The e-commerce world was alive and well even before COVID-19 sent the majority of companies scampering into the online marketplace. With mass appeal, ease of use (thanks to technology), and endless potential, it only makes sense for businesses great and small to flock to the online business world.
However, a flashy new website all on its own does not a successful e-commerce business make. It doesn’t matter if you’re marketing your lawn care business or you’re the CMO at Amazon, you need a larger online marketing strategy.
Enter social media.
Why Social Media — Especially Instagram — Matters
Social media platforms enable online marketing in a highly personal, uniquely powerful way. When used correctly, they can be a steady source of customers to your website. In fact, 50% of the global population is using some form of social media, making social platforms the premier online location to find new customers.
Instagram is a particularly popular social platform and is estimated to reach 112.5 million users in the U.S. alone in 2020.
However, it isn’t the kind of site that you can simply treat as just another social media site. Just because you know how to use Facebook or you understand hashtags from Twitter doesn’t mean you’ll naturally dominate Instagram. Its image-heavy focus and one-of-a-kind design require a carefully crafted strategy in order to benefit from the legions of potential customers checking their Instagram feeds on a daily basis.
With that said, here are some of the best tips and tricks that you can use to help foster healthy organic brand engagement on your business’ Instagram profile.
Make Sure Your Audience is on Instagram
The most important step in a successful Instagram campaign actually takes place before you ever post or even set up an account. It revolves around the question: are your customers on Instagram in the first place?
A key element to any effective social media marketing is finding where your audience congregates. With so many options available (Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, the list goes on), it’s important that you take the time to identify your audience and then research what platforms your customers use the most.
When it comes to Instagram, youth is the name of the game. The 18-29-year-old demographic tends to use Instagram the most while those over 65 years old typically use it the least. In addition, urban populations use Instagram more than rural ones and women use it more than men.
As you research your target market, consider if they would be on Instagram in numbers significant enough to warrant your attention. If that isn’t the case, you may want to consider directing your marketing resources towards a different platform. If it is the case, read on.
Reflect Your Values
With a bent towards youth, Instagram also tends to be a platform where expressing company-endorsed values is rewarded. Generation Z is particularly focused on the ethical standards of the companies that they patronize.
As you prepare content for your Instagram feed, consider what ethical elements of your company’s operations are worth highlighting. Are you a textile company with high fair trade standards? A coffee shop committed to direct trade with coffee farms? An education company looking to champion social justice?
Airbnb did a good job reflecting its values when it launched its #WeAccept campaign in direct opposition to the U.S. government closing its borders to refugees.
It’s also important to use inclusive language in your text. Being aware of and sensitive to things like age, gender, class, race, and disabilities are essential if you want to foster a universally positive brand image on social media.
Instagram is a colorful, inviting place. It revolves around images, art, and innovation. As such, it’s important that you steer into this creative focus with your own company’s content. You can do this in multiple ways, such as:
- Creating quality content: If you quickly snap a photo and slap it up on your Instagram account, no one is going to notice it. However, carefully thought out images that are designed to stand out can help you attract attention in a very saturated marketplace. Use bright colors, interesting backgrounds, and above all, be purposeful.
- Look for unique approaches to your content: Everyone’s taken a picture of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. At this point, it screams mundane. What if you’re the one company that posts a picture of an employee doused in cold brew, though? In other words, if you can find a unique angle to promote your products and services, it will help you cut through all of the white noise.
- Inspire users to be creative: Sometimes you need synergy to keep the creative fires lit. For instance, if you have a brewery, make a one-of-a-kind coaster for your brand. Then, encourage people who visit your location to create user-generated content by snapping a picture of the coaster and posting it on Instagram — after tagging you, of course.
Regardless of the specifics, if you look for ways to be creative, you’ll be far more successful in generating organic attention on your Instagram profile.
Look for Brand Conversations
Finally, while it’s important that you create a buzz for your business online, often the work is already done for you. Take user-generated content as an example. While some content of this nature can come from deliberate marketing efforts such as working with influencers, a large portion of user-generated content begins naturally, and it is nearly always started by users who don’t follow your company on social media yet.
When you search for conversations on Instagram where participants have tagged your brand, it can provide the perfect opportunity to organically jump into the conversation. Whether you’re addressing a concern or showing appreciation for a complement, tracking down brand conversations and using them to engage with potential new customers is a great way to stir up organic conversations for your business on Instagram.
Getting the Most Out of Instagram in 2020
If you want to get the most out of one of the largest social media platforms in existence this year, it’s important that you go about creating an Instagram strategy in the right way. This includes:
- Making sure that your customers use Instagram.
- Reflecting your brand’s ethics and values in your posts.
- Inspiring creativity with yours and your follower’s content.
- Tracking brand conversions to encourage independent conversations about your business and find new potential followers.
It’s important that you take the time to create a sound Instagram strategy with goals and clear direction before you dive into creating content and engaging on the social platform. If you can do that, you’ll be able to get the best results out of your (likely not unsubstantial) efforts in the months ahead.