When you think of Instagram, what comes to mind? Puppies? Brunch pics? Perfectly composed selfies? While this is all accurate, The Gram can actually be a powerful marketing tool for businesses. And yes, animals and food can be part of your strategy, but there's a whole lot more to consider.
Before You Start Posting
Outline your intentions
As is the case with any marketing initiative, you'll first want to sit down and set some goals. Ask yourself what you're trying to achieve with Instagram – do you want more sales? Engagement? Awareness? Followers? Setting goals is important because it informs the content you publish on Instagram.
You may also want to switch your account to a business profile, which has a number of benefits and gives you access to advanced features, such as insights, promoted posts, contact information, and the ability to schedule posts.
Plan your image
As you create or refresh your account, you'll want to consider things like your color scheme, common filters you'll use, and what kinds of pictures you'll post. Will you share pictures and videos with people, close-ups of faces, your products, or scenery? Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to one type of photography, but it does help to have a general idea of the types of content you want to post.
You may want to create some graphic templates to establish brand consistency. Consider making templates for quotes, statistics, and image borders.
Plan Your Content
Having a variety of content is important. You'll want to keep it interesting by posting a mix of things, such as:
- Statistics and facts
- Animals and pets, funny images, and memes
- Pictures and videos pertaining to national and novelty holidays
- Educational tips, advice, and other content that builds trust with your audience
- Product features
It's absolutely OK to post about your products and services. In fact, brands and products are quite popular on this platform, with 80% of Instagram accounts following at least one business.
If you initially want to attract more followers, you might focus on posting engaging content such as inspirational and motivational quotes, cute pet photos, and similar types of content that people love on Instagram. If you already have a decent Instagram audience and want to boost sales, you’ll need a different approach, such as promoting your products, services, and your business in general.
Hashtags are a hugely important part of Instagram. The right hashtags (and the right number of hashtags) can help you reach a wider audience and attract more followers.
- Branded hashtags: These are hashtags you create that are unique to your brand. You can use them to build up your brand and encourage user-generated content. If you create a branded hashtag, make sure it’s succinct, easy to type, and easy to remember.
- Industry hashtags: These are hashtags that are relevant to a particular industry such as #photographer. This type of hashtag is usually extremely popular and has tens of millions of posts.
- Niche hashtags: If #photographer is an industry hashtag, a hashtag like #foodphotographer would be a niche hashtag.
- Specialty hashtags: You can also use holiday hashtags or location hashtags, such as #NationalStayInBedDay.
One great example of a branded hashtag is Urban Outfitters. They use #UORoadTrip to connect unique pictures together, which stand out from the rest of their feed. This is a nice way to be authentic and tell a story.
Make sure to research hashtags before you post and see how many people are following them. Also, don't just stick to the popular ones, as you may get lost in the sea.
To maximize your presence on Instagram, you'll want to:
- Use a consistent posting schedule
- Post a variety of types of content every day
- Leverage the right mix of hashtags
- Include CTAs in your posts and captions to encourage people to interact with your content and leave comments
- Spend time every day liking posts, viewing stories and videos, and engaging with your followers and relevant influencers in your niche
- Regularly look for new users who might be interested in your brand and interact with them
- Experiment with the length of your posts – some can be short, and some can be like mini-blogs
No matter what strategy you follow, just make sure it's uniquely yours. Drawing inspiration from other Instagram accounts is helpful to get started, but don't be afraid to let your company have a presence unlike anyone else's.