Instagram is not as popular as Facebook or Twitter among marketers and that is because most marketing professionals do not “get it”. However, Instagram is a platform that simply cannot be avoided because of its sheer popularity among users.
Why you need to care about Instagram?
In just over 2 months of its release, there were more than 1 million users. Currently, the platform has more than 150 million users and they share & consume images every fraction of a second. Instagram is free to use and can be a very powerful medium to share corporate images & the story of your brand.
Instagram is a powerful platform to connect with your target audience and increase brand visibility. All that one needs to do is create a free Instagram account and begin to post pictures that tell the story. There are several ways one can begin to use Instagram without feeling overwhelmed or “stuck”.
In this article, let us take a look at some of the most important steps to connect with your target audience using Instagram. It is not difficult but it needs a little bit of planning and some amount of discipline.
Create a profile
Creating a profile on Instagram is free and does not take a lot of effort. Instagram will require you to use a smartphone in order to post pictures. Ensure that your smartphone has a good camera. Use a good Android smartphone with a decent camera or any of the iPhones. Use a profile image that clearly helps people in identifying your company. Keywords, mission and other information can be added to your profile to help people identify & recognize your brand.
Learn to use the tools
Instagram’s USP is its filters. The filters allow people to post pictures that are slightly altered to create a different mood. The trick is to identify which filter looks the best for a certain picture that you have taken. Sometimes, a black and white picture speaks a lot more than garishly colorful pictures. Other times, you might want to use retro filters to pique nostalgia among your followers. Instagram allows you to insert hashtags, just like Twitter and now, recently, like Facebook. These hashtags help people to identify your business quickly when they are looking for certain hashtags. Make sure that you have a collection of hashtags for which you would want to be uniquely identified. Good descriptions for each photograph helps people to find humor and wit, which naturally encourages them to follow you.
The human touch
There isn’t a better way to tell the story of your bran than to show that behind the veneer of business, you are all made of flesh and bones. Post pictures of your employees and of pets, if you have any. Cat pictures, naturally, guarantee follows, likes and comments. If you cannot have cats in your office premises, ensure that you click pictures of some ferals and prove your love for animals. A restaurant that is interested in saving feral cats by promoting trap-neuter-return (TNR) has more chances of finding followers on Instagram than a restaurant that posts pictures of various delectable dishes cooked by the master chef. Use Instagram to your advantage and do not be afraid to post pictures of causes that you support as a business.
Importance of history and heritage
Another great way to narrate the history of your brand is to rekindle some enthusiasm for history. If you have been around for a long time, post pictures of your earlier days. Do not have a history to boast? Then create some history by posting historical images from the community you operate in. All that a company needs to do is to get creative.
Pictures of happy customers
Ask your customers if you can take their pictures and post their pictures on Instagram, when they look happy and cheerful. Smiles always get attention and if they happen to be your customers. That will earn you more goodwill and positive attention.
Ensure that you always take part in community events and social causes. Whether it is feeding the homeless or taking care of stray dogs, make sure that you, as a business, have something to return to your community. When people get to know that you are more than just a money-making business, they will begin to respect your business on the whole. Whether you operate online or offline, you still operate within the jurisdiction of a community. Be grateful to that community and show your love & respect by trying to improve the place; and share those pictures for ensured goodwill.
Follow the trends
Instagram has trending topics just like Twitter does and it is a good way to understand what is popular at the moment. With that in mind, it is a good idea to follow some trends and participate in them as well. It might take a little while for you to understand how to use these tools but with practice, you will be able to learn how to post images that will gather more likes and comments, encouraging people to actually follow you & engage with you.
Engage with your audience
Just because you are a business does not mean you need to be dry and guarded. Let loose and engage with your audience. Make sure that you also stray off your own hashtags and keywords once in a while. It is a social media platform after all and not just a tool to add filters to photos and bombard your audience with them. Engage your audience and talk to them often like their pictures & even leave behind witty comments. People are bound to click on your ID and arrive at your pictures too.
Have fun when you do it
Do not use Instagram as if it were a duty to do so. Enjoy using it and have fun while you do so. By having fun when you use Instagram, you will be able to spread cheer and that will reflect in the kind of photos you share as well. It is, indeed, easier to engage with your audience when you are enjoying doing so. When people are enjoying themselves online or offline, it is evident in the kind of images and comments they post. It is simply not possible to entertain and attract audience unless you are enjoying what you are doing.
Promote your Instagram account
This goes without being said. You cannot expect to gain followers without promoting your account. Share pictures from your Instagram and ensure that they are often posted to Twitter & Facebook as well. This need not become a routine but needs to be done only when you have a compelling photo that can be shared across all platforms. In other circumstances, post unique pictures to Twitter and Facebook & encourage your followers and friends there to visit your Instagram profile for more pictures. That way, people will not only follow you on Instagram but will know that you are not a bot who has begun to cross-post across all platforms.
Nothing encourages people to engage more than competitions. Encourage people to share great pictures of them using your products or something along those lines. Offer discounts to people who share the best pictures or offer freebies, depending on what you can afford. By encouraging competitive spirit among your followers, you might as well gain new followers. It is one of the tried and tested methods to gain followers both online & offline. Instagram competitions can also be announced on Facebook and Twitter so that people who are not yet using Instagram will create accounts & begin to follow you.
Instagram might be a platform that isn’t very popular among traditional businesses (also known as those who are resistant to change). That does not mean it is too late to jump into the bandwagon. In fact, jumping into the Instagram is recommended and encouraged by our social media experts. Learning how to use this simple mobile application can have profound effects on the way your business communicates with your audience. It is important to engage them in fruitful conversations, share images that provoke thought and create situations where people will want to share your Instagram profile themselves. All that require great pictures, wit and amazing comments. A little bit of creativity and some discipline is required too.