Instagram has exploded in popularity and is quickly becoming a major marketing platform for many top brands. Facebook snatched-up Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and left the much-loved photo and video sharing service pretty much untouched- until now. That all started to change in early 2015, and the evolution of Instagram into a mega-ad platform is in full-swing.
Big brands are using Instagram to connect with their audience in a new and inspiring way. Less of a sales tactic, more of a personal approach. Every social network provides the ability to engage with people from around the globe. With the focus on photo and video posts, Instagram allows brands to spread awareness through visual storytelling.
Here are the 8 best practices for growing your brand on Instagram.
1. Create and maintain a theme
When searching for a brand or company profile to follow, people look for continuity. They want to understand your brand’s message, identity and style. Pick one and stick to it. People are adverse to change, so keep the style and language of your posts consistent.
2. Understand (and cater to) your audience
Give your followers what they want. It’s all about properly framing your brand and your posts. Not to say that all of your followers are the same, but they’re following you for a reason. They share some sort of commonality that links them to your brand. Whether it’s their love for cats, or their interest in environmentalism, it’s critical to nail down what your audience wants to see. Instagram isn’t all about you, you know. From here you will be able to grow your followers and develop a stronger brand identity.
Every consumer has a worldview that affects the product you want to sell. That worldview alters the way they interpret everything you say and do. Frame your story in terms of that worldview, and it will be heard.”- Seth Godin, All Marketers are Liars
Have a voice. Don’t be afraid to put some personality into your posts. Not only is it important to CREATE engaging posts, you need to actually ENGAGE with your followers (and potential followers). Comment, regram, like, and follow back. Be human. Connect with your followers and grow your community. Whether it’s featuring their work or sending out free goodies, giving some sort of incentive for audience engagement is worth it.
Show them love, and they will love you in return. Word of mouth-or rather, word of keyboard-has a huge impact on your business. The more positively your brand interacts with users on Instagram, the more they will promote your business (FOR FREE).
4. Follow trends
Instagram is upping their game in terms of searching and finding the best content. Instagram has completely reimagined the Explore page to make discovery both immediate and effortless. The new Explore now surfaces trends as they emerge in real-time, connecting you to events and conversations both near you and around the globe. Though trending places and tags is currently only available in the US, we can all expect these changes to roll out in the upcoming months. Leverage this information; use the right hashtags and trending content to drive more traffic to your page.
5. Use video
Auto-playing and auto-looping video is a game changer. No longer do your followers have to tap the play button; each video magically starts on its own as users thumb through their newsfeed. As more and more brands catch on, micro-video is becoming one of the hottest 2015 marketing trends.
In an article by Adweek, Christopher Heine highlights the importance of using video in your Instagram marketing strategy. From April 2014, to late February 2015, brands who used video in their posts saw a surge in followers:
- Victoria’s Secret doubled its audience from 4.2 million to 10.5 million
- Naturally, GoPro surged from 1.9 million to 4.2 million
- Nike takes the proverbial cake, skyrocketing from 4 million to 12 million
6. Differentiate your brand
Yes, this is a pretty broad statement, but there’s a lot to leverage by differentiating your brand’s Instagram page. There are only so many home decorating, healthy food or cute pets profiles a person can follow before it gets old. By curating content that makes your brand stand out, you are able to break into an untapped genre.
Take a look at how Flixel appeals to a market of photographers, videographers, and creatives interested in cinemagraphs. By keeping with a solid theme, and making our Instagram page unique, we’ve captured the attention of thousands of passionate followers. Cinemagraphs also work perfectly with Instagram’s auto-playing and auto-looping function. Don’t be afraid to be different.
Many of the cinemagraphs we shared recently are done with stock video from VideoBlocks. So much fun and super-simple to create with Cinemagraph Pro. For a limited time they are offering a 1-month free subscription to Flixel Web + Cinemagraph Pro for Mac and iOS. Just use coupon code VIDEOBLOCKS when you check-out at flixel.com.
7. Use influencers
The power of influencers is irrefutable. Though we’ve been stressing the importance of being human when it comes to interacting with your audience, no one does it better than bloggers. Instagram bloggers are of an entirely new breed. The best capture over millions of dedicated followers. Take a look at Alex Strohl, Airbnb and Humans of New York for some inspiration.
One influencer that we’ve connected with has been greatly beneficial to our company. Michael Schulz of Berlinstagram has not only been a pleasure to work with, but his photography and cinemagraphs are simply stunning. An Instagram warrior, talented creator, and all around great guy, influencers like Michael are a huge asset to any brand.
#levisinstameet #berlinstagram___cinemagraphs (created with @flixelphotos) A video posted by Michael Schulz (@berlinstagram) on
8. Highlight user generated content
We touched on this a bit already, but this strategy is super effective. All of the major brands who are succeeding on Instagram feature work from their communities. This is just another way to show your followers that you care. Instagram is all about love, after all. More than 80% of the content we choose to post is created by our community. Using a method similar to that of VSCO, hand curating content is a great way to showcase all of the hard work your followers put into selling your brand.
Just this month Instagram released a statement saying that their standard 640px resolution is being increased to 1080px. No need to settle anymore for low-res images and videos. With Instagram now pushing web as part of their offering, high res videos are crucial. So far, there have been over 5 billion web embeds, meaning your cinemagraph could be shared on a website.
Now that you’ve got a list of tips to utilize, go forth and conquer the world of Instagram marketing. Tell stories. Sell your brand.
For more tips, check out these helpful articles: