8 Key Tips to Improve Your Instagram Marketing Efforts
If your business isn’t on Instagram these days, you’d better have a good reason. If you sell any kind of physical product, if you have stores – or if you want people to recognize your brand – it’s time to get an account.
The social network is now too popular to ignore, it’s in the hands of your buyers – via their phones – wherever they go. Instagram is part of our lives now. And for many businesses, it’s vital.
Yours might be one of them. Which means you need to start marketing on Instagram, and you need to do it well.
To get you started, we’ve put together these 8 tips to get more from Instagram. Whether you’re brand new or have been using the ‘Gram for years, you’ll find a lot of valuable information.
1. Understand your audience
This is critical, no matter what marketing you produce. You might create the most beautiful Instagram content in the world, but if it doesn’t appeal to your target buyer, what’s the point?
Take the time to find out who your existing audience is, and think about who you’d like them to be. Since you’re using Instagram for marketing, you need to consider whether they are potential buyers, or can help you build your brand in some way.
So how can you learn more about your audience?
Try Instagram Insights
Instagram’s business profile insights offer some interesting insights (hence the name) into the people following and interacting with your account. These include:
- Impressions – How many times your content was viewed
- Reach – Total number of unique accounts that viewed a piece of content
- Website clicks – How many clicks the link in your business profile has received
- Follower activity – How often your followers are on Instagram daily
- Video views – How often your video content has been viewed
- Saves – How many people have saved your posts
Insights also includes demographic information, so you can see where your followers come from, their age, and their gender. With this, you’ll have plenty of information about your existing Instagram audience. But what if you want to attract new followers?
Use a listening tool
Social listening shows you conversations happening on social media. That includes Instagram. A good listening tool will tell you what people say about your brand or your industry on Instagram.
If you’re trying to appeal to new Instagram users, you need to know what makes them tick. Monitor instagram for keywords that matter to you. That might mean hashtags you (or your competitors) have created, or other terms that relate specifically to your industry.
Look for images and content styles that have proved popular, and consider producing similar content.
What’s important is that you know what Instagram users respond well to, so that you can produce winning content yourself.
2. Talk with them, not at them
Social media marketing is not an excuse to spam your followers with nothing but sales material – it’s vital to try to engage with followers as much as possible.
For one, it makes your company feel more human, and less corporate (it is called ‘social’ media after all). Also, the more that users share and comment on your content, the easier it is for new users to find it. Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes content with higher engagement – and you want to appear in as many feeds as possible.
Here are a few great ways to encourage interaction.
Share their images
You work hard to build your following, and you want to keep them around. That means showing appreciation when they post great content themselves. And when you prove that you listen to your audience and want their feedback, you build a better image for your brand.
A great example is Swiss watch maker SEVENFRIDAY. They ask fans to share photos of them wearing their SEVENFRIDAY watches on holiday or in their cars, to show the product in action. The result is a huge collection of free marketing images from their biggest fans.
SEVENFRIDAY even puts these images in their online store to give inspiration to potential buyers.
User-generated content like this is a powerful endorsement for future buyers. When they see other people loving your products, they’re more likely to buy themselves.
Note: Don’t be afraid to re-post your followers’ images, with credit. “Regramming” shows that you’re listening, and helps to promote some of your audience to others. They’ll appreciate the help, and may continue to share your product with their followers in the future.
The best way to get interaction from your audience is to ask for it, and one of the simplest ways to do this is with contests. People love the chance to respond, and a little healthy competition goes a long way.
Easy Instagram contests include:
- “Caption this image”
- “Share a time when…”
- “Tell us how this image makes you feel”
Ask your audience for their creativity and make sure you share the best responses.
To track responses easily, make sure you use a unique hashtag for each competition. And speaking of hashtags…
3. Use relevant hashtags
Hashtags help you “organize and categorize images and video content” to find content more easily. They’re a simple way to tag your content to make it easier to find for others.
They range from the generic – #love is the most used hashtag as of 2017 – to the very, very specific, and they are so popular on Instagram that they’ve essentially become mandatory. If you want people to find your content, you need to use hashtags.
Here are a few hashtag best practices:
- Don’t overdo it – five targeted hashtags are better than 25 random ones.
- Avoid overused tags – adding #love or #instagood is as good as useless.
- Don’t spam – keep them relevant to the image.
From there, you have two main options when choosing hashtags for your posts:
These are hashtags that anyone might use, depending on the content of an image. “#Sunset” springs to mind, as do “#food” and “#wine.” But frankly, these examples are so broad that it may be hard to get noticed using them.
Instead, try to find niche hashtags within your industry. This increases your chances of attracting the ideal audience to your content.
If you want to get more creative, see what hashtags your existing followers use. This is a smarter way to find the right people to appeal to.
If you’re launching an Instagram campaign, a branded hashtag is a must. This applies to contests, influencer shoutouts (keep reading), or new product launches.
Branded hashtags are specific tags that only apply to your brand. They could be your brand name, the name of a product or person, or something special you’ve created for your campaign.
For instance, SEVENFRIDAY used “#SEVENFRIDAYTOUR” to track conversations and shared images as they traveled around the United Kingdom in a 1969 Airstream trailer.
Branded hashtags are much easier to track, because they’re almost always used to talk about your own brand. Track the reach of your hashtags throughout a campaign to help judge whether the campaign was a success.
This also enables you to compare several campaigns against one another, to see which strategy was more effective. If one hashtag received twice as many mentions as the other, that campaign was the winner.
4. Know when to post
A recent poll found that the best time to post on Instagram is between 7-9pm. So that’s simple – just post all your photos then.
If that seems too simple, it’s because it is. You can’t just rely on a few polls – your audience isn’t necessarily engaged when those others are. Instead, try to find the best times to post for your target audience, when you know they’re paying attention.
To do this, you’ll want a social listening tool that monitors Instagram engagement. These track your Instagram posts, then tell you which ones perform the best, based on the date and time.
If you’re not ready for that, here are some tips from the team at Later:
- Aim for non-work hours (lunch and evenings)
- Weekends if you’re a B2C company; probably not for B2B
- Wednesdays and Thursdays seem to be best for engagement
- 3-4pm is generally the worst for engagement
In the end, it’ll take a little research to figure out what works best for you. Monitor your posts – and your competitors’ – and check your Instagram insights to arrive at an optimum posting schedule for your account.
5-8 to be continued.