Our next topic in our Back to the Basics: Social Media 101 series is about using Instagram for business. Instagram is one of the most popular social media sites with more than 400 million users.
Among those users, 53 percent are millennials, ages 18 to 29. That’s important because five out of six millennials in the U.S. connect with companies on social media. This is why companies and marketers are shifting, or should shift, their focus to platforms like Instagram.
Why Instagram? The purpose of Instagram is to make the world more open and connected whether it is with friends, strangers and now businesses. The goal of a company on Instagram is to grow brand awareness and connect with its customers and fans. Being more connected creates better relationships, making people more likely to buy from and recommend the business. Here is the big question: How are businesses supposed to use Instagram to their advantage?
Instagram focuses solely on visuals to tell a story, and is a great way for companies to spread their brand message in a unique way. The app’s simple design allows images to be the primary focus, meaning businesses need to think outside the box of traditional advertising and find a way to visually connect with its target audience on a fairly small display.
To be successful on Instagram, it’s important for a company to determine its goals for the site and the audience it will try to reach. Then, high-quality images should be taken or created that will resonate with the audience while effectively portraying the brand. For example, luxury brands may consider using high-quality images focusing solely on the product with minimal distractions. If the target audience is first-time home buyers, companies may consider using graphics illustrating how cost-effective it is to own a home instead of rent. Whatever direction a business decides to take on Instagram, the images should be clean, eye-catching, deliver the message effectively and show strong brand consistency.
Quality is Better than Quantity
So many times, people and businesses have practiced under the notion that quality is better than quantity. With Instagram’s original feed showing posts in chronological order, the thought was that the more something is posted, the more people will see it. However, Instagram announced that it will be changing the layout of posts to be a lot like Facebook’s news feed. Once this update occurs, the top of a user’s news feed will show popular and stronger posts, as well as posts that Instagram’s algorithm deems relevant to the user. This algorithm is supposed to predict and adjust to the user’s likes and habits and show what the user wants to see. When this announcement came out, many people were upset and tried to let Instagram know. People claimed their likes and desires change every day, so how is the algorithm supposed to know?
Here is the thing: For businesses, this could be a good change. It will challenge companies to produce only top quality posts and not just put out a surplus of meaningless posts. Companies will have to produce what users want to see. Consumers crave authenticity, so the key is to not make it look too staged and polished. Instead, use content that a user would post. Sometimes, that even means using content users have posted, with their permission of course. When a company is more authentic and engaging, consumers feel more connected.
We just discussed how posting a surplus of things isn’t necessary with the new changes that are to come, but that doesn’t mean that a company should take too much time between posts. To keep the brand in the mind of the consumer, it is important to post consistently. One way to stay relevant when posting, and a great way to get more looks from new users, is to use hashtags. Using hashtags about events or trends that are relevant helps more people find your post.
Engagement Builds Relationships
Once a company is posting authentic and genuine material, it is important to stay engaged. With authentic posts, users will be more likely to comment on and like the posts. This is where companies should respond, create conversation and build relationships. Businesses have the chance to do something great using platforms like Instagram, but they have to be ready to build and cultivate these relationships through consistent monitoring and communication.
Like the majority of social media sites, Instagram allows users to pay for advertising on the site. Instagram offers three ad formats – photo ads, video ads or carousel ads featuring multiple images – and a multitude of goals, including increasing awareness of a brand, driving traffic to a company’s website, increasing sales, raising post engagement and more.
Instagram ads can be purchased and managed through Facebook’s ad interfaces, and like Facebook ads, allow businesses to select a very specific or broad target audience. Companies can choose to target a specific audience through a variety of factors including user locations, their age range, likes, and a multitude of other demographics and behaviors.
Even among the changes Instagram is making, there are ways to use Instagram for a business’ advantage. mRELEVANCE can help your company stay updated on new additions and tips with Instagram.
For more social media insight, stay tuned for our remaining Back to the Basics: Social Media 101 posts focusing on Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube and online reviews and testimonials.
If your company is ready to take its social media and content to the next level, contact Marketing RELEVANCE by calling 770-383-3360 or by filling out our online contact form. Follow our official mRELEVANCE Instagram here.