The Value of Instagram Marketing for Business
By Sandy | Feb 28, 2019 (6 min read)
For most business owners, they’re so busy running their business that updating social media seems like a pointless waste of time.
Why bother posting day after day, just to see a few likes or random comments, but no sales?
As a marketing agency, we get it: social media feels painful.
Why then, should business owners even consider Instagram as a potential marketing platform?
One word: engagement.
Since 2010, Instagram has grown to become a powerhouse when it comes to capturing attention. More than any other platform it keeps users glued to their phones for hours each day.
Consider some of the current Instagram statistics:
- 1 Billion + Instagram accounts worldwide are active every single month.
- 500 Million + Instagram accounts worldwide are active every single day.
- 80 Percent of accounts follow a business on Instagram.
- 500 Million + accounts use Instagram Stories every day.
Like Facebook, Except Cool
The biggest advantage that Instagram has is that its online image remains untarnished by privacy scandals, or overloaded by advertising.
Facebook during the past couple of years has shaped its image of being for ‘everyone.’ It’s also bombarded everyone with ads. The problem is for anyone under the age of 30, they tend to see Facebook as ‘uncool.’ It’s just a place to go every few weeks to check on family members.
‘Uncool’ means don’t bother going there. ‘Don’t bother going there’ means zero engagement potential.
Luckily, despite the fact that Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, it has yet to gain the same stigma as it’s parent company.
Any post displayed on Instagram has stronger interest value just because it doesn’t carry the same ‘uncool feeling’ that Facebook does.
Business Tools Baked In
Thanks to being owned by Facebook, the still-cool Instagram has the advantage of the Facebook advertising platform behind them.
Using the Facebook ads platform, a business can quickly create and monitor their paid campaigns. They can also switch to a business account to get detailed metrics to track engagement.
What does this mean for business owners? That they can grab engagement and promote services in a way that people actually see them, and are interested in them.
Welcome to the Social Marketplace
Influencer Marketing Hub describes Instagram as a ‘social marketplace.’
This is a great way to think of Instagram: it’s not a store, it’s not an ad platform. It’s a place where people go for entertainment, inspiration, and escape.
People go to Instagram to see what’s new. If a brand can fit in with this ethos, they’ll find more success.
What Does Engagement Really Mean?
Engagement is how someone interacts with content. Likes, comments, and shares all mean that someone was interested (at least for a second). As a business, we want engagement because it helps us know if people are liking what we’re posting.
So, with this in mind, here are ten ways that we have discovered to increase their Instagram engagement.
1) Engagement always comes first
Social media isn’t Amazon. People don’t come to Facebook or Instagram looking to buy. Any brand that tries to push for a sale to quickly will be punished.
Instead of calls to buy, think of calls to engagement. What can the business show or say that creates interest or reactions? Thinking about the engagement before buying means that the content will have more of an impact.
2) Using and following hashtags
While hashtags have been around for some time, one of the newest features of Instagram is the ability for users to follow hashtags.
This furthers the chances of engaging with new users differently.
Hashtags help Instagram to define the category of a post. So, as a brand, use the hashtags that the business wants to be associated with.
Determine which hashtags are on the periphery of a product or service and experiment with them. Test several new hashtags with every post, and follow all hashtags that are relevant to the business, to better engage with other users.
3) Showing consistency
Each Instagram user has their favorite people and brands that they follow. And the more consistent the messages and stories, the more the person trusts the brand.
Some excellent examples of consistency are Glossier, Vans, and Darling Media. They stick to their core demographic and share valuable ideas and inspiration to their audience.
4) Leveraging Influencers
There is no bigger buzzword in marketing than ‘influencer.’ The idea that somebody can share their passion with the world and cash in on it is both incredible and impressive.
If Instagram influencers in the same niche area as the business, it might be worth exploring a paid promotion or sponsorship with them. This can be a smart way to connect to new prospects and transfer the trust they have with their audience over to the brand.
5) Daily Stories
The addition of Instagram stories to the platform was at first labeled as a Snapchat clone, but today has become a staple part of what Instagram is about. The daily stories that users post are more current, in-the-moment and less curated than their posts. But they are no less engaging.
One of the huge benefits of using stories is that they sit at the top of the app, giving them center stage when it comes to engagement. It takes some time to get a feel for how to best use Instagram stories, but the benefits are worth it.
6) Direct Messaging
The catchphrase ‘sliding into the DM’ took over Instagram about 2 years ago. It was meant to signify taking a public conversation to a private Direct Message (DM).
Today, the DM feature of Instagram is a way to engage personally.
Thank those who follow the brand, answer questions they might have, or share specific offers with them in a personal way. Be cautious not to spam any users via direct message. Think of it as a place to be more personal with customers on a one-to-one level.
7) Pictures still reign supreme
The growth of video and text posts on Instagram has led some businesses astray. Text posts promoting services, or video posts that are really just ads talking about products and services are becoming rampant.
But the research shows that images still get the most engagement. According to a recent study, images on Instagram will generate 36% more likes than videos.
Posts with engaging images that represent the brand story, mission or personality can be very appealing. Look to companies such as Nike as an example of how this is done.
8) Act Natural
People know when they’re being sold something. A brand that tries to sneak offers into their posts too often, or uses clickbait to get attention will fail on Instagram.
Start with the focus of engagement and building trust. When brands act like a human, they will gain a connection with humans. Simple.
9) Positioning Matters
Each business has a unique target audience, but they are generally part of a broader industry. It’s essential as part of brand messaging that a company includes some positioning. This means showing how the business is different from competitors, and a leader in the industry.
Positioning doesn’t mean bragging. It means giving back in ways that help those interested in the business, or the industry. It means sharing generously instead of trying to beat everyone else. This is a big shift in thinking, but it makes an impact on an audience. In all online marketing, and especially on Instagram, make sure to position the brand correctly.
There is no greater way to engage than to ask a question. Posts that ask for feedback or insights from their audience will always get more engagement.
The use of polls in Instagram stories is another excellent way to grow connection and interactivity. The more calls to action, the better the engagement will be.
As with all social media, the landscape of Instagram is still changing and evolving. It is each businesses’ responsibility to keep adapting and learning new ways to engage with prospective customers.
When it comes to marketing, Instagram is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward platform to engage with customers today.
It boasts a vast user base that has currently incredibly strong engagement. For businesses looking to give themselves an edge, it can be a great addition to any digital marketing strategy.