If you’re not living under a rock these days, there are a few things you know to be true: the 2016 election dominates the news; Pokemon has made a comeback; and people can barely make it an hour without checking their Instagram feeds.
Indeed, with more than 500 million active users, Instagram has created a highly engaged global community centered on the appeal of photo sharing. But Instagram is no longer just a social media site for people to share photos of their personal lives– vacations, babies, new shoes, etc. Businesses have tapped into this powerful resource for brand visibility, growth and development.
Why Instagram for Business Matters
Digital marketers have discovered the power of this platform to communicate a business’s products, services and overall brand culture in a visual context. Using Instagram for business has become one of the most effective brand-building tools available today.
How is this different than traditional advertising you ask? A business with a strong Instagram presence is able to tell their company’s story digitally, rather than presenting a snapshot as in a mass-produced print ad. By maintaining brand consistency, businesses cultivate a following of people who engage with the brand (i.e. photo contests, sharing sweepstakes) instead of being passive consumers. Companies, regardless of their product or service, have the power to take their followers on a visual journey, to give them a “behind-the-scenes” look at the brand and it’s unique mission.
And businesses that use Instagram benefit in more ways than one. Not only does Instagram increase brand visibility, it sheds light on buyer personas and consumer behavior, as well. Several analytic applications, such as Iconosquare, allow a company to measure and optimize their Instagram performance. Looking at how followers engage with the account, for example what time of day is best to post to maximize “likes,” is useful information so that a business can strategically reach their following.
So you agree, using Instagram for business is a vital component of brand growth and development, but you’re not sure where to start. Don’t be intimidated– Instagram is extremely user-friendly and actually has a whole site dedicated to its business accounts. To get started, focus on the visual story your company wants to tell. The first step is to build a cohesive, recognizable brand identity that will allow you to tell that story to your followers. Here’s a list of businesses that have perfected their unique brand identity, for inspiration. The photo below is a snapshot of Warby Parker's well designed account. As you can see, the pictures and their respective captions lend personality to the brand. They've been cultivated a large following because of the appealing style and tone of their account. Like Warby Parker, you want your account– the content in the photos, the voice of your captions, the hashtags you use, etc.– to be a visual representation of what your business is all about. For example, Lululemon’s Instagram page repeatedly uses the branded hashtag #thesweatlife to highlight their company’s commitment to “sweating once a day.” Much like a Tinder account, its crucial to put your best foot forward on Instagram and be creative while doing so.
Once you’ve declared your Instagram presence by building your brand identity the next step is to post and engage! Publish high-quality, aesthetically pleasing photos that will engage your consumer base. Take advantage of caption space for company announcements, promotions, and contests. Leverage your Instagram account to grow your business and create a strong community of followers that, in turn, become loyal customers. Give the people what they want and start snapping and posting pictures to your company's account; your millennial consumers will thank you.