4 Brand-Building Tips on Using Instagram for Your Business

How to Create a Powerful Instagram Social Media Marketing Strategy

One of the most powerful marketing tools marketers have today is social media. From Facebook posts to tweets on Twitter, sharing your products or services on social media platforms is a great way to increase brand awareness, engagement, sales and leads.

However, many people are left scratching their heads when it comes to marketing with Instagram.

Many of us use Instagram as a personal account to post photos of our family, friends, vacations and food – but how can it tie into business? And should it?

With the speed of which Instagram is growing, don’t underestimate its value to boost your brand and marketing efforts.

It has grown into an incredibly valuable marketing platform and even though the 18-29 year old’s are still prevalent users, the higher age groups are catching on and catching up fast.

Some 2018 Instagram stats from Sprout Social are telling:

• 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded

• 80% of users follow a business on Instagram

• 65% of top-performing Instagram posts feature products

If you feel the tug to explore Instagram as part of your social media marketing strategy, check out these initial pointers to help you get started:

1. Use Hashtags Wisely

You don’t need to cram every hashtag you can think of in one post, but you do need at least a few.

A hashtag is the # sign followed by descriptive words about your image as in this example, I used #marketing and #ctaconf, which was the conference I was attending at the time.

When a user clicks/taps on a hashtag or types a hashtag into the search box, it brings up all images that use that hashtag. The user can even subscribe to continue to follow that hashtag.

The hope is the user will see your photo, head to your profile and best-case scenario, follow you and get engaged with more of your posts!

However, when hashtags are extremely popular, the competition to show up in the results is fierce. Similar to SEO keywords, the more popular a term is, the harder it is to stay at the top of the search results. Thus, my example of using #marketing really was futile if I wanted to get any traction from that post.

You want to make your hashtags relevant to your business and location, but also engaging enough that a user would type them into Instagram’s search box.

For instance:

• Say you have a pizza joint in Vancouver. You post a pic of your Pepperoni pizza with the hashtags #VancouversBestPizza #NicolosRestaurant #DeliciousDeepDish

• Or you’re a Toronto wedding planner. You post an image of a bride and groom’s first dance with the hashtags #TorontoWeddingPlanner #LoveWins #WinterWedding

Holidays and special events are an excellent time to promote your business and gain Instagram followers. Whether it’s a sale on Black Friday, a Thanksgiving-related use for your product or a product shout-out on National Dog Day, they are all ideal opportunities to showcase your business brand in a non-salesy way.

2. Thank Your Audience for Showing Up

You don’t just post a bunch of photos and hashtags and wait for the likes to roll in.

To gain Instagram followers, engage with your audience and grow sales or leads, you need to put in the time.

See an example here from video expert Michele Moreno where she responds back to each of the comments left on her video post.

So if someone leaves a comment or question on one of your posts, take the time to reply and thank them/answer their question.

Take a look at their profile, and if you like what you see, follow them.

Businesses often follow commenters first, in the hopes that they might return the favour.

You can also look for people who might be interested in your product, then comment on their photos and/or follow them, but don’t spam them with an ask to follow you right away.

3. Interact with the Right Influencers

Influencers are Instagram users who can influence your target audience because of their popularity and/or social media following.

Danielle Bernstein is a good example of an influencer who worked with a brand. You may not recognize her name, but the 1.8 million followers of her Instagram account WeWoreWhat do.

Bernstein and FIJI Water worked together to create BodyWoreWhat, a marketing campaign offering 8-minute workout videos with her and her personal trainer.

That may be an extreme example, and unless you have deep pockets you probably won’t be able to attract an influencer with almost two million followers.

But don’t despair. From mommy bloggers to local foodies, you can always find someone who your target audience follows, likes or admires. Maybe they’d be willing to review your product or take a photo using it – use your imagination!

4. Don’t Just Shill Your Products

Instagram is not the place to simply share product shots all the time. Think of the experience people have using what you’re offering, or the benefits it gives people.

Even better, show real-examples. Asking for user-generated content from your audience is one way to do this. That means that users share their photos using a hashtag you provide.

The online furniture store Wayfair.com does user-generated content very well. They have a user-generated campaign that lets customers share photos of their stylish Wayfair-filled homes using the hashtag #WayfairAtHome.

Be sure to let people know that their images might be featured on your page and you can increase your Instagram content big time – for free!

No matter how you use Instagram for your business, be authentic and true to your brand. It’s what the platform is all about, and it’s going to help you grow your business, gain Instagram followers and attract sales or leads.

Marketing Tips With Twitter – Using Social Media Responsibly

Twitter is one of the latest rages in technology. People use this social media network to follow celebrities, friends, and family or keep up to date with important announcements by organizations during emergencies. Some people have also realized its potential for marketing their businesses. You may be looking into Twitter as a tool for your business or you may already be using it and looking for tips on how to improve your use of it.

You can post mini-blogs, tweets, of links to your website to followers, but do not overdo it. Twitter is a social media network, and people like to be entertained, so be sure to give them entertainment. Scatter posts with jokes, sayings, and links to amusing videos or sites. Instead of simply accosting your followers with ads, build relationships with them by posting things about yourself and your business. You can give a brief biography of yourself and how you started the business, what your mission statement is, etc. People like to give their business to others they know and trust, and in the age of internet and telephone deals, Twitter allows people to connect in a more personal way.

Another key is to know what you want to say. Although this sounds like an obvious thing, it is very important. Twitter allows you to post up to 140 characters at a time, which is only a couple of sentences at most. You want to have a comprehensive picture of the information that you want to share, so you can plan each post to give your customers part of the big picture.

Listen to what your followers tell you and what they talk about. If some of your customers criticize one of your products or services, then do not just tell them they are wrong or ignore their comments. Ask them what they were dissatisfied about and what your company can do to make their next experience better. If you show a real interest in providing for your customers, then they will notice it and pass on word.

Do not forget to connect with other businesses in the same field as you. Not only can you learn from your competitors are doing, but they might also give you some tips on strategies that have worked for them. It is better to learn from someone else’s trial and error rather than make all the same mistakes for yourself. Keep these strategies in mind whether you are devising your marketing plan for Twitter or adjusting it and watch your business grow.