In case you’ve been asleep for the past few years, Instagram is quickly becoming the social network brands are turning to in order to connect with their target audience. Instagram’s user numbers have grown at an extremely rapid pace over the past 24-months. The platform passed 400 million users in 2015 and currently has more than 500 million daily active users.
There are two factors that make Instagram a marketing channel that CMOs cannot afford to ignore. First, the average consumer is active on Instagram daily — it’s where the attention can be found. Second, Instagram uses Facebook’s advertising features, giving brands the most extensive targeting options available.
With increased user activity bring more advertisers flocking to the platform, requiring brands to use intelligent strategies in order to take their Instagram marketing to the next level. Here are the strategies CMOs need to focus on in the upcoming year.
1. Post More Video Content
Video content is gaining in popularity and there are two main contributing factors. It’s highly effectiveand it’s no longer costly to produce. Today’s smartphones are equipped with cameras that produce high quality 4K video that is comparable to expensive video equipment.
Having the ability to produce high quality video on the go is very convenient, especially for those that want to use a personal brand to market a business. “Posting video content allows you to create a very personal message and deliver it in a way that outperforms an image and text-based post. Consumers want to connect with a person — not a faceless company. Video content allows you to make the human connection,” suggests Fred Dahr of the Law Offices of Fred Dahr.
The ratio of video and image posts will vary from brand to brand, and it requires testing before you know how much video content to post. Results don’t lie — if your video posts are receiving high engagement and resulting in new followers then experiment posting a higher percentage of videos.
2. Leverage Instagram Influencers and Brand Ambassadors
When you combine the right offer with a perfectly-matched promoter, influencer marketing can be one of the most effective strategies a brand can use to drive sales and awareness. There are two options — seek out influencers for short-term promotion campaigns, or create a brand ambassador program to create enthusiastic brand promoters.
“Brand ambassadors are generally going to provide your brand with the most value than an influencer you hire and pay for a one-time promo. I highly suggest creating a brand ambassador program and targeting micro-influencers. While their following will be smaller, they tend to have very targeted and engaged followers,” suggests Chris Moberg, President of Slumber Search.
Budget conscious brands can also benefit by creating a brand ambassador program, as many micro-influencers will gladly promote in exchange for product rather than per-post monetary compensation. Brands with high margins can really benefit from product-based compensation agreements.
3. Analyze Data Daily
Instagram accounts that are business profiles have access to Insights, which is Instagram’s analytics, and they just rolled out a more in-depth version just the other day. If you are running a personal profile, you can easily convert it to a business profile in order to have access to Insights.
The new Insights give you access to data that can really help you improve your marketing efforts. According to Irene McConnell, Managing Director of Arielle Careers, the new data is much more helpful than it was in the past. “The new data available shows you where each post was discovered — Explore, Home, Profile or Other — and how many impressions each was responsible for. Also, you can see how many profile visits each post triggered and how many new followers you gained.”
When you look at this information daily, it allows you to see what is working and what isn’t. Put more effort into the type of content that is resulting in the most profile views and followers, and back off on the strategies that aren’t attracting a new potential customer base.
4. Use the ‘Stories’ Feature to Tell Your Brand’s Story
Last year, Instagram introduced Stories, a feature that allows users to share images and video that disappears after 24 hours. It was the start of Instagram copying Snapchat’s features in an effort to pull away its users.
“The Stories feature is a great way for brands to leverage FOMO — fear of missing out. Since the content disappears after 24 hours, your following needs to view your ‘Story’ on a regular basis. You can use this constant attention to showcase company culture, provide educational information or push special offers. The attention you can command here is the true value,” says Brian Gwinn, CEO of Greenview Investment Partners.
Your brand needs to take advantage of the attention available via Stories. In April, Stories became more popular than Snapchat, and there is no sign of looking back. If your Instagram account is verified, you also have the ability to add a link, which the user is taken to when they ‘swipe up’ on your story.
5. Dive Head First into Your Comments and Start Engaging
Too many brands spend time creating excellent content, and then they simply abandon it once it’s been posted. Great content will receive a lot of likes and comments, and that engagement can help your posts receive organic exposure, resulting in even more comments.
It’s important that you spend time “in” each post, commenting back, which creates loyal brand supporters. As Vikram Tarugu, CEO of Detox of South Florida suggests, a single reply can result in that individual engaging with every future post. “When you reply to a comment, even just a simple ‘Thank you,’ you are showing the person that you value them and their opinion. This creates a loyal supporter of your company or organization, whether you are a retailer, manufacturer or a service provider.”
You don’t have to monitor your comments around the clock, as that would be counterproductive — spending five minutes replying to your newest posts a couple times a day will suffice. When you reply to someone they will receive a notification, so delayed replies can still be effective.