While Facebook and Twitter are the traditional social media choices for businesses, Instagram’s unique visual storytelling can provide an opportunity to break the marketing mold.
Who Uses Instagram?
With over 200 million active users, Instagram’s large audience makes it a tempting platform for branding and outreach – if you know how to utilize it.
Over 90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35, and over half of America’s 2014 graduating class have their own accounts. If you own a company catering to the 18 – 34 age bracket, Instagram may be your platform.
Research shows this target market does not want the hard sell. They want to be engaged. Instagram is ideal for this audience for four reasons:
- Easy mobile access for on-the-go viewing.
- Storytelling, slice-of-life perspective builds your brand without pushing sales.
- Fun, highly visual stimulation provides unique ways to promote contests and connectivity.
- Instagram is perceived as an edgy, modern, and creative way to market.
Basics for Optimizing Your Instagram Profile
- Because it’s mobile-centric, Instagram works best if you have a mobile-friendly website. Be sure to add your URL to your profile.
- Use your company logo as a profile picture to keep your brand recognizable.
- Connect with the people who already follow your brand on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll get an alert when a follower from another network joins Instagram.
- Add URLs to some Instagram uploads. They aren’t clickable links, but interested followers may go read your content.
- In your description, describe follower benefits. Will followers get insider perspectives? Delicious food images and recipes? An inspiring story? Fashion tips? Contests?
- When you post from your own location, be sure to geo-tag your address, which allows followers to use Google Maps to come right to you– ideal for a small business with a physical location.
- Instagram allows you to share with other social channels, like Facebook and Twitter. Your hashtags will travel.
Tips for Marketing on Instagram
Create Your Own Hashtag
Hashtags allow you to network with people who are interested in your services. You can also use trending hashtags to connect with an audience. For example, a local restaurant in Raleigh may take a styled photo of their most delicious dish, adding #EatLocal and #Raleigh. Or a dentist could snap an Instagram of a smiling patient, adding #SmileWithUs and encouraging followers to share their own smiling selfies, using the same hashtag.
Some hashtags are always popular. Find a few that work with your brand. Hashtags like #Summer, #Instagood, #FashionFriday, and even #Happy can be creatively woven into your photo stream.
Tag Other Individuals and Businesses
Offline is the new online. Visit other local companies, snapping a photo that captures your experience there. Be sure to tag them! You will make new connections and show your community how active and dedicated you are.
Volunteering at a charity event? Visiting the Christmas Parade? Walking in a local park? Snap a photo! It sends the message, “Shopping at my company isn’t just about the product. It’s about supporting all of these community activities.”
Unique, interactive contests can increase engagement, spread your brand, and get customers in your door. A dentist office, for example, could have people take photos holding a “Smile!” sign and submit them to Instagram using #RaleighSmiles.
Flooring companies have had followers share pictures of their most dirty or stained carpet, with the winner receiving a free carpet cleaning.
Many restaurants offer discounts when clients Instagram their plate of food. You could even offer something as small as a $5 gift card for your company to followers who share an Instagram wearing your logo, effectively spreading brand awareness and encouraging followers to come into your store to shop.
Instagram is about engaging customers in your brand’s story. Make it memorable!