Instagram marketing has been around for a while but with the social platform introducing new functionalities, the potential for businesses has been increasing steadily. On Instagram, both traditional and digital companies have the opportunity to reach a community of over 1 billion monthly active users. Daily active users surpass 500 million and engagement rates with brands tend to be higher than on both Facebook and Twitter.
Marketing products on Instagram requires a different kind of strategy than other platforms, especially for businesses that want to build a loyal fan base over time. Visual content – ranging from still images to short videos – is at the heart of this form of social communication. Engagement is driven by storytelling and the building of an emotional connection with the audience.
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Whether you own an e-commerce store or you are looking at new ways to make your brand known to the world, Instagram offers the tools to create a community around your business and drive sales. In this article, we will look into the advantages of marketing your products via Instagram and the best strategy to meaningfully engage with your audience.
Why is Instagram a great tool for marketing? Because people love stories
Instagram is a unique social media platform for three main reasons: it’s completely mobile, it prioritizes visual content and the majority of its content is free of links. These three elements, together with the clean interface, contribute to a user experience that has personal narratives and creativity at its core, rewarding the type of content that is original, entertaining and interesting for the users.
While Facebook’s feed has become cluttered with family photos, fake news, and marketing gurus advertising their courses, Instagram allows for a more curated visual experience. Users can identify with content creators thanks to immersive vertical videos and profiles that focus on a particular niche or mood which places content into a wider context.
In short, Instagram marketing is all about telling a story with your photos. High-quality visuals can help brands stand out, but developing a narrative that unites all the images and videos that are posted is what will make interested users come back and ask for more. Captivating your audience through images, videos, and stories means turning advertising into a narration that users can be inspired by and identify with. Here are 7 strategies to help you connect with your audience and build a solid online presence through Instagram.
Instagram: 7 useful strategies for a positive impact and an emotional response
When marketing their products on Instagram, many companies make a very serious mistake: they buy followers from dodgy sites to show that their brand has a large following, even when this is not true in reality. “Vanity metrics” are known to have little impact on sales, especially if followers are bought at low prices from countries that have little to do with the actual business. A solid Instagram marketing strategy should not be built on numbers alone – followers and frequency of posts are important, but only if the connection with the audience is real.
1. Define your target audience
Before you begin posting on Instagram, it’s important to know who you want to speak to. Acquiring qualified followers means knowing your niche market and your ideal customer inside out. Learning about your target audience’s interests, preferences, behavior, geographic location, and many other characteristics is the initial step in planning an Instagram marketing strategy.
In order to craft engaging content, you should first carefully study industry hashtags and understand not only what is shown in highly engaging posts, but also what style and trends are more relevant to your audience.
2. Monitor your competitors
Once you’ve defined your target audience, you should compile a list of competitors and monitor how they behave on the platform. Start following them, check their editorial strategy, and understand what content is most interesting for your niche market, before moving forward with your own content calendar.
Sites like Not Just Analytics can provide you with information on competitors’ engagement rates, and growth processes over the years. It will also give you an overview of posts that drive the most likes and comments for them.
3. Think of your profile page as a home page
Pay close attention to what people see when they land on your profile page. Instagram is increasingly becoming a closed environment, adding more functionalities to have people spend more time within the app. This means that your profile page can function as a powerful landing page where you can present yourself and show what your business is all about.
An optimized profile page should contain an attractive description, which can either be a pitch, a funny descriptor, or a tagline, and a recognizable profile image. Another important element is the link: since Instagram does not allow for links to be added in posts, the link in your profile page should be carefully selected. Companies usually link to their home page, but this section of your profile can be used more creatively, to send users to specific landing pages that rotate depending on special events.
Another important section is that of the Instagram highlights: by collecting stories within highlights before the gallery, you have an opportunity to present your brand in different ways. The highlights can be used as pages in a website: to showcase products or services, to create an “about us” section, or to collect press mentions.
4. Invest in quality content
Today it is possible to post a variety of different types of content on Instagram: images, carousels, stories, IGTV videos, reels, guides, and even live sessions. With so many outlets available, each with its own format, it can be difficult to decide where to start. Filling your profile, however, should follow another decision. What style do you want to communicate? A designer might be helpful here in determining what color palette, fonts, images, or graphics you want to include in your feed.
Consistency is key: profiles that have a recognizable style tend to drive more engagement. As a rule of thumb; permanent content should be of the highest quality, meaning that images, IGTV videos, and reels should be produced with the idea that they will stay on your profile for a long time and will become accessible resources for anyone who finds your brand’s profile. Stories – which disappear after 24 hours – and live videos can be more spontaneous and even provide context for the permanent content. In fact, footage that is not perfect, shot on a handheld smartphone, might help people identify with the brand and relate to the people behind it.
Videos are becoming increasingly central on Instagram and research shows that the ability to convey a message in a 15-second clip is more likely to be rewarded than any other type of content.
5. Find the right influencers
Posting your own content might not be enough to grow organically. Once your profile is up and running you might look to sponsor an influencer in your niche to promote your product or services.
Collaborating with influencers gives greater visibility to brands, and even a single piece of content placed in the right hands can help foster a community. Choosing the right influencer to promote your company’s content, however, is not an easy step. The best influencers are those who have real followers and who are genuinely interested in promoting content that is an expression of their experience. In other words, influencers have a strong appeal to followers in their niche market if the products they promote are relevant to it.
6. Increase engagement time
User engagement is important to make sure the algorithm shows your content to as many followers as possible. Contrary to what many think, just because a person follows your profile doesn’t mean that they will see what you post. Instagram is more likely to show your content to your followers if the engagement rate is high.
Engagement time can be increased by starting conversations and getting people personally involved in the story you are trying to tell. Creating a community is essential for connections that go beyond an occasional like. Using quizzes or open ended questions in Instagram stories is an effective way to start a discussion with your followers and extend their engagement time.
But that’s not enough – you have to be the first to invest time towards your community. Be active and encourage users to engage in conversation, respond to their comments, invite them to contact you with a direct message. Social media is, first and foremost, a channel of exchange between people. If the human side is missing, it can become another advertising medium that gets you results only when you invest. Being active, however, allows you to create an audience that can easily be transformed into a loyal customer base.
7. Understand your Insights
As with your website, everything on Instagram can be tracked to understand what works and what doesn’t. Whether you’re publishing to build a following organically or you choose to pay for advertising campaigns, you can check on your account’s performance to optimize your Instagram marketing strategy.
Instagram’s metrics aren’t as accurate as Facebook’s, but they still provide you with a wealth of data that can help you understand what type of content works best to promote your brand. Through the Insights you can monitor not only likes and comments but also how many users have saved your posts (an important indicator for Instagram’s algorithm), how many image views convert into profile visits, and the kinds of actions users take on your profile, such as looking for directions or clicking on your link.
There is also a wide range of third-party platforms on the market – Buffer, Hootsuite, and Later are some of the best known ones – that allow you to analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns on Instagram, with different services and costs.
Instagram marketing: build a community around your brand
Instagram is a social platform where you can create a loyal following around your products by showing the values your brand represents. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but most importantly, to speak to your audience: creating a community takes some time, but in the long run it will be worth every effort.
Do you need help with your Instagram marketing strategy? Get in touch to find out more about our social media management services.