Learn how you can create an Instagram strategy that connects with customers and tells a story about your brand.
Like so many social media platforms, Instagram can be a daunting endeavor for a small brand. It’s hard enough to remember to post on Facebook and Twitter, much less remember to post pictures on Instagram. However, did you know that Instagram boasts the highest brand engagement rate? At 4.21%, Instagram’s brand engagement rate soars over both Facebook and Twitter. Visual brands like GoPro and National Geographic use Instagram’s visual interface to generate original content. Retail-driven brands like Starbucks leverage their active fanbase to share user-generated content. At 2930 Creative, we use our Instagram account to share more about our culture. What narrative will your brand create using Instagram? Here are some helpful tips to create an Instagram strategy unique to your brand’s story
What story will you tell?
As with any content strategy, knowing the story you want to tell is important. Do you want to chronicle your travels? Do you want to highlight your customers? Or maybe you are a retailer that wants to show off different ideas for your product? Developing a narrative will allow you to create a cohesive thread that pulls your separate posts together.
To determine a narrative, take some time to think about your brand. What does your brand value? What is important to your brand? What do you want customers to know about you? Play some word association with different elements of your branding identity. With your product or service at the core, what does the culture around your brand look like? Brainstorm some of these ideas and write them out. This will be the bare bones of your Instagram strategy.
Who are you telling your story to? Your target audience on Instagram may be slightly different than it would be on Twitter or Facebook. Much like Pinterest users, Instagram users are more immediately ready to buy products and interact with brands based on their wants. Who are the people that are most likely to buy into your brand? Think about what they want to see, and think about how they can help you generate content that you can share.
If your fan base is millennials and you are a furniture store, think about the things that they want to see. Millennials are renters, and some are new home buyers. Think about things like decorating in smaller spaces or ways to create storage space. If your fan base is teenage girls and you are a skateboard company that wants to appeal to teen girls, you might consider highlighting female athletes to whom they can relate.
User-generated content is a great way to let your avid fans help you with your storytelling. Ask them to share pictures with your product. If you have a theme going (maybe Fearlessness for that skateboard shop?), ask them to show ways that highlight the brand and the theme. Share their posts on your Instagram page and mention them. Posts that have @mentions (when another Instagram user is mentioned) receive 56% higher engagement than those that do not.
What is your desired end result? What is the desired end-goal for your Instagram strategy? Do you want more views on your website? Do you want to sell more product? Do you want greater awareness for your brand and the culture that surrounds your brand? Determining your goals will also help you to guide your strategy.
If your goal is to direct more traffic back to the website, make sure that a link is clearly visible in the profile. Instagram’s anti-spam policies do not allow for links to be posted in picture descriptions and comments. Refer to the profile link if you are directing users to your website.
If your goal is to sell more product, then highlight your product in your posts. However, rather than posting pictures of your product from different angles and in different lighting, think about how your product relates to your customers. If you sell candy or baked goods, maybe appeal to brides and photograph your product in wedding settings like showers or reception dessert tables. If your brand is a local pet shop, you could show pets in different parks around the city or fun pet tricks with your product in the photo or video. Finally, if your goal is to create a culture around your brand, let the culture speak for itself. Create user-driven content promotions that allow your users to interact with your brand. A picture of a happy customer with your product speaks loudly. Consider this when creating your strategy!
The Technical Stuff
Now that you have determined your strategy, you will need the tools to implement it and allow it to grow. Using these tactics will help your brand get found, and make it easier for your customers to understand how to interact with your brand.
Hashtags: Just like Twitter, hashtags are an easy way to categorize your posts and help you be found by your target audience. Research your Instagram hashtags using websites like Iconosquare. This post from Shopify has some amazing tips about how to research relevant keywords for your brand.
Follow Campaigns: Another way to find your audience is by searching for them. On Twitter and on Instagram, I like to use a method called “Follow the follower.” I research like-brands that are similar to mine or my clients, and follow their followers. Another way that I find followers is by researching brands that may not be similar to my brand, but whose followers are in my target audience. For example, I follow many businesses that follow the Chamber of Commerce accounts in the area. These are mostly small businesses that are the target audience for 2930 Creative.
A photo posted by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on
Mentions: As we mentioned earlier, Instagram posts with @mentions receive dramatically higher engagement rates than those without them. There are a few ways to employ this in your strategy. The first is highlighting your employees in your posts. This is a great method if much of your focus is on your company culture. If you are active and attend events, you might want to give “shoutouts” to other businesses and people that you meet at events. If your strategy includes user-driven content, this is where you can ask your fans to create pictures for you. You can repost your customer’s pictures and mention them directly.
Calendar: Instagram does not let you schedule ahead. It’s another way that the platform avoids getting too spammy. I like to take pictures ahead of time and store them on my Google Drive with corresponding dates. I then insert links to these pictures on the content calendar so I know which picture will go on which date, and with what messaging. Planning ahead of time will allow you to retain the cohesive narrative for your strategy. Posting on the fly is ok sometimes, but can get off-message. By using a content calendar, you will save yourself time in the long run and keep your Instagram posting consistent.
In my opinion, Instagram is the most fun of the platforms. It allows brands to show their more creative sides. Instagram also allows the customer to understand what your brand means to their life specifically. Is it a dream life they want to have? Is it practical uses for things they need? By creating a visual narrative on Instagram, you can appeal other senses. We are so excited to see what your brand will do with Instagram. Good luck and most of all: have fun!