You already know that marketing is essential for your business. And if you’ve done any marketing for your small business, you also know that social media is an important part of the overall strategy. The photo-sharing app Instagram is a growing force in social media, especially for business. Research shows that Instagrammers love to shop - more than people on Facebook, who use the older social media site mostly to stay connected with friends and family. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to get your business on Instagram.
We’ve covered the basics here, so now that your Instagram business page is up and running, it’s time to make a plan to achieve your marketing goals. This post covers three essentials to include when creating your Instagram marketing strategy.
1. Use Hashtags!
There a lot of ways you can use hashtags to promote your brand and get more followers. First off, some examples of the types of hashtags you’ll want to use.
Trending hashtags - Trending hashtags are the topics that people are currently discussing. They can be trending in a specific community/industry/country or trending across all of Instagram. The use of trending hashtags can help increase your exposure to non-followers. It’s best to use them when you find one related to your business. When that happens, switch out your regularly scheduled post for the trending hashtag to reach like-minded Instagrammers. Last week, #nationalsiblingday was trending. This adorable non-profit in New York City got in on the action.
Top Hashtags – These are the most commonly used hashtags on Instagram. Examples of consistently popular hashtags include #love #picoftheday #fashion #friends #food #repost #beauty.
To see the overall top 100 Instagram hashtags, click here.
To see a sample of top hashtags sorted by industry, click here.
It’s useful to hashtag your posts with one or two popular hashtags to reach non-followers. Use both general and industry-specific hashtags to maximize your reach.
Brand hashtags - It’s almost always best to use your brand name here. For example, #powerstores. In some cases, a short and clever slogan can work (KitKat uses #haveabreak), but it’s best to do some research beforehand. Include your brand hashtag on your profile page so anyone viewing your feed will see it.
Campaign hashtags - Hashtags for marketing campaigns or contests. Choose a short phrase that captures the essence of the campaign. Make a requirement for entering a contest or participating in a campaign.
Keyword hashtags - These are general hashtags used to describe the content of your post. They describe products and lifestyle.
Locations and events - Hashtag your geographical location (country, city, community, neighbourhood etc). Look for and use event/conference hashtags to reach fellow attendees and fans.
General tips on using hashtags - Use between 5 and 10 hashtags per post for maximum exposure. Any more and risk putting your followers off by appearing obnoxious (this goes for posting more than once a day, too). Use a few different types of hashtags to best describe what’s happening in your post. Knowing which ones to use can be tricky, so when getting started, check out what other businesses in your industry are up to on Instagram. Follow industry leaders, businesses you admire, and customers you appreciate. Research a hashtag you’re considering by typing it in the Instagram search field to see how popular it is and what it’s already used for.
For extra help, hashtagify.me lets you search a hashtag then gives you related, popular hashtags. It can help you find trends and recommend additional hashtags that may be relevant to your post.
2. Show Appreciation
As with all social media platforms, a grassroots marketing plan includes engaging with your customers. This is especially true for Instagram. A great tactic to increase overall engagement and attract more followers is customer appreciation. Re-posting followers’ content shows you’re listening and value their outlook on your brand. A popular campaign by Chobani yogurt showcases delicious food creations made with their products, by their customers. They encourage followers to get creative with their product then post the photo with a branded hashtag (#creationaday). Chobani re-posts the photo with a shout-out to the creator.
While showing the love is bound to get you more followers, the value of appreciation goes beyond customer loyalty. Your customer has saved you time by creating valuable content that genuinely shows how your product or service is actually used. It’s also great insight into what people love about your brand.
Instagram doesn’t give you the ability re-share your followers’ content, but Repost and Regram are two popular apps you can download that will. The free versions of these apps add a watermark to re-posted content and paid versions allows multiple Instagram accounts. Check your mobile’s app store to see what’s available.
There are other ways to show appreciation that work. 41% of Instagramers would follow a brand to benefit from special offers. Reward your followers with exclusive promotions, discount codes, sneak-previews of product launches or priority access to new services. Offer giveaways – such as your products/services, tickets to food & beverage shows, fashion shows, concerts, or other events of interest to your fans. Offering quality benefits exclusively to your Instagram followers will encourage them to never miss a post!
3. Measure what works
Don’t let the effort of creating content, researching hashtags and hosting promotions go to waste. You’ll want to measure how each of your strategies affects the number of likes, followers and comments received. Analytics are the key to refining your marketing plan and understanding what works for your business. Then you can make tweaks in response to how different strategies affect your metrics.
Iconosquare is the most recommended analytics tool for Instagram. Get your basic statistics and analytics to hone your marketing plan. Union Metrics offers a free checkup of your Instagram account which will give you a few pieces of valuable information at no cost. Collec.to’s free plan provides the same basic stats. These platforms also offer paid plans to get additional features to manage your Instagram account.
Instagram is great for business because users want to get involved with the companies they buy from. Instagrammers love to engage and are very active on what’s becoming one of the most popular social media apps in the world. Once you incorporate these essentials into your marketing plan, your business will get the most out of Instagram.