1. March 2016–
While Facebook and Twitter have been considered useful social media and marketing tools for some time, the value of Instagram should not be underestimated. While each strategy is individual, there are a few key facts you should keep in mind.
In general, like any other marketing channel, your first question should be: Can I provide meaningful information and content to my target audience?
Although it may seem like the answer is negative, particularly if your business is not product or aesthetic-related, sit down with people familiar with marketing and your business and discuss it again to be sure you are not missing out on a great opportunity.
If you are already sure Instagram will be useful, define your goals and expectations. A good start is finding out what appeals to your audience. Find accounts you like. Is it the quality of the images, the variety of topics, styles, formats, or the sublines? Or a mixture of them all?
Use the answers to these questions when you work on your own Instagram strategy.
While each business needs to figure out a unique way to reach their target audience on Instagram, there are some key factors that should be taken into account.
It’s not only about numbers
Though many big brands have large followings they may have a much lower number of likes or responses. E.g. Europe’s largest clothing retailer Zalando has 163,000 followers with between 1,500 and 4,500 likes on a post.
The interaction rate on images depends on different criteria: Content, timing, target group, and CTA (call to action) – just to name a few.
Important: Speak the network’s language
Though Instagram is owned by Facebook, it works differently. The photo sharing platform focuses on beautiful images and is therefore great for brand campaigns. A simple buy button won’t do. Especially when it comes to Instagram ads, not all user reactions are positive.
While there are many reasons to post pictures taken with a smartphone to stay in the natural instagram style, professional pictures can also be chosen to be published. However, the images should not look like stock photos but have an authentic look that represents the brand. This is why many companies choose not to add a logo to their images. To give it a bit of branding, companies can choose pictures that show their product and logo on it, like the airline Lufthansa or the Munster-based watch startup Kapten & Son (which has more followers on instagram than Zalando.)
Copy and hashtags
Instead of writing half a novel, most of the time a short subline is enough. The picture should speak for itself.
Define your goals (brand awareness, information, interaction) and adjust your copy to it. If you want interaction, make sure you have a clear reason why and an important CTA (call to action).
When it comes to hashtags, make sure you choose them wisely. You should have enough to be found by your target audience but not so many that your brand or product loses focus.
Look into hashtags from your audience and find out if there are regular formats you can use.
Make sure you know your followership and keep their timezone in mind. Unlike Facebook, Instagram shows the newest posts on top. If your followers follow a lot of accounts they may not see your post when opening Instagram only once or twice a day.
There are some tricks you can try to get noticed! For example, while other accounts may post a picture on Friday, wishing their followers a good weekend, think about a great post for Thursday evening to catch the audience when the stream is less crowded.
Number of posts
When people decide to follow your account they are generally interested in your content. However, the number of posts are key to keep your audience engaged. Not posting too often but often enough is one of the key elements. Publishing two to three images a week can work fine for one business while others are better off posting every day. Give it a try and analyse your data to see what your followers like and appreciate.