Let’s be honest: we all know what Instagram is and how it helps us common folk share our photos with the world. Not to mention how it allows us to look that little bit more attractive with its flattering filters.
We follow our friends on Instagram to keep up with their lives and we follow celebrities so we can admire their lavish lifestyles.
When Facebook acquired Instagram in April 2012 for US$1 billion, the platform had 30 million users. Today, over 400 million people actively use Instagram on a monthly basis.
And with over 400 million users, chances are your target market is on Instagram.
Major brands in Australia are seeing the benefits of Instagram for business and they are cashing in, and some are doing it very well.
A study recently commissioned by Japanese app Takumi found that Instagram delivers more sales and consumer actions than any other social platform.
68 per cent of people 18-24 years old claimed that they are more inclined to purchase something after someone they followed on Instagram shared it. But why is that?
Instagram is a beautiful, sophisticated and aspirational community and through images it provides businesses the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with their customers.
Content is easy because the best content is user generated content (UGC). This is how communities are built. Instagram provides you with the opportunity to search for the content your customers are posting, engage with them via that content and then share their beautiful photos via your business profile.
The feeling of appreciation that this sharing facilitates goes both ways, with followers developing a sense of participation in your profile and the content you’re delivering. This is what builds customer relationships and engenders brand loyalty to your business.
The type of content you want to be sharing are your products being used in everyday life. Consumers can relate to these images; not the product sitting on a shelf in your store, or catalogue images your suppliers have sent. The aspirational element of Instagram drives this. Give your audience content to aspire to.
But what if you have killer content and no followers, how do you get your content seen? Hashtags!
Hashtags are the conduit in the Instagram community. They are the easiest way to allow users to search for images they’re interested in and they are also the best way for you to get your content seen by your audience. Use hashtags that are specific to your brand, but also use ones that are generic to the products you’re selling. This is the most effective way for you to reach a community of followers already interested in what your business offers.
Finding the right balance with your hashtags is important. While you need to ensure you are not overloading your posts with irrelevant tags for the sake of more unrelated engagement, you also need to use enough tags to ensure your content is seen by the correct audience. Failure to use hashtags at all basically renders your content as private. Be sure to find the right balance for your business.
Like most marketing efforts, the end goal of your Instagram posts is to generate more leads or sales, and the best way to do that is to drive the traffic through to your website. This part, though, may not be as easy as it seems.
Instagram have designed their platform to keep you there. You cannot use links in the description of the photos you upload to Instagram. Rather, you can only use one URL in the bio of your account. The limitations on links renders your bio prime real estate. Treat it that way and make sure you’re using it.
As with any digital marketing, we want to see the fruits of our labour and determine how much traffic we’re generating from Instagram to our website. Again, no easy feat. Instagram is designed to keep you there. Instagram users will not appear on your Google analytics as traffic generated through Instagram. Instead, these visitors are categorised as direct traffic. To overcome this, be sure to use a Google URL in your bio; you can even run it through Bitly to make it look a little prettier.
The future looks bright for Instagram, with over 55 per cent of internet users between 18 and 29 years old using the platform regularly. This is only set to increase in the immediate future with marketers forecast to spend over $1.48 billion in advertising across the platform in 2016 and $2.81 billion in 2017, so as this market matures rapidly, don’t get left behind!