With 1 billion monthly active users and 500 million daily users, Instagram is the third most popular social channel right now. Its popularity has soared rather quickly even though it entered the market much after the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
About 4 million likes are created on Instagram every day. If you can use Instagram marketing best practices to their fullest, this is an insanely big market you're looking at. Even so, far too many small businesses stick to the common, generic Instagram marketing practices of sharing random product photos with simple captions.
But with 95 million photos being added to Instagram every day, standing out takes a little more effort than that. So here are 5 practices top digital marketers adopt, that new businesses often overlook. Use these to make your small business a soaring success on Instagram.
Are you still using your personal account to do Instagram marketing? If yes, you're missing out on some unique features tailor-made for promoting business on Instagram. The basic business account is free and offers you a suite of tools and techniques that help you make the most of the platform. To begin with, the UI of a business account is a lot more conducive to branding and engagement.
Instead of dropping a link to your website in your profile, the free business account provides you a contact button. Visitors are much more likely to click on a button than a link, as it works like a compelling CTA, aiding in higher conversions and leads.
Instead of trying to pack all crucial information like address, contact numbers, business hours and more in a single paragraph, the business account lets you easily and prominently display all this information, further facilitating more traffic and hits.
The free business account on Instagram gives digital marketers access to advanced analytics that form the foundation of understanding your customers and providing personalized solutions. From which posts are doing better than the others to how users are interacting with your posts, which categories your users fall into and what type of content makes them tick, advanced analytics help you figure it all out so you can continually fine-tune your content and align with the interests of your audience.
The business account also makes using Instagram ads simpler, helping your business utilize paid advertising better. This includes easy options to promote a post, place an ad or use paid Instagram ads in more creative ways to skyrocket your exposure.
Scrolling through images is so last season. The Instagram Engagement Report 2018 by Mention confirms that video content on Instagram generates more likes overall. A well-made video can generate a very huge number of likes in a short span of time.
It is notable however that the average number of likes is higher for images than video. So you might want to play a fine balancing act between posting images consistently, and upping the ante with a video once in a while to keep things exciting.
The report also notes that video is definitely the leading format when it comes to garnering comments from visitors. So depending on the kind of exposure you're after, formulate a strategy and post content in the appropriate formats. More likes help build a fanbase that adds consistency and loyalty, and more comments encourage customer feedback and discussion about your product, garnering more immediate limelight.
One of the prime differences between social media and traditional TV/Print advertising is that social media is more personal, interactive and emotional. On social media, brands try to foster meaningful conversations with their audience and not just talk at them, spamming their feed with sales material.
One way to have more meaningful exchanges with your audience on Instagram is to make them an actual part of your campaign. Switch things up by asking your customers to send pictures of them using your products. Feature the good ones on your Instagram account. This is called user-generated content and is massively useful in so many ways.
First off, it gets your loyal customers to become even more enthusiastic about interacting with you directly.
Secondly, it begins a chain reaction where the pictures of one customer inspire other customers to share theirs. Your Instagram feed becomes full of some exceptionally creative photography featuring your product in many new dimensions.
Most importantly, it reinforces social proof. As more and more people share their fun and exciting pictures showing off your product, new visitors feel much more encouraged to try out your product and join in the fun.
It builds community, fosters personal bonding with customers and overall, leads to massive engagement, leads and conversions.
There are other ways to engage your audience and build user-generated content. Hold a contest; ask users to suggest captions for images, share their memories and feelings associated with an image.
After all, is said and done, Instagram is first and foremost about amazing pictures - pictures that delight users, excite them, make them envision the good life and appreciate the joys thereof. So be very adroit about the pictures and even videos you share on Instagram.
Tell a story instead of just posting pictures. In fact, use Instagram stories to drive an unprecedented amount of traffic and engagement as Instagram stories is one of the most sought after features right now.
Invest in high-quality photography that uses the best angles to showcase your products, against stunning backdrops.
Proper use of hashtags is doubtlessly the most important skill required to stand out on Instagram, next only to creating stunning visuals. So be creative with your hashtags while also honoring some time tested conventions. How many hashtags to include is one of the most hotly debated subjects in Instagram communities. Experts largely recommend limiting the number to about 5, as any more than that doesn't necessarily increase engagement and often, in fact, lead to drop-offs.
The study by Mention also indicates that even more influential than hashtags is the practice of tagging other people in your posts. This helps in multiple ways. Firstly, tagging other users makes customers see you as a group player and a more human brand as opposed to a cold, corporate entity. Secondly, tagging other users leads to their followers noticing you and consequently becoming a follower of yours. Tagging influential users can also open doors to collaborations in the future, which is a great way to get more and newer people viewing your content.
Similar to tagging, following other people offers a networking opportunity. If you follow other influential people who have a large number of followers, not only can you observe what they do right but also, some of their follower base spills over to your account.
So by interacting with other Instagrammers, you can significantly improve engagement as well as inflate your follower count.
Things you can do to generate higher ROI on your Instagram marketing budget can turn out to be a long list. However, the above 5 steps don't always feature at the top of the list. These are crucial steps that veteran marketers swear by and by adopting a few or all of these in your Instagram marketing strategy, you can transform the kind of engagement, leads and conversions you generate.
About the Author:
Gaurav is a Senior SEO and Content Marketing Analyst at The 20 Media, a Content Marketing agency that specializes in data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in Digital Marketing and loves to write about Blogging, Link Building, and Content Strategy to help clients grow their search visibility. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and listening to music. Connect with him on Twitter @belanigaurav.
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