Tips for Marketers to Best Leverage Instagram
Instagram, one of the most popular social media platforms on the web, recently hit 150 million active users. Within this army of amateur photographers lies a marketing opportunity that many brands are already including as part of their overall media strategy.
Innovative brands and e-commerce sites now have a way to harness the power of photo sharing to improve customer relationships and enhance the feedback loop. Whether you're already leveraging Instagram or not, here are some of the top tips that will help you maximize customer engagement and return on investment on the platform.
- Treat it as another content channel. Chances are that you have an existing strategy for your editorial content — e.g., an editorial calendar including topics of focus. Instagram is no different from other content channels in that it's important to maintain a steady pace of posting around relevant topics that interest your audience. Sample content ideas that often resonate with consumers include:
- alternate shots of existing products;
- sneak peeks of upcoming products;
- creative uses for your products;
- photos and videos of your brand ambassadors and representatives; and
- behind-the-scenes photos and videos that relate to the lifestyle that your brand represents.
- Focus on one or two hashtags. Hashtags are one of the easiest ways to build a brand on Instagram. Instead of using a "spray and pray" strategy for your hashtag, you should define just a couple of hashtags and stick with them. Limiting the number of branded hashtags will help your followers to better remember and identify them with your brand. For example, many brands have been very successful building campaigns around specific hashtags, such as Coach's #coachfromabove and New Balance's partnership with Heidi Klum, #HKNB, which drove a conversion rate of 39 percent.
- Alternate photos and videos. Video was introduced to Instagram in June, and the offering has already gained tremendous activity within the platform. Case in point: Instagram videos from brands generate up to seven times more engagement than photos. Marketers should aim to combine easy-to-create photos with more elaborate videos for improved results.
- Engage in conversations. Users are already taking photos and videos of products and posting them on Instagram, making it crucial for brands to actively insert themselves into these conversations. You should not only engage with these users by liking and commenting on their posts, but also by boosting their role as a brand ambassador by promoting their content as much as possible.
- Display photos of your customers where they're most relevant. It's no secret that consumers like to research products before buying in order to make the most informed purchase as possible. In the same way that consumers trust reviews from strangers more than a review directly from a brand itself, you can leverage Instagram photos and videos to present happy customers using your product. This type of integration leads to several benefits, two of which include:
- prospects can now see how your products look on a regular person, which will help sales conversions; and
- featuring existing customers on your product page helps increase their loyalty and ultimately repeat sales.
- Focus on ROI. The Instagram community has repeatedly demonstrated that it can easily be alienated if you disrupt their experience using the app. Instagram isn't simply a medium to repost your online ads; rather, it's a place in which you should leverage beautiful photo and video content to promote your brand. Marketers must also be aware that many brands focus entirely on social aspects while neglecting a huge component, ROI. Instagram is a platform where active (and vocal) users are voluntarily engaging with brands. It's vital that marketers link this engagement to real sales through attracting new customers and engaging with existing fans on the platform.
Luis Sanz is co-founder and CTO of Olapic, a company that allows consumers to become part of a brand's visual voice by showcasing their user-generated images and videos into a company's e-commerce experience.