, might not work for you. What’s important is to focus on creating content that aligns with your visions and your audience. It should work not only for you but your market as well. This starts when you begin to define your content pillars.
Brands That Totally Rock Instagram (and what you can learn from them)
The show's Instagram account provides exclusive clips and pictures of their featured stars. Fans follow their Instagram profile because they get a sneak peek of what’s in store and what goes on behind the cameras. If you want people to follow you, give them a little extra and make them worth their while.
FedEx keeps their 70,000+ followers engaged by posting photos of the planes, trucks, and vans used to deliver their packages. The photos are artistic, professional, and eye-catching - everything you could ask for in visual content being shared on Instagram. They encourage their followers right in their description to add #FedEx to their photos and share many of them, showing FedEx in action in various cities. This is a fantastic way to keep followers engaged and on the lookout for FedEx vehicles to photograph and share on Instagram.
Hostess Snacks are witty to use their products when posting on Instagram. They make the products look fun and exciting which makes it an interesting buy for the audience. They also use vibrant backgrounds to catch the attention of their followers and for their posts to stand out within the Instagram feed.
Put Together Your Instagram Style Guide
Ever seen a themed Instagram profile that looks so cool you just want to know how they're doing it? Two words: style guide. What makes a style guide so important? It ensures there is consistency across all of the content you are producing. So, when it comes to that, you should always think about composition, color palette, fonts, filters, captions, and hashtags (all of the necessary components of a piece of content). Lets dive into these components in more detail:
The arrangement of visual elements refers to composition. Not every marketer is a professional photographer which is why defining a few composition rules is good for them. Here are a few things they should consider:
- Solid background color
- Main focus of the picture set to the Rule of Thirds
- Extra space at top/bottom for text
2. Color Palette
How do you make your Instagram feed look consistent and focused? You do it by picking out a color palette. Choosing one does not necessarily mean you are limited to using only certain colors. Having a color palette can actually help your posts have this consistent, familiar feeling.
Here's a brand, Target Style, that uses color palette as a key part of their aesthetics. They picked vibrant colors to showcase their distinct brand personality.
It's best to choose the same fonts you use throughout your marketing if you are planning to post photos or videos that contain quotes or text overlays on Instagram. This is to keep the consistency across posts and other marketing materials. People can instantly recognize some brands just by its fonts. Take Nike, for example, who is known for using a bold, sans serif font across all of their marketing materials. The font itself is designed for impact and becomes easily associated with the brand.
Filters are amateur photographer’s best friend. These pre-made edits that Instagram provides for its users can make anyone feel and look like a pro. They make it easy for you to create beautiful, professional looking photos with just a few taps. They can also drastically change the look and feel of any content you upload on the platform in a matter of seconds. It’s important to keep your Instagram feed look more consistent by using a few filters (and sticking to them until the end) that you feel that will best represent your brand. You can even edit the order of your filters so the ones you use the most are at the top of the list, this way you don't have to go searching for them every time.
Captions are short texts you see below Instagram posts. Think about them as being both a representation of your brand and your feed. Having a great caption can make a considerable difference for your post as it can increase the number of people who see it. Your goal should be to write captions that include a call-to-action so that you can drive additional engagement (see an example of one below - a question is asked, which drives comments). You have 2,200 characters at your disposal, but after three lines of text, the caption will become truncated. Get creative with captions and see what works best for you - just make sure the overall tone aligns with your brands messaging.
Hashtags give Instagram users the ability to discover new content and brands to follow. It is also the platform’s way to categorize the content users posts on the network. A study performed by TrackMaven found that the optimal number of hashtags to use per post on Instagram to achieve maximum engagement is 9 - engagement dips significantly with less than 9 hashtags and decreases slightly when more than 9 hashtags are used. You can, however, include up to 30 hashtags in your posts on Instagram.
How Often To Post & When To Post To Instagram
Consistency is key when posting to any social media network. You need to continually push out content in order to keep your target audience interested in what you have to say Social marketers always have the key question of "how many times should I post per day?" There is typically no true answer, but with Instagram, you have a bit more leeway.
Research shows the more you post, the more likes you get - in this study by Tailwind, maximum likes were achieved with 7+ posts per week. And unlike with other social media networks, with Instagram, multiple studies have shown there is no negative impact brought about by posting more content. In fact, the Tailwind study showed Instagram accounts that started posting more had a higher engagement rate and grew their follower base quicker. However, that doesn't mean you should force content out. Stick to quality over quantity at all times.
In regards to when you should post to Instagram, CoSchedule compiled data from multiple sources and they found Sunday had very low engagement, while Monday and Thursday were the best days for engagement. The best times to post are 2 AM, 8-9 AM, and 5 PM. If you're posting a video to Instagram, try doing so at 9 PM, as their data shows that comes with 34% more interactions.