When it comes to social media for business, Instagram is becoming a force to be reckoned with. It continues to grow in the all-important 18-34-year-old demographic, but it’s taking off among older consumers as well. Here are 3 marketing strategies you can use to put Instagram to work for you.
1. Improve brand engagement
Instagram can engage customers like no other social media network. Use this power to build your brand and to engage with customers.
Instagram videos are short, but long enough to get your point across. At a maximum length of 15 seconds, they’re perfect for showing a new use for your product or teasing an upcoming product launch. Be sure your videos are high quality in both visuals and sound, and make sure they can still make your point even with the sound off—for those who watch at work!
Invite followers into your business with photos and videos of your offices and your staff. Post pictures of you and your employees in your ‘natural habitat.’ A virtual tour of your facility can also help people connect with your company.
Include some personal images in your feed. Striking the right balance between personal and business photos will help humanize your company and engage your followers.
Humor can be a great way to increase your followers as long as you use it tastefully. Memes that relate to your brand or your industry are very sharable if they are done well. Run any humorous posts past a couple of impartial observers before you post them.
Experiment with filters. Try different ones to figure out which ones your followers like best. If there’s one filter that you find yourself using most of the time, you can even make it part of your brand, so that all your product shots, for example, use the same filter.
2. Poach your competitors’ followers
‘Poach’ may be too strong a word here, since following you doesn’t require that they stop following your competitor, and there’s no reason your competitors’ followers can’t also follow you. Here’s a way to add some followers you know are interested in products like yours.
- Follow the Instagram account of your largest competitor.
- Go to their list of followers. Follow a few dozen of them.
- Go to the account of each of them, and like and comment on a picture they posted.
- Repeat daily.
Liking and commenting on a picture is key. Instagram users are much more likely to follow back people who like and comment on their pictures than those who just follow them.
3. Host a Photo Contest or Giveaway
This is a great way to generate followers and increase the buzz around your brand. Your followers will do a lot of the work for you as they enter your contest and tag their followers.
There are three main kinds of Instagram contests:
- Like to win, where everyone who likes your post is entered into the contest. These are easy to run, but don’t usually generate a lot of new followers and aren’t particularly engaging.
- Hashtag contests ask participants to share a photo on video with your specific hashtag. This spreads your reach to the followers of your followers and increases buzz for your brand. You can ask people to vote on the best photo to select the winner, which adds to your reach as participants ask their network for votes.
- You can also ask for an email address to enter, which will build your email list but can be off putting to Instagram users who want an ‘insta’ method of entry.
Once you’ve decided which kind of contest you want to run, write out your goals. You may want to add a certain number of followers, generate mentions of your hashtag, or get a certain number of likes or forwards. Whatever your goal is, quantify it and write it down.
Choose your hashtag. This should relate to your brand and the contest. It should be catchy, but not too long. Check an app like iconosquare for ideas, and take a look at what your competition is doing.
Develop your creative. Instagram is a visual platform, so the visuals around your contest need to be compelling. Your headline, graphics and hashtag should all work together and relate to your brand.
Consider the logistics. Will you ask entrants to post pictures of your product? Will you ask them to tag a friend? How long will your contest run? Will you have one prize or several? Do you want to extend your contest to other social media platforms?
Consider an app: For a truly professional looking contest, use one of the many social contest apps available, such as Heyo, ShortStack, or SocialAppsHQ.
The only caveats from Instagram are that you must acknowledge that the promotion isn’t endorsed, sponsored by, administered by or associated with Instagram and you cannot inaccurately tag content or encourage users to do so.
Instagram is a burgeoning social media resource, but it’s not without risk. There’s always a chance someone may dispute the legality of posting certain images. Make sure your professional liability insurance coverage is in place to protect your business.
How do you use Instagram to promote your small business? Tell us in the comments below.