The dos and don’ts of Instagram marketing

26th Sep 2016
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500 plus monthly active users, 300 plus million daily active users, 4.2 billion likes daily and 95 million plus daily posts. This is a tiny snapshot of the power and reach Instagram wields on the internet today. A recent study by Forrester research found that Instagram users were 58 times more likely to like, comment or share a brand’s post than Facebook users and 120 times more likely than Twitter users. However, despite such massive user engagement, Instagram is surprisingly one of the most underutilised social media apps by marketers. According to a survey conducted by social media analysts Socialbakers, only 19 percent marketers gave high priority to the app in their marketing strategy and 23 percent said that they wouldn’t even consider the platform.

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But those businesses that have used Instagram have reported increased customer engagement and higher conversion rates. The success stories are many and widespread. According to Instagram’s own business support page, the online grocery brand Grofers saw an 8 percent incremental reach to its core target audience with a 50 percent lower cost-per-install of the app compared to other marketing tools. With an Instagram-specific creative strategy of special recipes using its beverages, Paper Boat achieved an 18-point lift in ad recall and a 15-point lift in brand awareness. Even bigger businesses like Universal Studios, Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, Maybelline and KFC are part of the long list of those who have struck gold through the platform. So how can your business use this platform to its benefit? Here’s all you should know about Instagram marketing:

Do come up with a creative visual strategy:

Instagram is not like other social media websites. It is all about creating a visual impact, so keep that in mind when you think of a strategy. A user browsing his Instagram search timeline is only going to stop to look if he or she sees a striking image. Only after that are they going to read the content that goes with it. So learn the platform, its audience and what they are interested in looking at. Your brand is only a small part of people’s lives, so show them how you can be a part of it effectively. Take care not to post only when you have an event to promote or a product to talk about. Post consistently. Take a cue from innovative campaigns like that of Old Spice’s “Choose Your Own Adventure”, in which the brand asked users to create a story using Instagram’s tagging feature. Each user can redirect the story in the way he or she pleases. This campaign shows exactly how Instagram, as a visual storytelling platform, can be used to engage your audience.

Don’t overdo hashtags

Hashtags are important if you want your brand to be found on Instagram. So you need to think strategically when you use them because you need to have an idea what people would be searching for. Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags for every picture, but that does not mean that you have to use all of it to attract attention. The key is to use the most relevant hashtags in the most creative way possible. According to Quicksprout, 11 seems to be the magic number when it comes to hashtags. This is the number that seems to drive the most engagement on Instagram posts. Use the “Explore” option within the app to get content inspiration on hashtags that are trending. Too many hashtags will only look like noise and make the user ignore your brand or unfollow it.

Do promote user-generated content

Instagram is one of the platforms that lets you really use and promote user-generated content and there’s nothing like it that makes your audience feel involved and a part of your brand as this. When people tag your brand, pay attention to it as you are sitting atop a goldmine of direct feedback from your customers. Encourage customers posting images of using your product and services by reposting them or acknowledging them through likes or comments. Airbnb does a good job of reposting user-generated content. Conducting photo contests are also a great way to ask your audience for content. Using a hashtag to separate and easily promote your photos from your followers. According to a recent study by Olapic, Lancom’s Project #bareselfie campaign, which asked women to post no-makeup selfies, generated 50 percent of the sales for its new DreamTone serum product line. Hundreds of photos were posted with this hashtag and the user-generated selfie gallery on the brand’s website had a conversion rate of 4 percent for the serum.

Don’t use follow bots and/or auto-commenters

You already know this. Generic, automatically posted comments are annoying and after a point it makes you look like an insensitive and lazy team of jerks. Understand that your followers are not going to get fooled by such interactions nor is it going to drive more likes or conversions. You only risk looking ‘spammy’ and even being unfollowed by your existing users.

So whether you have been on Instagram for long or are just thinking of testing the waters, brands need to get ready to use the platform in a way to reach and resonate with their target audience. Use the power of visuals to tell your story efficiently and build your brand.

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