Instagram has seen incredible growth since it was acquired by Facebook in 2012 — in fact it’s grown by 400 percent! That’s why for marketers, it can be an extremely helpful tool.
First, Instagram is easy to use, which is a big plus. Also, it’s not (yet) as ad-driven as Facebook, making it a friendlier option for those who prefer to spend marketing funds elsewhere. Since Instagram is visual, capturing someone’s attention on Instagram is much easier than on Facebook. Plus, the meaty part of this, is that it drives 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more than Twitter. That’s significant to anyone who likes numbers!
Creative Instagram strategies
By its very nature, Instagram leaves lots of room for creativity. But, if you’re planning to use the network as a marketing channel, it’s best to put some strategy in place before leaping into the fray. Beyond the obvious items like having a solid bio with your URL, a great profile photo and connecting your account to Facebook, I’ve pulled together several ideas worth considering.
- Choose a theme for your posts — That is, develop a plan for what kinds of things you’ll post. By implementing this type of strategy, you’ll have a more targeted account rather than one that’s all over the place. Stick with your theme, which may be based around your core message, or related to a topic that you’re promoting. It also might have a color. Whatever you choose, let your followers (and potential followers) know right up front what they can expect.
- Your Instagram bio — While it’s obvious that you have to have one, it’s a good idea to steer clear of your standard out-of-the-box bio. Choose messaging that sets yourself up as an expert and drives attention to whatever you’re promoting, and that ultimately can help drive traffic back to your site.
- Your website — Make sure your site is optimized for mobile browsing since the large majority of Instagram users are on mobile devices. And, your URL should be in your bio, but it should also appear on every post, both as a watermark and either in the description or comments!
- Simple, meaningful images — The average person gets distracted in 8 seconds, so it’s important to grab your audience quickly with clear, meaningful images that don’t require a lot of thought. They should be interesting, inviting and simple. Since most users are mobile, there are some screen limitations, so text-heavy images are not ideal.
- Posting frequency — The more you post, the faster you’ll grow. Some of the biggest accounts post 4 to 10 times every day. That may be out of reach for you, but, at minimum aim for once a day.
- Hashtags — While hashtags are recommended on Twitter, they’re practically a hard requirement of Instagram. And the more the better. 11 hashtags per post seems to be the magic number, although you can have as many as 30! And not all of them have to be included in the photo description, but work well in the comments section too!
- @Mentions — Tagging another Instagram user who is authentically connected to your post is the perfect way to use this feature. (Simply use @ + their username to tag them in your post.) Don’t use this to tag random people or Instagram will flag and/or deactivate your account, but if the person is truly connected, it’s a great feature!
- Location sharing — Just like @mentions, turning on your location is a great way to boost engagement.
- Great photos — Having great photos is so integral to Instagram that it’s almost an afterthought to mention. Your own photos may work for some components, but if you’re sticking with a theme, consider using stock images, whether from a paid subscription-based site or royalty-free Creative Commons Zero licensed images — like those from Librestock.com.
- Customized images — After you’ve found images that work for you, you’ll want to customize them with something to make the image your own. Perhaps a product title, a quote from someone famous, a simple product review or even a teaser/promo for an announcement. Regardless of how you customize it, be sure to include your logo and/or URL so that, should your image find its way out of Instagram and into the wilds of the internet, your fans can find you easily.
Instagram is a great place to be for anyone looking to market anything. It’s a spectacular tool for reaching new audiences and new demographics. Plus, there is room for so much creative thinking, that it’s almost certainly worth your while to give Instagram a shot. With a little strategy and some great photos, you’ll see what it can do to boost your marketing efforts.