Instagram 101 for Marketers

January 15, 2019

With 1 billion Instagram users worldwide, 800 million of which follow business profiles, there is no reason why this social media channel should not be on a marketer’s priority list. Whatever your target demographic is, creating a good marketing strategy on Instagram is sure to generate positive results. So, how exactly does one effectively implement a marketing plan on Instagram and attract their target audience? Here are five ways.

Engage with Your Followers

When it comes to any social media channel, the key is engagement. Every time you post something, your followers will react to it and when they do, you need to respond. There will be complements, questions, and even complaints in the form of comments to posts or through direct messages, and these allow you to strengthen your connection to your followers by engaging with them.

If you’re new to Instagram, replying to all the comments and direct messages could be a challenge, but it might be a bit comforting to know that you don’t have to respond to each and every comment or message manually. There is a feature on Instagram called Quick Replies which you can use to send a templated message to your followers. Simply head on to your Settings tab and select Quick Replies. You will be directed to add a shortcut code with your corresponding message template. Click save and you’re good to go!

Choose the Right Captions and Hashtags

Just as every marketer is careful in choosing the right wording to every press release, brochure, blog, or newsletter, so should you be very meticulous in composing the right captions and choosing the most relevant hashtags for your Instagram posts. Avoid overly serious or cheesy captions. It is important that you write effective captions that are aligned with your brand image, with a call-to-action that can move your followers to take action.

Aside from captions, hashtags play a vital role in getting your posts discovered by your target audience. When Instagrammers search for specific topics, results are a mix of Instagram profiles and hashtags, so if you are using the hashtags that show up on their search results, then your posts are likely to be seen and they can either like your posts or visit your profile and follow you.

If you have no clue what hashtags to use, one way you can determine which ones you should add to your captions is by checking out the Instagram profiles of your competitors and use the hashtags that you see on their posts. For example, if you are a doughnut shop in New York, you might want to search for popular doughnut places in this location and look at their posts for hashtags which you can add to your own posts, such as #instadonuts from The Doughnut Project or #nycdonuts from The Donut Pub.  

Get Closer with Instagram Stories

About 400 million users watch Instagram Stories every day, which is why you need to be using this feature to promote your brand as well. Unlike the photos and videos that you would usually post on your profile page, Stories only last for 24 hours and are usually more casual and personal. You can tell your brand’s story in many different ways, such as photos, videos, boomerangs, geo filters, text, stickers, GIFs,  and emojis.

This is a great feature to use for showing real, authentic, behind-the-scenes photos and videos of your business. A restaurant showing how their chefs work their magic in the kitchen, florists caught in the act of creating wonderful bouquets, fashion models backstage getting ready for their turn on the catwalk – these candid moments fascinate the Instagram world and these are the type of stories that would draw them closer to your brand.

Another amazing thing about Insta Stories is the ability for users to tag your business. Once they do, you will get a notification via your Direct Messages tab and you have the option to repost their story to yours. This is a great way to show that your brand is loved, and is even more powerful when your story has been posted by social media influencers.

Instagram Live

Unlike Stories, Instagram Live is recorded in real-time, which means greater engagement with your audience. You can host a live show, a question and answer session, or vlog. You can also cover a live event. You don’t have to worry about your live session being perfect. What’s important to your audience is that you are sharing the moment with them. Remember to check their comments and acknowledge their feedback and answer their questions. If you have a ton of viewers commenting on your live video and it would be impossible to answer all of them, let your viewers know that and that you will try to best to accommodate as much comments as you can. Don’t forget to thank them for watching your live video and invite them to the next one!

Always Choose Quality Over Quantity

Although it is essential that you post frequently on Instagram, and on all of your social media channels for that matter, always keep in mind that your posts should always be consistent with your brand image and that all the photos and videos that you put on your Instagram profile, along with their captions and hashtags, should have high quality and relevance to your target users. Uploading images or videos that are off-brand or inconsistent with your image can confuse your followers who can easily press the unfollow button.

Small businesses do not have to hire professional photographers and can even use their smartphone’s camera to take photos and videos to post on Instagram. It’s all about using the right lighting, angle, theme, and effects. And with the internet and Google, it is now easier to learn how to take great shots by yourself. You just have to take some time to do your research.

Instagram offers marketers a huge opportunity to capture the interest of its massive number of users and convert them into loyal followers. There are so many ways you can use the app’s very easy-to-use features to your advantage.

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