Use Instagram to Tell Your Brand’s Story
What are you trying to communicate with your overall content marketing strategy? If you don’t know, you can bet your followers won’t. Whether you’re the generous brand focused on raising awareness for homelessness or the funny brand that makes videos to make people laugh, you want to use Instagram to reinforce that message. Look at how the following brands do it:
Whole Foods Market: Known for a focus on natural groceries and a beautiful aesthetic, Whole Foods posts attractive images of ingredients like fresh cherry tomatoes.
Folk Magazine: As a magazine focused on America and American-made products, Folk Magazine regularly shares images of beautiful American scenes like this one.
Practice Good Instagram Habits
All business processes have overall best practices to keep in mind, and the same is true of using social channels like Instagram. Here are a few general habits that will improve your marketing efforts:
- Write Captions: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a relevant caption only enhances your communication. Use captions to explain to your audience what you’re posting and/or to explain how what you’re posting relates to your overall branding.
- Use Hashtags: Make it easy for other users to find you by tagging your content with relevant keywords.
- Post the Best Pictures You Can: Not only does Instagram have filters and features to make your pictures better, but also there are a variety of sister apps that allow you to take your pictures to the next level. One of the most popular is the now-free VSCO app, which expands filters, allows for all kinds of photo-editing capabilities, and easily allows you to post to Instagram
- Post Often: You don’t have to post every hour of the day, but, generally speaking, you do have to post regularly in order to gain a following. Taking a picture and posting it only takes a few moments, so really there’s no reason not to post often.
- Be Promotional, but Don’t Just Be Promotional: It’s perfectly acceptable to post a photo from your latest blog post with a “New post live at the blog now! (Link in profile!)” but make sure that’s not all you do. Nobody wants to follow a blowhard, and when you’re constantly shouting “Me, me, me!” that’s exactly what you become.
Look at Instagram as a Community
As is true of all social channels, you’ll gain more from Instagram when you look at it less like an advertising opportunity and more like a community. People don’t connect with brands; they connect with people. So to make the most of Instagram, make the most of connections. RELATED CLASS: Marketing on Instagram: How to Use Visual Storytelling to Build Your Brand
According to blogger Mary Beth at Annapolis & Company, “The bottom line is to build a following of genuine people who care about your contribution to the online world, and for you to follow people with whom you resonate. You’ll go way further than just commenting on feeds who have a large following but have no real interest in, or stalking people saying, ‘please follow me,’ or ‘give me a shout-out.’” So with that in mind, here are some tips for making the most of this community:
1. Tag People in Photos: When a new book is inspiring you and you’re posting a shot of it on Instagram, tag the author in the caption. When you have a company event where several of your team members have Instagram accounts, tag them in the pictures you post. Doing so is the Instagram version of saying “hi” to friends at a party or introducing one group of friends to another. You not only shout-out to the users you tag, but you also expose them to your audience, which everybody appreciates.
2. Like Photos and Leave Friendly Comments: Engagement is key on social media. Follow relevant users and regularly scroll through your feed, liking photos and leaving relevant comments as you can. This often leads to interaction between you and other users, which builds relationships over time.
3. Don’t Leave Nasty Comments: It should go without saying, but leaving unkind, unhelpful, critical, and otherwise nasty comments hurts your brand. Don’t do it.
4. Respond to Questions: When your followers ask you questions on your photos, respond to them, tagging those users when you do. People appreciate having their questions answered, and afterwards they’re much more likely to pay attention to you in the future.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately the name of the game with Instagram is no different than the name of the game with other social networks: Engagement, engagement, engagement. Your goal with Instagram is to reinforce your brand message and build relationships with your audience as you do. The better you build a network on Instagram, the more opportunities you create to promote your products and brand—and with an audience receptive to what you have to say.
Learn how to use visual storytelling on Instagram to build your brand.
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