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What To Do When Adding Instagram to Your Marketing Plan

Tips on Growing Your Business Using the World's Most Popular Social Media

Before my son was born, I was all about Facebook. I had an instagram with a whopping three photographs and a deleted Snapchat app. My sole purpose in using social media was to keep in touch with friends, share pictures from important or exciting days, and read shared content. 

After his birth, however, Instagram quickly became my new hub. It was a place where I could scroll through new mom friends’ photographs of their children without wordy political rants in between. I could laugh at stories posted by former students about their college experiences. And, I could follow the increasingly popular mom-bloggers offering countless suggestions about how to entertain my active one-year-old. 

With 1 billion monthly users and 500 million daily active users, Instagram is growing in popularity. It’s no wonder, as Instagram’s strength is its focus on visuals that allows the audience to get information quickly, while simultaneously showing off your company’s product in a straightforward way. Its unique, more recent offerings, such as stories and Instagram local, complement Instagram’s hashtags, comments, and links as significant opportunities for customer engagement. 

While an Instagram following can take time to gain traction, if used strategically, it can be a vital addition to your business’ marketing plan. The app’s ability to keep you connected to old customers as you reach new ones, help form strategic relationships with like-minded companies, and show off your brand’s personality are valuable assets that should not be ignored. Keeping in mind the following tips as you build your Instagram can help you use these features to your advantage and see results.

Show Off Your Personality 

As you decide what to post, consider what your brand stands for and what your audience wants to see. Think about when someone clicks on your page and views your grid. Is there a thematic visual element that brings it all together and sends a clear message to the customer?

Style is important, but, of course, so is content. Posts showing your products--food your restaurant serves, clothes you make, or the latest wedding photographs you shot--are essential components of your page. However, leave room to post images and content that relates to what you do but isn’t directly about you

For instance, a motivational quote or visually appealing photograph about nature might engage the audience of a landscaping company. A picture of an on-set mishap would be a relatable addition to a filmmaker’s page. As much as you want to focus on showcasing your products to the world, the primary motive of any social media is to engage. Instagram is no different. No one is going to care about an account that only focuses on selling. Engagement should be the priority.

The addition of “stories” to Instagram has created another way to connect with your audience and give them a look into who you really are. 

Instagram stories are at the top of your feed and last 24 hours. These short compilations of videos and photographs are a great way to show what your team did that day, respond to customer questions through text or as a video, or to explain how your products work. Through this feature, the audience learns your personality, which only drives them closer to brand loyalty. 

Collaborate With Similar Businesses

As Instagram profiles are primarily owned by individuals rather than companies, collaborating is easy. Many users participate in “Follow Friday”, where they plug other Instagram accounts they like or are similar to theirs. My favorite mom-blogger just shared a fellow mom’s page about how to save money on toddler clothes? I’m in! When another profiles gives you a shout out, their followers will see it as a vote of confidence from a brand or person that they already trust. 

Like any relationship, Instagram relationships do take time to build. Start by seeking out like-minded brands or individuals and leave comments on their posts. Engage with them. Maybe offer to host an event together. Many book-related Instagram accounts, for instance, often work together to create reading challenges for their followers. Treat the site as a virtual never-ending networking event.

Use Hashtags to Broaden Your Audience

Back in my teaching years, while describing the number symbol, my middle schoolers quickly corrected my use of the word “pound” to “hashtag”. By now, hashtags have become part of the vernacular and, to use Instagram effectively, you need to know how to use them. Hashtags, rather than simply keywords, are what potential followers use as search terms on the site.

Many businesses make the mistake of making hashtags on their own, ones that are perhaps a little humorous or maybe company-specific, or random ones that seem to fit the posted image. Instead, do some research. Check out which hashtags are popular or trending. Using these hashtags gives your images a chance to show up on trending pages and reach a wider audience. In general, be sure the hashtags you use are already in use to allow the most opportunities for connection.

However, you also want to include hashtags that are specific enough so that your images can be found easily. Rather than simply “#photographer”, for example, “femalephotographer” or “femaleweddingphotographer” may narrow down the images that appear, while still connecting to enough of an audience. When searching #photographer, a potential follower can view 145 million images. Not only is this overwhelming; it makes it very unlikely this person will locate your business. #femaleweddingphotographer, while still popular, has far fewer images to scroll through, making it easier for your image to be seen.

Interact and Engage Through Comments 

One habit businesses unsuccessful at social media marketing share is posting without monitoring. Comments are left with no responses and the mindset becomes “onto the next post”. However, in order to build an engaged following, you have to engage with your followers. 

If users are taking the time to respond to your post and even refer friends, they deserve a response. Of course, these can be a simple “thank you” or emoji, as long as they feel acknowledged in some way. Engaging these followers makes them feel a part of your community and, as a result, more loyal to your business.

Consistently engaging with followers also helps build a stronger following while maintaining existing relationships. While your posts may be attempts to attract new people to your page, your conversations with current followers ensures you don’t lose any in the process. 

When your followers tag friends in a comment and you respond, those friends get an instant positive first impression. Comments also help to sustain networking relationships, as consistently engaging shows each other and shared followers how committed you are.

Take Advantage of Instagram Local

One recent addition to the site that can give your business an edge on the competition is Instagram local. Much like Google My Business, Instagram local allows users to share the business’ address, operating hours, and website through their pages

Instagram local pages can be linked to Instagram accounts, which gives small businesses yet another way to build a following and promote their pages. Also, when you tag your location on an image, the follower can quickly view your business’ information instead of looking it up separately. Quick and easy access to your information can be an enormous advantage for your business.

When creating a digital marketing plan for your business, Facebook seems to always be a given. However, many are missing the potential gold mine that Instagram offers. The site not only boasts active and dedicated users, but also a strong ability to help build and sustain a network. Coupled with your own ability to showcase what your company is all about and a willingness to engage with customers, Instagram can help you build your brand more organically and, in the end, more successfully.

Dan CooleyComment