Facebook acquired Instagram for one billion dollars in 2012.
Within six years, this visuals-focused social network has exploded to now be worth more than $100 billion dollars. According to one study, Instagram is the second most popular social network in the United States in terms of mobile reach.
Globally, there are over one billion users who log on to Instagram at least once each month.
If these stats above do not underline the importance of Instagram to businesses, consider this – according to one study,
What’s more, there are over two million advertisers on Instagram each month.
Add to this the fact that the average time users spend on Instagram has been increasing by eighty percent each year, it is obvious why businesses need Instagram to reach their customers.
Social media marketing is not exactly new.
Thousands of marketers have successfully rode on the popularity of Facebook to grow their business.
Instagram is however not like many other social networks. It is uncommon for marketers to republish or retweet their content multiple times on Facebook and Twitter to maximize reach.
With Instagram however, the focus is on fresh and unique content.
The cost of producing Instagram-worthy content can thus be higher than the associated costs for Facebook or Twitter marketing.
Despite this, the ROI of Instagram marketing can be many times higher than Facebook or Twitter marketing.
This is because engagement on Instagram is several times higher than what it is on the other popular social media channels.
This could be in the form of likes, comments or reshares. The corresponding numbers for Facebook and Twitter are 0.07% and 0.03% respectively.
This makes your investments in producing content for Instagram all the more worthy.
The success of an Instagram marketing strategy depends to a great extent on what kind of content you produce.
One study published by the Arizona State University sorted content posted by nearly 100,000 users and found that almost each one of them fit into one of the following eight categories:
- Captioned Photo
- Selfie, and
Some categories here are more popular than the others.
For example, while Selfies and photos with Friends were most popular making up between 22% to 24% of the collection, pets and fashion were the least favorite with less than five percent of the images.
Interestingly, however, the study further found no real correlation between the kind of images you post and the follower count. In other words, it does not matter what kind of content you post.
Your users are likely to engage with your submission as long as it is interesting.
Although the content you post does not have a direct impact on the number of followers you gain, it can still influence the kind of followers you attract to your account.
The objective of any marketing strategy is to reach your target customers. The content format you choose can have a significant impact on this outreach.
The first step in this process is to identify the competitors in your space and understand their strategy.
It is worth pointing out that unlike search engine optimization (SEO) where your webpage directly competes for visibility against nine other competitors, social media platforms like Instagram have room for all businesses to grow equally.
So the objective here is to not outdo your competitors but to instead analyze their content to see what works and what doesn’t.
Specifically, look for answers to the following questions:
- What is the average interaction rate per post?
- What is the average frequency of submission?
- Do the posts have a specific content theme?
- How does the post-tie-in with the competitor’s marketing message?
- How does the marketer integrate their Instagram marketing with other channels?
The answers to the first two questions tell you how successful the brand is with their Instagram marketing strategy. It is a good idea to discard competitors who do not enjoy great engagement and only focus on accounts that have a high interaction rate.
- Content theme
This is very much a subjective term and there is no scientific way to analyze the content theme. However, you may analyze the following factors:
- Do the visuals focus solely on the product or do they focus on the placement (runner wearing the brand shoe, for example)
- Is there a common element to all submissions (filters, color theme, etc.)?
- What is the purpose of the submissions – is it about reinforcing the brand? Is it to show product utility? Or, is it to build a community through user-generated submissions?
Take the Instagram account of Starbucks, for example. You may be hard-pressed to find a post where the logo and branding are not reinforced.
Adidas, on the other hand, is all about reinforcing the marketing message of the being a sports brand.
- Omnichannel marketing
Instagram is just one of the many marketing channels to reach and engage with your target audience. Your content strategy for Instagram should thus be integrated with the brand messaging across all your other channels.
For instance, here is a series of Instagram posts from Coca-Cola that coincided with their ‘Share A Coke’ campaign.
Once you have studied your competitor strategies completely, you will have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t for your particular target group.
This should provide you with a bunch of strategies that you could deploy for your own Instagram marketing campaign.
As it is with any marketing campaign, success depends on three factors:
- How well you implement your strategy
- How you monitor your campaign performance
- How you benchmark success
One of the most significant challenges with Instagram marketing is that you do not have ambient control over your followers’ timeline.
Your submission could thus appear right against a competitor’s post or against any of the other unrelated accounts that your followers have subscribed to.
This makes it difficult to build a narrative for your marketing communication.
This is one of the main reasons why brands make use of unique content themes or filters in their submission.
The idea is to enhance brand-recall and association with your submissions. As we already pointed out earlier, each of Starbucks’ Instagram posts reinforces their logo.
Going back to Coca Cola’s example, you may notice that the brand retains their trademark red color in all their submissions.
The idea is to reinforce their customers’ association of the color with the brand with the help of Instagram.
It is important to identify the factors that can help your brand stand out from the crowd in Instagram’ timeline.
While brand reinforcement is definitely something to strive for, your marketing strategy may fail to achieve its objective in the absence of engagement. Luckily, Instagram provides brands with a bunch of different options to interact and engage with your followers.
Instagram Stories allow brands to conduct simple polls among their followers. You may, for instance, ask followers to choose between two slogans for your business or their opinion on your latest jingle. The idea is to involve them in your marketing campaign and thus enhance their sense of brand ownership.
Users may also now live stream events of up to one hour long to their Instagram account. This is highly effective in increasing the time your followers spend engaging with your brand.
There are two ways to advertise on Instagram. The first strategy involves native advertising where brands may widen their reach by boosting their posts among target followers. Another way to do it would be for brands to tie up with social media influencers who can spread the word about the brand to their target audience. Influencers enjoy high levels of engagement in their niche and their word of approval can have a significant influence on your brand popularity.
Monitoring the performance of your campaign and benchmarking it is an extremely important step in Instagram marketing.
To do this, measure the engagement that your posts receive and compare it against the top competitors you pit your brand against.
You can use tools like Unamo Social Media Monitoring that allows you to measure your profile’s efforts.
Ideally, your strategies should fetch you more likes and comments per post than what your competitors receive.
If not, it is important to identify the factors driving higher engagement for your competitors and execute a new campaign.
Instagram marketing is a long-term strategy and the objective is to not just to gain followers and engage them, but also translate these metrics into higher sales.
It is a good idea to periodically launch platform-specific flash sales and coupon marketing programs to understand the impact that your marketing strategy is having on customer acquisition.
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