Instagram is a powerful tool for establishing a visual brand identity.
It enables businesses to improve engagement and increase sales by showcasing their products in creative ways and implementing interactive hashtag campaigns. With more than 300 million active users, it is now the most popular photo-sharing social media platform, surpassing Pinterest by more than 250 million. If you haven’t tried Instagram marketing yet, it’s time to get started.
Create a stunning Instagram profile and story
Instagram profiles are minimal. They are limited to 150 characters and are not indexed by search engines. Your story is really told via the use of photos, so make sure you use high-resolution images to grab attention and create engagement. Whether they feature your customers, products, or personality, they need to deliver a clear cohesive message that will resonate with your target audience.
- Decide on a visual theme to represent your brand
- Use your products to tell a story that will interest your audience
- Ensure that your photos provide value to your followers
Here are the latest Instagram profile image dimensions:
Find your audience by researching and listening
Hashtags are the lifeblood of the Instagram community. Hopefully you’re already aware of the hashtags your customers are using. It’s vital to tap into that power to learn how your audience is talking about your products and industry, as well as how your competitors are leveraging the platform for success.
You can search relevant hashtags and follow users who are already engaging with your brand and products, have a large following, and are engaging regularly. Other ways to find followers include using “Find Friends > Suggested Users” and employing Instagram’s messaging system, Instagram Direct.
Make sure you have 5-10 images in your Instagram stream before you begin following people.
Engage and add value to your community
A Forrester study dubbed Instagram the “king of social engagement” and found that the platform blows others away in this area. Their findings indicated that top brands’ Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%. That means Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
Starting conversations with consumers is one of the most valuable aspects of social media marketing, and the previously mentioned Instagram Direct offers that functionality out of the box. Use it to:
- Enable your audience to send customer service questions and product inquiries and receive a visual response from you
- Send customers “thank you” pictures when they make purchases
- Send coupons, press releases, surveys, etc. to your top followers
Be sure to respect your users’ privacy and use these tactics in moderation so you don’t come across as a spammer.
Create your content
To successfully engage on Instagram, you need to contribute.
- Use high-resolution images and a third-party editing app to enhance your images before you upload them to Instagram
- Use a mix of Instagram filters. No filter — i.e. “Normal” — is the most popular filter on Instagram, but “Mayfair” elicits the most interactions.
- The most engagement comes from photos that feature the product in only 2/3 of the picture
Make sure you don’t update too often with redundant pictures. Your goal should be 2-3 new photos per week. You can increase your cadence as you grow your followers.
Tips for raising the profile of your product photos:
- Share your customers’ photos
- Make it easy to purchase your products by including a link to the product page
- Mobile coupon usage continues to climb as the world becomes more digital, so it’s important to provide offers and discounts along with a picture of your product and a reason that people should buy it.
Instagram videos are very popular with brands because they enable more creative storytelling and can generate exponentially more inbound links than written posts. They can be 3-15 seconds long and edited with built-in tools that enable you to apply unique filters. You can also choose your own thumbnail image.
Engage like crazy
Create off-page engagement by liking and commenting on popular photos. @mention both the creator and other commenters.
Engage people on your page by:
- Adding questions in your captions that encourage comments
- Replying to all comments and @mentioning the commenter in your photo
- Running hashtag campaigns through your followers and featuring them in your photos
When to post on Instagram
Posts on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday create the most engagement. Make sure to use a mix of:
- Brand-specific hashtags
- Industry-specific hashtags
- Trending hashtags, e.g. #throwbackthursday
- Use Populagram to find popular hashtags, filters, and people
- Use Websta to find the best hashtags for your posts and more
Leverage your other social networks
One of the best features of Instagram is that it is connected to Facebook, which makes it easy to share content across all of your social media platforms. If your focus on Instagram is product photos, you can embed your stream on your website for maximum exposure.
Reward your Instagram followers
Turn your engagement into brand loyalty by rewarding your most active followers and brand ambassadors.
- Post “first looks” and “previews” of new products and upcoming events
- Offer coupons and contests to incentivize engagement and brand promotion