7 ways to incorporate Instagram into your marketing strategy

You might be wondering what the fuss is all about. Is Instagram really worth including in your marketing strategy? We think so. Instagram ads were only made readily available in October 2015, despite being the fastest growing social media platform. Like any new outlet, it took brands time to take notice and incorporate Instagram into their strategies — only 32% of marketers are currently using Instagram to market their brand. This means minimal competitive noise (for now), so jump on the Instagram party bus before it gets overcrowded! Here’s how and why you should incorporate Instagram into your marketing strategy: charting its #do’s, #don’ts, and its #beautiful relationship with the ever faithful Facebook.

1.Know your Insta-audience

Know your insta-audience

As with all social media channels, you need to know who you’re working with. Every social media platforms’ primary users are different, and each can be used to target different demographics. Instagrams users are relatively young, with 53% of them under the age of 30. Work with that in mind, and use it to your brand’s advantage: picking out aspects of your brand that will speak to the young and keen to engage with image content.

Also use Instagram to the reverse effect—to get an idea of what’s trending, and the sort of images your audience are responding to the most. Instagram has become a hub for forward thinkers and inspirational images: a great port of call if you’re in need of on-trend ideas.

2. Play with the platform

Play with the platform

Despite what some might think, posting a high quality photo with a few random #’s is not the whole story: Instagram has evolved, and involves a lot more than this. Get to know its features well, having a play before you embark on your 1st post: this will make sure your advertisements are as efficient and productive as possible. Consider the three different formats of Instagram ad on offer: image, carousel, and video.

So what’s the difference? Image ads are just basic links, a single image with a call-to-action (CTA) button. It’s all about being picture perfect with these bad boys: you’ve only got one chance to hook your audience in. One step up from image ads are carousel ads. This option allows you to add multiple images to one ad, so users can scroll through a plethora of your brand’s delights. Just like horses on a carousel, these are all about showcasing your brand’s best bits, and can allow you to tell more of a story with your images. Finally the holy grail: video ads. Being up to 30 seconds in length you can be a lot more creative here, think viral Vine type content. But be warned, you cannot currently add a CTA to Instagram’s video ads (we’re hoping that the feature appears soon). For now, think about other ways to direct your audience to your site, whether that be within the video itself or in your ad copy.

3. The power of the #

The power of the hash

Hashtags are a marketer’s dream, with the right # taking your post from 100 views to 1000 instantly. Using existing #’s allows you to join in with existing trends your audience are already talking about. It’s essentially like jumping into someone’s conversation, as long as you have something interesting to say no-one will mind! The # is identical to Twitter in terms of use: riding aboard the bandwagon is the best way to get your brand seen, and become part of a wider community.

Of course, if you’re doing a specific campaign, creating an individual # will allow people to follow and interact with your campaign. Take hipster shoe favourite Tom’s ‘#withoutshoes’ campaign. As well as raising awareness for charity (donating a pair of shoes for every image with the #withoutshoes), the viral campaign leveraged their ethical profile and collected some truly stunning shots. Their use of hashtags generated a lot of unique content: a participatory global event that created a lot of buzz around their brand.

4. Facebook

Male hand doing a thumbs up in front of beautiful scenic views o

Since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, the two have become a match made in heaven. You can now use Facebook power editor to change and post ads on Instagram. So, whilst you’re making a Facebook ad, it’s easy to add Instagram into the campaign with in-depth targeting options.

But don’t run before you can walk. As mentioned above, know your audience, don’t just duplicate the ads you’re putting out on Facebook. Give yourself the time to investigate the #’s that are guaranteed to grab your audience. Think of ways to make your campaign sit comfortably alongside your Facebook ads, but still be distinctly different—Facebook may own Instagram but they are different platforms after all.

5. Insta-influencers

Insta influencers

Some people make their living from Instagram (and other social channels for that matter). They are experts in what they do, knowing the sort of content, images, and hashtags that work: so take advantage of their expertise and popularity. Using Instagram influencers in your marketing strategy will allow you to reach new audiences, that you wouldn’t be able to access alone. For a price, influencers will post about what you want them to, but most will only endorse products and causes they are genuinely happy to promote. Approach them as humans, not just assets: there are real people behind the images. Influencers are the tastemakers of the social web, so you’ve got to get them on your side. As customers, we listen more to people we can relate to than the brands themselves. Instagram is a great way of adding this personal element to your campaign.

6. Multi-channel magic

Multi-channel magic

Whether you have a big following on other social media sites or not, it’s a good idea to post your Instagram photos on your other platforms. By simply re-posting Twitter, you can make your existing followers aware of your brand’s Instagram account, and direct them to it. It’s a lot easier to form a following from those who already love what you do than starting from scratch.

This also applies to email. Be sure to add Instagram to the social icons at the bottom of your emails, and include some of your images to show subscribers what to expect from your account. Instagram should never stand alone, but should become part of your brand’s strong social media web.

7. Measuring up

Measuring up (2)

It’s great to incorporate Instagram into your marketing strategy but it’s pointless if you don’t measure it. Keeping tabs on what images are working, what hashtags are making the most impact, and how your audience is engaging with your posts is not just helpful, but essential. What’s trending on Instagram changes constantly, and it’s your job to keep up. Use platforms such as SEEN, which collect and rank #’s to see how popular your post has been and to analyze your Instagram performance. Then use this to shape your strategy. If your insta-ad is getting noticed stick at it, if your # is a flop, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.

So there you have it: how to fit Instagram into your marketing strategy. With audiences calling for more visual content, Instagram is fast becoming one of the most powerful tools in a social marketers toolbox. To be successful you’ve got to be where wherever your target audience is— so now is the time to get picture perfect and #happy. Still unsure how to make your brand an Insta-success? Not to worry, we’re on hand to help.

Featured image Instagram 2015 Calendar, Masaaki Komori, some rights reserved
Know your Insta-audience image Oscar Statuettes, Prayitno, some rights reserved
Play with the platform image Monopoly, Mike Fleming, some rights reserved
The power of the # image Lots of Hash, Michael Coghlan, some rights reserved
Multi-channel magic image 88/365, Sarah Buckley, some rights reserved
Measuring up image The Computing Scale Co, Burnaby Village Museum, some rights reserved

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