We are awash with social media apps, we even have apps to manage our apps. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube…. these are just a handful of the social media platforms available to businesses worldwide. With over 1 billion individuals logging on to social media everyday it is a marketing channel that your business needs to nurture.
Once a means of making friends and keeping in touch, social media is now a platform for businesses to market their products and services worldwide. It can provide one of the most cost effective means of marketing if done correctly. An astonishing 78% of consumers make a purchasing decision based on a brand’s social media presence with 70% of Instagram users looking for their favourite brands on social media.
Deciding to take your brand onto social media is not something to take lightly. You need to ensure that you plan your social marketing launch like any other campaign and you need to make sure that it’s on message right from the first posting.. One platform which is relatively new for businesses is Instagram. Instabusinesswas only launched in 2016 offering Instagram business profiles along with an analysis of users.
Instagram profile from @paddypowerofficial
Instagram launched in 2010 and, although late to the game, it has increased in users year on year since its creation unlike other social media platforms:latest statistics show Instagram has over 5 million monthly users. In 2012 Facebook, social media giants with over 1 billion monthly users, acquired Instagram and the platforms merged in the ability to share content.
With a growing and increasingly mobile base of users, Instagram should be a staple part of your marketing plan.
Whether you use Instagram for your business already and are looking to increase your followers, or would like to begin to use the platform, here are some top tips:
Spread the word
Regardless of your follower count, and this can take time to build, it is important that you post consistently and frequently.
As with all marketing conducting regular monitoring and reviewing is vital. Check which of your posts has the best response rate and engagement and contributed to an increased following: use these as a template for future posts. You can also learn a great deal about your audience and the optimum posting time to reach them which can help you tailor your campaigns to the most popular (and profitable) times.
Adding an embedded code to your website, that showcases your Instagram account, can also be of benefit as visitors can easily keep up to date with your business rather than log on to your website every day.
Instagram is seen as an authentic source, not packed with advertisements like other media. Therefore keep it real. Instead of making a digital shop front, show your followers something extra that makes them feel special, for exampleit could be posting an image of staff taken on a mobile, or a live video.
Fill your social media with user-generated content
User generated content (UGC) is the easiest and most cost effective trick in the book.
UGC is what makes Instagram appear a more reliable and authentic source. We like to see what our peers are doing, what they recommend, buy, use and places they go and never as much as in the current day and age where we follow celebrity culture online. UGC can take a number of forms such as asking your Instacommunity to re-gram your post or to tag you in a post that is relevant to your brand.
Sharing your followers’ images can show your appreciation, give a shout out to the follower with the most creative images, as well as encouraging your followers to include hashtags for your brand.
Instagram recently launched ‘Instagram Stories’. Users can share temporary photos and videos that do not appear on the user’s profile. This application is similar to Snapchat, in fact Instagram Stories even includes some familiar filters. Videos can be up to 60 seconds long and provide a live stream that integrates with Facebook and content can be shared across platforms. Again, we can see a social media platform that unites the tools of a host of other platforms (video, filters, hashtags) into one ‘super’ social media.
Make it a #Hashtag
Instagram won’t limit your character count like Twitter and you can include up to 30 separate hashtags in your posts, but remember to keep them focused. Adding hashtags for the sake of it can look desperate.
A simple rule is to include a brand name hashtag which could be your business name or a specific product or service you offer. There are also other cultural hashtags you can jump on a long as they’re relevant, for example, if you provide products that can be eaten you could use the hashtag #foodie #foodgasm, #instafood and #delicious.
If you are looking to build your audience hashtags can be used to broaden your user base. Encourage your followers to find new followers by launching an Instagram hashtag contest. Simply ask followers to upload an image with a unique hashtag and tag your profile with the offer of a discount or entry into a prize draw. Followers will hopefully post and share with their community, who are likely to be in a similar demographic, therefore reaching your target audience.
Instagram post from @discount_supplements
Take some time to monitor your hashtags, not just for your brand but also for terms associated with your business.
Make use of the latest tools
As with most social media you can find a variety of tools online that integrate with the software and can be used to enhance your profile and it is worth researching these and using some of them on your own Instagram. One in particular is Linkin.Bio. Currently, although I predict this will change, you cannot add clickable links to your images online, if you have seen the well-used hashtag #linkinbio you will understand why. Instagram only allows one clickable URL on your profile and most businesses set this as their homepage. You can showcase your work via the imagery but you cannot add a link to your site, or a dedicated page with special offers or contact information, direct from the post.
Linkin.bio allows you to create a shoppable feed: you can simply upload an image and create a custom URL to the relevant page on your website. Why it this important? Because you can divert your followers directly to the right pages whether they are blog posts, special offer landing pages, or contact forms.
You are able to add a URL to posts in the comments section but these are not clickable. Not only is this not user-friendly but it also means that you cannot accurately track where your audience and website hits are coming from.
Tools like Linkin.bio allow users to open pages on your website directly in the browser window. You are able to track clicks and drive traffic to the pages with the highest conversion rates.
Whether you’re a small independent business or a large scale corporation, you need to consider including social media in your marketing portfolio and assign it a budget. An estimated 20% of all internet users are also on Instagram. With a demographic of 16-24 year olds comprising the majority of Instagram profiles this target audience is set to grow with the likes of social media playing a huge part in their decision making.