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January 28, 2019
Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. No doubt you, like everyone else in the modern world, has an account on at least two of the big three Behemoths of Social. And when businesses start social media marketing, these platforms are always the first three most start with because you (and everyone else) are already comfortable with them. Now, brands and businesses are jumping onto the Instagram trend. But before you leap onto that beautiful bandwagon, all willy-nilly, have you ever asked yourself why?
The wrong thinking is that the second level of social media marketing is all about spreading your efforts to the newer, hotter, younger platforms full of teens, young adults, and hip professionals. Of course, we all want to reach them, but it’s paramount to choose each social media platform carefully depending on your brand, marketing style, and your own audience. That’s to say, don’t do it without a strategy.
Instagram is undeniably the leader in visual storytelling and works with slightly different rules. If your marketing style includes vivid images and visual stories to tell, Instagram is The Place To Be.
Whether you’re just getting started or looking to hone your current Instagram marketing, we’ve put together ten effective tactics that can guide you to better results and a satisfactory ROI for your content.
Instagram focuses on the power of exposure and reaching out to people when they are online. There are several times of day that vary depending on the location and lifestyle of your target audience that will get you the most views. This equals positive interactions, likes and followers. Best practices guides and recent studies suggest posting once a day minimum on Instagram but many can post more than ten times a day without seeing a decrease in engagement.
Especially if you have a deep well of content to share, the more you post directly relates to your number of likes and follows. When the sky’s the limit, your best Instagram marketing strategy is to set a pace that works for your content inflow. Calculate how quickly you get or create Instagram-ready content and how often you’re willing and able to post.
You’ve probably heard about Instagram Stories. If not, they’re exactly like Snapchat Stories. They are special collections of content that disappear after 24 hours. Here’s a great summary of how stories work. Story posts are a great way to boost your Instagram marketing because they’re more powerful and appear at the top of follower feeds when you post something new. They are highlighted for followers, appear on hashtag and location feeds, and in searches. And the best part is that you can build multiple stories at once. By targeting story collections and hiding stories from audience members who are outside the targeting, you can customize who sees the content you highlight.
Because as we all know, not every customer wants the same thing. Some want daily coupon codes, some want your funny social video updates, and some only want thought-leadership industry content. Multiple stories allow you to curate what you streamline to your followers. Build a unique story for each of your customer personas and create an appealing experience for each of them. This is a great way to ensure that you don’t accidentally ‘spam’ one person with content targeted for somebody else.
Stories are not only great for targeted marketing, they can also increase the visibility of any content. Your general announcements, public events, and any Instagram marketing campaign can have its own story or you can create a central-column story for most of your brand content.
Every time something happens, post it to the correct story or a new story and curate who will see it. Use a combination of topic and location hashtags to boost visibility across the platform and then get ready to repeat the process. Instagram rewards a high level of activity and highlighting your best content through curated stories.
When most people hear about hashtags they think Twitter, but this popular feature has popped up in many different platforms since the ubiquitous blue bird got everyone used to it. Instagram hashtags can spread your content far and wide if you know how to target them. Look for ways to cleverly connect your content to hot hashtag topics in a way that will make people laugh and want to share. Just don’t overreach and make sure you understand the hashtags you’re using by researching them first. Use different levels of of competitiveness in your hashtags. If one already has a buzillion mentions, yours is less likely to be found. You want to use those for reach, but then add hashtags with fewer mentions and then, just a handful to stand out in the crowd. Avoid hashtags that are already aligned with another brand or being used in a way you wouldn’t agree with. The trick is not using too many hashtags in an attempt to be seen. Hashtag soup at the end of a post is not ideal but is sometimes effective.
You should also think carefully about hashtags when you create them. Original hashtags are the best way to get your audience involved with the Instagram marketing campaign and to generate a great deal of user-created content. However, what your hashtag is will matter. Catchy, concise, and original are your primary goals. You want to create hashtags that stick in the mind and are easy to type. Spread the word with vivid visuals that will come to mind when people get involved with and share through your hashtag.
Instagram and its online community are in the moment and old concepts have no place in the fast-paced stream of content. The most powerful posts have been those that are interesting and current, that easily relate to issues that are going on or are being discussed today. In many cases, new viewers will come from people who are looking for content related to their current interests, which is why they perform searches and check out content from new accounts.
Your best bet for optimizing Instagram results is to post on the latest events and trends. On the flip-side of this, it’s also important to stay away from ‘annoying’ or too-obvious conversation starters like current politics and other divisive issues. The populace is very sensitive to click-bait tactics that are empty attempts to stir the pot or make a brand seem current when they’re not.
Along the same lines, be very careful about how ‘hip’ your brand tries to be on Instagram. This is a platform where a little humor can go a very long way, but being false can annoy your audience very quickly. Don’t try to be too “edgy”. This largely works only for real people accounts and not for marketers trying to connect. Studies have found that the public doesn’t like content that comes across as complaining or even chatspeak from corporate sources.
While it may be tempting to be cool, only do so honestly. The more natural your campaign is to the personalities involved, the better it will come across. Keep in mind the style of the brand and, in general, keep it positive.
Instagram marketing gets the best results when you have a lot of people actively online to see your shared content and story updates. This means the timing of your posts can matter a great deal, but many different reliable sources have come up with different results with each attempt to pin down the ideal time of day to post. The fact of the matter is that it’s more about your audience’s lifestyle patterns than a magical time of day. That said, you can get a lot of extra views by putting out your best content during hot times of the day.
How your target audience lives their lives will determine when they check in on their Instagram feeds, not to mention your time zone and theirs. For this reason, there’s no perfect time to post. But to optimize your results, consider these general times:
While Google Maps is the predominant program, people can and do use Instagram to search for local businesses and things to do. This makes location stickers an incredibly important part of your marketing campaign for all but the most digital companies. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar venue you’d like to invite people to visit or local events ready for enthusiastic customers, using a location tag can help you connect with people looking for somewhere to go.
Of course, you don’t have to limit your location sticker usage just to bring people to you. Location stickers can also be used to celebrate local business. For people who care about supporting the community or even other businesses looking to build a business network, location stickers used in combination with story content boost your post to the top of location-based searches.
And, don’t forget you can also add new locations to Instagram for other people to connect to. If your venue isn’t available as a location sticker, put it on the Instagram map by making a new location.
One of the biggest challenges of Instagram marketing is fueling the constant need to post new content. Posting multiple times a day is a great way to get many eyes on your content, but keeping your images, videos, and messages fresh can be difficult.
The solution to this is also something that the Instagram audience is very enthusiastic about: user-generated content. Encouraging users to share pictures of themselves, their products, and their adventures is a great way to get a lot of free, interesting activity fodder. The best way to do this is to create a new hashtag and invite your audience to share something special or fun about themselves in the form of an Instagram post with your hashtag. Then, after asking permission through DM or email, you can re-post their picture while thanking them. Instagram users love to see each other’s original content and are more likely to engage themselves when they see that you post user-generated content.
Finally, look for fun ways to host contests and other big group activities. Not only are these great for inspiring a lot of user-generated content, but they also give you a great reason to create a long series of story-worthy news. Reminding people about the contest, encouraging them to create entries, and building suspense for the final decision/drawing are all great ways to generate buzz on your Instagram account.
Marketing through Instagram is a fast-paced experience, and one that you can master with practice and a good content-machine. Don’t be shy to reuse your assets from one platform to another (while optimizing for the platform) and look for ways to automate the content format changes between platforms. For more tips on Instagram marketing and other social media campaigns, contact us today!
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