For most business owners, the challenge of engaging on social media is tricky. They are so busy running their business that the idea of updating Facebook and Twitter seems fruitless. Then along comes yet another platform that they are told needs their attention.
Why then, should business owners consider Instagram as a marketing platform?
One word: engagement.
Since 2010, Instagram has grown to become a powerhouse when it comes to influencing and engaging users. Consider some of the current statistics that Instagram boasts:
- 800 Million Instagram accounts worldwide are active every single month.
- 500 Million Instagram accounts worldwide are active every day.
- 80 Percent of accounts follow a business on Instagram.
- 300 Million accounts use Instagram Stories every day.
Like Facebook, except cool
Another massive 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 grown to have the image of being for ‘everyone.’ For younger generations, this means they tend to see it as ‘uncool’ and not as valuable.
Despite the fact that Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, it has not suffered from the same stigma as it’s parent company.
Anything that is displayed on Instagram has a much higher intrinsic value just because it doesn’t carry the same ‘feeling’ that Facebook or Twitter does.
Business tools all baked in
Despite not being seen in the same light as Facebook, Instagram has the advantage of the successful Facebook advertising platform behind them. You can quickly create and monitor paid campaigns. Their business account also offers highly detailed metrics to track engagement.
Because of all these factors, direct advertising on Instagram is extremely easy for brands.
Influencer Marketing Hub describes Instagram as a ‘social marketplace.’ This is a great way to think of the app. It is not a store, nor an ad platform. It is a place where people visit for entertainment, inspiration and to see what’s new. If your brand can fit in with this ethos, you are more likely to find success on Instagram.
Here are six ways that we have noticed the best brands use Instagram to engage:
1) Calls to Engagement
One fundamental difference between advertising in conventional platforms compared to social media is that you can’t hard sell people. They don’t come to the platform looking to buy and they will soon turn against any brand that tries to push for a sale.
Instead of calls to action, think of calls to engagement. What can you show or say that make your potential customers want to engage with you? How can you make them desire to stay connected or view more of your posts? Thinking in this way means that the content you create 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 in a different way. Most people use hashtags to define the category of their post. As a brand, you must determine which hashtags are the most valuable for you to be associated with.
Further than this, you can determine which hashtags are on the periphery of your product or service and experiment with them. Test several new hashtags each time you post, and also follow as many hashtags as are relevant to your business so you can 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) Collaborating with influencers
There is perhaps no bigger buzzword today in digital 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 you have influencers in your niche area of business, it is well worth exploring a paid promotion or sponsorship with them. This can be an incredibly valuable way to connect to new prospects and transfer the trust they have with their audience over to you.
5) Posting 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) DMing with your customers
The catchphrase ‘sliding into the DM’ took over Instagram about a year ago. It was meant to signify taking a public conversation to a private Direct Message (DM). Usually, this had romantic connotations, but it can also be useful for business. Used sparingly and respectfully it can set you apart from other brands.
The Direct Message feature of Instagram is a way to personally engage. You can thank those who follow you, 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, and think of it as a place to be more personal with your customers on a one-to-one level.
As with all social media, the landscape of Instagram is still changing and evolving. You have to keep adapting and learning new ways to engage with your prospective customers.
When it comes to marketing, Instagram is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward way to engage with customers today. It boasts a vast user base that has incredibly strong engagement. For businesses looking to give themselves an edge, it can be a great addition to your digital marketing strategy.