Instagram Marketing: Getting Started
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What first started as a social photography app, infamous for its filters and niche audience, has now blown up to a dynamic, versatile social media platform supporting over 300 million users, with 75 million daily active users. Being acquired by Facebook and having integration with most apps and sites, Instagram shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. Although it can’t be considered a new platform as such, brands and companies are still trying to find their way around the platform. In this blog I’ve detailed how the biggest brands are using Instagram to their advantage, what guidelines they are following for their marketing strategy and what the best practises are on Instagram.
Although not as versatile as others, Instagram is arguably the most content rich platform available. Dealing solely with Image and Video, rich content is the most important factor. If you’re an instagram user already you would have noticed that the images that make you scroll back up and engage with aren’t usually generic product images found elsewhere online. Use the ‘explore’ function on the app to look through other Instagram users and the most popular images in your country; this can sometimes have some really useful content. What works with your brand might not work for others, so do as much research into your competitors and general market on the platform before posting.
With Instagram it’s imperative that you think out of the box. Generic branded images discussing the product simply won’t work as well as a creative direction on Instagram. For example, if your company sells watering cans, posting an image of a watering can with its features and benefits wouldn’t be as good as a photo series of all the different uses for watering cans alongside an original hashtag so users can be involved with the company. Really consider what you, as an individual would want to engage with before you post.
Another important consideration is the theme that your images create; when a user lands on your Instagram profile they are immediately presented with your most recent images in groups of three. If you can keep your branding and imagery consistent, users will feel that they understand your message much clearer and you’ll avoid a drop in likes. The below images show how a waffle house, a watch enthusiast and a yoghurt company all use consistent imagery to find their niche on the platform.
Content is key but there’s no point in posting content during Instagram quiet hours! TrackMaven’s statistics via Buffer have shown interesting statistics in regards to the best time to post and what filters to use. Weekday evenings are generally a better time to post, with Thursdays and Sundays being the busiest days in terms of online traffic. Most people appear to avoid filters in general (however I would highly suggest using Instagram’s new photo adjustment features to give your images the final touches necessary).
Don’t be afraid to use Instagram, an audience can be created for any brand as long as these key points are taken into consideration;
- Creative content, with interesting imagery
- Consistent images and branding, similar colour or image style themes throughout
- Use your captions and hashtags to maximise your message
- Post bi-weekly, after work hours particularly on Thursday and Sunday
Here are some examples of brands that have dived head first into Instagram rather than tiptoeing around the platform.
It probably wasn’t a surprise for many when Starbucks launched its Instagram profile; this is a brand that has always been visual alongside their coffee. What is most interesting about the brand on Instagram is how they barely ever mention their coffee blends, or their beans and particular drinks, but instead post artistic and creative imagery with positive affirmations alongside their images. What they also do very well is promote their competitions and create dynamic content with original photography that is very likeable.
Another brand that have used Instagram to their advantage is Nike, rather than focusing on typical Football and Sports related posts that the company are synonymous with, they have focused on the fitness culture that is currently booming. They have added positive quotes to their images and most importantly geo-tagged their posts, showing the brand’s worldwide appeal.
It’s hashtags and company bio focuses purely on the famous ‘just do it’ tagline. All of their images are really engaging and original to the brand’s style, they have looked into what their audience is interested in and utilised it perfectly.
Another brand that isn’t afraid to take risks is GoPro. The company specialise in tiny, rugged, practically indestructible HD cameras that have become widely used in extreme sports as well as everyday life. The company have used Instagram to post a Photo of the Day; this is a great form of marketing because all of their content is entirely user generated. Simply using the ‘gopro’ hashtag will give the company a chance to look through and use images that they feel represent their brand.
Just like Nike, GoPro also use geo-tagging to show their worldwide appeal. The company embodies its crazy and free lifestyle with its captions and images, which effectively create strong, likeable content.
Overall, Instagram is a very innovative and visual platform that has a wide variety of companies using it. If you’re considering using Instagram for your brand or business, the above guidelines will certainly get you started in the right direction. Happy Posting!