Instagram is cool way to connect with your socially engaged consumers. There are 130 million active users on Instagram every month, and every day 1 billion photos are liked. Use Instagram for business purposes in the right way, and you could have an instant viral marketing success. Use it wrong, and your efforts on this young site could be a big empty fail.
Do you use Instagram to tell a visual story about your brand, instantly engage with your followers wherever they are, and even get very real user-generated content through photo contests on the app?
Whether you are new, you want to find out how to get more Instagram followers or just want a few more pointers, I’ve put together 52 tips to market your brand more authentically on Instagram.
Bree has also summed them up in this video.
What you’ll learn from this post:
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- How to use hashtags on Instagram
- Why @mentioning your followers on Instagram is cool
- How to add videos to your Instagram marketing
- How offline and online marketing merge on Instagram
A few tweetable takeaways:
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- Use hashtags 3 ways
- Make your followers famous
- Show your products authentically
- Use Instagram photo contests to boost your engagement
Set-up Your Instagram Account
1. Create your Instagram for Business account - It’s easy to make a business account on Instagram.
2. Make a business username - Use your business name as your username. If it is taken, choose a username that is instantly recognized with your brand.
3. Complete your profile - Include a cool, branded photo, a short informative bio, and a link to your website.
4. Connect your account to Facebook - Instagram is owned by Facebook. Connect these two very powerful social media sites to boost your marketing efforts.
5. Make an Instagram tab on your Facebook page - this enables you to instantly share your Instagram photos to your Facebook Fans.
Companies like Mercedes Benz are brilliant at integrating their Instagram content on Facebook:
6. Create a brand specific strategy - Keep your Instagram content strategy focused on your brand’s unique way of seeing the world. Instagram is a photo (and now video) sharing site. Connect your business with your ‘tribe’ on Instagram in a consistent and particular visual way.
7. Use hashtags (#’s) in your updates - Hashtags are a major part of Instagram. It’s a big way of how users can find you through their mobile Instagram searches. Unlike on other sites (such as Twitter), you’re not limited by character count. Include a few tags (but not too many - or you’ll look desperate) in your posts to get connected.
Here are a few strategies in using hashtags:
8. Use brand specific hashtags’s - Include your business name in some of your post hashtags. Also, use unique tags for particular marketing campaigns you run. For example, if you’re hosting a photo contest on Instagram, make a unique tag just for that campaign. This tactic both promotes your contest, and it gives your consumers a distinct tag to connect with others participants (so they can see their competition!).
Here’s how Dry Soda uses a brand specific hashtag, #fridayDRYday to engage their community, and show off fan photos of the week.
9. Use general hashtags’s - Include general tags on your posts, to be found for your products or lifestyle posts. For example, if your business is a coffee shop, and you post an image of your scrumptious latte, include tags like #latte or even #coffee.
10. Use trending hashtags’s - Trends on Instagram can happen at lightning speed - and they are often even quicker to go. If you spot a trend, and it fits with your brand, use it. Your post could literally be seen by thousands of interested consumers in a matter a minutes.
11. Run an Instagram Hashtag Contest - A hashtag contest allows your fans and followers to upload photos under a certain hashtag. All submissions are then displayed in a voting gallery on you Facebook Page, website, etc.
12. Monitor your brand hashtags - Your consumers are using your tags to connect with you. Be sure to keep checking your Instagram hashtags’s, just like you would your Facebook Page and Twitter mentions. Respond to comments and concerns quickly, and you’ll build happy customer relationships.
Focus on Your Customers
13. Make your followers famous - Share followers photos on your social sites. Show your customers you appreciate them by acknowledging their cool photos, and share them with your Facebook fan or Twitter followers. NOTE: be sure to ask permission to use their photo first!
Starbucks is one of the top 3 brands on Instagram. They use this tactic frequently. Every few weeks they show appreciation for one their followers, by giving a shout out to cool image makers. The images include their products. They take it one step further by updating their Facebook covers, using the Instagram photos. Their fans love it.
14. Embed followers’ photos - Instagram now enables you to embed Instagram photos on your website and other sites. Use this, like Starbucks, to show cool images of your brand and product from your Instagram followers by embedding the entire post. Make sure you tell them you’re showcasing their image, to make them feel appreciated, and to get their permission to use it.
15. Like your Follower’s photos - Acknowledge your customers’ awesomeness by liking their photos - particularly if they include your product, or emulate your brand.
16. Comment on Followers’ photos - Engage with your consumers by commenting on cool product related photos they post.
17. Respond to comments on all your posts - If someone comments on your posts, respond to them. This is particularly true when then comment is a question, or even something negative about your brand.
18. @mention your customers - @mentioning is another huge part of Instagram. @mention your followers, your customers, and any other user with great photos of your products. You show appreciation for them, and you get to engage with your market.
Here’s an example of Coke @mentioning a customer who won a recent Instagram photo contest:
19. @mention celebrities and other related industry leaders - If your images are about celebs - let them know. They may just appreciate it enough to share it with their followers!
20. Focus on engaging your customer - Post images with your customer in mind. Post about more than your product. Make your business Instagram about lifestyle, and authentically connecting with your customers.
Show Your Stuff
21. Be creative with your photos - Use filters to enhance your photos. Use cool angles, lighting and other photography tricks - whether you hire a photographer, or learn a few tricks on your own. Use photoshop, Diptic, or photoshake to edit your pics, or combine a number of photos into one.
Here’s an example of three photos in one from the Instagram blog:
22. Make videos - Instagram now has short video capabilities. Use this to make 15 second videos on your Instagram feed.
23. Post photos and short videos of your products - take and post cool photos of your goods to share with Instagram users.
24. Show your products authentically - Show photos of your products as they are used in real life.
Here’s an example from Whistler Water, showing fans drinking their water at an outdoor concert.
25. Show your products creatively - Be cool and creative on this hip mobile site.
Pilot Pen USA is a great example of creative marketing on this Instagram. They sell pens, right? So how you market that on a social site like Instagram? They show photos of handwritten notes, and their pens.
26. Show your brand story - post cool photos and videos to show your company’s core values and brand.
27. Show who you are - feature fun photos and videos of your employees. Give your Instagrammers a behind the scenes look at your company. This makes you look like a cool company.
Williams Sonoma uses this tactic - here’s an Instagram photo showing a behind-the-scenes look at their test kitchen manager before a photo shoot:
28. Post fun, authentic videos of your CEO - make your top executives look personable. Make short, quirky videos of them to post on Instagram. For example, get them show one thing they like to do when not working, or doing something fun at the office.
29. Share exclusive content - Use your Instagram feed to show photos you haven’t shared on your Facebook, Twitter or blog (and vice versa). This makes your followers feel special.
30. Launch a product live on Instagram - If you’re launching a new product, taking your music group on tour, or opening a new store, etc - do it live on Instagram. For example, the day you launch your product, make a few 15 second videos of you and staff behind the scenes preparing for the launch, and the actual launch with excited customers. Post this to Instagram.
31. Build pre-launch momentum - If you’re launching a new product through Instagram, be sure to build excitement. Tease your followers with a 15 second video behind-the-scenes looks at how you’re preparing for the new product - without giving away exactly what it is. (Think iconic Steve Jobs marketing.)
32. Show your post-launch staff party (or clean up) - Dare to show you and your employees authentically, by posting a short video of you after a product launch.
33. Partner with other Brands on Instagram - Whether you’re a small one shop business, or a large multinational, you have relationships with other businesses. If they’re on Instagram too, partner up, and get them to post your products on their Instagram feed.
For example, this year’s Wimbledon created partnerships with brands such as Nike.
Add More Tactics
34. Ask for comments on your photos and videos - If you want more engagement on your posts, ask for it. Questions open up conversations. Ask your followers what they think of a new post you made, and more.
35. Ask questions about your business or products - Use questions to get your people talking about your business. For example, ask your Followers if they have used your product today. Add a unique hashtag and give your consumers a hub to share photos of how they used your goods with each other.
Target uses questions, such as asking followers their favourite popsicle flavour. This gets people talking about products Target sells.
36. Ask questions about lifestyles - Ask a question about lifestyles or how to solve common problems. For example, if you’re a fashion store - ask what boots your followers would wear with a new line of jeans you have.
37. Use “fill in the blank” posts - Make updates with a sentence followers can complete. For example, if you sell groceries, create a post with an image of breakfast cereals. Include a “fill in the blank” post such as “I love starting my day with a bowl of ______”.
This gets people talking about products related to what you sell.
38. Use photo caption posts - Another great way to get engagement on your Instagram posts is through photo caption questions. Take a cool image of your products, or something related to your brand lifestyle. Ask your followers to have fun by captioning it. Tip: You can even make a photo caption contest, to entice engagement in your followers through a cool prize.
39. Crowdsource photos - Ask followers to submit photos of how they use your product. This could help your business gain customer insight, and future product development research. It’s pretty easy to do, but you may need to up the ante. To entice lots of consumers to give you their photos, run an Instagram photo contest.
Run Instagram Contests
40. Run Instagram hashtag contests - Hashtag contests are the newest and most fun way to gain user-generated content and engage your followers. Followers simply upload a photo with your hashtag and submissions are placed into a gallery on Facebook and your website where they are voted on to choose a winner.
Here’s an example of an Instagram hashtag contest run by Jorg Gray. It involves users taking a picture with a Jorg Gray watch, following the brand on Instagram and hashtagging #jorgstyle to win a free watch.
41. Run Instagram Contests with cool prizes - When you host an Instagram contest, make sure your prize provides the right incentive to get your customers entering, and sharing with their friends, too. The right prize that connects with your market, can easily make your contest go viral.
42. Run Instagram photo contests with voting - Include a voting element in your Instagram photo contest. This will get your contestants vying for the most votes. They will spread the word about your contest to their friends, and friends of friends.
Make Use of Mobile
43. Geotag your posts - Target your local consumers by using Photo Map to tag where you are.
44. Bring offline online - use QR codes to entice your in-store traffic to engage with you instantly on Instagram. Entice them with group offers and coupon codes.
45. Bring offline events online - Are you hosting a live event? Promote a hashtag for attendees to use to share their photos of it.
46. Bring online offline - Host an Instagram meetup to engage in real life with local Instagram enthusiasts - and potential customers.
Improve Your ROI
47. Post consistently - Regardless of your follower count, post consistently. This gets your brand seen regularly by your followers. They will be more apt to become more regular customers this way too.
48. Determine post frequency - You might need to post 2-3 times a day, or 2-3 times a week. Monitor your account to determine your post frequency.
49. Find your perfect Instagram posting time - Not all brands have the same best time to post on Instagram. Not all products do either. Use analytic tools to monitor when your photos are getting liked and commented on. Find out when your hashtags are being used. Then post your fresh content at these most active times.
50. Monitor your Instagram results - use third party analytics, or track your followers, your hashtag post numbers, your post likes and comments.
51. Continuously improve - Based on your content results, keep improving your photo and video posts. If a particular type of image drives tons of engagement, keep using those types of posts. If using general hashtags get your posts interacted with a lot, keep searching for and using general hashtags.
52. Keep on top of Instagram trends - Instagram is constantly developing new and innovative ways to engage on this application. Keep learning to stay knowledgeable about the coolest ways to connect.
So there you have it, 52 tips to find out how to use Instagram and get you better connected to your market. Try them out, and see how authentically successful your visual mobile marketing can be.
To keep learning about Instagram marketing, check out these additional resources:
- 47 Tips for Running an Instagram Photo Contest
- 5 Best Types of Instagram Photos to Drive Engagement
- How to Create an Instagram Hashtag Contest
Check out this resource to find out how to get more followers on Instagram.
Do you use Instagram for your business? I would love to hear any tips you have to share below!
Written by Krista Bunskoek