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Your Guide to Instagram Marketing

Filed under Social Media

Generate interest, create leads, engage with the community, and convert believers. If you don’t want to do any of these things, Instagram is still a great place to play, but if you are serious about your branding and marketing efforts, Instagram is definitely the place to be.

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At its core, Instagram is almost entirely visual, but the comments and hashtags are a dimension that makes the social media platform even more intriguing for marketers.

Just in case there are still some holdouts in the marketing world, here is an overview of what marketers who haven’t already jumped on the Instagram bandwagon need to know to get started.

Set up your account

instagram-business

Instagram for business is real. Instagram makes it easy for businesses with the Instagram for business platform. In fact, even if you already have an active Instagram following, you won’t go wrong by subscribing to the Instagram for business blog. It is a goldmine of practical advice about how businesses can get the most out of Instagram.

Your business account will require a username, and it should be something instantly recognizable as being associated with your brand. Make sure you profile photo is well branded, create a bio for your brand that is compelling and interesting to people who may not be familiar with your value proposition and make sure you create a link back to your primary web presence.

If your brand is active on Facebook, Instagram makes it easy to connect with your Facebook community directly. You’ll want to create an Instagram tab on your Facebook page so anything that you share on Instagram does double duty with your Facebook fans.

Adopt a visual brand strategy

At the core of the Instagram experience is visual sharing – sharing static or video images. For brands, this means your Instagram content should be a reflection of how your brand sees the world and how your brand’s stories translate into images. When you are able to do this consistently, you’ll have a powerful presence on Instagram.

Hashtags

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Instagram isn’t all visual. One powerful aspect of the Instagram experience, especially for brands is the hashtag. Instagram hashtags are similar to hashtags on other social media platforms. In fact, your brand should have a hashtag strategy and use many of your brand-specific hashtags across all platforms.

Hashtags are important for consistent messaging and to make it easier for users to find your content when they are searching for it.

We just mentioned brand-specific hashtags, but there are a number of other types of hashtags you’ll want to become familiar with.

  • #UpdateHashtags – Every new post associated with a campaign or initiative should have a set of one or more hashtags that link it to all the other posts in the same line of posts.
  • #GeneralHashtags – Become familiar with widely accepted hashtags and use them where appropriate to associate your images with other images that Instagram users are likely to be searching for.
  • #TrendingHashtags – You’ve probably noticed that much of the social media universe operates in waves, especially in response to #news. There may be times when you want to associate your message with something that is trending.

You’ll want to keep up with new hashtags as they emerge and keep tabs on how your branding hashtags are being used and accepted, but one thing you can’t do is ignore hashtags. #DoNotIgnoreHashtags

It isn’t all about you or your brand

The age of pushy-pushy sales and marketing is over. Make your message about your customers, not about you. Make your message about the benefits your customer’s experience, not about how great your company is. The more you make your message about the experiences your brand provides, the problems it solves and the needs and desires it meets, the more powerful your message will be on Instagram.

One way to do this is by engaging with the community at large. When your brand gets known for appreciating the talents of other Instagram users, that’s when you will know you’ve arrived. Sharing the photos your followers feed back to you is a must. Have a place to embed them on your website and showcase them regularly. The more you make your brand about your customers, the more they will make it about you.

Context is important

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Every post can’t be a product post or a promotional post, but when you do make product posts, put them in context; put your products in real-world situations with real people. This will be leveraging the power of Instagram and will be teaching your followers how to do the same with their own photos.

Strut your stuff authentically

Being creative on Instagram is more than just figuring out which filter to apply. Get creative with the angles you use or how far away from the subject your camera is. Combine photos into collages or montages. But most of all, make it real.

Tell stories

The most powerful way to engage with people on an emotional level is to tell stories. Even static images can tell powerful stories. Viewers automatically place themselves into powerful images and empathize with the people in them. They will create stories of their own based on the emotions they experience. These are the images that get shared the most, so make sure they are tagged with #YourBrandsHashTags.

Your stories can be about people using your products or the people who make your products. You can tell a story about a product launch or recap some of the great moments from an existing product’s life cycle. Tell stories about your executives interacting with customers. Show how your brand gets involved with your community. Instagram is the perfect platform for visual storytelling.

Listening is the key

Whether you are promoting a photo contest, gathering feedback, documenting an event, launching a new product or interacting with other Instagram users about their stuff, the important thing is to be receptive to what you are getting back from them. This will be the true measure of your impact on Instagram. If you listen well, there is not doubt that with Instagram you will be able to generate interest, create leads, engage with the community, and convert believers for your brand.

Guest Author: Ivan Serrano

Ivan Serrano is a web journalist living in the Bay Area of California. He covers a wide variety of topics, but prefers to write about social media and business. Ivan occasionally writes for the nationaldebtrelief.com blog.

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