Smart Instagram Marketing Tips to Boost Your Business
These days, it seems like everyone and their grandma has an Instagram account.
Therefore, it makes sense that more and more businesses are establishing presences on the platform. They want to directly reach their target audience on a personal level.
But just because Instagram is a universally used platform, does not mean it is being used correctly.
If you are just interested in sharing baby photos and vacation shots with your family and friends, then you do not need to sweat strategies.
But if you are try to make an impact from a company or branding perspective, there are a few best practices you should follow to en surely your efforts are effective.
Here are six smart tips you can used to achieve Instagram marketing success.
- Watch and learn
Nobody likes a copycat. Even if copying is the highest form of flattery.
However, some of the best inventions ever create were built using someone else’s original idea as a springboard.
When you are looking to cut your teeth on Instagram marketing for your branding or business, it is beneficial to keep an eye on what top performers are doing and used it as inspiration for your own strategy. If it makes sense, of course.
Is a competitor using new hashtags that you think would also apply to your products or services? Does a local business have a certainly style of design that you think would help inspired the images and layout of your profile?
Take what you find and build on it. Edit it and use it as the spark for an entirely novel campaign of your own.
That is the beauty of social media – it is designed to be shared. So take what you can learn from the established pros and apply it to your strategy, with your own unique spin.
- Design with intent
Personal users of Instagram do not need to worry about consistency of design. They just take photos and post them, as they play out in the story of their lives.
Business users of Instagram needed to pay attention to the design of their profiles and plan posts accordingly.
That means choosing a particular style and keeping it consistent throughout all posts. This applies to both images and content.
For instance, say you are the owner of a health food store and regularly post high-quality photos of fresh produced and locally sourced products, with short, poetic captions. You chose this style of layout to emphasize the care you put into product selection and to evoke a clean, pure brand persona.
It would not make sense then, to add live-action shots of kids at a picnic eating healthy lunches or hand-designed inspirational quotes on colourful backgrounds. Shots like this throw off the balance of the rest of your profile. They appear less thoughtfully designed and can come a cross rushed or half-done.
Keeping a consistent style of design emphasizes professionalism and highlights your status as a knowledgeable thought leader in your industry.
- Stay on-brand
This point essentially builds on the last one regarding consistency of design and layout – make surely the style you have chosen stays truly to your brand persona, and the mission and values that are important to your company.
If you own the business in the last example – the health food store – you have chosen to post images and captions that evoke a clean, fresh, purely feel, because that is how you want people to feel when they think of, visit or purchase from your company.
Posting images of strong athletes winning races and being awarded national titles may emphasized healthy bodies and lifestyles. But it just is not the right fit for a local health food boutique that sells vitamins, tea leaves, and organic produce.
You are not Nike or Gatorade, so do not pretend to be. If you think about it conversely, those companies would leave patrons scratching their heads if their accounts featured pictures of organically lemons on a cutting board with basil and poppy seeds. It just does not align with their brand personas.
Know who you are and match your consistent design to your brand persona to reach your targeting audience.
- Don’t leave captions as an afterthought
Yes, Instagram is a visual platform.
But that does not mean captions should be slapped together last minute because “they don’t matter” or “don’t get read”.
Captions are part of maintaining a consistent style that is true to your brand.
A luxury product dealer is going to hurt their prestigious image with misspellings and poor grammar throughout their captions. Just as a healthcare provider is going to lose credibility by posting updates that feature incorrect definitions for medical terms and ailments.
Short, hurried, last-minute captions are going to come across as an afterthought.
Accurate, consistently-styled, witty/informative captions emphasized the time and care you put into your profile. Which, in turn, suggests you put equal care into all things related to your company, services, and customers?
Which would you want to see as a prospective customer?
Captions should be considered as part of your strategy, as an equal part of your Instagram profile.
- Find the hashtag “sweet spot”
The whole point of hashtags, across every social media channel, is to group similar conversations around a particular keyword/topic and to help bring together like-minded users.
Somewhere, this strategic definition got lost in translation.
Hashtag use on Instagram has somehow digressed to a competition to cram as many viable options as possible into each post, hoping to benefit from association across such a wide range of users, topics and conversations.
Or, people decide to conjure up their own original hashtags on the fly. Not to use consistently. Just to do it.
Both of these “strategies” may seem promising at first glance, but both are ultimately ineffective.
Over stuffing posts with hashtags not only comes across as unprofessional on company profiles, but it also detracts from the whole point of social media marketing – reaching your target audience. Using so many hashtags, crossing such a huge span of topics and genres, can dilute the focused of your post and, therefore, overall strategy.
Creating one-time-use hashtags on a whim flies directly in the face of their intent – to bring people and conversations together. If no one has ever used or has no reason to ever use a random hashtag you made up, then there will be no conversations tied to it, no reusing it, and no attributing it to your brand.
Research hashtags that are popular and that speak to your target audience. Use them appropriately, as they fit with your post’s image and content. And don’t overuse them (think 4-6 per post, give or take depending on the topic/style/your brand voice).
- Engage regularly
You can have the best strategy and Instagram profiles for miles around, but if you don’t engage, you miss out on one of the best things about social media marketing – talking directly to your customer.
Engage with your followers and other accounts on Instagram helping tie your brand voice to your brand persona.
It shows that you are actively in-tune with current trends and updates within your niche and that you care enough about your customers’ (and potential customers’) wants/needs/opinions to join the conversation.
Actively monitor your Instagram account. Aim to respond to questions and comments within 24-hours, when possible. Follow and engage with other accounts that are talking about similar topics and that represent your brand’s values and persona.
Staying actively on Instagram increases your relevancy as a brand among your target audience and wider audiences alike.