Instagram might have started out as a social networking service, but things have changed. Twelve years since its founding, it’s turned into a serious marketing channel.
Nowadays, Instagram boasts the full range of marketing tools on its platform. Think analytics, shopping, ads and targeting, and more.
As such, it’s no surprise that it’s become one of the top social media platforms for marketers and brands worldwide.
If you want to use the platform to connect with your own target customers, we’ll guide you through the essentials today.
Why is Instagram marketing important?
Statista estimates that the platform has roughly 1 billion active users a month. If that’s not enough to tell you how popular it is, we don’t know what is.
Why is it so popular, though? Among other things, it may be due to the highly user-friendly format, which focuses on visuals.
That’s the same thing that makes it ideal for businesses with products that are easy to show off visually.
User engagement figures for the platform are remarkable too, at around six times the figure you’d see on Facebook. Pair that with new features like Shoppable Instagram posts and you get a recipe for marketing success.
All of these things come together to make Instagram a good place to build brand awareness and connect with customers.
And in fact, the average Instagram business account grows its followers by 1.69% per month. That shows you how successful some are at using it to forge relationships with their target buyers or audiences.
The Instagram Algorithm
Before we go into how to create a marketing strategy on the platform, we need to cover this. The algorithm is central to the way Instagram works.
Before, Instagram posts were shown in chronological order. But then the platform kept growing, with more content posted on it each second.
This made it harder to keep up with what people were sharing relative to one’s interests.
That’s why Instagram switched to the algorithm model we see today. The algorithm intends to ensure that we’ll see posts that are supposedly more relevant to us.
If you’re familiar with SEO, you probably already know what this means: you have to optimise your posts on Instagram to improve engagement and reach.
Is it difficult? It can be, yes. But it’s far from impossible.
It helps to know the factors in the algorithm, so here are some of them for your reference:
This is arguably the most important factor. The question here is how much interest the algorithm predicts you’ll have in a post and its topic.
It’s often based on the other content you’ve liked. If you like a lot of photos of cats, you’re likely to get more posts on your feed about cats, in effect.
This just refers to whether or not you have a relationship with the accounts posting content.
If you often engage with your friend’s posts on Instagram, the platform notices that. The algorithm then factors in a clear link or relationship between your accounts, which often leads to you getting more of their posts on your feed.
Instagram hasn’t completely done away with chronology in the algorithm. Even now, it considers how recent a post is, so you’ll see more recent posts appearing at the top of your feed.
Oddly enough, how frequently you open the Instagram app can affect your feed.
The more frequently you do it, the more likely you are to see posts in chronological order. Do it less frequently and the app will prioritise interest as usual, since you won’t have seen most of the content that piled up since your last visit.
Your “Following” list
This is linked to your interests, of course. Basically, the algorithm will look at the topics covered by the accounts you follow, then recommend more posts on those same topics.
Tips for Creating an Effective Instagram Strategy
1. Identify your goals and objectives
As we’ve said before, you can’t formulate a strategy without an idea of what you’re trying to achieve. What are you trying to do on the platform?
Establish your goals first, i.e. your purposes for doing Instagram marketing in the first place. It could be to gain brand awareness, perhaps, or to increase brand loyalty.
After that, you’ll have a better idea of how to elaborate on your objectives, i.e. the metrics that help you measure just how well your social media marketing on Instagram is going.
2. Find your target audience
Given how many people are on the platform, it would be pretty impossible to cater your content to everyone. Instead, identify your target audience and focus on them.
Who are they? What is the ideal marketing persona? Identifying this archetype lets you better figure out your content strategy by telling you things like the hashtags they use most often and the content they like best.
Sometimes, you can get started on this by checking out what your competition is doing and what describes their audience. You can get an idea of what your target audience’s characteristics are that way.
3. Assess your Instagram account regularly
Don’t settle for assuming that you’re doing everything right. It pays to audit yourself every once in a while.
Use what you know about your goals and audience characteristics as a guide. Is your account still up to date? Can it still serve your purposes?
Is your profile pic accurate? Are your hashtags still ones that work? Is your bio aligned with your goals?
Asking these questions lets you figure out if anything needs to be improved and how.
4. Consider switching to an Instagram business profile
Most brands will benefit from this switch. By switching to a business profile, you get better metrics, auto-publishing, access to Shoppable posts, and more.
Fortunately, setting up a business profile on Instagram is fairly simple. You just need a business Facebook page that you’ve connected to your Instagram.
5. Optimise your Instagram profile
Instagram profile pages are great tools for showing people what your brand is all about at a glance. So, take advantage of that!
Make sure that everything they see on visiting your profile page is coherent. Use it as a curated collage or gallery of your business and its highlights.
Aesthetics play a big part here, of course! Still, the basics shouldn’t be forgotten either. Don’t neglect to include things like your website URL or how to contact you too.
6. Make use of Instagram Story highlights
Just like your profile page, Instagram Story highlights are great brand-at-a-glance marketing tools. Use them to display your brand to full advantage without boring people.
Some of the best things to put in them would be hero products, newly launched items, promos, and customers’ experiences with your offerings. You can craft fairly compelling highlights from these.
You can also categorise the highlights for easier sorting or consumption by potential customers.
Get started on Instagram marketing
Instagram marketing can be very useful as long as you follow the tips above. They should give you all that you need to get started on this platform.
If you want to learn more about social media marketing first, though, feel free to browse our other articles on the topic.
But if what you want is more personalised help, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll help you figure out if Instagram is right for you and what strategy you should use.
Contact us for a chat for your digital marketing needs anytime!