Originally published on LeadUpMarketers.com on March 14, 2016 By Vladimir Nagin
Instagram is currently one of the biggest social media networks and by extension one of the best places to market your brand. Once considered an app for retailers, hotels, and restaurants, the photo-sharing app has quickly transformed into an effective brand-building tool for all types of business, irrespective of size.
Considering that teens rank the app as the single most important social network, above the likes of Facebook and Twitter, failing to establish a strong Instagram presence would severely hamper your chances of engaging these next-generation consumers.
On the other hand, taking Instagram marketing seriously can open a whole world of opportunities for your brand. A recent Forrester study found that Instagram has an engagement rate of 4.21 percent. This is 58 times more than Facebook and at least 120 times higher than Twitter.
Up to that point, it’s fair to assume that you have understood why you need to be on Instagram. Below, we discuss how you can start your Instagram marketing campaign. For reasons of simplicity, we’ve broken down the whole process into five easy steps.
Step 1: Create your Instagram strategy
Whenever you plan for any marketing activity, always start with a strategy. A strategy will help you remain on course, avoiding unnecessary time wastage and careless spending often characterized with lack of planning.
If you haven’t used Instagram before, consider creating a personal profile first and test it for several days before setting up an account for your brand. You can also check what the best businesses on Instagram are doing and borrow from that. If possible, check brands from your industry that are doing well on the platform, including your competitors, and learn from them.
Once you’re familiar with the social network, it’s time to get down to work. Start by setting your goals. Remember to create goals that mirror your overall social media objectives. Some of the goals you could have include, to;
- Increase traffic to your website
- Increase product sales
- Increase brand awareness
Follow the SMART goals rule to ensure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. Thereafter, create a mission statement for each goal.
With that done, you can move on to creating you content strategy. In this stage, you need to plan for;
- How regularly you want to post
- What time of day to post
- Creating a content calendar
- Selecting content themes
Step 2: Build your Instagram brand
Instagram is a platform for sharing visual content. So, as you get started, ensure that you have a plan for getting all those great photos and captivating short videos. These will help you build a cohesive brand identity.
The first step here is to select the visual style you’d like to use. Experts recommend that you choose a set of filters that you will be using most of the time. By selecting the same filters most of the time, you will realize a consistency that becomes easily recognizable by our fans.
You can do the editing right on Instagram or you can utilize leading mobile photo editing software such as VSCOcam and Whitegram. Both work excellently and importing the edited photos is quite simple.
The other thing that you need to carefully consider is the type of photos you want to post. Typically, a shoe retailer would want to post a lot photos with their shoes and a restaurant will want a lot of photos with their most exotic cuisines. But not all brands have this luxury. For example, Hootsuite, a social media management company, may not have one type of photos to share. But the company is still quite successful on Instagram, sharing photos of their offices and their staff with their pets. This is where learning from industry leaders and your competitors might help.
Finally, have a branded hashtag that people can associate with your brand. For Hootsuite, it is #Hootsuitelife, for Lululemon, it is #thesweatlife, and for Poler Stuff, they have #campvibes, and #adventuremobile. Remember that you must NEVER use your brand name as your branded hashtag.
Step 3: Get stated with the app
Start by downloading Instagram to your phone or mobile device. Then, sign up and complete your profile. Since this is a business profile, you need to be very professional.
In the username section, use the brand name that you use for all other social media profiles. In the real name section, enter the real name of you business. You will also be prompted to provide a website url for your company website and finally to provide a short, 150-charater bio. Use the 150 characters to explain what your company is, what you do, and what people can expect from you.
For profile photo, use your company logo, probably the one you use on other social media networks. This will allow people who follow you on Twitter and Facebook to instantly recognize your presence.
Proceed to enable push notifications so that you can be alerted when someone tags your brand in a photo, giving you a chance to interact with that user.
With that covered, the only thing left is to follow people and they will soon follow you back.
Step 4: Posting and engagement
This is the most crucial part of any social media marketing campaign – engagement. Since Instagram is a mobile-first platform, start by ensuring that the images you share render excellently on small screens while maintaining high resolution.
One often overlooked trick with this platform is that you can easily cross post your images directly to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Tumblr.
Also, ensure to tag your photos with the name of your location. This is particularly beneficial if you run a physical store such as a retail shop. Even restaurants and hotels would greatly benefit.
When it comes to engagement, always try to reply to user comments. These people are more likely to engage you with you if you actively reach out to them, commenting on their posts, liking their hashtags, and replying to their comments.
Step 5: Measure
As with all marketing campaigns, tracking your progress is your first step to success. Doing so will allow you to identify what is working and what is not. It is only this way that you can adjust and improve your campaign going forward.
Some of the metrics you can measure include;
- Follower growth
- Best time to post
- The lifespan of your photos, and
- Engagement levels for each photo
You can use IconSquare to measure most of these metrics.
That’s it! You now have a functional Instagram marketing campaign for your business.