From connecting the world out there to building a community and marketing your brand, social media has been an integral part of the global outreach. With the continuous development in the internet marketing industry, there exists a list of social media platforms that are designed wisely and widely used to let users share content efficiently in real-time.
The young generation defines social media as the applications they are using on smartphones and/or tablets: Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat or more. With the ability to share pictures, videos, events, thoughts, and whatnot, these platforms have changed the way we live and the way we do business!
Thus, social media is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world!
As social media provides the capability to reach a mass audience, it tells customers that a brand is active and increases customer loyalty. Nowadays, marketers are starving for insights from these amazing platforms and are trying to gain a foothold to validate their brand.
Here are a few social media platforms which are commonly used to display your business digitally and help you connect with your customers online:
- Facebook: It started off with the idea to let users stay connected to their dear ones. As the ultimate entertainment stop for over 1.55 billion active users, Facebook grew to be the most popular social networking website in the world! It enables businesses to closely target an audience and deliver ads about the particular product or services directly to the customers.
- Instagram: The best thing about Instagram is that it picks up people’s obsession with mobile photography. It was designed to post, share, and comment to engage customers. Just like other social media platforms, it lets users interact with other users by following, commenting, tagging and messaging them directly.
- Twitter: It is a social networking service on which users can interact with messages known as “tweets”. It is also known as a micro-blogging site in which users post quick updates, containing brief information.
Other platforms like YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn are also on the list.
There is no doubt that the online marketing scenario is constantly changing and Instagram, among the other social media platforms, has surged up the popularity chart. It has grown as a podium for the instant popularity of a product or service.
1. Why Businesses Should Hop Onto Instagram Wave?
With hashtags becoming the jargon of the new generation, Instagram has made its way through the list of prominent social media platforms and has managed to reach the top! It is much more than just uploading and liking photos! Since its launch in 2010, it has facilitated social interactions by infusing visuals. Millions of users today are snapping a quick photo, sending messages to each other, refreshing their lousy brains by scrolling through the newsfeed, and posting a selfie or a video with their mates!
Instagram’s power of building a social network through visual elements, allows brands to refine their content, recruit new talent, showcase products, and inspire their audience. Thus, this global platform is cherished by marketers as they get an opportunity to promote their brand and/or product in a friendly as well as an authentic way.
Following are a few reasons why Instagram is an ideal platform for your social media marketing:
- User-friendly application: Without a doubt, Instagram is a user-friendly app with an extremely simple interface- that is easy to understand. It creates an effective, simple and subtle appeal to the users. It is also rolling out several updates, including filters, stories, IGTV to name a few! So, it is prompting users to log-in and see some “good content” on their newsfeed.
- Image-first application: As our brain defaults to images and not to words, we tend to remember pictures and forget texts! With our visual sense as the key to interact with the world around us, using pictures or videos is one of the most effective ways to convey information. This is the reason due to which visual marketing and influencer marketing has taken off in recent years. Instagram takes images as the center stage and thus, is getting the lion’s share of popularity.
- A platform for popularity: When compared to other social media sites, Instagram lets its users taste instant and convenient. Its integration with platforms like Facebook and Twitter has enabled the users to showcase their photography talent and has also allowed them to come up with their unique hashtag ideas to make their visuals standout.
- A great marketplace: Instagram is definitely a new-gen marketplace. It allows sellers to post pictures of their products, designs or services and put them on sale with their prices and purchase-related information. For better understanding, have a look at the screenshot below:
- Turns boring into beautiful: Instagram is all about filters! With a list of the most creative and coolest filters, it helps amateur photographers to turn their boring pictures into the ones which are pleasing to the eyes. The users have all the moods and tools in the filter, allowing you to manage the right amount of white balance or saturation level.
- From crap to a crisp: The use of hashtag adds to the brand value of Instagram. As shown in the example below, users cut down the long captions to one-liners and use several hashtags which makes their post crispier.
2. Getting started with Instagram
Instagram started off as the simplest way to post pictures with your fans and was not intended to have marketing value. However, in the past few years, it has proven to be an effective platform for marketers to reach potential customers. Thus, to stay relevant to their audience, it is important for businesses to have their own Instagram profile.
1. How to set up an Instagram account/profile:
Step 1: The moment you will open the Instagram app or web page, you will find the “Log In With Facebook or Sign Up With Phone or Email” option.
Make sure you sign up using your business email and do not end up linking your personal Facebook account.
Step 2: Fill in the necessary details like under “Full Name” option you can add your business name to make it visible to your potential customers.
Note: You can edit your username later in your account’s settings.
Step 3: Choose the right profile picture as it is a big part of your first impression on visitors. Thus, it is advised to keep your display picture consistent with your branding.
Consider using a logo or other familiar image. The application automatically crops the picture into a circle.
Step 4: Then comes your bio. Instagram allows a maximum of 150 characters in the bio, making it a precise summary of your personality, the product or service you offer. In order to drive more traffic, you can also add a clickable URL to your external site in the bio.
2. Managing your Instagram settings
Instagram lets you review your account’s settings, making it easier for you to manage several things. In the settings section, you can change your password, see posts you have liked, enable notifications, and much more. You can also control who can see or reply to your stories.
3. Switching to a professional account
Having a business/professional profile makes it easier for potential customers to find you online. Use Instagram’s Business Tools feature and switch your personal account to a business profile, making it easier for you to get in-depth insights and allowing you to promote your content.
4. Switching personal account or professional account to creator accounts
Initially, Instagram offered creator account features to profiles with more than 10,000 followers.
It had two conclusions:
- Double down on influencers: There is nothing to deny that influencers play a huge role in the application. Through their own creator account, they will be able to offer more services, making it easier to share content on the site.
- Separating businesses from influencers: The two options provided by Instagram were to separate influencers from traditional business accounts as to when it comes to social management, they have different needs.
3. Types Of Instagram Posts:
Once you are done creating an account, then it is time to start posting content. Instagram allows users to post different types of content, including photos, videos, and stories.
Following are the different types of Instagram posts:
- Images: Uploading a picture is the most common kind. When a customer will explore your profile, he/she will look for different products. Thus, make sure you do not post similar pictures too often. Make sure you upload pictures of varied styles to better promote your brand. A variety of pictures will show your brand is diverse and will help in engaging more customers.
- Reposting: There is a variety of content available on the internet. Reposting pictures uploaded by your employees or customers is a great way to market your business.
- Educational posts: Sharing tips on how to do something or make something falls under this category. The pictures or videos are usually posted with an instructional guide to present them in an easy and effective way.
- Influencer posts: Influencers are the people who have built a reputation on the varied social media platforms, about their knowledge and/or expertise. Their fans enthusiastically notice what they are posting and blindly follow the trends that they are creating. Thus, they can encourage their followers to buy the products they promote.
With over 146M followers, she regularly posts on her Instagram feed to keep them engaged and to maintain an active relationship with them.
- Behind-the-scenes posts: These posts are uploaded with the idea to offer a glimpse of your business. People normally do not post much of these behind-the-scenes visuals. You can find these posts more often on Instagram walls of a celebrity, director or producer.
- Motivational posts: This type of Instagram post includes a simple visual with an uplifting quote. These posts are focused on inspiring the audience and amplify a brand’s value. Avoid being too cheesy.
Note: “Once you know what you are going to post on Instagram, make sure your content is complementing your visuals.”
4. Important Features Of Instagram
1. Videos: Let’s face it; videos have been a huge hit in the marketing industry. Apart from images, Instagram allows users to upload videos, which create twice more engagement than pictures do! But Instagram has its own limits. Uploading videos is not so difficult. Following are a few guidelines that you need to keep in mind:
- Video length: Instagram lets a user record, post or share videos as long as a minute or less.
- Video sound: Instagram videos default to playing without sound. Thus, make sure the first few seconds of a video do not need any audio to be understood.
- Captions: You can also use captions as insights for viewers, making your post more engaging.
2. Instagram stories: Do not want to clog up your Instagram feed? Stop worrying! You can post without the insecurity of over-posting as Instagram offers “My Story” feature-making it easier for users to feature their less polished, yet too glam to avoid pictures and videos.
This feature is widely used by businesses to post the “behind-the-scenes visuals” as the story disappears after 24 hours. Thus, make the most out of this amazing Instagram feature to showcase your business culture, live events and what not!
Note: “To add a story to your Instagram profile, you can simply tap the camera icon on the upper left side of your screen or swipe right to access the camera. “
The Instagram story offers the following features:
- Live: This is a feature allows users to publish live content with the audience. The users can simply watch your life story and communicate in real-time by posting a comment.
- Type: Creating a text post is made easy with Instagram’s ‘typing feature’. It allows users to share their ideas and thoughts. It is an effective way to pass on a message to your followers.
- Focus: It is well said that a picture with multiple subjects in a frame distracts the attention from the main subject and the post appears chaotic to the viewer. Thus, it is advised that the user should upload images with a single focus.
- Superzoom: Do not miss this one!To add a dramatic, animated zoom to your videos, Instagram offers this cool feature.
- Rewind: As the name suggests, this feature lets you record and play a reverse video.
- Hand-Free: This feature was added to eliminate the need for holding the record button while capturing a video.
3. Boomerang: It is a video recording feature that helps in creating a visual story in a way that belongs somewhere between a GIF and a stop-motion video. It takes a burst of pictures, speeds them up and plays them forward as well as backward in order to make a looping video.
These kinds of repetitive videos are fun to record. Try recording a circumstance like jumping, running or high-fiving.
4. Hyperlapse: No need to carry heavy or bulky tripods and other equipment, when you have Instagram! As a leading social media platform, Instagram offers users to upload pictures and videos. To help turn a common vision into something unique or cool, Instagram offers features like Hyperlapse which makes it easy to create smooth time-lapse videos. The best thing about the Hyperlapse feature is that it stabilizes the video automatically, making it less shaky.
To create your own Hyperlapse video, you can download the app on your smartphone and give access to your camera.
Following are a few useful tips on how you can apply it to your Instagram profile:
- What to shoot: Deciding what to shoot and where to shoot is the first step before even getting started.
- Choose the speed: You can speed up your video up to 12x and can also keep it at 1x (like any other video).
- Share it out: Once you are done recording, you can save the final video to your camera roll to upload later.
5. IGTV: Instagram TV or IGTV is one of Instagram’s video offerings. This feature has enabled users to watch long-form vertical videos uploaded by Instagram creators. Now, creators from all corners of the world are sharing long vertical videos on Instagram. Following are the key factors that you need to learn before uploading an IGTV video:
- Video length: An IGTV video must be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long. Creators who have larger and verified accounts can upload a video up to 60 minutes.
- File type: Make sure the video you upload is in the MP4 file format.
- Video size: It is recommended to keep your video vertical with a minimum aspect ratio of 4:5 and a maximum of 9:16.
Note: The maximum filesize for videos that are 10 minutes or less is 650MB, while for the videos up to 60 minutes is 5.4 GB.
- Content: There exist certain guidelines on what content can be shared on the platform. So, make sure you provide the best experience to your audience and do not share something that violates any of the guidelines. In any such case, the content will be removed by the Instagram team.
5. Keys To A Successful Instagram Profile:
An Instagram profile is nothing else but your homepage on the platform. It showcases what you are as a person or what product or service you are offering. Thus, it is important to optimize it in order to drive some organic traffic.
Below are a few key points which will help in maximizing your Instagram profile and drive as much value as possible from it:
5.1 Getting the right image: Since Instagram is all about visuals, it is important to find the right pictures, which not just compliments your profile, but also engages your audience.
Following are a few factors that you need to keep a check to ensure customer engagement:
- Photo size: It is important to use a good quality picture for your Instagram feed. Make sure that the square image is as large as 1080 x 1080 pixels, landscape image as large as 1080 x 566 pixels and profile pictures not more than 1350 x 1080 pixels.
- Rule of thirds: This is a popular technique used by photographers, illustrators, and painters. It will help you instantly improve the quality of the image. All you need to do is turn on your camera’s gridlines and position your object at one of the sets of intersections of horizontal as well as vertical lines.
- Negative space: Negative space is the space around the subject. Having a fine negative space draws attention to the main subject and makes the image less crowded. For a better understanding, have a look at the screenshot below:
- Focus on a single object: Avoid using a picturewithout a clean background or the one which is crowded by several objects. The viewer tends to lose interest if the image is not clean or smooth enough to gather attention. So, it is recommended to remove distractions from the visual and focus on a single object.
- Edits and filters: Adding filters or balancing saturation takes a few minutes and can end up changing the overall look of your entire visual. Instagram allows you to edit the picture, adjust brightness, contrast and apply effects like HDR. You can also add additional Instagram filters to make your picture more vibrant and bring out the details.
5.2 Video format: It is important to keep a check on the video format and specifications. Make sure that the format which is used to post videos on Instagram is MP4 and the file should include the following specifications:
- H.264 codec
- AAC audio
- 3500 kbps bitrate
- The frame rate of 30 fps (frames per second)
- Video can be a maximum of 60 seconds
- Maximum video width is 1080 px (pixels) wide
- Videos should be 920 pixels tall
You can also convert any video to Instagram’s format by using a free online converter.
5.3 Uploading multiple clips: Just because you are restricted to 60-second video posts, it is not necessary that you have to compose a video accordingly. In circumstances where you have a long video and want to upload it to your feed, you can use the multiple clip feature and string several clips together.
All you need to do is trim the video in small clips, not longer than 1 minute, and arrange them in the right order and the video is all set to go online! This makes it easier for creators to engage their audiences.
5.4 Writing engaging content: Your picture might speak for itself, but adding a crisp caption can help increase your customer engagement.
Here are a few tips that will help you to craft on engaging content for your Instagram posts:
- Do not rush the process: Creating content is not as easy as it may seem. Thus, it is suggested to take your time and create content that is both delighting and engaging.
- Length of the captions: Make sure your captions are as long as 3 or 4 lines or not more than 2,200 characters. This is so because the user will not be able to see more than 4 lines of a caption and thus, writing paragraphs is not helpful in any order.
- Encourage your customer: Use the right words to persuading your audience to like, comment and share your post. Adding your website link in your bio is also a smart move to redirect the customer to check out your products and services.
Pro Tip: Use a short tracking URL in your bio to check the traffic that visited your account or a particular post.
- Use hashtags: There is nothing to deny that hashtag has taken over the internet! It is now easier to track events, artists, fashion, trends and what not! All a user needs to do is use the keyword as hashtag. These keywords are spelled without spaces and prefaced with a pound (#) sign.
When searched on Instagram, hashtags gather posts from a wide variety of users and lists them together in a single feed. You can add up to 30 hashtags in a single post and for your posts to appear in the hashtag feed make sure your account is a public account.
6. Creating An Instagram Marketing Strategy
There is no great pressure for a business owner than to create a dynamic profile on a social media platform. To begin developing your brand’s own unique style, you require a distinctive marketing strategy. Here are a few useful tips that will help you draw an effective marketing strategy:
- Determining your audience: The first and foremost important step is to determine your target audience. Consider factors like age, gender, location and interests of your customers before drawing strategies.
You can begin by monitoring popular events and trending hashtags related to your business, and see who is using those more often to visit your profile. This will make it easy to define your audience.
- Build a consistent brand: There should be a consistent brand aesthetic on Instagram. To build this, what you need to do is determine your brand personality, brand values and how your customers or employees define you. Determining these factors will help you analyze your content and will make sure that it does not confuse your customers.
- Conducting a competitive analysis: Once you have determined your audience and are ready to build a consistent brand, it is beneficial to do a competitive analysis to learn about your top competitors. You can find similar accounts by searching for terms related to your business and industry and begin reviewing their profiles.
Pro Tip: While analyzing your competitors, make notes of the opportunities they have missed and added them to your content mix.
7. Tips To Turn Your Followers Into Consumers
Establishing a dedicated follower’s list is not easy! Once you are able to establish a strong base, you need to start putting efforts in converting those followers into consumers. Here are a few strategies that will be beneficial throughout the process:
- Promotions: There cannot be a better way to attract an audience than to provide deals, discounts or other offerings! If you are processing first-time sales with your Instagram audience, you can add offers to your timeline with a deadline to raise the sense of urgency.
- Teasers: Instagram is all about visuals! Why not show your audience a glimpse of your upcoming product and make them curious? A few images or a small video clip can build excitement.
- Contests: Running contests like tagging you in their posts or using your unique hashtag can do wonders for your marketing strategy! Let them win and try your product and eventually turn them into a consumer.
- Charity: It is a smart way to turn your followers into potential customers as partnering with a charitable trust can help build an affinity for your brand.
8. Common Mistakes Marketers Must Avoid
Nowadays, people today are spending most of their time scrolling through Instagram feeds. Those who are trying to establish their brand’s online credibility, the last thing they want is to get caught in terrible mistakes and face any kind of public humiliation.
(i) Posting too much or too little: Being eager enough to show off your products and services to your audience is good. But, acting out of this curiosity can do a little harm to your reputation. Social media users tend to ignore long posts as they do not really have the time to absorb all the information altogether! So, if you are posting too much, you are wasting your time and resources. Similarly, when a brand post rarely or is not active on social media platforms, it might experience a fall in its fan base.
Thus, it is recommended to maintain a post consistency to ensure your customers do not forget about you.
To handle this issue, have a look at the following tips and tricks:
- Test different times: Despite the fact that you have been posting consistently if you are not achieving the desired engagement results, check for the right time to post on the platform. Believe it or not, there are specific time zones for each social networking site in which marketers experienced better engagement ratio. Thus, monitor your performance in a variety of time periods and get optimal results.
- Consider quality over quantity: Surely your business is interesting, but your audience probably is not keen to know each and every detail. Thus, before you go crazy with your posts, make sure you post the necessary details.
(ii) Poor quality images: On a platform like Instagram, where visuals are of utmost value, it is important to keep a check on the quality of pictures that you are posting. Since the message that you are trying to convey to your audience is through images, it is important to reconsider your visual strategy. Using blurry or bad quality images can hamper your reputation and give off a less professional vibe.
Here are a few tips that you can use to draw the visual strategy:
- Edit your images: There are plenty of useful tools, available online, that can help enhance your pictures.
- Keep things interesting: There are several shots that you can use to showcase your product. Close-ups, wide-angle shots, and headshots, to name a few. So, using different views and angles can make things interesting and can help in engaging your audience better.
- Background: A good shot can be ruined by its background! Having a great background can provide aesthetic appeal to your shots. Thus, make sure you put as much effort into setting a background as you do in defining your shot.
(iii) Overusing stock photos: Stock pictures are great as fillers, but when it comes to promoting your own brand, it is important that the profile should have the brand’s face. In other words, for your main content, it is essential to connect your face with what you are selling.
It is easy for an audience to scroll through a sunset picture, but those who are genuinely interested in your content will look for what you actually do to spend your time. So, posting interesting shots of you can be a great marketing strategy.
Do not forget to add interesting and fun captions to the pictures! Write a caption that not only shows your personality but also reflects the vibe of the image.
(iv) Leaving off hashtags: Just like Twitter, Instagram also use hashtags to find content. You can use hashtags that match your interest and can easily get posts related to the topic. For example, when you search “#art” on Instagram, the app will lead you to a feed of posts where the same hashtag is used. Have a look at the screenshot below for a better understanding:
It is suggested not to fill up your captions with dozens of hashtags and instead use top and trending phrases to drive more traffic to your profile.
Fun Fact: If you use hashtags on location or specific industry on your post, there is possibility that you will attract those who are searching for what your brand really offers!
(v) Not using Instagram stories: Telling a story is made easy with Instagram’s “My Story” feature. It gives every user an opportunity to post multiple videos or pictures, behind-the-scene shots, the teaser of their upcoming project and what not? Thus, if you are not using this feature until now, you are missing a great opportunity to add value to your marketing strategy!