While some people flip through the newspaper in the morning, I begin my day by scrolling through my Instagram feed (alongside a cup of strong coffee, of course). I almost feel guilty for admitting that: Instagram is such a staple to my routine that picking up my phone in the morning has become almost automatic. One advantage to that is I really do know Instagram like the back of my hand — what works, what falls flat, and which companies are really rocking their Insta-game.
Instagram is the Holy Grail for all businesses, large and small. Through photos, videos, and captions, Instagram marketing has the potential for great storytelling, valuable for customer growth and forging connections with the community. Here are six simple tips and tricks to improve your business’s Instagram marketing strategy and maximize the success of your digital communication:
Instagram users are known for being extremely responsive — not only do they like to “like” photos, but a large majority of users also like to comment on other people’s posts. So ask questions in your post captions and partake in Instagram engagement! Encouraging readers to join in on the conversation is a great way to show that your company truly values its customers. And when clients see that your business cares about the community, in response they will have more loyalty and interest in your brand.
As part of your Instagram marketing technique, engagement is used to “attract” and “delight” old, current, and future customers. When followers do comment on your posts, remember to take the time to respond. If you’re getting hundreds of comments it’s okay to only reply to a handful, but just the act of responding to a few customers shows that you value their input. Make sure to always direct your response at the specific person (@insertusername) so he or she gets a notification.
Another great way to engage your audience through Instagram is to repost their photos! While making sure that the photos you repost are relevant to your business, you can feature loyal clients by posting their Instagram or other social media photos. It’s always fun for people to see their photos featured and reposted, and it provides a way for that person’s network to find your account. Reposts are also another way to showcase real-life examples of how current clients are enjoying your product.
Source: Pottery Barn
Pottery Barn is one example of great Instagram engagement. They consistently repost customers’ photos and give credit to all the original Instagrammers. Remember, giving credit where it is due is extremely important. Not only is just taking a photo essentially stealing, but also giving credit gains trust for your organization, which is important for your Insta-marketing.
3. Brand Vibe
On Instagram, balance is key. You want to balance a consistent theme while also spicing it up with new content. Organizing your Instagram account is important for your account’s aesthetics. To start the planning process, ask yourself a few basic questions for guidance:
- What is your business’s message and values?
- What do you want people to know specifically about your business?
- What makes your business different from your competitors?
Once you have a general idea of how you want to portray your business on Instagram, commit to your account’s style. Are you going to use filters on your photos, and if so what kinds? Having too much variety in your filters can make your account look disorganized and poorly constructed. Next, figure out how often you will post on your Instagram, whether it is once a day or a few times per week.
Source: Whole Foods
Whole Foods is a great example of a company that keeps it’s content focused on the same overarching theme (healthy living), but also includes a variety of shots that encompass different aspects of what a healthy lifestyle entails.
4. Personal Touch
Allow viewers into your business and let them get to know the people behind the brand. We live in a time where distant, traditional marketing just doesn’t work anymore — what people actually want to see is your company’s values and community. So be personable! Showcase your employees and post some “behind-the-scenes” photos of what your business is up to. Putting a face to your brand builds a sense of family within your organization, a quality that appeals to potential customers.
5. Your Bio
Make sure your Instagram’s bio includes a hyperlink to your business’s website — this allows Instagrammers to easily find out more about your business. Don’t forget to include a short description about your business too so people know who you are! When writing your bio, keep in mind the tone you are setting for your account. As a business, finding the right balance between professionalism and lightheartedness is always a good idea.
Using hashtags is essential to getting your business out there on Instagram. Categorizing thousands of posts each day, hashtags provide ways for people to discover content that lies in their specific interests.
But how many hashtags? And which ones? The rule of thumb is quite simple: use no more than 3-5 hashtags per post. Make sure the hashtags you use are relevant to your company or post and increase your brand recognition. Do some research to find out what hashtags other businesses similar to yours are using. And don’t forget to spice it up! What other hashtags could you use that others haven’t mainstreamed yet? One way you can increase your brand recognition is to use your company’s name as a hashtag.
Starbucks is a great example of one company using hastags to their advantage. Their recently trending hashtag #FrappuccinoHappyHour is relevant to their company and also increases brand recognition by promoting their Frappuccino campaign. Starbucks also throws in some other hashtags that spice things up and add a fun tone to their post — though they also make sure to use no more than 4 hashtags altogether.
For more on how Instagram Marketing can help your small business, take a look at these blog posts:
Want to market your business further but don’t know where in your busy schedule you’d make the time?
Good News: We can do it for you! And buy you coffee every day for the rest of the year! (Tempting, am I right?)