by Saif Abbas, founder of incify.co
Any business knows that an effective marketing strategy has to throw social media into the mix and along with Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, Instagram has become a crucial player.
That’s why big brands like Nike and Starbucks don’t hold back when creating thought-provoking content in order to connect with their customers and that have gathered millions of followers. That kind of traction is powerful for any business including small businesses and work-from-home e-commerce sites.
The power of Instagram.
There are solid reasons why the photo and video sharing site can leverage such potential.
- It’s prolific. In 2018 there were 1 billion monthly active Instagram users across the globe, 100 million of who were in the US.
- It is highly visual, which makes it a compelling way to portray brand identity and messaging.
- It builds trust through recommendations. Each “like” or positive comment is an endorsement.
Small businesses, however, often have to navigate the platform without a big marketing team. But I have found the following approaches require few resources and can effectively speed up an Instagram marketing strategy.
1. Leverage your existing following.
If you have any other social media account related to your business then you already have a base of followers to dip into.
Invite them to connect with you on the new platform or link your accounts so everything you post on to Instagram is automatically posted to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
2. Build great content.
Instagram is about visual stimulus and content that can help you stand out from the crowd and attract followers.
Photos, videos, Instagram stories, diagrams, Boomerangs, and live streaming are different formats of content that can be hosted on the site. It’s important to get creative, pay attention to quality and to vary the type of posts you put out to keep your account interesting for your followers.
3. Tap into influencers.
Having clout on Instagram can be profitable, which is why influencer marketing has grown over the last few years.
An influencer is an active Instagram user who has hundreds of thousands of followers or even millions of followers. Businesses often team up with influencers, allowing them to test drive their products in exchange for content promoting them and exposure to an influencer’s following. When it comes to finding influencers, pay attention to the engagement rate not the number of followers. A lot of accounts have the follower base but no engagement from their followers, this brings down their value to zero.
I personally prefer to use tools like Ninjaoutreach to find influencers with a high engagement rate; you can filter out accounts based on their engagement rate. A good engagement rate is anything above 5%. Remember, the cost goes up the higher the engagement, so you better find creative ways to win them over.
4. Don’t forget your hashtags.
On Instagram, less is not more when it comes to hashtags – more is more.
Choose generic tags such as #bags or #fashion, combined with more specific labels such as #guccilimitededition or #marveltshirts to attract Instagrammers browsing the site as well as those searching for particular items. A brand hashtag will also help to mark out your business or products on the platform.
Once you have a steady funnel of content and start gaining followers, you’ll want to work on keeping them and keeping them engaged.
I suggest interacting with your user base in the following way:
- Acknowledge compliments and reply to comments.
- Invite more interaction by posing questions or launch a competition.
- Go beyond your own following by finding your competitor’s followers and start liking and commenting on their posts.
6. Be Analytical.
Now that you have flexed your creativity, it’s time for you to employ some strategy. While some posts will result in a flurry of “likes,” others may fall flat and this is where business tools prove useful so you can determine your best performing posts.
Sign up for a free Instagram business account, use a scheduler or a URL shortener, which all have handy analytics tools to help inform your content strategy.
7. Run targeted ads.
Ads work well well with Instagram for a reason, targeting. When you target your ads to an audience that is actively looking for that type of service/product, they more likely to buy from you. It also saves you a lot of wasted dollars from running generic none targeted ads. If you are interested to learn more about this topic, I recommend that you read “The Beginner Guide To Advertise on Instagram” by Shopify.
Easy Instagram success: a summary.
The key to unlocking the power of Instagram to market your small business lies in six productive strategies.
- Use your existing networks to initiate your following.
- Create compelling and varied content.
- Connect and collaborate with influencers.
- Use and overuse different types of hashtags.
- Engage with your following and with your competitor’s followers.
- Use data to analyze which content strategy is getting results.
- Run targeted ads using stories, show your ads at the right time in the right moment.
By raising your Instagram profile in this way you can effectively build your business in tandem.
Saif Abbas is an experienced marketing consultant and the founder of incify.co, an outreach agency that connects influencers with businesses. He specializes in delivering website traffic, conversions, and revenue growth from organic search through results-driven technical content, and digital PR initiatives.