You don’t have to be cool to rule the (virtual) world. Brands are no longer hiding in cocoons, relying on heavyweight publishers for sponsored content. They’ve evolved into social butterflies on the digital sphere.
Granted, not every brand knows how to maximise Instagram to its fullest potential. Some see no wrong in whiplash colours and unrelated captions – the perfect trigger to a swipe (away). But you and your growing brand will have to do it right. We’ll help you out.
1. Find your voice
Don’t be afraid to let your feed do the talking. A picture is worth a thousand words, no? Your Instagram account is your brand’s voice. A strong identity sets you apart from the rest, but your brand can only shine when it knows itself. Think of the values your company stands by, and translate that into a visual force.
Take Starbucks for instance. Their Witch’s Brew Frappuccino is another magical concoction to join their out-of-this-world selection.
Starbucks’ recipe for success is simple. Their Instagram page shows a seamless integration around their cup of joe-from pictures of house coffees, and festive-themed caffeine to the newest additions.
2. Be consistent – it’s a strategy
This should be your brand’s middle name. Build a cohesive brand theme with colours, filters and aesthetic designs that are in sync. Ensure your photos are sized well (1080px by 1080px), so your feed won’t resemble a stock of mismatched crops. Learn from Pinkberry and their messy use of a filter, turning their berry yogurt into a chameleon instead.
From one dairy name to another, Ben & Jerry’s is making their Instagram page all about their delicious pints. Like them, be consistent with your branding, and don’t post the same picture thrice in a row. Spruce things up with creative ideas and don’t let others wonder why you’re on their timeline.
If your company is promoting a new product, make things easy on the eye by capturing shots against diverse backgrounds or adding related pictures such as a consumer trying out your item. It helps to remember to whom you’re posting for too.
3. Schedule posts in good time
There’s no hard and fast rule on the best timing, so test your posts at different intervals of the day. Our pro tip is to use Iconosquare to view posts’ statistics and keep track of the time your target market is most active. Even if you’re posting fantastic content, it’ll be water under the bridge if no one sees it.
Sporadic posting habits make your followers forget you. Over-posting will annoy them. Find a strategic balance, and a good suggestion is to have an editorial calendar to set specific schedules.
Think of your postings as a diet plan: Don’t be over-ambitious and commit more than you can chew, or take too many ‘chill pills’ and post only once a year. People will wonder if you’re still in business! The average brand posts, according to a Union Metrics study, is 1.5 times every day – a realistic goal for most.
4. Create Instagram Stories that work
Publicise giveaways, contests and timely deals on Instagram Stories, with a call-to-action for consumers to click on instantly. With their latest “swipe up” feature, it has never been this easy for brands to direct audience straight to their content.
Bringing your followers behind-the-scenes is like dangling the metaphoric carrot, holding their attention, in anticipation of the actual release. Take a page from H&M and their Conscious Collection, giving avid fans an inside scoop on the materials used in their environmental-friendly initiative, and keeping them on their toes about the upcoming release.
Travel application site Hopper, for example, uses Instagram Stories to offer massive flight discounts for your next holiday.
Whatever your motive -cheap thrills or sneak peeks- an Instagram Story is fluid and purposeful, all while aligning with your brand’s image. It’s not called a “story” for no reason!
5. Your followers matter
Not to sound superficial, but who your brand follows speak volumes. Following a charitable cause have others believe your brand is ethical, whether or not it holds true. Of course, it’s a given to check out accounts that are relevant to your brand.
That doesn’t mean you should go on a follow spree and add random pages, especially when your followers are half the size of theirs. It seems egoistic, but let followers come to you instead. Focus on building real relationships and let others share your content for you.
The ‘like for like’ favour doesn’t work here. Think of the number as a nice compliment, but genuine engagement with your supporters eventually takes precedence. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
6. Just have fun
This seems contradictory to everything on the list. But the moment you view Instagram as a profit-making tool, you’ll lose out. While these guidelines may pivot into a powerful branding strategy, remember – when you start thinking “This seems fun”, others will too. Get inspired and start posting. Your visual diary is your brand.
Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia
When Instagram first launched in October 2010, it did not expect to gain 1 million users in a span of 3 months. Apparently, many people fancy the idea of showcasing their photos in square grids. But it is more than a personal thing.
Growing at an exponential rate for 3 years straight, Instagram has become one of the rising darlings of social media. Through its focus on photos and close connectivity, Instagram offers an innovative way to leverage visual marketing, with new elements such as InstaDirect-send private messages and InstaVideo– takes a 15 second video.
Today, the Instagram community boasts a whopping 150 million users worldwide. Huge companies such as National Geographic, Zara and Starbucks are all using Instagram to expand their business.
Why are companies jumping on the bandwagon? Because Instagram offers an opportunity for brands to diversify their content as a means to broaden their online reach quickly. Simply put, businesses want to be where their customers are! Getting on this platform is a great way to check out what’s trending in the community, and also track their products by the number of mentions. Through the use of hash tags, companies are able to engage in direct conversation with their audience, and this can inspire new products and/or new product uses.
How can your business benefit from Instagram? Here are some tools and tips to get you started:
Under the “About Me” section, write a brief description of your brand/company. Just like any other social media network, everyone reads the simple introduction on your page before scrolling further. Make it appealing to viewers and remember that less is more. A short, witty tagline is better than a long presentation that can throw people off.
- Behind the scenes
Yes, it is a business that you are running so why not show the viewers how it’s done? Snap photos showing the different aspects your product, or post pictures of events or conferences. Photos of the office and staff interactions will help to build rapport with your audience.
- The art of # (Hashtags)
Thanks to Twitter, the hashtag has become an important means of communication. Hashtags open up the potential of allowing the consumer to influence an ad campaign, for example. So if you’re doing a short survey, or even hosting a contest via Instagram, create a hashtag that users can easily identify with and access quickly. Each time they search for a specific content hashtag (e.g. #iwanttowin), all related photos will show up in one place. However, use relevant hash tags.
- Be creative
You don’t have to go all professional and capture photos using a DSLR camera, and then edit on Photoshop. The key is to keep it creative but simple. Add filters to your images. There are tons of free applications you can download from. There are even filters for InstaVideo! Remember you are communicating through visuals to tell a story to your viewers, so there is no reason to produce boring pictures or videos. Or someone may just hit that “unfollow” button!
- Link everything together
Does your company have Facebook, twitter, blog? Link your Instagram posts to all the platforms – this will have a multiplying effect – not only will your followers stay updated, it will widen your reach.
Not only do people interact through your visually appealing pictures, they may also post comments. Do make it a point to reply and if they follow you, follow them back! This presents another opportunity to explore your audience and understand their interests, which may impact and/or help to improve and expand your company and brand offerings.
- Reward your followers
Once you reach your target number of followers (e.g. 4,000), why not reward them with discount codes, promotions and free tickets? This is a good way to show your appreciation and in turn, your followers will also spread the news about your company. Take Mercedes-Benz for example. They gathered five of Instagram’s best photographers and offered each, five days behind the wheel to take inspiring photos with the car. The one who received the most likes got to keep the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA. The best part, even fans were allowed to participate. They sent their photos under the hashtag ‘#CLATakeTheWheel;’ in the hopes of winning a car. The contest helped Mercedes-Benz to gain more followers, and the company appeared in the newsfeed of millions of Instagram users through selected Instagrammers’ posts.
Instagram is an invaluable marketing tool. By integrating Instagram into your social media marketing campaign, you can give your followers an insight into your company. It is a great way to promote your business while being creative at the same time – and that’s always fun right!
Posted by Aishah Nur, Corp Media.