Easily the most visual of popular social media platforms today, Instagram is a great tool for showcasing a human and relatable side of your business to your target audience. But, like all social media, it’s not the field of dreams – just building it doesn’t ensure a following. And to top it off, having a following doesn’t guarantee engagement. So how do you increase your brand’s visibility, reach your target audience and ultimately move consumers down the purchase funnel? Well, a good start is to follow these 10 quick tips:
1. Have a clear point of view: You can’t just jump on Instagram and start posting pictures. Your company has to have a clear point of view on what it stands for, what it is trying to do for consumers and how to convey those messages. Take a step back and get those goals on “paper” before you begin.
2. Know your narrative: For example, let’s say your company sells floor cleaner. You cannot go on Instagram and talk about floor cleaner 365 days a year. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t get you far. What is the lifestyle you are trying to convey? Use imagery and text to tell the story of your brand, not its attributes. U.S. Highbush Blueberries do a great job of storytelling on Instagram.
3. Establish your tone of voice: This might be one of the most important, yet regularly overlooked elements of social media strategy. The way you “talk” to your consumer directly translates into how much they want to join the conversation. This is not a place for marketing jargon or sales pitches. This is the place to relate to your audience on an organic level. Using the vernacular that rings true with your audience and your brand is going to naturally increase engagement.
4. Utilize or create the right imagery: Visuals are of the utmost importance, and if you are not seeing a good response rate, this should be one of the first things you refine. A good Instagram image does a few things. It evokes a feeling. It conveys a message. And it gives a call to action (CTA). Yes, your image should have a call to action! If your business is wine, like Rioja, the CTA might be to enjoy a glass of wine with a friend. Creating the right image also means not being beholden to the capabilities of the app itself. There are plenty of apps that can help you create image collages or make other creative and attention-grabbing edits.
5. Encourage tagging: Instagram is one of the few remaining social platforms where tagging someone else is still a widely used practice (even without a CTA). The Millennial audience naturally likes to call out their friends through tagging when the post reminds them of someone. If you encourage this behavior, your engagement will grow. A good meme is the best way to do this (rather than via text), because it ensures they see with minimal effort on their part.
6. Use video: Instagram is great because it gives consumers all of the bite-sized content they want – including short videos. Do not rely on sound in your clips! For the greatest impact, convey your message visually. It’s rare for someone to actually play the video with sound, but if they do it’s important that the background music and audio commentary align with your brand’s tone.
7. Find and use relevant hashtags: Don’t try to own a hashtag. There is just no point. A hashtag is meant to help ‘Grammers find and become a part of a bigger conversation. The effort you have to exert in order to make people aware of a new hashtag is wasted energy you could be using to educate people about your brand. Instead, hijack or jump into an existing conversation.
8. Seek and respond: Now that you know which hashtags are being used relevant to your industry; see who is participating in the conversation. How can you use the tried-and-true “surprise and delight” technique to endear them to you?
9. Find, follow and engage influencers: Similar to jumping onto a popular hashtag, it’s important to find the people who are already influencing your target audience. It’s like becoming friends with the cool kids. If you can get them to buy into what you’re saying, others will follow. Regram some of their posts or tag them in something they might find relevant. Get on their radar.
10. Pay-for-Play: It’s not enough to build an Instagram account, you have to promote it. And part of that means paying for eyeballs. There’s no reason to belabor the PESO model here, but paid posts have to be a part of your overarching strategy from the beginning or you’re speaking in an echo chamber.
This article originally appeared in Strictly Marketing Magazine.