Instagram Power: Build Your Brand and Reach More Customers with the Power of Pictures[/easyazon_block]
Using Instagram for Business to Expand Your Marketing
With Facebook and Twitter losing some of their original luster, many businesses are now expanding their social media marketing to visual platforms like Instagram for Business. Instagram, a photo and video-sharing site that launched in 2010, now has over 200 million active monthly users, and the top 50 brands on the site have an average of 1.5 million followers. If you’re looking for greater exposure, especially with a younger audience, Instagram for businesses can be a powerful marketing tool.
So how do you kick-start your businesses marketing efforts on Instagram if you’ve never used the platform before? Try these 12 tips to attract and engage with more followers.
Connect Your Other Social Networks
If you’re thinking about using Instagram for marketing, chances are you’re already using sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for your business. Connect Instagram to your other social media sites so that you can share images on all these platforms, reaching a wider audience and showing fans that you’re now on Instagram.
Keep and Eye on Your “Feed Speed.”
The volume of content shared and varying numbers of followers on different social media platforms means that no two social media sites are going to have the exact same “feed speed.” On Facebook, for example, you might share brand updates three times a day in an attempt to be visible on your fans’ News Feeds. Instagram’s feed speed is slower in general, so posting three or more times a day may hog up your followers’ feeds and quickly become annoying. Pay attention to how often similar brands are posting to get a sense of how often you should post.
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Using Contests on Instagram to Attract Customers
One of the best ways to leverage Instagram for your business is to promote follower engagement by running contests where people can share their best photos, images, or videos related to your products. Highlight the winners on your Instagram and Facebook accounts, and consider offering a prize like free merchandise or tickets to an upcoming industry-relevant event.
Reward Your Instagram Followers
Show your appreciation for your followers by offering things like promo codes, special discounts, and sneak peeks. This special treatment will encourage current followers to stick around and attract more followers who want to get good deals.
Follow Back Your Followers
Remember, social media is a two-way street, and you’ll get more out of it if you actively engage with your followers rather than just waiting for everyone to come to you. If your savvy social media marketing has already drawn over a million followers to your Instagram feed, you may not be able to follow everyone, but you should look for active users and trendsetters to follow. You should also respond to any follower questions or comments promptly to show that you care.
Using Business or Brand Specific Hashtags on Instagram
Like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram uses hashtags to make it easier for users to search for specific words or phrases. If you’re already using brand-specific hashtags on your other social media platforms, implement them on Instagram as well.
Contest and Event Specific Hashtags
Whenever you run an Instagram contest, make sure you have a unique tag that followers can use with their entry. And if you’re going to have a presence at a big industry event, like South by Southwest, use the event hashtag so that other attendees, event organizers, and even people who couldn’t make it to the event can follow what’s going on.
Use General Hashtags
Not every hashtag needs to be brand or event-specific. Sometimes, a general tag related to your product or industry is a good way to attract new followers. Research trending hashtags on Instagram to make a bigger impact (but make sure it makes sense to use popular hashtags in the context of your images).
15 Second Viral Videos on Instagram
Last year, Instagram added the option to upload 15 second videos in order to compete with Vine. 15 seconds may not seem like a lot, but get creative and see how you can use that time to entertain and inform followers. You might show people using your product in an innovative way, or have a spokesperson offer a quick helpful tip to make people’s lives easier.
Let Customers Go “Behind The Scenes” at Your Business
Your followers don’t just want to see polished images of your products. Give your brand a more human face by posting behind the scenes photos of things like your employees hard at work (or taking a break to goof off, if appropriate) or fans meeting up with you at industry events.
Use Engaging Photos to Target a Lifestyle
This is something that the energy drink brand Red Bull has done particularly well. They often show off pictures of people participating in extreme sports to link their beverages to an “extreme” lifestyle that many of their followers may enjoy or aspire to. Think about your brand’s demographics and use what you know to show how your products fit with a certain lifestyle.
Tell a Visual Story About Your Business
You could do this literally, by sharing a series of pictures of say, your product in different stages of the manufacturing process, or you could look for a common theme to tie many of your images together. Does your brand cater to families? Maybe you can share photos of diverse families enjoying your products. Do you sell pet supplies? Maybe you could share a whole series of “dogs at work” photos. Think of a way to establish a consistent story for your brand.
While Instagram for business has its own unique characteristics and quirks, the general rules that apply to other social media sites are still applicable with this visual site: become an active member of the community and share quality content rather than just advertisements in order to attract as many organic followers as possible.
For more information on telling a visual story about your business check out our posts on marketing with infographics.