How to execute a successful Instagram profile
So a couple of our clients and a number of entrepreneurial friends have been asking lately, what is the benefit of using Instagram as a social engagement platform? And how they can use it to their advantage. So with that in mind I thought it would be helpful for all of those people who are thinking about spending more time on their social media strategy, to jot down a mini ‘How to’ guide on Instagram marketing for brands. It’s important that you understand the format and dynamics of the platform before starting to put together a strategy so that it delivers the desired result. We’ve knocked up some information about how it all works, where to start and techniques to give your brand maximum exposure.
So let’s start with the basics. If you aren’t already familiar with the format of Instagram, it is a social image sharing platform that is dominated by companies, celebrities and individuals that use visuals to emulate a particular lifestyle or brand perception. As the old saying goes, ‘a picture can speak a thousand words’, and Instagram enables people and brands to use these visuals to tell a story about themselves or their model customer to make them look desirable. In short, if executed correctly, a successful brand Instagram page should be able to represent their target buyer just by looking at the content.
For example: Australian Active wear Brand Lorna Jane
Target Buyers: Young, sporty, twenty- or thirty-something women who value looking good while living an active lifestyle.
According to a research firm L2, Instagram gets the most audience engagement out of all of the social platforms but more importantly, it has the highest conversion from browser to shopper. Most probably because it provides the most attractive and authentic consumer generated visual marketing of all the platforms. Shoppers are visually motivated after all. The same research also showed that 92% of luxury brands who post an average of 5.5 times a week on Instagram increase their customer base. So the answer to many of your questions is yes Instagram content does ad value and sales to your business. BUT, the key to a successful Instagram strategy is in the execution. Here’s where to start;
- Who is your target buyer – First and foremost you need to really hone in on your target buyer. You can’t just decide on a gender and an age bracket, this is not strong enough when establishing a brand. Instead, make your target buyer into a real person, give them a name and create a mood-board of her/his life. How do they dress? What type of job do they have? How much income do they have? What do they like to do in their space time? What TV/books do they like to watch/read? All of this information will allow you to build an idea of what your Instagram feed should look like in order to appeal to this consumer.
- Set up your profile and optimise well – Ensure that you have used an informative and interesting description for your bio that includes brand keywords, your brand hashtag (will discuss further in this guide) and your web address. It is also advisable to make sure you use a strong brand logo for your profile image and keep this consistent throughout so that your brand is instantly recognisable.
- Make a content plan – As spontaneous as many Instagram profiles may look, successful brand profiles have actually been carefully planned and curated to ensure a completely seamless and consistent approach for maximum exposure, at the right time with the right brand identity. Write down the product arrivals you’re expecting, think about the seasons and industry themes and plan how you can tailor your brand around them. A great Instagram profile takes almost as much planning and organising as seasonal advertising campaigns, you should think of the lighting, the art direction, the model, the editing and filters therefore planning is essential. When devising your content plan you’ll need to consider;
– The frequency that you will post content. A good frequency should be somewhere between 3-5 content posts per week.
– The days and times that you will post content (think about your target market, when are they most likely to be browsing on their mobile devices? On the commute, on an evening, lunchtime?
– What themes will you tailor your content around and when?
- Use relevant and popular hashtags – For those of you that aren’t familiar with hashtags, adding ‘#’ character to the start of a word, statement or sometimes a short sentence with no spaces helps your content to be found more easily and expand your reach to new people. This works by putting them into a topic feed where others have used the same hashtag and ultimately widens your discoverability.
- Create your own brand hashtag – This doesn’t mean just using your brand name. It’s about finding a term or phrase that personifies your brand and target audience and provides you with a portal for authentic consumer generated content. This enables people to engage with you as well spreading brand awareness and visibility on the platform as a whole, effectively allowing your brand to reach new people and potential purchasers. If executed correctly and with the support of your other channels, Instagram users will work as your very own brand ambassadors. E.g. Country Brand Barbour has the brand hashtag ‘#barbourpeople’ and fashion brand Calvin Klein has ‘#mycalvins’. See the feeds for these hashtags below.
Just to clarify, these are not examples of Instagram profiles, these are examples of the brand hashtag feed where all of the user generated content is grouped together into one feed. There are of course specific campaigns that you can run that help your brand to get the maximum possible exposure for your branded hashtag, and it is always beneficial to make sure your official brand hashtag is on all marketing material, from website, email marketing, to receipts and invoices.
- Create an engagement campaign with the help of your other channels – Contests and incentives are a great way of provoking engagement on Instagram and really contribute to your own brand hashtag visibility. E.g. you could ask your database or buyers to post an image on Instagram using your hashtag along with their products to be in with a chance of winning some sort of freebie. You could also use some sort of voting orientated campaign whereby the user has to cast a vote using a hashtag. These campaigns can be maximised to their fullest potential if you shout it about them using all other channels like your email marketing, website, and your other social media feeds. All avenues must work together in order to make them a success.
- Collaborate with influencers in your industry or other complementary brands – Major influencers on Instagram tend to be those that have a particularly attractive profile with lots of followers and regular user engagement. If you notice a profile like this that represents brand culture, it would be beneficial to contact the account holder with the intention of a collaboration with them. Most of the time there will be some kind of fee involved, whether that is monetary or a free product that is up to the two parties to negotiate but you should ask the account holder to post some pieces of content about your products or brand to help you capitalise on their follower base.
- Make use of Instagram image editing tools – there is research to suggest that certain lighting and angles tend to perform better and get more engagement from users. There are filters and editing tools available to help you create the strongest visuals possible and you should use these to your advantage.
- Advertise – Don’t panic!! I know many people are afraid of the word ‘advertising’ because it is usually a very costly affair with hard to measure results, however instagram advertising is easy to manage, low cost and very responsive depending on your industry. Instagram advertising runs from the same ads dashboard as Facebook so you can combine your social advertising into one easy to manage system. It is also very highly targeted since it has close links with Facebook. There is infinite consumer data available that we can use to our advantage. E.g. you want to target, people aged between 18-30 who live in cities and live a fit and healthy lifestyle. No problem. The data is there for you to use and you can use as much or as little budget that you want.
- Engage and respond – Last but definitely not least, get involved in the conversation. Respond to customer, thank them for feedback and make good use of any user generated on content by posting to your own profile and tagging the user. It is after all, a social media platform therefore you must be social!
If you’d like more information about the growth of Instagram and how big it has become then feel free to download the research document excerpt by L2 below.
If you’d like to chat to us about how we can help you to build a successful Instagram profile that nurtures your audience and increase web sales then feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.