There are more than 200 million monthly active users on Instagram, making it one of the most important social networks for business marketing. Out of the world’s top brands, more than 86% of them now have a presence on the social network, with 73% of brands posting at least one photo or video every week. Small and medium sized business owners can use Instagram marketing to increase brand presence and drive sales, and understanding the platform will be the first step in making it work.
Instagram Drives Engagement
In crowded marketplaces and with online channels full of noise, it can be difficult for brands to connect with their target market. Instagram is one platform that can allow for increased engagement, and data shows that the rate of engagement growth is larger than the total number of active brands on the platform. What this means, in simple terms, is that Instagram is less crowded, and that means that there’s more opportunity to connect with consumers. Businesses that don’t use Instagram, or ones that underutilize the platform, should make 2017 the year to start focusing on this powerful social network. Marketers have taken a keen interest in the platform, with significant growth occurring since 2012. Now is still the perfect time to get involved with the platform, before it reaches a point of excessive brand saturation.
Instagram Marketing is Perfect for Consumer Products
Instagram is a visual platform, which makes it ideal for marketing products. A simple photo of a product, or even a short Instagram video of a product in action, is a great way to introduce a brand and a specific product. Instagram can also be used for endorsements, and the use of hashtags will allow businesses to categorize their posts and promote sharing. Any business that markets fast moving consumer goods like fitness and beauty products, apparel and fashion, or even consumer electronics, should be using the platform.
Instagram Posts Can Be Used On Every Social Media Platform
Instagram posts can be automatically shared on Facebook and twitter, and can be easily embedded on other platforms. This makes it simple for businesses to share on Instagram, and then distribute the posts across all of their social media accounts. Posts can also be easily shared by users, especially on smartphones where post links can be sent to specific social media and messaging apps. Simple sharing can increase brand penetration and engagement, so it’s not unusual for some businesses to use Instagram as their primary image sharing platform. In cases where the message can be better shared through images rather than words, Instagram should be the platform of choice.
Tips for Making Instagram Work in Marketing
For any business owner that has wanted to expand their marketing onto Instagram, but has lacked ideas for getting started, these tips will provide ideas for the first Instagram post and beyond.
Use Instagram to offer a behind-the-scenes look:
Creative marketing means focusing on more than just products or services. Instagram is a great platform for sharing images that detail how a product was created or manufactured, or even for sharing images or video of the distribution process.
Show how products are used:
Showing a product being used is a great way to portray value. A drone manufacturer or retailer could share Instagram videos taken from an aerial perspective, or a cosmetics manufacturer could show before/after shots or share beauty tips with images and videos. There’s plenty of opportunity to be creative when showing value with images and videos.
Run a contest:
Using hashtags to run a competition is a great way to increase shares and gain followers. Businesses can run a competition linked to a unique hashtag. One highly effective example is to have users share pictures of themselves using a product. The winner of the competition could be selected at random by the business, or the winner could be selected based on the picture that receives the most likes. Businesses will have a lot of flexibility when running a contest on Instagram, and a hashtag competition is hassle-free for users to engage with.
Use high quality images:
Businesses don’t need to hire professional photographers to take photos for an Instagram campaign, but there are benefits from using high quality images. A DSLR camera will provide the best picture quality, but even high end smartphones can create quality images for marketing purposes. Photos should be clear, in focus, and they should be eye catching. Use of color is important to make images stand out, and captions should be kept to a minimum.
Know when to post:
Instagram is most responsive between 12PM and 1PM on weekdays, however, there are other times when engagement will peak. On Mondays, 7PM is statistically the peak time for engagement. 8PM is peak time for Friday evenings. The rules aren’t set in stone, and individual niches may find peak engagement times that go against the trend. Some element of trial and error will be involved for brands that are new to Instagram. For B2B businesses, the peak engagement times will usually fall within standard business hours.
Keep posts regular:
Most marketing professionals agree that a daily Instagram post is the ceiling for businesses, and anything above could be detrimental to a brand. Businesses should aim to post 3 – 4 times every week, and can increase the number of posts as their audience grows, aiming for a single post per day once a large engaged audience has developed.
The basics are important:
Business contact details should be included on an Instagram profile, and contact numbers can also be shared with individual promotional posts. Businesses should also aim to engage with their audience through comments and posts that use a unique hashtag.
Instagram is one of the simplest social media platforms to understand, and requires only a small time investment for management and engagement. For small and medium sized businesses, it’s one of the most important social media platforms and could allow for a significant boost in brand awareness and lead generation.