Complete Guide To Instagram Marketing
In this article, I will cover the Instagram basics as well as its limitations for marketers. We’ll walk through platform navigation, account types and their benefits. Lastly, we’ll discuss account and post-optimization and talk through a key feature of the platform, Instagram Stories.
Instagram is a visual platform used to share moments and communicate one’s point of view to the world.
While Instagram is a great marketing tool for businesses, it does present a few limitations:
- Once chronological, the content populated in users’ home feed is now algorithmically based on user behaviours making it difficult to share the news that is time-sensitive.
- When posting video content organically, note there is a 60 second time limit.
- Additionally, organic posts don’t offer robust analytics to thoroughly assess engagement and other performance metrics.
- Organic posts also don’t allow for clickable links, which makes it challenging to drive traffic to a destination outside of Instagram.
Instagram Marketing Features
Activity: A newsfeed style feature, divided into ‘Following’ and ‘You’ sections that keeps users up-to-date on recent activity from people they are following.
Search and Explore: Where content of interest can be discovered from accounts you don’t yet follow.
Instagram Filters: A variety of photographic enhancements that can be applied to content before publishing.
Instagram Stories: A feature that allows users share ephemeral moments of their day, appearing together in a slideshow format to create a visual story.
Regram: The act of posting user-generated content (UGC) on your own Instagram page.
Instagram Live: A feature that allows users share live video with their followers and friends on Instagram.
For marketers using Instagram marketing, the ‘You’ section of the Activity feed is a great way to assess what content is resonating with your followers. Also, depending on who you choose to follow, you can potentially get great insights on what other’s are interested in and when they’re active on the platform by reviewing the ‘Following’ section of the Activity feed.
Search and Explore on Instagram can be used by marketers to research what type of content is trending and popular across the entire platform, especially content that is similar to what your business is posting or engaging with. Consider typing your business name or other keywords relevant to your business in the search bar to get inspired by other compelling content and optimize your posts.
Instagram filters can be used by marketers to make content more visually arresting and appealing. It’s important to enhance your content in a way that will encourage users to stop scrolling through their feed and engage with your post.
Instagram Stories are a great way for marketers to capture live events, share exclusive promotions, bring followers behind-the-scenes, test new ideas, and engage influencers by allowing them to take over your account.
Similar to Instagram Stories, Instagram Live is also a great way to capture live events and adds a greater degree of urgency for followers to engage. However, when you finish broadcasting a Live video on Instagram Stories, you’ll have the option to share it to your story for 24 hours before it disappears or discard it immediately.
Sharing the Live video to your Story can also help garner additional engagement as Live video replays include all the likes and comments from your original live video. The number of viewers for your live video includes everyone who watched the live video and the replay.
Another unique and useful feature for Instagram Live is the ability go live with a friend. To do so, you simply add a guest while you’re broadcasting by tapping the icon on the bottom right and tapping “Add” to invite anyone who’s currently watching. Once they join, you’ll see the screen split into two and your friend pop up right below you.
Your viewers can still like and comment as they follow along. You can remove your guest and add someone else at any time, or they can also choose to exit on their own. This tactic can be used to partner with other brands or collaborate with influencers in an authentic way.
As mentioned, hashtags can help marketers to help increase brand recognition, expand their reach, and target new customers. One of the ways to do that on Instagram by using popular hashtags like #TBT, #PhotoOfTheDay, #NoFilter, and more. To have better search results for your brand, use the SEO keywords that are part of your content strategy. Be sure to consistently monitor what hashtags your community is using to ensure you are on top of trends and their needs.
Through your feed or Search and Explore you may come across content that you’d like to Regram. The benefits of Regramming are that it can:
- Highlight other content that promotes your business
- Increase community interaction by showcasing user-generated content and thereby encourage community engagement by motivating followers to post content worthy of being re-shared
- Can be used to promote content from other Instagram accounts that your business owns.
There are two types of accounts you can have on Instagram: Organic and Business
- An Organic Instagram account is more human and familiar to a social media audience and is able to connect more easily with other accounts.
- Business accounts provide additional post analytics and allow you to utilize paid advertising and share contact and website information to help drive business results.
Now let’s talk through the benefits of each account in more detail:
Organic accounts as part of Instagram marketing
- Allow you to engage and build relationships over time with people interested in your business.
- Easier to be found on Instagram search.
- Ability to respond to comments on ads or posts and move these communications to direct messages.
- Clickable account name when you use advertising meaning people can visit your Instagram account, learn more about your business, view your organic posts and follow your account.
Business Accounts as part of Instagram marketing
- Provide increased chances of being discovered through Instagram’s algorithm.
- Users can immediately recognize that you are a business.
- Ability to add contact details, a business address and contact CTA.
- Robust analytics with the insights view: overall impressions, top posts (reach, impressions, engagement), follower growth, location and demographics.
- Instagram ads within the platform.
- Higher chance of being promoted.
Now that you’ve set up your account. Let’s discuss the best practices for posting on Instagram:
- Keep captions short and utilize them as a concise way to deliver your message.
- Don’t use more than three hashtags in the caption – three or more will detract from the simplicity of the post.
- Use pictures with your logo visible on the product/packaging and ensure the image has a strong focal point so it sends a clear message.
- Post photos/videos of beautiful and unexpected moments that exude authenticity and tell a story.
- And all your posts should share your unique business point of view.
- As mentioned previously, it is best practice to obtain permission to use content if you do not own it.
- Utilizing social influencers is a great way to promote your content and expand your reach.
- Add emoji’s to your captions to demonstrate authenticity given that Instagram is a mobile-based social media platform.
- Create a variety of content inclusive of photos and videos and leverage the Instagram sister apps, Layout and Boomerang to create additional visual interest.
- Keep your content and posting schedule consistent to give your followers something to look forward to.
- Include a CTA to encourage a desired action from your audience.
Posting Instagram videos comes with a different set of best practices:
- With videos, it’s important to share your experiences. Show off what’s happening at your company. Tell your story with video.
- Show the behind-the-scenes (BTS) of events or even use video for real-time events that highlight community and excitement.
- Create high-quality videos that share a strong point-of-view. You can use programs like iMovie or Adobe to create premium videos then post them to your Instagram account later.
- Be sure to highlight your brand with your story. In 60 seconds, you can include a lot about your brand’s leaders, messages, and product.
- Add hashtags to your video’s captions to make your video more discoverable. For example, #video has been used over 27 million times, which means that it’s in-demand!
- Take the time to select a compelling cover photo to help your video stand out and look nice on your Instagram page.
- If you have talking points in your video, it’s a good idea to integrate text overlays. Many people scroll through Instagram news feed while traveling or while in noisy locations, so adding text helps retain viewers and helps them understand the key takeaways of your video without sound.
This video from CNET will walk through how to create an Instagram Story, add text, filters, and drawings, upload photos, videos or boomerangs, and how to generally navigate through other users’ stories.
Note that before you share a photo or video to your story, you can tap Save at the bottom of the screen to save it to your phone. You can also save a photo or video you’ve already shared by tapping the […] in the bottom right of the photo or video you’d like to save, then tapping Save. Select Save Photo/Video to save the individual photo or video, or select Save Story to save everything from your story as a single video.
As previously discussed, Instagram Stories are a great vehicle to show a raw, authentic side to your brand as well as using social influencers to assist with reach and credibility. Let’s walk through some additional best practices for creating the optimal Instagram Story:
- Show an authentic side to your brand through sharing photos, interviews and exclusive BTS content.
- Use social influencers with your content. Have them create Instagram Story takeovers, so you can use them to their fullest capabilities to grab users attention and share messaging points.
- It’s important to use content that is Instagram-centric – do not just repurpose content from Snapchat.
- One way to achieve that is by leveraging the native Instagram tools to add custom elements to your content.
- Diversify your Story’s content by adding videos and Boomerangs.
- Add @ mentions that notify and highlight targeted users.
- Include a “see more” link that directs to web content to help drive site traffic and deeper engagement with your brand.
- Have a clear narrative about any event you’re promoting. For one-off events, make sure you let your community know what’s happening and the events that are taking place through your Instagram Story narrative.
- Include a CTA like a promo code or website at the end of your stories for followers to take a direct, trackable action.
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