Instagram is a social media platform that continues to grow in importance to marketers. Especially if your target audience includes 18-40 year olds on mobile devices, this is a place you want to be. But to be effective and generate a return on your marketing investment, there are some Instagram marketing best practices to follow.
If you haven’t looked recently at the statistics for Instagram, it’s time to look again. According to recent studies from Pew Research and Iconosquare:
- 300 million people use it and 75 million are active each day
- 70 million photos are added each day
- more adults use Instagram than Twitter
- 53% of 18-29 year olds are on it
- 70% of users have looked for a brand on Instagram
- 37% of users follow 1-5 brands and 32% follow more than 5 brands
- only 28% of marketers are on Instagram
I have to confess I got more focused on Instagram opportunities after two clients in their thirties shared with me how they are active on it, as are their friends. That caused me to re-evaluate my own marketing priorities.
Brands are seeing results from Instagram marketing
Search Engine Journal reported that big brands are achieving impressive results:
- Chobani experienced a 7-point lift in people who considered Chobani at any time of day.
- Mercedes-Benz achieved a 580% lift in site visits using Facebook and Instagram ads together.
- Taco Bell gained a 29-point lift in ad recall, nearly four times over the control group.
- Ben & Jerry’s saw 17% more people become aware of a new flavor.
- Levi’s had a 24-point lift in ad recall, nearly three times over the control group
And it’s not only big brands reaping rewards. Many small businesses are also seeing value. Food trucks, restaurants, entertainers, artists, architects, coffee shops, clothing shops, jewelry shops, and many others are building a loyal audience on Instagram who help them to spread their marketing stories and messages.
Best Practices to Follow
As social media platforms continue to evolve and mature, there are a distinct set of best practices to follow on Instagram:
- Set up a unique profile – Name is the only thing searchable, so use yours or your business. Make it engaging in 150 characters. What is your very succinct value proposition? Include a link. This is the only place you can include a hyperlink back to your web page or your landing page for an opt-in. Make it so people want to follow you, not just to like one of your random photos. Include something personal or humorous in the bio if possible. Consider using emoticons to make your profile more attention-grabbing and interesting.
- Use high quality images and videos – Instagram is about visual content. A picture is worth a thousand words – literally! Use a photo to tell a story about your company, your products, or your services. But constantly posting photos of your products over and over again without telling a story won’t cut it. You’re not there to sell. You’re there to nurture a customer relationship. Post photos that people can relate to and that they care about. Consider showing a behind the scenes view of your business.
- Use lots of hashtags – Unlike Pinterest, Instagram engagement is higher with lots of hashtags. One study claimed that posts with 11 hashtags get the most engagement. You may not need 11, but use quite a few so people can find your content and engage with you. It’s also a good idea to create a brand-specific hashtag or to create one for major campaigns and contests. Hashtags help you to get discovered. Look for trending hashtags that you may create relevant content for. Make sure you use relevant hashtags. Don’t be accused of #hashtagabuse by just latching on to a high volume one. Including your location can also help to boost discovery.
- Post consistently and be interactive – Ask questions. Reply to comments. Like and share content from your followers.
- Run a photo contest or offer special incentives – One way to boost engagement and reach is also to run a photo contest related to your brand. Use a unique hashtag and offer some prizes. Consider other ways you can reward your followers on Instagram with special discounts and promotions or by highlighting and sharing their content.
Note that you can link other social media platforms to your Instagram account, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and foursquare. You can easily cross-post from Instagram to those platforms. Note that Facebook owns Instagram, so expect to see more business and advertising features added over time. Also, it appears that Facebook may currently favor and give higher weighting in the News Feed to content shared from Instagram.
Hope you find these Instagram marketing best practices helpful. Is your business marketing on Instagram? Anything else you would add or tell others to avoid?