Instagram is now the second largest and fastest growing social platform, and has been since December 2014. They have increased users by 50% and have far surpassed Twitter's 284 million active users, to 300 million.
The reasons for this are simple. It appeals to millennials, provides stunning visuals and allows for in-depth editing that no other platform does. It allows for sharing, engagement and creativity in a way that no other platform allows for or supports.
There are distinct ways in which brands can successfully incorporate Instagram into marketing strategies.
Create A Visual Tone of Voice
Just as any other platform where your brand is presented to the world, consideration must be taken as to how the brand is seen. If your store front/website have a clean, white backdrop, with simple imagery, use that design lead for your Instagram account.
Although there are more than 10 different filters, in addition to the more niche editing tools, you do not need to embrace every single one. Instead choose a filter that suits your visuals and stick with it. Below is Kate, a blogger who fully embraces this ideal, she has a sleek, clear visual tone of voice that is brought through from her blog and continues across all of her social presences. This is not only aesthetically appealing, it is also a way of defining a brand, creating a visual that users will recognise.
Quality Over Quantity
It can be extremely tempting to launch yourself, and your business onto a new platform with a bang. However, in the case of Instagram, quality out weighs quantity, every time.
As with other platforms, creating a schedule for posting will help to ensure that consistency is maintained, whilst brand tone of voice isn't lost. Instagram is a highly visual platform, and struggling to post too frequently often creates pressure and potentially leads to a drop in quality. So keep it smart, engaging, and most of all relevant to your followers.
Forever 21 do this perfectly, they post once a day, they vary the content whilst sticking to a visual tone of voice that replicates the brand. It appeals to the audience, both current and potential.
Hashtags are important, for a number of reasons. Firstly they increase search-ability, whilst also informing fans of a way they can engage with the brand, by using them on their own channel. Secondly they expand your audience beyond your followers, as they can be searched by any user.
However, as with the number of times you post, don't over egg it. Considered hashtags can have a staggering impact on post reach and engagement, over use of them can have a detrimental affect.
Before you add a hashtag, do your research; who is using it? Do they fit with your brand voice and objectives?
Converse do this by simply using 1-3 hashtags on each image that link to particular lines of shoes, or events they are attending.
Users follow other users for a variety of reasons, usually because they appreciate the products you sell and want additional content to engage with. Keeping this in mind, don't simply blanket all of your social channels with the same content at the same time.
Consider that each follower may also follow you on Twitter and Facebook, in addition to receiving your newsletter etc. That being said, it may, on the flip side be the only platform they have encountered your brand, meaning it must represent who you are and what you do. Keep the content fresh and non repetitive, engaging and thoughtful. Even if, in your mind, its a simple photo, there is so much more that can be conveyed.
The graphic below shows the breakdown of Instagram demographics, as well as usage levels.
Don't Use As Sale Tool
Although Instagram can be used to showcase products, it should not be used as a sales tool as it's first role. Instead think of it as a digital inspiration board, a platform for promotion and engagement.
It is a way to engage with customers, both existing and potential.
Engage with people, if they comment on your photo, reply. It's that simple. Follow people who engage with you regularly, show them appreciation, build a rapport with them.
There are infinite other tips for embracing Instagram, however let's walk before we can run. By all means let me know your tips for Instagram plus any accounts you simply adore!
Until next time...