The Instagram market
Since its inception in 2012, Instagram has quickly become the ultimate platform for sharing visual content.
Its incredible growth to over one billion users pays testimony to this fact. However, for businesses, it took some time to fully grasp how best to use the social media platform as a marketing tool.
The network’s advertising power is now common knowledge and highly sought after. It allows brands to advertise themselves in plain sight, seamlessly becoming part of the consumer’s news feed rather than appearing in a disconnected location or in a different format.
Not only that, but unless you pay to boost your content on a regular basis, Instagram is one of the most inexpensive ways to get a product in front of the consumer. There’s no need for billboards, magazine or newspaper space, with a few clicks of a button, it’s done.
Or so it would seem.
This ability to naturally put yourself in front of a buyer is certainly advantageous, but it doesn’t mean the viewer has to buy or take note of that product. A little bit like how a brand appears on the shelves in a supermarket — it has to portray an element of quality, trust and integrity.
At Metronome, whenever we contribute to, or take control of, a client’s Instagram profile, we follow some simple guidelines to ensure a brand is making the best use of Instagram’s advertising power. Here are some simple, but effective Instagram tips.
Understand your audience
This is a little bit different from the tried and tested philosophy of ‘know your target market’. Of course, that’s important, you need to understand the demographic the brand is targeting.
But, you also need to consider whether they are potential buyers, or whether they can help build your brand in some way. You also need to know when this demographic is most likely to be online.
As long as you’ve set up a business profile, Instagram gives you much of this information for free in their ‘insights’ section.
The platform provides key information, like impressions (how many times your content was shown to readers), reach (how many times your content was viewed), website clicks (how many clicks the link in your business profile has received) and follower activity (how often your followers are on Instagram daily and what times they are most active).
‘Insights’ also includes demographic information, so you can see where your followers come from, their age, and their gender.
With this, you’ll have plenty of information about your existing Instagram audience. But what if you want to attract new followers?
Posting great content is always vital for social media marketing. It’s what makes followers engage with your brand, and keeps them coming back for more.
On other social networks, this can mean sharing links, posting interesting articles, and starting conversations. On Instagram, it begins and ends with imagery and video.
Sometimes, you can’t always be selling your product, otherwise your Instagram profile can look like a storefront. The advantageous aspect of Instagram’s sharing policy is that you can use another profile’s picture as long as you give credit to that user in the description. So to fill in the gaps, although you don’t want to be doing this all the time, a 50/50 ratio between your own and other people’s relevant content makes it easier to post regularly every week.
However, a scattergun approach to this strategy is highly discouraged — a profile needs a general theme.
When your first aim is achieved and people click through to your Instagram profile (or wall), what are the first nine tiles they see? If they’re a mishmash of colourful, dull, black and white or generally unrelated shots, then the allure of trust, integrity and quality disappears.
Sometimes finding a theme is difficult. At Metronome, our own profile presents a challenge because of the vast array of different clients we post about. For this issue, a choreographed pattern of black or white borders creates the desired effect of professionalism and forward planning.
Use relevant hashtags
Instagram allows a user’s content to reach non-followers with the use of hashtags. So targeted hashtags prove vital in reaching a wider audience.
There are common hashtags that anyone might use, depending on the content of an image. ‘#Sunset’ springs to mind, as do ‘#food’ and ‘#wine’. But frankly, these examples are so broad that it may be hard to get noticed using them.
Instead, try to find niche hashtags that have relevance for your industry or product category. This increases your chances of attracting the ideal audience to your content.
If you want to get more creative, see what hashtags your existing followers use. This is a smart and easy way to find the right people to appeal to.
Schedule the posts
Once you’ve understood your target audience, gathered some quality content that will engage and attract, and used relevant hashtags that will broaden your reach, it’s time to post.
Some polls have suggested that the best time to post is between 7-9pm, but this isn’t one size fits all. Use your insights to gain a better understanding as to when your target audience will be online and post accordingly.
Collect your own insights
Even the best-laid plans can be unsuccessful at first, but the only way to know what works and what doesn’t is to track each post’s performance.
At Metronome, we collect all of our client’s social profile performance on Swydo, but Hootsuite and Sproutsocial also allow you to set up campaigns and collate the results. By analysing the likes, interactions or views, you can arrive at an optimum posting schedule for your account.
From here, be persistent. Very few profiles grow thousands of followers overnight. Now, more than ever, people are picky about who they follow and the profiles they visit. But, if you follow this general formula, you’ll find that Instagram can help grow your brand.