Instagram, like Pinterest, is relatively new to the social media world, but it’s proven itself to be a great resource for marketers. Instagram even surpassed Twitter in the number of active users, despite the fact that Twitter is significantly older.
Considering Instagram is owned by Facebook, this probably won’t come as much as a surprise. Since it’s also owned by Facebook, Instagram is powerful not only on it’s own, but when used in conjunction with Facebook, too.
That being said, this post focuses solely how to market your brand on Instagram, which is a different entity than marketing purely on Facebook. For beginners and experts alike, these 7 tips to build and market your brand on Instagram can help your followers and momentum take off.
1. Make Good Use of the Hashtag
While hashtag usage hasn’t really taken off on Facebook (and note: hashtags should be used sparingly at the most on Facebook), it’s a major component of Instagram for both marketers and casual users.
Hashtags on Instagram, like on Twitter, can be not only catchy, but also crucial to helping your images be in front of potential followers interested in what you’re discussing. It’s a great way to jump in on a hot topic or connect with new members of your target audience. And just like on Twitter, a catchy or clever hashtag can draw attention fast.
Branding your business with its own unique hashtag takes this one step further, encouraging users to post their own images and generating conversations centered around your brand and putting it in the focus of their followers, too. It’s actually possible, when done well and with enough momentum, to build an entire community around a single unique hashtag. Talk about building a brand, that’s an efficient way to do it; slap a hashtag on it to tell your users what your brand is all about.
2. Be Part of Your Community
Even if your business is relatively new and doesn’t have a lot of extra funds to donate, small acts of giving back to your community can make a huge difference. Whether it’s time, money, or effort, showing that you’re part of your community and that you care about it is a great strategy to market your brand on Instagram.
An example of how valuable this is: I chose my hair salon because I saw how involved with the community they were (though I admittedly saw this on Facebook, since Instagram wasn’t around then). They raise money through used-purse actions for breast cancer, for example, and attend multiple city and community events. That mattered to me.
A lot of businesses take part in community events or raise money for charities, even if they are just a drop-off point for charities (like toys for tots or Thanksgiving food drives). Snap a picture of your involvement and post it to your Instagram; your followers will take notice.
3. Take Followers Behind the Scenes
Instagram is one of the more casual social media platforms, making it the perfect place to present behind the scenes pictures of what’s really going on in your business.
Taking followers behind the scenes through your images can increase their trust in your brand, give them an idea about exactly what your brand is, and increase their overall loyalty to your brand. It helps followers feel like they know you, and that’s gold.
Add a truly personal touch to your marketing on Instagram, showing followers what really makes your brand you.
4. Be Unique
Easier said than done, right?
I once saw an Instagram account that launched a brand to success. In this instance, a jeweler marketed her business by taking pictures of her dogs wearing her jewelry (I wish I could find this particular account again, because it was both smart and adorable). Aside from the fact that the jewelry was beautiful, clever and unique marketing made her business stand out while building her brand. This is a great example of why being unique matters.
Thirteen year olds with an iphone have mastered the ability to create and edit high quality photos (and are admittedly much better at it than I am personally); attractive, high quality photos aren’t all that you need anymore, because if that’s all you’ve got, it just won’t cut it. You need images that are also eye catching and unique to stand out.
Think a dog wearing jewelry and you’re off to a good start.
5. Follow Your Followers
This is a really simple tip that doesn’t require a lot of explanation.
People like feeling like they matter, and they’ll pay attention to a brand that pays attention to them.
When someone follows you, follow them back if you have the ability to (some users are private, but it never hurts to request to follow them). That being said, avoid “hearting” their really personal pictures unless you have a very personal connection with them; heart their pictures if it makes sense given the context of your relationship with them.
Even if you don’t follow them directly, follow their actions as much as possible. If they use your brand’s hashtag, consider sharing it, either on Facebook or Instagram. Show that you appreciate the engagement, and respond to comments on your own images.
Follow your followers, even if you can only follow some of their actions. It will pay off when you’re beginning to build and market your brand on Instagram.
6. Link To Your Site Off-Instagram
Instagram is great for building your brand, but part of marketing your brand is getting them off Instagram and to your actual business, too. On your Instagram profile, you should have a link to your main site and/or your Facebook in your profile.
In the descriptions of each image, there’s plenty of room for a description, a hashtag, and a call to action that sends them off Instagram to a specific page. You can aim to send them to a product page, to your Facebook, to your main website, to a blog post, anything. If you have a call to action, you can encourage they visit another site.
Not every post has to have a call to action, but when applicable, you should take advantage of the chance to stick a call to action in your description to send users off Instagram and potentially even get some conversions in the process.
7. Don’t Spam Your Followers
Facebook has come up with advanced algorithms to make sure that only a small percentage of your posts reach your target audience. As frustrating as this can be for businesses and Page Admins trying to market this way, in some ways it’s good—it keeps our content, as marketers, from spamming users so much they stop following us entirely.
Instagram does not have these advanced algorithms in place (at least not yet; they also get pictures individually posted, as there are no albums. Keep this in mind, making sure to space out your pictures, and to not completely overwhelm your follower’s feeds, especially considering that Instagram’s feed tends to be slower than the feeds like Twitter’s and Facebook’s.
Instagram is a big force in the social media marketing world, and it offers the chance for your brand to be a lot more casual and “transparent” with users. It also gives you the opportunity to present users with great visuals and imagery that will help stay in the front of their memory, especially considering no pesky algorithms will filter your content out.
Instagram, perhaps more than even any other social media platform, should keep the focus on who your business is behind closed doors and what it represents, much more than being about what your product is.
Do you have an Instagram account for your business yet? What marketing strategies have you found useful? Have you seen increases on Facebook thanks to Instagram? Leave a comment and let us know!