Instagram may be overwhelming for businesses and brands. It’s a new player on the market, but based on its rapid growth - 100 million new active users per month - it has become a highly competitive network for brands.
According to TechCrunch, Instagram has 800 million monthly and 500 million daily active users. We already know that brands want big numbers in social engagement, user engagement, and interactions, which all drive more sales. How can a mobile photo and video sharing platform provide this for brands?
Instagram is more than a mobile photo and video sharing social network, it’s your brand’s playground, where your brand identity unfolds in a visual, creative and efficient way.
Before jumping to create amazing photos, read these guidelines on how to create a compelling content strategy for your brand. Today, I’ll present nine ways to promote your brand on Instagram.
Why are you using Instagram?
What do you want to achieve on Instagram?
First thing’s first, defining your objectives shapes your strategy and tactics. If you’re struggling with the Instagram goals for your brand, “The Five Whys” methodology might be a great help for you and your team.
Then a product content strategy should be your first campaign on Instagram.
Once you understand why you’re using this platform, if you didn’t follow the (stupid) rule that every brand should be on Instagram, establishing your goals is an easy task. Based on your industry, the WHY, and your social media KPIs, you could target:
Who is your target audience?
Once your goals are established and you know that your audience is active on Instagram, start building your brand presence. Here are ten content ideas to build an engaged community on Instagram:
Ten content pillars to multiply your followers on Instagram
#1. Behind the scenes content
Instagram is just a gateway between you and your customer. Invite them into your business universe.
Along with Facebook, Instagram encourages marketers to adapt their digital strategy to ‘reality planning’ rather than ‘communication planning.' It’s much easier to realize your value proposition through Instagram Stories, videos, and photos.
A champion in this category is Nasa (sorry, I’m a super engaged fan of Nasa photos, tweets, and basically everything to Nasa related) with their behind-the-scenes videos, photos of the universe, and how the planet looks from outside… the planet.
They already have 27.9M followers on their account, and they have had massive success because of their uniqueness, authenticity, and perspective, and their visual content they offers us a new lens through which we can see the world beyond: the galaxy, the stars, the clouds, and the solar system.
Maybe you’ll say that it’s much easier for Nasa to create their visual brand, but for other brands it’s more difficult. That’s not true, it doesn’t depend on the company or the business size, Instagram, along with other social networks, are about open-mindedness, discovery, and ‘showing the world (in your case your customers) who you are’. Instagram is just a gateway between you and your customer. Invite them into your business universe.
You could apply the Nasa tactics to manufacturing, real estate, music & entertainment, TV, oil & gas, automobile, telecommunications and many others. As long as producing or developing the goods and products involves more than one process, it can be transformed into good story content for your Instagram.
#2. Product Demo / Showcase
Focus all your photos & videos on your products in a straightforward marketing campaign.
Showcasing your product is the most common way of using Instagram for brands. This is understandable, because all you have to do is to focus all your photos & videos on your products in a straightforward marketing campaign.
I have a long list of brands and how perfectly they showcase their product on Instagram: Ikea, Lego, and many others, but for now I’ll choose J.Crew. They beautifully showcase their collections with real pictures of women who are in traffic, or walking with their children, and what they wear. You or one of your best friends could be one of those women wearing dresses, jeans or those shoes.
#3. Educational content
It’s not easy to create educational content on Instagram because people who are looking for something specific generally won’t choose Instagram to look for it.
It’s not easy to create educational content on Instagram because people who are looking for something specific generally won’t choose Instagram to look for it. That’s why you shouldn’t limit your content only to pictures with numbers, text or stats. Combine this content pillar with others from this list and apply it to your digital strategy.
It’s difficult for a tech SaaS or internet company to be creative on Instagram, but CoSchedule found a beautiful way to use this channel. They frequently post tips & tricks about social media, combined with pictures depicting their company culture.
#4. User-generated content
It’s a valid marketing strategy which offers your brand a layer of social proof.
While other social networks may not allow you to create content with your users, Instagram has it at its core. Fashion, pharma, jewelry, premium products, and many other industries have a new way of promoting their products or services: user-generated content. It’s a valid marketing strategy which offers your brand a layer of social proof.
My favorite brand here is Patagonia. Patagonia is a clothing brand and uses the social networks to promote their products, advocate for environmental projects and issues, interact and engage with customers, and even give employee updates. Those who follow the company on Twitter can see posts about all of the ways Patagonia uses social media. Because of this, one would think that Twitter would have the most followers, but actually, Patagonia's Instagram account has the most followers out of all four of the social networking sites.
#5. Company culture or how to humanize the brand
If you decide to adopt this content pillar for your strategy while posting., focus on your brand values and beliefs.
Using a mobile photo and video platform makes it much easier for a brand to share pictures with teams, workspaces and the company environment. This is a popular strategy on Instagram and effective for businesses and brands that do not focus on premium products, or for those who are service oriented. If you decide to adopt this content pillar for your strategy while posting., focus on your brand values and beliefs.
On Instagram Hootsuite offers ‘A look inside’. They post only images, and they already have a brand hashtag: #hootsuitelife.
#6. Fun content
Instagram isn't just a social network for selfies and brunch pics.
It's been clear that Instagram isn't just a social network for selfies and brunch pics. There are some brands out there -- in every industry, and with every type of target customer -- who are doing really, really well on Instagram.
#7. Influencer takeover
Even if the Instagram takeover gained popularity in 2012 when, as buffer puts it, “brands like General Electric, Burberry and Food Republic invited Instagrammers to take over their feeds for a day.” An Instagram takeover is an exceptional way for brands, individuals, and influencers to collaborate and cross-promote content.
An Instagram takeover is the process of taking over someone else’s Instagram account temporarily and sharing content with their audience.
#8. Team takeover
Once you choose to bring your value proposition to life through Instagram content, let your employees use this platform a one day.
Once you choose to bring your value proposition to life through Instagram content, let your employees use this platform a one day, but don’t use the CEO or someone with a big, important title. Choose one employee from different departments and let them show your clients how they work for a day, what hobbies they have, or what they read.
People buy from people. Transform your brand into a real person for a day.
#9. Customer stories
From clothing and lipstick to toys and even food, unboxing videos span all types of products. Apply this content pillar to your strategy for any category imaginable.
The title is self-explanatory, post Instagram-ish photos and videos with your customers while they are using your product. You probably already knew the unboxing phenomenon, as last year unboxing video views grew 57% over the prior year, and uploads have grown more than 50%. Apply this content pillar to your strategy for any category imaginable. From clothing and lipstick to toys and even food, unboxing videos span all types of products.
#10. Mix two or three content pillars
Don’t limit your Instagram performance to just one content pillar, but don’t use more than two or three content pillars in the same timeframe.
Don’t limit your Instagram performance to just one content pillar, but don’t use more than two or three content pillars in the same timeframe. While you have to have consistency in posting, don’t use all the ideas you have in one day. Mix two or three content strategies onto your Instagram profile, and constantly be measuring.
See how Nike does it:
Finding a great fit for your brand is never easy. Building a loyal and engaged community on any channel requires lots of experiments and trial & error with the content and trends. It’s worth it once you get the right audience with the right content.
I’d love to continue the discussion about Instagram marketing in the comments below. Are you looking for some specific guidelines for your Instagram campaigns?
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