Across the globe, there are over 800 million Instagrammers — more than 500 million of whom use Instagram every single day, sharing more than 250 million piece of content each day.
Those are huge numbers. And no matter who your audience is — age, gender, occupation, anything — you’ll be sure to reach them through Instagram. So the question becomes…
How to promote your business on Instagram?
How can you stand out among the other millions photos, videos and stories posted each day? How can non-designers and amateur photographers create beautiful content for Instagram?
Determine Your Objectives
First thing’s first, what do you want to achieve on Instagram? What’s the purpose of your brand using Instagram? Whether you’ve never published a single photo or you’re an Instagram seasoned pro, consider the following for your Instagram marketing strategy:
- What will Instagram allow you to do that other platforms don’t?
- Who is your target audience and which members of your audience are active on Instagram?
- How will Instagram integrate with the other networks in your social media strategy?
Instagram’s focus on visual sharing offers a unique platform to showcase your culture and people in addition to your products and services. For example, Flowers for Dreams has a stellar Instagram profile showcasing events and products with vibrant and eye-catching visuals.
Develop an Instagram Content Strategy
Content is the foundation of your Instagram presence. Many B2C businesses use Instagram to make their product the star of the show. Other B2B companies often focus on company culture and team recruitment. But the right approach is one that best showcases your brand. Based on your target audience and objectives, develop a plan to deliver eye-catching content to your community on a consistent basis.
To get started, follow these steps to build and produce highly-effective Instagram content:
Build Content Themes
Review your objectives and determine what aspects of your brand to showcase in your Instagram content. Products, services, team members and culture all offer rich potential for subject matter over time. Once you have a list of specific content themes, brainstorm possible subjects for your images and videos.
Your content themes should align not only through your brand voice, but visually as well. For example, Pantone consistently uses similar visuals to help tell a better story on Instagram. Using vibrant and colorful content highlights its products and increases interaction (aka: clicks and traffic).
Did you know that Instagram photos with faces generate 38% more likes than those without? Building content themes around what you know works is essential to success. Start by using an Instagram analytics tool like Sprout Social to benchmark your content and see what actually drives engagement.
Once you have your data, develop your content themes around that style of visual, whether it’s photos with faces, brightly-colored images or videos of your product. A quick Instagram audit will tell you everything you need to know.
Determine Content Medium & Ratio
Instagram started as a photo-sharing app, but its wide base of creative users publish everything from videos to graphics to Boomerang videos. As you plan out your content on your social media calendar, consider a balance of content types that will work best for the resources you have and the engagement you want from your audience.
If video enables you to tell a compelling story about your product, work it into your content more often. If you don’t have the resources to execute video at high-quality level, you may want may want to only use video for specific campaigns and promotions. With composition for Instagram, quality matters, and it is worth spending the time to create the best possible content.
Set a (Flexible) Content Calendar
To establish and maintain an active presence on Instagram, determine the frequency with which you will post. It helps to learn some of the best times to post on Instagram so you reach your maximum audience for engagement.
Afterward, develop a content calendar that cycles through your themes and integrates key dates and campaigns. Sprout’s Instagram Scheduling features allow users to select, edit and schedule Instagram posts from our dashboard. While you cannot schedule posts directly on Instagram, you can easily prepare content (photos, videos, captions) in advance through Sprout.
Some of the best content for Instagram will occur spontaneously, especially if your aim is to highlight company culture or events. By preparing content and setting a general schedule in advance, you can allow the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities when they occur. During events, be ready to publish quickly to take advantage of real-time social engagement. But use scheduled Instagram posts to fill in the gaps in between.
Curate User-Generated Content
If your Instagram community members share posts featuring your brand, you have access to a repository of potential content gold. Curating content from your fans allows you to foster audience engagement and create an incentive for your audience to share posts. Several brands primarily rely on Instagram user-generated content to fill their Instagram feeds these days.
Brands like Anthropologie, Home Goods, GoPro and even Instagram rely heavily on UGC to promote their brand. However, one brand that truly lives off UGC is AirBnB. Each image on Instagram is an actual place customers can book through its site. The company has a great landing page for followers to find all the Instagram places mentioned by real customers.
UGC can be extremely rewarding, but as always, the photos you choose to curate should match your brand aesthetic. Make sure to review users’ accounts and posts before sharing their content to ensure it’s appropriate to publicly align your brand with their account. Always give credit by mentioning the original photographer in your caption and provide your fans with insight on how to get featured.
Establish Clear Team Guidelines: Style, Publishing & Workflow
A consistent voice on social media is key to building your brand. And on a visual platform, the need for a clearly defined aesthetic is key. Even if one person is responsible for managing your brand’s Instagram account, establishing guidelines composition, filters and captions will ensure your Instagram account is part of a unified brand experience.
When publishing on Instagram, you have more decisions to make than which filter looks best. From visual composition to location tagging and using hashtags in your captions, planning your approach in advance allows you to maximize the potential of each Instagram feature and functionality.