Instagram is the current leading choice for online marketers. With over 500 millions active on the app everyday it’s time to start directing your marketing thoughts toward this visual marketing network.
In the INSTAGRAM MARKETING SERIES, I will provide you with a birds-eye-view on how to incorporate “INSTABranding” into your strategic marketing plan. In two parts, 4 articles each, I will be sharing simple insights, information, tips, facts and ways you can boost your brand on Instagram and “INSTABrand” your business. Enjoy!
Below is Part 1, to jump to Part 2, click here.
CHAPTER 1: Don’t Miss This Instagram Moment
Image designs by @nsthtc #nuaesthetic
There are 400 million people trolling Instagram everyday. Some are in high places looking for the next big star…. or they are looking for the perfect solution to their current business or personal product need. Others are there to be wowed by great images and stay in touch with their peeps. Will THEY find you and your business on Instagram? Will they find you by searching your hashtags? If they do, what will they discover?
With Instagram you can use carefully selected images to present your business with a personality. This creates a mood for your brand and increases exposure.
I have to admit, I have been an Instagram snob for a long time. To me, Instagram is a place to share great photography and I don’t feel any different still, I’m a little old-school on that. But through great photography there is a way to present your product and services within a lifestyle setting that will create the mood for your brand and your business and increase your exposure. And you know, visual marketing isn’t new. We have been branding our culture with great images since the beginning of time!
To start building your Instagram presence, here is what you will need:
- A branded feed where you have set the mood and creative tone that will get you found from people that you had no idea were looking for you.
- Appropriate photography for your brand
- Researched and developed hashtags so you can be found
- Consistent interaction and engagement with the followers on your feed
- Daily posts to your feed
Most of all, have fun and engage your followers by sharing and interacting with photos that inspire you. If you love it, let them know and share the love!
There has never been a better time to create a viable, searchable, visual presence on Instagram for your business. Gather your tools and put on your creative hat, it’s time to have some fun with this one!
CHAPTER 2: Instagram is on the rise and has surpassed YouTube
Image designs by @nsthtc #nuaesthetic
Big news: Instagram now surpasses YouTube for effective online marketing
Instagram has grown in popularity, it jumped from 44% to 54% just this year and has now surpassed YouTube as a preferred marketing platform. As a marketer, there is no doubt that you need to add Instagram to your social media strategy. But using Instagram effectively for your business can be challenging, as there is a little bit of a learning curve to know how to use it effectively. It’s not just posting links and things you did today like you might do when posting to Facebook, instead, it’s about curating great images that tell your story and providing key-word-rich descriptions with well crafted text.
The benefits of adding Instagram are powerful . . .
- Increased exposure
- Develop loyal fans
- Generate leads
- Increased thought leadership
- Improved sales
With these stats on Instagram, there is no question as to “IF” you should be on the social network, it’s more like “HOW” do I get on it! In Chapter 3, I’ll share some info on how to build that dynamic feed that will #InstaBrand your business!
CHAPTER 3: Creating a Branded Look on your Instagram Feed
The most successful Instagram accounts have a clearly defined aesthetic that applies to every photograph they share. If you use your Instagram feed as a purely personal account, you might not want to curate it at all; if you are using it for business, Instagram is a useful tool that can be used to create impact with your brand and introduce it to new audiences and prospective clients. Let’s look at the basics of building a great feed…
Think about what you want to share and clear time in your schedule to plan and take specific photographs. Take photographs of behind the scenes, work in progress, and finished product shots to share online. Much like using an editorial calendar for your blog, planning content for Instagram means your account stays active with consistent updates.
Define An Aesthetic
Make sure your aesthetic aligns with your branding and vice versa – never share anything that doesn’t fit into your brand’s ethos. Edit your photographs in a similar way; use the same tones and familiar shots to help define your aesthetic. Focus on developing a specific theme, color, and/or common composition. Utilize photography apps to enhance your photographs and produce high-quality images.
Decide on the type of content you want to share and the way in which you want to share it. Remember when someone finds your account, the first thing they will probably do is scroll through your feed in grid view (rather than viewing individual photographs) to see, at a glance, what your content looks like altogether. This means it’s important to express a clear representation of what kind of account it is and what content they can expect to see – having a clearly defined, consistent feed means people are more likely to hit “follow.”
For your business, you might want to share finished products but also behind the scenes, work in progress, and a few candid personal moments. You don’t have to completely omit personal content, just remember to keep it within your established aesthetic boundaries.
Consider Separate Accounts
If your personal style doesn’t align with your business aesthetic, consider setting up separate accounts. You can be as free as you want with your personal account while curating a very specific aesthetic for your business resulting in the best of both worlds.
To remain consistent with Instagram it’s important to post regularly without being spammy, withholding photographs to post later makes it easy to forget to post them altogether. There are several apps that allow you to schedule photographs and even post content for you – or you can hire Sandy Hibbard Creative and we will do the work for you!
CHAPTER 4 – Three Most Important Rules for an Instagram Campaign
So we have established that Instagram is the hottest network going right now, yet you may be hesitant to jump into the photo-marketing realm, I can’t blame you, it can be intimidating. But the good news is, you don’t have to be a prolific photographer to have a great Instagram feed that attracts people and increases awareness of your brand. You just have to keep a few key things in mind. Instagram is not like Facebook or Twitter. It is not like Pinterest, it has it’s own unique type of follower and it’s own unique platform – so it demands it’s own set of rules.
In running Instagram campaigns for my clients, I have learned through trial and error and testing what works… and what doesn’t. Here are my TOP 3 things you need to consider when building out your Instagram strategy, there are more, but if you start with these three first, I believe you will see growth and success in your marketing effort:
GREAT PHOTOS – Remember above all things that Instagramers are photo snobs, we love great photography, we are there to see great photography. Please don’t sell with your photo, instead, tell a story that represents your brand mood. Use only clear, quality photos.
MASTER HASHTAGS – You will attract more people to your feed with hashtags. Master your hashtags like you do your keywords. Use hashtags to describe your photo and the message you are sending. People looking for that same subject matter will find you more easily. Additionally, use your branded hashtags that represent your company and services on every post.
AVOID TEXT ON YOUR PHOTOS – Do not use text on your photos, save the text for the comment section on your post. Text takes away from your image and makes it feel like an ad… and Instagram doesn’t like it. The most successful ran campaigns from big brands are not traditional ads with text, but photos that capture the mood of the brand and represent the products they are selling.
In the above image I used for my client who is an Italian hat maker, I captured an impromptu photo while out shopping (with permission of course). The photo tells a story and is fun and certainly represents the mood of the brand. Hashtags used? #italianhats #shoppingNYC #nycstyle #boyshats #passagrillihats #goorinbrothers… etc.
There is much more to consider when planning any marketing campaign, including Instagram, so we will save that for PART 2 of the “INSTAGRAM MARKETING SERIES: Building a Dynamic Instagram Feed and Boosting your Social Influence”. I hope that PART 1 has given you some inspiration to get started…