Instagram is the hottest trend in social media today. It is a visual-based mobile platform, where individuals and businesses alike share content primarily through photos and videos taken on a smartphone.
Instagram was originally created as a platform for younger audiences. Its initial success was driven by Millenials; however, the platform is now home to a diverse audience, comprised of many different age demographics.
It is slowly beginning to take the place of Facebook as the go-to platform for many businesses to share their content. That being said, it is not a requirement for every business to be on Instagram. A Facebook page has additional benefits beyond sharing content, it is also a platform that is used for communicating directly with customers, for sharing reviews about a product or service, as well as finding contact information. Currently, this is not the case for Instagram. If your business sees value in sharing engaging content in order to build a following, this is a platform for you. If you don’t see this as a major value for your business, then there is no expectation for your business to be on this platform.
5 Tips for leveraging Instagram to promote your business:
Should I be on Instagram?
The most important factor to decide if your business should be on Instagram is evaluating if it is a fit for your target audience. Do your customers spend time on Instagram? Are they likely to gain value from your content? If so, we recommend investing time into developing an audience on this platform. If not, there is no requirement to use Instagram as a method to engage with your target audience. However, we recommend revisiting this point often to ensure that an opportunity is not being missed. Trends and tools change very often in the social media space. It is important to remain mindful of the evolution of these tools.
Managing your Instagram account
If your business has a marketing or social media coordinator in place, this part is easy. Getting started on Instagram is a simple process. If you currently don’t have this role within your business, the easiest solution is to talk to your staff and find out if someone on the team enjoys using this platform personally. These employees can offer the best assistance in getting started. It is important to ensure that the person who manages this account is mindful of basic communications principles and business etiquette. We recommend that the best social media managers are those who enjoy the practice and have an active social media presence in their personal lives. If no one on your team currently possesses these skills, or the desire to learn, you can easily hire a social media manager to assist in this task. There are many qualified candidates for this type of job in New Brunswick. Another option is to hire a marketing consultant/agency to assist in training a member of your team for the task. This is a helpful solution that can increase ROI, as well as shorten the time to get started.
It’s all about content
The most important function of a successful social media strategy is to provide value to your followers. Your content strategy should be built around providing useful information to your followers. This can be done by educating customers on anything of use. Outside of marketing consumer products, we recommend avoiding advertising your services directly on Instagram. The best way to create value for your followers is to use your expertise to educate them on information relevant to their lives. In the instance of insurance brokerages, this expertise could be in the form of safe driving tips, household fire safety tips or other relevant information. The goal is to always imply that you are the leading expert in your field and that you can be trusted to handle important matters for the customer. You can highlight community involvement, promote community events, etc. Content marketing is all about building brand awareness and a proper strategy can yield real-world results.
Different ways to share content on Instagram
There are a number of ways you can share content over Instagram:
Standard posts: This is the original method of sharing content and for years, this was the only way you could share content on Instagram. Your posts will be shown to your followers feed alongside their friends. However, with the addition of Instagram stories and live videos, posts should be reserved for special highlights. Visitors to your account will primarily see these posts, so it is important to carefully craft your brand story in this area.
Stories: Stories are the best way to share day-to-day activities. These can be created using a combination of still photos and videos. Stories appear on your account for 24 hours and then disappear. There are a number of creative options for creating more engaging content within stories, such as adding text, images, GIFs and hashtags. Stories can be fun and engaging and should take a creative approach to creating content.
Live Video: Live video is an excellent tool for the most social media savvy businesses. You can use a live video feed from your smartphone to share video content in real time. This is a great way to make announcements, open up conversations, conduct giveaways and update your audience.
Building your audience
Building an audience is a slow and careful process. As you are getting started, expect this to take time and work. It may take some experimentation with your content to figure out what draws people in. There are tools built into Instagram which can help you spread your content to new audiences. The two main ways of doing this are using #hashtags and geolocations.
#hashtags: are keywords that are tagged in a story/post that categorize content into related fields. Users can click any hashtag to see a list of all photos on Instagram (public accounts only) sharing the same hashtag. This is a great way to gain new followers. There are a variety of resources available online to help businesses choose the most relevant hashtags in their industry.
Locations: Tagging a location in your stories will add your content to the story for that area. When using Instagram, users will see a feed of stories tagged in their location, as well as users who are searching for a particular location feed.
As with all social media platforms, building your audience is a slow and careful process. We recommend experimenting with a variety of content strategies to find what works best for your business. Measuring your success online is easy - if people are engaging with your content, you are on the right path. If engagement is low, we recommend changing your strategy to find what works best for you.
Remember that buyers aren’t always ready to buy and by creating consistent value for your audience over time, you will build trust and loyalty. If done right, when it's time to make a purchasing decision, ensure your customers think of you first with a solid Instagram content strategy.
Becci Taylor, BBA Marketing and Program Coordinator
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