If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store on an empty stomach, you’ve surely come home with more than a few unintended items. Hungry shoppers are not consulting their grocery list; rather, they’re letting their stomachs call the shots and giving into cravings they might otherwise try to resist. Hence comes the saying, “never go to the grocery store hungry.” Now, say a person is bored, not hungry. The result isn’t a grocery store run, it’s a trip to social media. The phone comes out and apps open, with each user’s eyes jumping around in hopes of finding some entertainment. Their goal isn't to consult a list in this all-consuming state of boredom. They're in "discovery mode," and that can easily lead them to your product or service.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not comparing your offers to a slightly unhealthy snack, but we are saying people might find your product or service without actively looking for it. So why not put what you have to offer front and center during this state?
Believe it or not, Instagram is good for more than just glamorizing your life and keeping up with trends. It’s actually a really powerful tool that can heighten your marketing efforts to the next level — if you know how to use it to your advantage. As someone who’s bought more than a few things that I’ve had no intention of owning, I can personally attest to the influence a good Instagram marketing strategy has. To help get you started and make the most out of an Instagram marketing strategy, follow these six tips that cover everything from creating an account to using hashtags.
1. Establish Your Brand
Before you can curate an Instagram feed that captures the essence of your company, you need to decide on what brand image you’re going for. Whether this is casual, humorous, chic, or serious, all aspects of your account should depict it. Portray your brand through wording, photos, comments, color scheme, and anything else you put out there. If it’s online, it’s representing your company and should fit your desired image. A brand aesthetic carries significant value in attracting customers and should be consistent, so before you get started, make sure you know what you want your brand to be and let that drive all the pieces that make up your Instagram account.
2. Target Your Audience
Knowing your target audience and tailoring your content towards them can lend much more impactful results. When creating posts, it’s always helpful to know where your main audience is located, so take a look at Issuu’s statistics within your publisher account to find out where your readers are. This can help you determine which time zones to focus on to best engage your audience. This is also helpful for planning your content, as you have a better idea about what cultural norms your main viewers are accustomed to. This knowledge is immensely helpful in building an audience and getting users to interact with your posts.
If you’re not sure how to target your audience or what appeals to them, don’t be afraid to check out what similar companies are doing. You can even look through their follower lists, because anyone interested in their platform is likely interested in yours, too. There is no exact formula, so start out by posting frequently with a variety of content, and take note of which posts engage your audience the most — this is what you’ll eventually want to focus on while posting.
3. Share More With Stories
Instagram Stories are a great way to foster interaction with your viewers and are more casual than a regular post. Stories are only up for 24 hours and can offer better insights to your viewer base, as they show all viewers instead of only those who actively clicked “like”. They also allow Instagram users to easily respond to your story and create a direct message, which is more private than commenting on a post and lets you interact with audience members in a more personalized manner to build brand loyalty.
Experiment with including different interactive features and give your audience a chance to have some fun with questions or easily give you their feedback. With Instagram Stories, you can include a countdown to your next release and spark excitement as it gets closer and closer. Ask questions that viewers can vote on by adding a poll, letting them tell you which new product, element, or feature they want most. Or, simply ask users how they’re doing today and include a sliding scale with emojis for them to respond, showing that you really care about each and every one of your followers.
If you want to make the most out of your Instagram, utilize the Stories feature. It’s a great way to tease your new product without even needing to create a new piece of content to post. When you upload to Issuu, we automatically create a GIF previewing your publication, which is made specifically for social media stories. A whole new post with no extra effort on your part. If you’re looking for a little more than a GIF, take advantage of our Visual Stories feature to adapt your already-made, thoughtfully curated content into an all new visual experience perfectly crafted for an Instagram story.
4. Perfecting Your Profile
First impressions are everything, and your profile is the first thing a viewer sees when looking for your social media. You don’t need to give a long, formal description about your business in the bio. Instead, keep it casual and short, giving a quick insight into your company and more time to browse your content and check out your brand. You’ll also want a recognizable profile picture that distinguishes your company, so using your beloved logo is always a good choice. And of course, add your website link to easily direct viewers straight to your main attraction.
Quickly show viewers who you are by making your account into a business account, which comes with the option of adding what kind of company your page is for. Having a business account has many perks, such as post insights, selling directly through Instagram, and sharing your contact information. If you’re serious about making the most out of your Instagram marketing strategy, you should have a business account.
Your profile also has an option to include “highlights”. We just covered the importance of using Instagram Stories and how they’re up for 24 hours, but with the option of adding Instagram Highlights, these Stories live on your profile for as long as you’d like. Not only are Highlights a great option for keeping your content alive and seen, but they also look great and provide easy access to helpful information for viewers. You can have different Highlights for each type of post and categorize them however you’d like. (FAQs and product tutorial videos are great to save as highlight reels, pinned to your page for easy reference.) And it gets even better: each Highlight has a cover photo so it also looks great on your profile and helps accentuate your aesthetic.
5. The Technique of Posting
You know how to establish your brand and target your audience, but what’s the actual breakdown of posting? Remember, at first you’ll want to post a big variety and figure out what works best through a little trial and error, with help from statistics. Once you’ve found the sweet spot for you, keep that aesthetic going through your posts and continually adapt to what viewers are responding to.
But beyond the photos, you’ll need to include a caption. Captions are part of the brand image, and you don’t want a crazy long or chaotic caption that takes away from the photo or is too overwhelming to read. Keep it relatively simple and engage your audience with a few key words to leave your viewers wanting more — at which point you’ll direct them to your website or keep them coming back to your profile by posting more in a series.
Hashtags are extremely helpful when it comes to the algorithm and getting your posts seen, but even still, you don’t want to overcrowd the caption. This is why putting a collection of hashtags in a comment is your best bet. It’s the perfect in-between option to keep your clean aesthetic but still succeed in the algorithm. Stay current by looking at trending hashtags, and consider creating a unique hashtag that you use in all of your posts.
6. Remember to Respond
If you’ve managed to engage your audience, there will be comments on your posts, and it’s best practice to keep your eye on these and respond back, just as you would return a customer phone call. If you want to help get the comments going, try asking questions in your caption or anything that a viewer can actually react and respond to. Stay professional, but don’t forget that Instagram is a more casual platform, and there’s a difference between Wall Street professional and Instagram professional. When exchanging comments with viewers, always be extra friendly and don’t leave them hanging, especially if they ask a question, voice a concern, or publicly post their praise.
Don’t overthink it, just dive in, get started, and adapt from there. And most importantly, have fun with it. Instagram can do wonders for marketing; let your product sell itself and maximize your success by following these six simple tips.