Instagram has become one of the most popular, engaging, and well-designed applications available. Minimalistic, visually appealing, and full of highly-engaged users, Instagram can make a large impact on a business. With limited capabilities on the social platform, it’s up to marketers to get creative and find ways to grab the attention of their target audience with visuals and limited text. A challenge, yes, but if done right, a strong Instagram page can drive sales, increase brand awareness, and allow you to engage better with your customers. Once you’ve decided Instagram is an appropriate social channel for your business, it’s time to create a well thought out and actionable checklist of tasks for getting started.
1. Set Goals
The urge to set up an Instagram account and begin posting may be a hard one to avoid, but it’s imperative to hold off and set goals before launching posts. Brainstorm with your team and start a bullet-point list of goals you want to achieve by joining the social network. Perhaps you are looking for another platform where you can interact with customers, a way to increase online sales or simply increase brand awareness on an extremely populated platform.
It may seem a bit obvious to brainstorm goals before setting up your account, but by seeing goals down on paper, you are setting a clear call-to-action to guide your decisions, optimize your content and position messaging.
2. Identify Your Audience
How can you market to an audience if you haven’t clearly identified who they are? The more information you have on them, the easier your job will be. Let’s say your client is a beauty brand and you are joining Instagram to both drive online sales for your e-commerce site and increase brand awareness. Start out by creating a customer persona to better understand what your ideal customer deems important when looking at a beauty brand. You’ll want to highlight several components of them
- Interests – both related and unrelated to your business
- Accounts they engage with
- The types of imagery they post to their accounts
- Products and services they enjoy
Users have become smarter than ever and can easily and quickly identify when they are being sold to. You need to find a way to humanize your brand and go beyond posting products and deals. A great rule of thumb for social media marketing is the 70/30 guideline, where about 70 percent of your posts will contact something your audience values, and 30 percent will be focused on your brand and its products/services.[Tweet “5 steps to start effectively using #Instagram to market your #business.”]
3. Create a Style Guide
Now that you have goals outlined and an understanding of whom you are marketing to, it’s time to get creative. Take a look at what other brands are doing, both competitors and non-competitors. Browse relevant hashtags and your ideal audience members’ accounts. Take notes on how your brand can pull influences from these accounts but set itself apart with a totally unique and eye-catching account page. A few questions to ask yourself are, what emotions do you want users to feel when browsing your page? What color palette and tone make the most sense? Keep in mind Instagram is a photo application at its core, known for limited text in captions. You’ll need to be creative visually on this platform and leave text heavy content to Facebook. Be sure to keep a consistent visual style on your account page to build credibility and create original, easily identifiable content.
4. Create a Content Calendar
A great way to stay on top of posts and plan out your content is to create a content calendar. A content calendar allows you to prepare all of the content for the month ahead of time so you can easily see which posts need special imagery, videos, and Boomerangs.
Keep in mind that you will need to be flexible with your content calendar. As news breaks and events happen in real-time, you may want to capitalize off of it and incorporate different content into your posts.
Instagram for Business
A newer function of Instagram is the ability to set an account to a business account. When a business changes their account settings, they will have a “Contact” feature on their Instagram profile where users can contact them through email or phone. The business account also allows companies to see insights like impressions, reach, website clicks, followers, and follower demographic information. These are extremely useful tools to any digital marketer running an Instagram account.
Your business will perform best on Instagram with well thought out objectives, humanized content, captivating imagery, and brand voice. Dig deep into who your audience is and what they truly care about to create a valuable relationship between them and your brand. Keep your posts on-brand and consistent across the platform so your audience can easily identify your business’ content. Next, plan out your content ahead of time with an editorial content calendar so you can loop in content and design teams to execute campaigns when necessary. Lastly, utilize Instagram’s business account feature to gain insightful information and metrics on performance and followers. Use this information and adapt your content to the constantly changing social media landscape.
Once you have these points down and have a solid presence on Instagram, it’s time to take your account to the next level. Explore your options with Instagram Stories, and don’t forget that Instagram has paid advertising too!
Gabriel Shaoolian is the Founder & VP of Digital Services at Blue Fountain Media, an NYC-based digital agency focused on creating custom websites, mobile apps, and digital marketing solutions to grow brands online.