How to Create a Powerful Social Media Marketing Strategy on Instagram

One of the most powerful marketing tools marketers have today is social media. From Facebook posts to tweets on Twitter, sharing your products or services on social media platforms is a great way to increase brand awareness, engagement, sales, and leads.

However, many people are left scratching their heads when it comes to Instagram marketing.

Many of us use Instagram as a personal account to post photos of our family, friends, vacations, and food, but how can it be linked to the business? And should I do it?

With the speed at which Instagram is growing, don’t underestimate its value in driving your brand and marketing efforts.

It has become an incredibly valuable marketing platform, and while 18-29 year olds are still frequent users, older age groups are catching up and catching up quickly.

Some 2018 Instagram stats from Sprout Social are revealing:

• 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded

• 80% of users follow a company on Instagram

• 65% of the best performing Instagram posts feature products

If you feel the urge to explore Instagram as part of your social media marketing strategy, check out these initial tips to help you get started:

1. Use hashtags wisely

You don’t need to include every hashtag you can imagine in a post, but you do need at least a few.

A hashtag is the # sign followed by descriptive words about your image, as in this example I used #marketing and #ctaconf, which was the conference I was attending at the time.

When a user clicks / taps on a hashtag or types a hashtag in the search box, all images using that hashtag appear. The user can even subscribe to continue following that hashtag.

The hope is that the user will see your photo, go to your profile and in the best of cases, follow you and participate in more publications.

However, when hashtags are extremely popular, the competition for results is fierce. Similar to SEO keywords, the more popular a term is, the harder it is to stay at the top of search results. So my #marketing usage example was really useless if I wanted to get some traction from that post.

You want your hashtags to be relevant to your business and location, but also attractive enough for a user to type them into the Instagram search box.

For instance:

• Let’s say you have a pizzeria in Vancouver. You post a photo of your pepperoni pizza with the hashtags #VancouversBestPizza #NicolosRestaurant #DeliciousDeepDish

• Or you are a Toronto wedding planner. You post an image of the bride and groom’s first dance with the hashtags #TorontoWeddingPlanner #LoveWins #WinterWedding

Holidays and special events are a great time to promote your business and gain followers on Instagram. Whether it’s a Black Friday sale, a Thanksgiving-related use for your product, or a product mention on National Dog Day, these are all ideal opportunities to showcase your business brand from a non-commercial way.

2. Thank your audience for showing up

Don’t just post a bunch of photos and hashtags and wait for the likes to appear.

To gain followers on Instagram, engage with your audience, and increase sales or leads, you need to spend time.

See an example here from video expert Michele Moreno, where she responds to each of the comments she left on her video post.

So if someone leaves a comment or question on one of your posts, please take the time to reply and thank / answer their question.

Take a look at their profile, and if you like what you see, follow them.

Companies often follow commenters first, hoping they can return the favor.

You can also search for people who may be interested in your product, then comment on their photos and / or follow them, but don’t spam them asking them to follow you right away.

3. Interact with the right influencers

Influencers are Instagram users who can influence your target audience due to their popularity and / or followers on social media.

Danielle Bernstein is a good example of an influencer who worked with a brand. You may not recognize his name, but the 1.8 million followers of his WeWoreWhat Instagram account do.

Bernstein and FIJI Water worked together to create BodyWoreWhat, a marketing campaign featuring 8-minute exercise videos with her and her personal trainer.

That can be an extreme example, and unless you have a lot of money, you probably won’t be able to attract an influencer with almost two million followers.

But don’t despair. From blogger moms to local foodies, you can always find someone your target audience follows, likes, or admires. Maybe they are willing to comment on your product or take a photo using it, use your imagination!

4. Don’t just fool your products

Instagram is not the place to simply share product photos all the time. Think about the experience people have using what you offer or the benefits it provides.

Even better, show real examples. Asking user-generated content from your audience is one way to do it. That means users share their photos using a hashtag that you provide.

Online furniture store Wayfair.com does user-generated content very well. They have a user-generated campaign that allows customers to share photos of their elegant Wayfair-filled houses using the hashtag #WayfairAtHome.

Make sure to let people know that your images can appear on your page and that you can increase your Instagram content in a big way – for free!

No matter how you use Instagram for your business, be authentic and true to your brand. That’s what the platform is all about and it will help you grow your business, gain followers on Instagram and attract sales or potential customers.

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