Using Instagram to Engage Your Customers

September 20, 2015

As one of the most popular social media tools, Instagram has taken on a new way of allowing its users to communicate with each other that is unlike any other social media platform – through the universal language of picture sharing. According to Statista, in December 2014 Instagram had 300 million monthly active users. With a majority of those users being millennials, Instagram opens up the doors for brands to have a huge amount of reach that helps to speak to the masses of younger generations who avoid being marketed to at all costs.

Instagram provides marketers with a huge opportunity to use social media to drive brand awareness and advertise. It also provides brands with the opportunity to get insight into what their customers and users want to see from the brand based solely on their interactions with the pictures. Although only posting pictures seems like a simple task, there are still specific strategies that brands need to be aware of and use properly. Here are four ways brands can get the most engagement and get their content being shared on Instagram.

  • Hashtags – One of the most important and overlooked features on social media platforms is the hashtag. On Instagram, using a hashtag ensures that your pictures are being seen but it’s important to make sure that it is a popular hashtag before using it. Using the search tool easily allows you to see how many posts have that same hashtag – the higher the number, the better. While you are allotted up to 30 hashtags, make sure to use them sparingly. Using too many will make your picture look like spam. Stick to five or less.

  • Humanizing the content – More than anything, users image1(especially millennials) want to connect with the brands they love. Instagram serves as a great tool to do this through creating and posting pictures that resonate with them. While you need to focus on speaking to their interests, it is extremely important to do it in a genuine manner. Instagram users are smart and can sense the tone of a corporate robot voice in posts. Using this voice will not only result in disengagement but also a disinterest in your brand all together. Humanizing your brand can be easy through creating diverse content that allows users to engage with the photos, make sure to incorporate all types of photos including your products, glimpses into the workplace, and maybe even other products you love.
  • Exclusives – Like any social media platform, Instagram is an especially great tool for giving your followers a sneak peek. It’s easy to share a photo of something in the making or even a short snippet of a behind the scenes look. It gets Instagram users excited and curious about what is about to happen with your brand. Before Target released their Lilly Pulitzer collaboration line, Lilly for Target, they used Instagram as a way to show exclusives on fabrics, prints, and sneak peeks of designs to get their fans excited for the release date. The account gained 96.3k followers in only 15 weeks, and as you might have heard, sold out immediately both in-stores and online.
  • Encouraging advocacy – One popular fad on Instagram is to take a picture of a newly purchased item and to give a shout out to the company or the brand through tagging them. If your brand is getting engagement through being tagged or even hashtagged, engage back with the customer by liking, commenting or even re-posting their picture (with their permission, of course.) One company who does a great job with this is Nordstrom. If you tag them in a photo they are likely to respond, even with something as simple as, “We hope you enjoy this product as much as we do!” This makes users feel as though they are being heard and instills the positive image of your brand in their head.

Although Instagram is a staple in many of our day to day lives, building your brand on Instagram is not something that just happens overnight. There are many other features that are important in building your brand on Instagram such as timing and even what filters users interact with most. But, in order to be successful, brands must make sure that their content is engaging their followers and customers through using hashtags to reach new audiences, humanize their content, offer exclusive first looks, and encourage advocacy through follower involvement.

Instagram is a powerful social media and marketing tool, make sure your brand is making the most of what it has to offer.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Jason Howle

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