By Zizi Averill
Let’s talk about Instagram. Australia is a nation of Instagrammers. In an average week, an Australian will log on to this platform 38 times. With each visit lasting nearly half an hour, this means Australians spend over 17 hours scrolling through their feed every week.
Globally 80% of accounts follow a business on Instagram.
With so many potential customers online, now is the time to get your strategy together.
To stand out in this environment, your images need to be attention-grabbing. Use clean high-quality images and videos.
To make your images beautiful, don’t rely on Instagram filters. For greater control over your image, it’s best to use a third-party editing software, like Afterlight.
Instagram celebrates creativity. Experiment with different visuals and content types include collages, GIFs and use rich visuals and unconventional angles.
Watch how your audience responds to your experimentation and let their engagement dictate your style.
Your Instagram page is an extension of your brand. Your page should aim for the same consistency of design that you apply to your branding.
Successful Instagram brands choose a distinctive style and theme to their page and stick to it. Consider developing a signature aesthetic by using consistent fonts, filters, colours and logos in your posts. This will create brand recognition for your audience as they see your post while scrolling through their feed.
Harness the Power of Insights
If you are serious about marketing on Instagram, you need to set up an Instagram business account. This will allow you to access Instagram’s native analytics, Insights, showing all the details about your posts, stories and audience.Insights will allow you to compare content, measure the success of your campaigns and follow individual posts.
If you see a drop in your reach, reflect on the frequency of your posts and if you are posting at the optimal times.
If your impressions are falling, evaluate the quality of your content.
Every post should further your businesses media strategy. Watch how your audience interacts with your content and respond to positive feedback.
Your bio is the best way to quickly establish to a new customer who you are, what you do, and where they can find your business. In some ways, it’s a like a dating profile for your brand. Add a little character to your description to hook in potential followers.
To the frustration of many Instagram marketers, for most accounts, the only place to include links on Instagram is your bio. Remember to use this link efficiently, by directing customers to direct points of sale. However, if your social media strategy requires directing your customers to multiple sites you can use Linktree.
By monitoring Instagram insights and your pages web traffic you’ll be able to maximise your customer pathway, from post to the shopping cart. This will help identify areas where your profile can improve.
Tell a Story
Instagram, more so than any other social media site, is a storytelling platform. Advertisers need to adopt the style of Instagram, by using the platform to display the softer side of your business. So, show off your creative side, indulge in humous and artistic images.
Give your followers behind the scenes looks, user testimonials or something that captures the lifestyle of your brand.
Captions on photos should be descriptive and interesting to entice and intrigue your audience. Tease them with just enough text that they want to find out more about your brand.
Remember, this is a social network, engage your audiences in conversations. Let them talk to your brand. Advertisers who ignore Instagram etiquette by using their feed merely as a megaphone to promote products will struggle to gain influence. By telling stories that engage your audience you’ll be able to persuade new visitors to follow you and your business.
Post a Story
Since the launch of Instagram Stories in 2016, they have quickly become one of the apps most popular features. In 2017 36% of Instagram users had used the story function.
Stories appear on the top of your follower’s news feed for only 24 hours before disappearing. They’re often the first thing people see when they log onto the app.
Instagram Stories are a great way to engage your most loyal followers, while also allowing new audiences to discover your content. Because they only last a short amount of time, there is a high drive for audiences to access your content.
Stories limit images to only 7 seconds, while videos can play for 15 seconds. A great trick for marketers is to transform your images into videos. Adding add music or animations will also capture your audience’s attention.
Just because stories only last a small time, doesn’t mean marketers shouldn’t track their success. By monitoring taps forward and backwards and exit rates you can monitor the performance of your Story. A high exit rate or too many taps forward indicate that your Stories aren’t interesting enough or were too long.
Enhancing your Stories
Make your stories stand out by exploring Instagram’s interactive elements.
Through Stories, the text has become an important graphical tool. In Stories, you can customise the font, colour and style of the text. You can also tap into trending hashtags or geotag your story, increasing its visibility on the Explore page. For the adventurous brand, Instagram also allows rainbow text or drop shadows.
In 2017, Instagram rolled out the ability to include links to stories for accounts with more than 10,000 followers. For those accounts with this ability, use it to redirect your audience to links that add value to your business.
Animate your images with GIFs to amuse customers or help audiences respond to a call to action. These layers add movement to an image to draw attention to a link, profile, hashtag or location tag.
Polls are a highly interactive element of Instagram stories. They invite users to respond to questions while watching Stories. These are a great strategy for market research. A short poll can act as a small sample survey of your customers. By keeping track of your analytics you’ll be able to see your results and respond to your audience’s responses.
Stories provide marketers with a great opportunity to invite audience interaction. Make sure to include these functions to invite a conversation with your audience.
Unlike Facebook live videos, Instagram live videos disappear as soon as the broadcast ends. Because of this Instagram Live stories are an excellent way to capitalise on your audience’s fear of missing out.
Your customers will be notified once you go live. This leads to audiences having a high drive to watch, and a feeling of exclusivity.
Once your live video is finished you have the choice to upload it to your Story.
Make sure that you are going live at peak times ton increase exposure and use the relevant hashtags. It’s also a good idea to announce the live video beforehand, to grab the attention of those who have turned live notifications off.
Highlight your Brand
Highlights are highly curated stories that sit underneath your bio. They are an essential element of establishing who you are, and what your business does.
This is valuable real estate on your profile and you should use it to advertise products and build trust with your audience. Showcase what your brand is all about. Show off behind the scenes or tips and tutorials, product demonstrations, or advertise a specific event. Post your best content from your stories here.
If you’re not using the right hashtag, you’re speaking to the wrong audience. Hashtags are one of the most common ways people search for content. The right tags can launch your posts and stories into the feeds of potential customers.
The best strategy for hashtags is to include a blend of popular tags and smaller niche tags. Broad popular tags will be seen by more people. While more specific tags will push content to audiences more likely to be interested in your content. It will also mean your post is in less competition with other posts in the search section. Your hashtag strategy should blend specific hashtags, industry-specific tags, trending tags as well as your own branded tag.
Knowing how to use hashtags effectively requires you to be constantly researching what new tags are growing and measuring your hashtag performance. There are a few third-party analytical companies that provide comparative analysis.
As of April 2018, there were 22 million posts with #Sydney, 21 million posts with the hashtag #Melbourne, 3 million Adelaide snaps, 1 million posts tagged with our nation’s capital, 7 million Brisbane posts, 6 million Perth Instagram and 1 million Darwin snaps.
Australians are using Instagram location tags to crowd-source reviews for businesses. By using location tags, you can make sure that you are engaging in this conversation.
It’s ideal to include three location-based hashtags in every post as well as mark your location.
Finally, when using Stories, you can geotag your images with location stickers. By doing so you might be featured in the story for a location or hashtag, giving you access to new users.
Brands need to creatively work within the constraints of Instagram’s video platform. Videos posted to the feed are limited to a minute of content. While posts to stories are a maximum of just 15 seconds.
These shorter videos are ideal for conveying fun and informative content while maintaining your viewer’s interest. Use creative elements, like Instagram’s inbuilt feature. Boomerang.
Your videos narrative is extremely important. Remember, most users have turned their sound off, so it’s important to use text overlays or subtitles to tell the story.
It’s also important to maximise your space when using video. Shooting vertical videos is perfect for Stories as they fill up the entire screen. While horizontal videos should be used in the timeline.
Engage your Followers
Instagram is the perfect platform to build a sense of trust and community within your customer base. More than six out of every ten Australians are more likely to trust a brand if they interact positively with their customers on social media (Sensis report).
Your page should attempt to foster a sense of community within your audience. Encourage your audience to go beyond just double tapping your post. In every post you should include a call to action, whether that is to click links, comment, follow hashtags or visit your page. Reply to any comments and be sure to @mention the commenter in your photo.
Your Instagram followers are likely your most loyal customers, so reward them. Run exclusive offers and sales, leak sneak peaks of your products, hashtag competitions, feature their photos. All these techniques incentivise engagement with your brand and will make sure your customers return to your page.
Make sure you understand who your audience is by looking at their demographic data. There you can segment your audience by age, gender, location and monitor when they are online.
We inherently trust the recommendations of our friends and family more so than the endorsement of the brand. Once you have established a community around your brand, encouraging your audience to post photos, testimonials and videos will increase your credibility.
Follow the conversation by encouraging your audience to tag their photos with your own branded hashtag.
Letting users share their own experiences will build serious customer loyalty while also showcasing your products.
By sharing user-generated image you’ll transform your page from a dull informercial, into an interactive blend of organic and authentic stories.
Partnering with Instagram influencers is one of the most popular strategies for promoting your business on this platform. The influencer is the modern version of the celebrity endorsements within a niche community.
In 2015 businesses were reporting a return of $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing (Tomoson).
In 2016, 94% of marketers said their influencer marketing campaigns were effective.
In 2017 it is estimated that businesses spent $2 billion on influencer marketing, and this is expected to rise to $10 billion in 2020.
The influencer marketing strategy you choose depends on your goals. Are you trying to broadcast to as many people as possible, or are you trying to reach a smaller group with more authentic word-of-mouth marketing?
It’s not simply a matter of partnering with the biggest Instagram star. Micro-influencers are accounts with around 1,000 to 10 thousand followers. These influencers are generally more niche bloggers and are still considered peers by their followers. They charge much less for endorsements and generate an 8% like rate, more than three times that generated by celebrity macro influencers.
Do your research to find the right influencer for your business. See what accounts carry authority in your feed. Contact them to see if they would endorse your business.
When To Post?
On the 22nd of March Instagram announced it would be altering its algorithm, partially reintroducing the chronological timeline.
In 2016, professional Instagram pages were hit with the non-chronological feed which weighted posts based on how much engagement a post gets, how long people spend viewing a post. This angered publishers as businesses saw a 33% drop in their interaction rates (Quintly). Many saw it as a strategy to force businesses to boost their Instagram content.
The new algorithm will not fully reintroduce the chronological timeline. However, it will increase how much it weighs when the post was published.
As the feed prioritises time, this means your posts will be quickly be pushed down by newer content. The half-life of posts is reduced. Your brand will need to post more frequently to maintain a presence in your customer’s feed.
In January 2018, Instagram announced that business account will be able to schedule their posts.
While this is not a native inbuilt service within Instagram, the changes do make life easier for marketers.
Before the announcement, scheduling apps would just send push notifications to marketers to post at designated times.
Now, these third-party apps will be able to automatically post directly to the app.
Currently, the feature only works for photos, not videos or stories.
Now you’ll be able to control your ‘feed speed’ and post during your audience’s peak traffic times, while also maintaining a consistency that your followers can rely on.
Since it was bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012 Instagram ads have become more comprehensive. The analytics provided allow businesses to measure campaign goals, filter by time and identify content types. This will allow you to discover what techniques work with your audience.
Instagram has been telling advertisers to start using the platform like Facebook. Simply posting content will not assure you organic reach. By paying for reach you’ll be bypassing the algorithm to appear on more customer’s feeds.
While organic reach is still significant in how content is shared, marketers need to start promoting posts. It won’t be long until Instagram adopts more of the characteristics of its owner, Facebook.
Instagram used to be thought of as a relatively frustrating place for advertisers to work on. Without clickable links, retailers couldn’t redirect customers to points of sale.
Lately, Instagram updated to include a shopping feature. These shoppable posts mean that customers can buy featured products within the app. This seamless customer pathway has been adopted by 600,000 businesses.
In March 2018 this feature was expanded to Australian retailers. If it suits your business, this is the time to adopt this new feature. As an early adopter of the feature, you’ll be able to establish yourself in the integrated Instagram e-commerce space.
Over 375 million people use Instagram’s direct message features and one in five Stories posted by businesses receive a Direct Message (TechCrunch ). Brands should look to capitalise on this audience.
Messaging functions have shown real potential to start a direct and intimate conversation with your customers. Through Direct messenger, you can thank customers for recent purchases, send coupons, release new products, or even stage some market research.
This is a great platform to engage in authentic and direct conversation with your audience. However, you must use these marketing tactics in moderation to respect your customer’s privacy and not spam their feed.
With nearly half Australia logging on to Instagram, it’s foolish to ignore this platform. Every Instagram profile is a visual story and to create an intimate conversation with your customers. Capitalise on the use of geotags and hashtags and @mentions to spark a conversation with your audience.
Utilise Instagram’s role as a visual platform to publish creative images and videos. Use Instagram to mirror your businesses visual identity.
Instagram is a platform with huge potential for marketers. Don’t miss out on this huge marketplace.
Talk to us at Digital Democracy 0423 073 099 about your digital marketing needs in 2018