Instagram is quickly adding new users every day. In April 2017, less than seven years after it launched, it had 700 million active monthly users. The social media platform is growing faster than ever, Business Insider reported. It added one million users in just four months.
Partly due to its rapid growth, Instagram has become a dream come true for marketers. But marketing on the image-based platform isn’t the same as marketing on other social media sites or marketing in a more traditional sense. Here’s what you need to know to get started using Instagram as a marketing tool.
Who Is on Instagram?
The first question you need to answer about Instagram is who is using it? What portion of your audience will you be able to reach on the platform?
Instagram users tend to skew younger and female. According to the Pew Research Center’s Social Media Fact Sheet, about 28 percent of adults in the US are on Instagram. Nearly 60 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are on the site and around 32 percent of adult women in the US use it.
In terms of location, education level, and household income, users are pretty evenly divided. Around 35 percent of adults with some college use Instagram and around 32 percent of college graduates are on it. Around 30 percent of people from each income level use Instagram.
People who live in urban areas are somewhat more likely to be on the platform, but about a quarter of people who live in the suburbs or rural areas use it.
Although Instagram has a reputation for being mainly for B2C brands, there is opportunity for B2B brands on the platform as well. As of 2016, only one third of B2B brands used Instagram for marketing, meaning the platform is less crowded and less competitive for B2B companies than other sites (such as LinkedIn or Twitter).
Creating a Strategy for Instagram
The first step to putting together a strategy for Instagram marketing is figuring out your goals. What do you hope to accomplish by posting on Instagram? Measurable goals can include:
● Raising your follower count by X number or X percent
● Increasing engagement with your company’s posts by X likes or X percent
● Increasing leads or conversions by X (getting people to click through to your company’s website and register with your company or make a purchase)
Once you have clear goals, you can use them to determine what to publish to Instagram and how much to publish. For example, “regramming” posts from people who follow your company can help increase engagement. Using trending hashtags can help improve your follower count. Including a special discount code in a post’s caption can help you track the number of conversions or leads from that post.
Building a Following on Instagram
Building a following on Instagram isn’t exactly easy, but it’s not that hard either. You can use “cheater” methods, such as buying followers. But if you want to reach an audience on Instagram, having a slew of fake or spam followers won’t do you much good.
Posting frequently and using hashtags are two of the best methods for gaining followers. Hashtags allow people to find your posts and profile, and once they’ve done that, they can follow your company if they like your content.
Regular posting keeps your company at the front of people’s minds. If you post daily, your followers are likely to see your photos or videos every time they check their feeds. If you don’t post often enough, people will either forget about your company or will unfollow you eventually.
You can also work with people or companies who are already established on Instagram to help boost your follower count. A common tactic is to have a popular Instagram user (an influencer) or a company (perhaps a customer) post about your company. Ideally, the followers of the other company or influencer will check out your profile and follow you.
Creating and Posting on Instagram
There’s a fine line between a promotional post on Instagram and a post that’s a blatant advertisement. You don’t necessarily have to highlight a product or service of your company every time you post something on the platform.
In fact, posts that are tangentially related to your products or services but aren’t specific references to them will be the most popular. If you’re a manufacturer, don’t just post product photos; feature people working in the factory, giving your audience a behind the scenes look. You can also publish photos that represent your product category, and include some brief facts about your industry.
Don’t forget to use hashtags on your posts; some companies create hashtags that are specific to their brand or to the campaign they are running on Instagram. Hashtags not only help people find your posts during searches, they also boost engagement rates. Posts that have hashtags have 12.6 percent more engagement than hashtag-free posts, research shows.
Engaging on Instagram
One of the biggest benefits of using Instagram for marketing is that its users are more likely to engage with companies or brands. About 50 percent of users follow at least one company, according to Instagram’s own statistics. Around three quarters of Instagram users are inspired to take some sort of action after seeing a post from a company.
A 2014 study conducted by Forrester examined the rates of engagement between companies and users on social media. On Facebook and Twitter, engagement rates were less than 0.1 percent, while posts on Instagram had an engagement rate of more than 4 percent.
There are a few tricks you can use to increase engagement with your company’s posts. First, mention other people in the caption of the post (if relevant). A study from Simply Measured found that posts with captions that mentioned another user scored engagement rates that were 56 percent higher than posts without a mention.
Another trick is to connect the post to a location. Location-tagged posts had engagement rates that were nearly 80 percent higher than posts without a location.
Finally, remember that quality counts. Post images that are clear and visually appealing. It’s OK to edit your photos before posting, either using a separate editing software or by using the filters available on Instagram.
Instagram recently simplified its sign-up process, so it’s easier than ever to create a profile on the platform. Just download the app, register an account, add your business information, and start following people or posting photos or videos.