Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social networks, boasting 700 million monthly active users. This year, more brands are projected to use Instagram than Twitter, and per-follower engagement on Instagram is 58 times greater than Facebook. With stats like that, is it any wonder more and more online retailers are using this social media platform as an integral part of their marketing strategy? However, it’s not just for retailers, Instagram can be a powerful social media platform for businesses of all kinds.
The biggest challenge is to maintain visibility and maximise engagement levels. Instagram’s timeline priorities posts from accounts that users interact with the most so this makes it crucial for brands to keep their audience interested and engaged.
So, what can businesses do to increase engagement?
It may seem obvious but images are essential to Instagram. You should aim to use images that will appeal to your audience and encourage them to interact with you. Fortunately, Instagram’s editing tools make it quick and easy to enhance your images with various filters and the ability to adjust the brightness, contrast and structure. You should aim to develop a signature style of photography that makes your feed memorable and an image instantly recognisable as one of yours.
If you are not using hashtags, that means only your followers will see your image. Hashtags help to get exposure to the audience you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Many people search for hashtags that are related to their interests and therefore they are likely to engage in this way.
Hashtags should be related to your brand and your target audience in order to attract the right users. It can also be worth searching for popular hashtags within your industry, hashtags that influencers in your industry, or even your competition are using.
If you want your post to reach a wider audience, use five to ten relevant hashtags, avoiding the most common or anything too niche. You can use up to 30 per post, however this can look less genuine and distract from your supporting caption.
It is also possible to create your own hashtag to build a community, for example it could be your marketing campaign strapline, or something to do with your brand identity.
Instagram Stories uses a separate feed that shows photos and videos for only 24 hours. This feature was introduced last year, however the number of daily users is growing at a fast pace, and has already surpassed Snapchat. Many brands are taking advantage of this feature, using it in different ways compared to their main feed.
Insta Stories could be a quick interview with a member of your team or a specialist in your industry, a behind the scenes glimpse of your office, a snapshot of an event, or a product demo, to name just a few ideas.
Insta Stories have real-time value and can add a face to your brand. Stories are meant to be more raw, so the key is not to get too hung up on their quality and have fun with them.
Instagram’s stories feature isn’t just for uploading photos and videos: it can also be used to broadcast live video to your followers. Launching a live broadcast works in the same way as creating a new story but swiping right to the live option.
Some followers will get a notification to say you’re broadcasting live and you can take and respond to comments if you choose to.
With Instagram, when your followers comment on your posts you should always respond. This is particularly important if they’ve asked a question as it is shows you are an active brand. Other followers are also more likely to notice that you are interactive which may encourage them to leave comments too.
When commenting, you should try to be specific about their posts as if your comments are too general or short then it can come across as less genuine.
Make the most of influencers who are relevant to your brand by getting them involved in an Instagram takeover. To carry out an Instagram takeover, you could either allow your influencer access to your account so they can publish in real-time, or they could send you the content in advance.
This can provide exciting content for your audience and creates another perspective on your brand. It also indicates to your audience that the influencer trusts and recommends your brand, all of which can help increase engagement.
All of your Instagram efforts should be driven by strategic goals. What is your business hoping to achieve by using Instagram?
- Increase product sales
- Drive traffic to your website
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Attract top talent
- Identifying and establishing relationships with influencers
Your business won’t succeed on Instagram by simply mimicking the strategy of other brands. Make sure you’re catering to the interests and expectations of your audience.