Make your company's social media strategy shine.
Instagram, the renowned photo sharing social platform owned by Facebook, is used by people all over the world.
According to Brand Watch, the app now has 400 million active users, with 60 per cent of those users logging in on a daily basis, making it the most engaged social network next to Facebook itself.
While Instagram is a fun, interactive way to share your life’s highlight reel with your friends and family, it’s also an incredibly effective marketing tool for brands. Popular brands are using the platform to its fullest potential to connect and interact with their audiences, and businesses who aren’t currently using the network as part of their marketing tool belt should take heed.
We looked at some of Instagram’s top brands and gathered these 10 tips to help you get the most out of this savvy platform.
1) First impressions matter
Your Instagram bio is the first message people read about your brand when they visit your profile, so be sure that it packs a punch and tells visitors exactly what your brand is about and why they should care. While you can fine-tune it, your bio should align with what you say across all other mediums, staying consistent with your brand story. Try to keep it to-the-point to avoid your message getting lost in unnecessary wording.
Honest Agency, an advertising and branding agency in Winnipeg, has a short and sweet but compelling bio that boldly states what they’re all about.
Depending on your target audiences, you can also consider using Emojis in your bio and captions to spice things up and further illustrate your posts. Slack, a team collaboration messaging tool, often uses Emojis to make their posts more fun and relatable.
2) Quality over quantity
At its core, Instagram is a platform to view and share beautiful photos, and businesses should keep this standard in mind with every post. A well thought-out photo will make much more of an impact on your audience than one put up with haste and no real direction.
Benefit Cosmetics Canada, a high-end makeup brand, does a great job showcasing their products with well-lit, artfully-placed shots.
But don’t worry — you don’t need to be a professional photographer to create quality photos. Find a space with good lighting, an interesting subject that aligns with the message you want to communicate, and take advantage of photo-editing apps such as VSCO or Afterlight, and you’ll be well on your way.
3) Use video to your advantage
Video is an extremely powerful tool to tell stories in a way that a photo sometimes can’t achieve. Making the investment in a series of short videos to showcase on your Instagram profile, whether it’s hands-on demonstrations of your products or profiles of your loyal customers and clients, is an effective way to stay ahead of the curve.
Nike, whose Instagram account has amassed 58 million followers, frequently posts videos that profile athletes and other sports icons who are loyal to the Nike brand. The videos are short ,but powerful and compelling, and they provide a sense of familiarity and trust to the brand's audience.
4) Instagram Stories
Following in the footsteps of Snapchat, Instagram has recently introduced Stories to its roster.
Stories allows users to publish photos and 10-second videos that disappear after 24 hours, with the option to add text, doodles and filters to the posts.
Businesses can use this tool for contests, announcements or simply just connecting with your audience in real-time for a creative and interactive approach. The tool also displays each user who has watched your story, so you can even further gauge who’s paying attention to your posts.
5) Foster your community
Whether you’re just beginning your Instagram journey or have been on it for a while, the most important factor in using the platform successfully is building and fostering your community.
Be sure to interact with your audience as much as possible through comments, likes or simply following back. Connect with people in your other online communities that are also on Instagram. And be a friend to brands similar to yours.
Remember that your audiences have their own communities, and the more dialogue you engage in, the more trust you’ll build with this massive network of people. There is great potential to engage with future followers.
6) Create a community hashtag
Adopting a hashtag for your business is an excellent way to promote engagement and conversation in your community.
Canadian coffee and donut chain Tim Hortons encourages followers to tag their photos with #TimHortons, which gets people sharing their experiences with the brand and promotes further name recognition.
Consider going beyond just the branded hashtag and use taglines, catchy phrases and campaign wording that can set you apart from the competition. Unique phrasing and hashtags can entice your audience to like and share your posts more often than a standard post.
7) Run contests
Contests are a fantastic way to promote participation among your community, give your followers an incentive to stay on top of your posts and get new eyes on your business. Consider creating a contest where you ask your followers to repost the photo on their own Instagram and tag your account, or to tag their friends in the comments section of the photo for the chance to win.
Coal and Canary, a luxury candle company in Winnipeg that has been featured in GRAMMY & Academy Award swag bags, often runs contests to promote new products or simply just to say “thank you.” Their account currently has over 15,000 followers.
8) Put your links in your bio
As of now, Instagram does not allow live links to be placed in the caption or comments section of a post, which can be cumbersome for businesses who want to link to specific resources or products. Get around this by putting the link in your bio and directing your followers to it.
Many top brands do this, and change up the links depending on the promotions and campaigns currently active.
9) Get creative with apps
There are many apps out there that can take your Instagram posts to new heights.
10) Leverage sponsored posts
Sponsored posts are being used by brands across the globe and are a strategic way to reach large, specific target audiences outside of your organic followers. To create a sponsored Instagram campaign, start by visiting Power Editor.
Do you have an Instagram tip that has worked well for your brand? Tell us in the comments section below.
About the Author
Stefanie Cutrona is an online marketer, corporate videographer and writer who's worked with a number of clients across Canada, including Vancouver and Calgary. She holds a diploma in Creative Communications from Red River College and has worked in various online marketing roles over the years, specializing in paid online advertising. She is passionate about the digital world and loves everything music, travel and the arts.Follow on Twitter More Content by Stefanie Cutrona