You are an Instagram guru. You follow the important trends, listen to the experts (but not too much) and share some pretty great images.
So why worry about the future? Well, competition is heating up. According to eMarketer, 70.7% of US companies with over 100 employees will use Instagram as part of their overall social media marketing strategy by 2017.
And that’s not the only people you are up against. Small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs are increasingly rely on Instagram to spread their message, bring in leads, and connect with clients.
Throw in changing algorithms and shrinking attention spans and the future of your marketing strategy seems a lot less certain. That’s why we’ve put together 5 simple tips to keep you competitive well into the future!
1. Be someone you want to do business with
With so much choice, who we chose to do business with matters. It says something about us, our worldview, our priorities. We start looking for businesses that are on the same page as us, that share the same fears, concerns and hopes.
According to the Intuit-2020 report, the balance of power between businesses and consumers will continue to tip in the consumer’s favor. That’s why it’s increasingly important to do more than just provide a good product.
To get picked in this competitive environment, show your followers why you fit together so well. Show them how your company’s culture and corporate actions are in line with their world view. The exact approach depends on who you are.
KitKat approaches their base with a playful sense of nostalgia. It works because their posts remind us to enjoy the moment, breathe and take a break together. On the other hand, Blue Buffalo shares images about causes they are passionate and matter to their followers, like the work they did to raise money for pet cancer research.
So, ask yourself these questions. What’s unique about your brand? What do you do as a business that sets you apart? Is it your unique Thursday night pizza and ideas meetings? Volunteering together? Incorporate that into your Instagram content and let your followers see the human side of you.
In an increasingly global, interconnected marketplace, what you do and how you do it will set you apart. Use Instagram and your other social media platforms to showcase the how.
2. Make quality your middle name
According to a 2015 Forrester study, Instagram user interaction rates fell from 4.21% in the first quarter of 2014 to 2.26% in the first quarter of 2015 while major brand postings increased from 3.1 posts per week to 4.9 posts per week.
Huge brands like Nike and Coca Cola were talking almost twice as much but only about half their audience cared about what they were saying.
With more than 80 million images uploaded daily, to remain relevant your Instagram photos need to be sharp, on brand, and well lighted. No amount of filters can disguise poor lighting and resolution.
Train or hire someone who who has a background (or a love for) photography. Someone who gets really excited talking about angles, lens sizes and the best time to take a beautiful shot outdoors. It’s even better if they mention the mysterious magic hour!
Because with millions of gorgeous, professional quality photos uploaded every day the quality of what you post will make or break you.
3. Stay on brand
It took years to perfect your company’s brand. Your Instagram feed is an opportunity to show off the lighter side of your business’s personality. It’s a chance to have a little fun!
But, as tempting as it is to post photos from last night’s company barbeque extravaganza, ask yourself this first.
Is this photo on brand? If the answer is yes, upload that baby! But, if it doesn’t fit with your overall company culture it’s better to keep it offline.
To stay fresh and interesting you can use hashtags, connect with influencers and engage in campaigns that complement your message. Like when Innocent Smoothies teamed up with Lorraine Pascal to help kids grow veg! They both promote healthy food and healthy eating so the matchup was a win win for both of them.
4. Ruthlessly curate your content
Let’s take a look at successful, but different, accounts like Simone Bramante, Hubspot and Fedex. They are in separate industries and post very distinct kinds of photos. What connects them is the way each photo ties in into an overall theme.
Their feeds have a clear identity and are instantly recognizable.
It’s better to have a focused message, than to get lost a quagmire of unrelated content.
If you want to post something that doesn’t fit with your current theme use Instagram stories. It still gets it in front of your audience without being a part of your main feed.
By keeping your images consistent, it makes them easier to identify while scrolling through a feed. The way posts are presented continues to evolve, so being easily recognizable will give you an edge.
5. Use Instagram to guide your followers to your website
Instagram is a fantastic platform. You’ve invested in it and built up a following over time with a lot of care and effort.
But, it isn’t yours. You are renting, just like every other social media user out there. What happens if the platform crashes? If the algorithm changes so completely it just isn’t viable for your business anymore? If your followers move on to a new app?
One of the key goals of an effective, future-proofed Instagram marketing strategy is to guide people back to your website.
While Instagram doesn’t allow linking in photo descriptions at the moment, here’s what you can do instead:
• Create a custom built landing page specifically designed with your Instagram followers in mind and link it in your bio
• Add a call to action to a few of your images and ask your followers to click the link on your profile.
You can use that to run Instagram contests, create special offers and provide exclusive deals for your followers. That way you can build a strong relationship with them both on and off the platform.
The future way is a lot like the old fashioned way.
When it comes down to the basics, successful social marketing is pretty simple. Offer the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.
Yeah. I wish it was too. It might not be easy, but it’s definitely worth it. By building your Instagram marketing strategy around quality content that’s specifically aimed at your target audience and then gently guide them to your website, you are setting yourself up for success today and in the future.