What makes someone want to follow a brand?
Companies have been trying to solve this question since the inception of social media. While platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have established a more business-friendly formula, a lot of companies still overlook Instagram as a foundational building block online.
It’s not just younger users who love the platform; HubSpot reported that 60% of adults online use Instagram including 35% of adults in the United States. Plus, Instagram remains strong, reporting 1 billion users worldwide on its tenth anniversary. As audiences are looking to engage with brands through “micro-communities” or smaller groups of niche users sharing a similar interest, Instagram offers the perfect platform to extend a virtual hand.
And there has never been a better time to work on your brand’s Instagram strategy as social media is shaping the way we converse and connect during quarantine. Whether your brand is new to Instagram or still deciding if Instagram is the right platform to promote your content, our team has identified several key areas to focus on to reach your target audience and unlock your brand’s authentic voice.
Social media is ultimately about connecting with your audience to understand them on a deeper level. If your company already has a defined audience persona, or representation of your ideal customer, it can be helpful in determining how to best position your Instagram page.
As we mentioned in a previous post, “Everything starts with research and understanding where your audience lives online. Follow Twitter scuffs, join private LinkedIn groups, start conversations on different threads, ask questions, watch Facebook Live streams from companies in your industry. All of this information will provide you with the insights needed to curate impactful messaging.”
With Instagram, many of these insights can be discovered through hashtags, which are used to categorize content and make it more discoverable. If you look at one of our Instagram posts discussing an upcoming episode of Going Beyond live, we use #ThoughtLeadership, #creativeagency, and #designinspiration. Strategically, each hashtag works as a two-way street. We can find users who have used the same hashtag by simply clicking on ours, and other users interested in one of these hashtags will be brought to our content.
It’s a simple but effective way to start honing in on your Instagram audience.
Your Instagram page should reveal two things:
Let’s start with the former. Your Instagram bio is the first impression a viewer has when visiting your profile. Essentially, the bio allows your brand to share a summary of information that people can expect from your page. It is very important in attracting your ideal audience so make sure it includes a clickable URL directing traffic to specific locations.
You can have the URL link to a page like ours that is populated with some of our recent blog posts. Or you could link to one specific page like the American Marketing Association if you have something to promote.
The next step is defining an aesthetic.
Audiences tend to remember more of what they see than what they read, making Instagram slightly more engaging than competing platforms. This also means that the right visuals and design elements play a crucial role in keeping visitors on your page. Instagram allows brands to be more creative in how they present their marketing assets by emphasizing imagery rather than copy.
As the authors of “The Present and Future Opportunities of Instagram for Marketing,” mentioned, “While some businesses may not think it’s relevant to their particular audience, and they may not feel like their brand has anything to create Stories about, the feature is becoming a key platform within itself.”
Instagram stories allow businesses to showcase their company in more personal, unique ways than audiences may be used to. Some ideas to consider are footage from a virtual event, promoting a company blog post, and to build hype for an upcoming piece of content.
We have several highlights on our company Instagram including “Careers,” “Work,” and “Events” that build our brand presence and display the human side of our agency. Even in virtual settings, you can have employees record videos in their homes or do an employee takeover, where one person controls the page for the day offering a slice of their life to the viewer.
As we mentioned earlier, hashtags are at the heart of a successful Instagram strategy. Instead of targeting hashtags that have millions of posts, we suggest creating several branded hashtags specific to your organization. This means the hashtag is completely unique and will keep your brand at the top of the content list when a user searches for it.
For example, most of our posts include #goingbeyond and #BeyondDefinition.
The hashtags work as a source of interaction between our brand and our users, promoting user-generated content.
Instagram offers an opportunity to connect with an entirely new customer base. But without the proper promotion strategy, how will they find you?
Start by developing a strong internal presence. Let employees know how to engage with your Instgarm profile and maintain an open dialogue for feedback and contributions. Our team utilizes a “socialcontent” Slack channel to keep social conversations organically flowing. Internal engagement, page interactions, and story shares go a long way in developing brand cohesion.
For external awareness on Instagram, we have found that a combination of consistency and transparency work best. Some of the most effective tactics include:
The final step is integrating your Instagram into your brand’s overall marketing strategy. Instagram is a powerful accessory tool to further build brand awareness, identity, and engagement. To successfully nurture relationships with your target audience and drive growth, Instagram needs to collectively work with your other branded assets. Consider creating an in-depth content calendar to track social media graphics and copy across all platforms in one central location.
Remember, Instagram is a great, free tool for your business to take advantage of. Plus, it’s never too late to get started. Use it to build an audience by showing the human side of your business through photos, videos, and stories.