Unpacking the use of Instagram as a marketing tool
Instagram has become wildly popular in recent years. From celebrities and influencers to brands and consumers, it appears that everybody who’s anybody has an Instagram account. But there’s a difference between passively sharing or viewing photos and actively marketing yourself or your brand. In order to cross that line and utilise Instagram’s full potential as a marketing tool, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends on the platform and in user behaviour. If your business or your marketing specialists can successfully follow and incorporate these trends, you’ll be able to use Instagram to grow your audience, promote your brand and ultimately sell. Keep the following things in mind when compiling your Instagram marketing strategy.
First and foremost, like any social media platform, Instagram requires engagement from and with users. However, Instagram offers even more opportunities to engage with your audience. Since the majority of the population responds to visual material, your job is already halfway done when you create captivating visuals that resonate with your audience and their unique needs or behaviours.
Next, take it a step further and open up the communication and interaction between your brand and your audience. Reply to their comments, comment on relevant posts and encourage them to comment on yours through interactive calls to action. Using hashtags also makes it possible for users to find your content based on their interests. Ensure that the hashtags you use, align with your audience’s needs and what they’ll search for.
The ultimate goal of any social media marketing platform is to promote brand awareness and transform your audience into customers. Instagram can make this possibility a reality. According to Instagram Business, 60% of Instagram users rely on the platform to discover new products. This means that, not only will your audience use Instagram to find your brand, but they’ll also actively look for the products you offer. All you have to do is ensure they find them when they search.
You can aid your users in this process by adding a link to your bio. This should be a key step in your e-commerce digital marketing strategy. Additionally, use Instagram Stories to promote new products and add them to your story highlights so users can always find what you’re offering. It’s also a good idea to create shopping posts, which users can click on to view and shop your products.
Ephemeral content refers to any type of content that’s fleeting and doesn’t form part of a permanent grid of viewable content. Instagram Stories is one of the most used tools for ephemeral content, with over 500 million accounts making use of Instagram Stories every single day.
Using Instagram Stories can be daunting but, when done right, can show real results. Use it to showcase new product launches or limited time offers. Add polls, questions and countdowns to your stories to elicit user responses. If you have 10 000 or more followers, you can even add swipe up links to your stories so users can visit your site directly from the post. If you don’t, you can still direct users to the link in your bio to complete the journey.
Instagram is seeing a rise in popularity, and so are videos. Users are increasingly using their mobile devices to watch videos, and Instagram has just the tool for them to use – IGTV. This platform allows users to view longer videos in vertical form (ideal for phones). Create your IGTV channel to interact with your audience and provide them with content they want to view.
You can take a peek at your competitors and draw inspiration from the type of content they publish on IGTV. This will mean you’re not left behind due to irrelevant content. Also, consider sharing longer product-based videos that show users how to use your products or how they can benefit from them. Finally, remember that your followers are humans and will relate to content with a strong human element. Keep it relatable and you’ll be sure to attract the right customers.
Users visit Instagram for inspiration and ideas. This includes insights into which products to use to make their lives easier and better. They often look to influencers for honest and reliable information about quality products that add value to their lives. Tapping into influencer marketing is a great way to give your brand credibility.
When using influencers, always ensure that they fit your brand as well as your audience’s needs and behaviours. Getting a sports influencer to promote your cupcake business won’t be a natural fit, and audiences will pick up on anything inauthentic. Also, check up on the individual influencer’s engagement and interactions. You don’t always have to aim for the biggest, most followed influencers. More often than not, micro-influencers will show much better results since their niche following trusts them implicitly. And if you do use an influencer, please draw up a contract that requires them to add a hashtag to their post that clearly signifies they are being remunerated for their association with your brand. There is an enormous debate raging around the need for transparency between posts that offer a natural recommendation and those that are based on a paid promotion. New regulations are being drafted that are likely to impose significant sanctions on both brands and influencers who are not clear with their disclosures.
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