They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, and whether your branding lexicon is in a pictorial form or a verbal one, content with the potential for holding such power can either convert viewers into customers, or completely turn people off. Instagram is an intimidating platform for many businesses to grapple. Although the photography platform has pre-loaded filters that can make virtually any amateur photographer look like Ansel Adams, it still requires a great degree of creativity in order to run a successful digital marketing campaign at a high level.
First things first, is Instagram even worth using in 2017? According to Instagram statistics reported by WordStream, the data overwhelmingly supports why ALL businesses should not only use Instagram, but learn how to work it efficiently as a true master:
- 6 in 10 online adults use Instagram
- 51% of Instagram users log in on a daily basis, and 35% say they look through the platform several times a day
- Instagram is the second-most used social media platform in the US
- 32% of teenagers consider Instagram the most important social network
Instagram is popular because it allows people to translate a message using creative visual expression. So why does this matter? A Quora report surveyed several university education studies and found that 65% of the general public are visual learners (that’s a huge chunk of your consumer market if indeed this number is accurate). Since Instagram is the largest visually dominating social platform, and the second largest overall, it only makes sense to use it in your digital marketing strategy. The real challenge is to do this without being stale and ordinary.
True or False: Your Products Must be Visual to Work on Instagram
That’s a big false. Clearly, companies that sell travel vacations or designer clothing will have an easier time promoting their products and services on Instagram than companies that offer HVAC services. Why? Because a lot of people appreciate tropical beach scenes and beautiful men and women prancing around in haute couture as opposed to seeing Marvin’s butt crack via Instagram’s Clarendon filter as he bends over to install a new heating system.
With a niche businesses such as this, the key to a successful Instagram marketing campaign is to base your visual imagery around the people you provide service to, while simultaneously branding your name. To do this you must first create a general consumer modeling profile. Gather information about your average customers like:
- Marital status
- Income average
- Causes / things they care about
If your average customer is a suburban married mother of two aged 29 who shares online content about parenting and home improvement, then base your campaign’s target around these issues while relating your service. For example, post an artistic photo of a mother and child’s reflection in a window and say, “Marvin’s HVAC offers eco-friendly heating solutions but you can save even more on your heating bill and add value to your home by upgrading the windows”.
Build a Community Around Hashtags
Building an online community around hashtags is extremely valuable because it can be leveraged across other networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest; it is just a great way to get more consumers engaging with your brand. One company that did this extremely well was Charmin, the toilet paper manufacturer. Their #TweetFromTheSeat was a hilarious campaign that touched on a subject many strayed from as being too lowbrow (taking a poo). It encouraged people to share their thoughts while on the toilet. They also leveraged their awareness through National Coffee Day (you can imagine some of the social media remarks).
Look at the popular communities that share a lot in common with your company and its values. For our HVAC business, there are a number of home improvement / parenting groups out there. By engaging with their users, and liking and commenting on their posts, you will start to become recognizable and can introduce your own hashtag in the attempt to gain more followers and increase your brand’s awareness. If you feel a tad bit intimidated engaging with total strangers then you need to get comfortable with those uncomfortable marketing strategies because you don’t want to find yourself shying away in the corner while your competition is diving in and making industry noise.
Partner with a Good Cause
By partnering with a good cause you can increase your brand’s visibility by sharing followers with an organization. Let’s say you own an organic grocer’s market well-known for great produce and health supplements. One of the other services you provide is giving discounts on groceries to single parent families who transitioning from getting their meals at food banks to becoming self sufficient. The nonprofit Feeding America is dedicated to providing children with healthy meals. By forming an Instagram alliance with Feeding America, you can help further their cause while expanding your consumer base.
Staying Relevant to Your Brand While Relating to Consumers
Remember that purchasing decisions are made based on fulfilling a need and value. Why are your customers on Instagram? Are they killing time? Are they momentarily escaping from their own reality? Let’s say you own a financial consulting company that focuses on helping people in their late 20s and early 30s prepare a path to pay off their student loans, save money to buy a house, or just improve their lifestyle. Your customers are primarily make, based in Los Angeles, go to Dodgers and Lakers games, and they love looking at pictures of luxury sports cars. Post an image of two guys at a Dodgers game behind home plate making a toast with their beers and have the caption say, “We were tired of the nosebleed seats; JS Finance helped us make smart financial decisions and now we enjoy the VIP seats”. Later that day post an image of the new Porsche 911 and write, “Imagine driving up PCH 1 in this rocket. Let JS Finance teach you smart money management, and this could be in your garage within 6 months”. Here, you are dangling a carrot but you are also playing into the dreams and aspirations of your consumers by showcasing what your business does best.
Make Your Instagram a True Crowd Pleaser
Look, there are LOTS of people on Instagram, and they are likely there to kill time. When people are bored, they tend to buy. Posting images of sandwiches, cars, and even grass huts in Bora Bora is done to death. To truly make your Instagram popular with customers, you need to tap into their psyche and play to their hopes, dreams, and causes they care about. Take creative, thoughtful images and then support it with the right captions that inspire others and get them curious. Use hashtags and partnerships to expand your consumer audience, and show they why you stand out in your industry as a creative leader that mirrors their direct needs.