Although it may seem like Instagram has been around since forever, the app was launched in 2010 and is currently amongst the top 10 social networking sites. It had 25,000 users on the first day and commands the attention of 1 billion monthly users now.
Despite the fact that a large amount of content is shared on Instagram each day, the average engagement rate for brands is 1.6% on Instagram, which is more than its counterparts such as Facebook and Twitter. This creates opportunities galore to market if you play your cards right. So, let’s get the ball rolling!
How to market on Instagram?
1. Put a name tag on your marketing goals
So you have been playing around with the idea of Instagram marketing for a while now, and you know that it can help your brand. But do you know which specific marketing goals will Instagram cater to? If yes, you can skip to the next step. If no, linger and let’s paint a clearer picture of your goals.
Your marketing goals could include one or more of the following objectives –
i. Increase brand awareness
ii. Reveal your company culture in all its glory
iii. Create more engagement with your users
iv. Boost your sales
Once you have pinned down your goals, let’s get your Instagram account up and running.
2. Switch to a business account and optimise it
A personal account won’t cut it, so switch to a business account. It can be taken care of in four easy steps:
i. Go to Settings
ii. Click on Account
iii. Click on Switch to Professional Account
iv. Click on Business
A business account comes with the advantage of a contact button, option for promoting posts, and analytics for assessing your performance.
When you are setting up a business account, you need to put in a bit of work to get it right. There are 3 elements that you should be paying attention to: profile picture, bio, and link.
Profile picture: This can be as simple as the logo of your company which is what most companies do. You can also use an image that your audience is familiar with. A logo or a familiar image can be seen as a sign of authenticity.
Bio: This is a short description about your brand which cannot be longer than 150 characters. It should be able to strike a chord with your audience and set you apart in your industry. You can also include a tagline or your brand’s hashtag.
Link: Generally, Instagram permits you to use a link only in your bio. You can include a link to your website, newsletter sign up, podcast, or anything that you want your users to do. Don’t forget to use a URL shortener to avoid links that look like a secret code. If you have been using Instagram religiously, you would know that some marketers update this link whenever they create new content.
There is an exception to the one link rule. If your followers count reaches 10k, then you are allowed to include a link in your stories as well.
4. Create and post engaging, relevant content
While visuals are at the heart of Instagram, there’s more to it than just posting aesthetic pictures. To begin with, your content should align with your marketing goals and your audience’s taste. For example, if your goal is to build an engaged community, you can share customer stories or posts that encourage readers to ask questions.
Here are some other types of content that are popularly used:
Educational: We are all familiar with how-to posts on various social networking sites. This could be a recipe, a workout, self-help, etc.
Behind-the-scenes: This is a great way to show the human side of your brand. It can be lighthearted and show the fun side of your company. You can also make these educational by showing different steps involved in creating a product.
Product demos: While Instagram is a great platform to show your products to a targeted audience, you should steer clear of hard selling.
Polls and ask me anything (AMA): Instagram Stories offer you a template to conduct a poll. This can come handy when you are designing a product. You can also do a Q&A where your followers can ask you questions. This can help you in coming up with new content.
Topical: These are posts on trending topics and are very popular with various brands. These could take a playful or serious tone depending on the context.
Shopping posts: If your primary aim is to drive sales, then you can use Instagram Shopping. However, your account needs to be approved to do the same. Once approved, you can tag products in your posts.
While posting content, you can also play around with different formats like Instagram Stories, one minute videos, Boomerang, Instagram TV (IGTV), and Live.
The type of content you choose does not need to be set in stone, and you can keep experimenting depending on what your audience relates to. However, you should aim for consistency in the voice and aesthetics. Here’s how you can up your aesthetics game –
i. Come up with a color palette: Have you ever associated a brand with a certain personality because of the colors used in their content? That’s partly because their team put careful thought into creating a color palette.
A color palette should ideally be in tune with your other branding which can help in creating brand recognition. It should also complement your content, and make your feed look coherent.
If you feel overwhelmed by the options, you can start with graphic design apps like Canva which will create a palette for you. You can also choose from existing color palettes.
ii. Choose fonts: This will be particularly helpful if you are going to create text-based posts and stories or text overlays. It can be similar to the fonts used on your blog or website.
iii. Choose solid background colors: If most of your images are not going to be taken in picturesque settings, then you should choose a few background colors. You can also choose a rainbow feed in which one color fades into another.
iv. Follow rule of thirds for pictures: If you are not a seasoned photographer, then you can use rule of thirds and act like one! According to this rule, if your photo is divided into a grid, then the viewer is most drawn towards the intersecting points. You can use this to your advantage by placing your subject not at the center of the photo but rather at the intersection.
v. Choose filters and presets: If you believe that your pictures look better with filters, then choose a select few that you will recurrently use. You can also save the filter settings as presets so that you don’t have to wild guess every time.
When you have worked out these details, you can compile it into a style guide which your team can refer to while creating content.
Now that you have settled the question of aesthetics, you can start thinking of ways to deliver this content to your target audience. You can reach new users through hashtags or ads.
i. Hashtags: Hashtags are basically keywords that club together content on similar topics. You can include up to 30 hashtags in your captions and comments. While coming up with hashtags that can increase your reach, think of other keywords that may be related to one hashtag. For example, if you want to share a hot cocoa recipe, then you can use #hotcocoa, #chocolatelovers, #foodphotography and likewise.
If you can’t think of anything, go to the Explore tab, and search for the topics related to your content. Write the keywords in the search bar and click on Tags. When the posts appear, you can see the different hashtags that have been used. You can then choose ones that suit your context.
Besides having your own brand hashtags, you can blend together different kinds of hashtags, which can be specific or general. This will help you in reaching out to different kinds of customers.
ii. Ads: Instagram ads can be in the form of stories, carousel, videos, image posts, IGTV, etc., and they are labelled as ‘sponsored’. Each of them can have different CTAs such as swipe up, shop now, and learn more. They can direct the user to the ad creator’s account or another landing page like a website or an app like Spotify.
Over the past few years, the organic reach on social networking sites such as Instagram and Facebook has declined. In this case, targeted advertising can help you reach your potential customers. The content of your ad is a key deciding factor in this. Instagram prioritises ads that would be more relevant for a user. This allows users with any budget to promote their content.
Once you have a content strategy in place, you are only one step away from completing your Instagram marketing plan which is to determine how will you measure your performance. As a starting point, you can explore Instagram Insights.
What are Instagram Insights and how can you use it?
Business account users on Instagram can see data relating to their followers and performance of their posts and ads. This includes demographics such as age, gender , and location of your followers, number of views, comments, and likewise. This tool is present within your account and is called Instagram Insights.
You can access it by clicking on the menu icon at the right hand corner of your profile. Once you are there, you will see 3 tabs: Activity, Content, and Audience.
Activity can tell you how many users have visited your profile or clicked on the link in your bio in the past week. It also tells you how many users have seen your content in comparison to the past week.
Content tab lets you see performance of each post, story, and ad. You can also choose from different time frames depending on whether it’s a post, story, or ad.
Lastly, Audience gives you details about demographics and follower count.
With so much data available, how to choose which metrics should you be closely monitoring? You can choose to analyse specific data depending on your marketing goals. However, if you are starting out, you can start by tracking the following numbers –
1. Reach: This is the number of unique users who have seen your content. Another term that is closely related to this metric is impressions. Impressions are the total number of users to whom your content was displayed. This may, however, not give you an accurate idea of how much brand awareness you are creating. For example, sometimes you see a post multiple times on your feed but that does not necessarily mean that you actually looked at it.
2. Engagement: While a lot of people might be seeing your post, it is also necessary to know how many are engaging with it. This can be calculated differently across different businesses, but here is a general formula –
(total number of likes+comments/number of followers)*100
Another way you can measure engagement is through looking at the number of saves that your post receives.
3. Follower growth: Steady follower growth over time is an indicator that you are on the right track with your content.
4. Follower demographics: While you may be seeing a satisfactory growth in the number of followers, you also need to ascertain that these followers are your target audience. One way to do this could be looking at their demographics such as age, gender, and location.
5. Traffic from link: You can track the number of people who are clicking on your link by adding UTM parameters, which work like tags.
This was a beginner’s guide to getting started with Instagram marketing. If you want to learn more, you can check out Internshala’s Digital Marketing training.