Instagram remains one of the fastest growing social media platforms with over 700 million active users. With its ever-changing features, it’s difficult to remain up-to-date on how to effectively use Instagram to complement your business’s overall marketing strategy.

At its core, Instagram is a visual platform. It offers your business an opportunity to present itself in a purely visual manner. Yes, the platform offers captions, hashtags (more on how to use those later), and tags but they are in place to support the photographic message.

When using Instagram, use the following:

A consistent, brand voice is essential for using Instagram. Your audience, especially on Instagram, seeks an understanding of your business’s “personality.” Develop content reflective of your business, but also specific to the platform. Your followers on Instagram will likely vary from those on LinkedIn. With that said, don’t shy away from distributing the same content across several platforms, but give each one its own voice.
Hashtags serve as a great way to reach more people with your content. Instagram users frequently search trending hashtags to discover new content so sprinkle a few hashtags in your posts. While sometimes overused, we recommend, based on our own success rates, between four and seven hashtags. Ultimately, let the content of the post dictate the type and number of hashtags.
Your Photo Feed
Good quality photos make all the difference on Instagram. It’s the platform for beautiful photos, and users know it. That said, while most businesses may not have a professional photographer at their disposal 24/7, it’s still possible to create a compelling Instagram feed. Take photos that represent the brand best and keep it consistent. Make sure all of your photos, professional or amateur, have a cohesive look by using a uniform filter on all of your photos. There is nothing more beautiful than a consistent feed! Case and point: @laurenconrad.
Also, check out Eric Bach’s blog, The Language of Light: How Light Alters Perception, for some tips on how to improve those Instagram photos!

Use stories to share in-the-moment and behind-the-scenes content. This strategy provides another opportunity for your followers to get to know your company’s personality and day-to-day. Get creative with your stories – post a series of videos to create a short storyline or a fun boomerang.
The discover tab gives users, and your potential followers, access to a pool of relevant content based on their existing followers and other Instagram activity. On the flip side, the discover tab provides a resource for your business. Scroll through this panel to see what competitors do on Instagram, and how your followers engage with other accounts to tweak your approach. The discover tab also allows you to find and engage with people who don’t follow your brand. By searching hashtags relevant to your business, you can find users and engage with them.
Carousel Photos
As one of Instagram’s newer features, the carousel photo feature allows users to post multiple images in one post. Strategically order your photos; display your strongest, most compelling photo first, followed by supporting images. Or, use the left/right swipes to create a larger, continuous image, like @subway.

Jump-start your business’ Instagram presence by following some of these tips and tricks. Stay tuned to the A. Bright Idea blog for more advice on how to keep your social media presence on brand, relevant and an integral part of your overall communications strategy.

Establishing your business’ brand through an essential and ongoing process of advertising distinguishes your services and products from competitors. Businesses both small and large go to great lengths to set themselves apart and break through the clutter of our dynamic marketplaces. A thoughtful advertising campaign uses a paid approach to getting your message in front of the appropriate audience. However, in a society growing increasingly immune to commercialization, you must also consider supplementing with a more organic tactic. That’s where social media, with diverse and engaged user-bases, comes into play.

Millions of people turn to social media platforms daily to communicate with friends, conduct business, explore interests and discover new ideas. While seemingly intangible, it’s frighteningly measurable and filled with opportunities to further connect with consumers.

Measurable Insights:

  • Follower growth
  • Reach and impressions
  • Engagement
  • Mentions
  • Website traffic
  • Leads
  • Customer sentiment or satisfaction

Instituting a strategic social media plan and sharing quality content regularly can reinforce existing relationships and help forge new ones. While there are exciting ways to reach target customers using sponsored messaging, social media can be effective without adding any additional dollars to your spending. Using your paid efforts that raise awareness and share key messaging, turn to social media to continue the conversation and engage your audience. Coupling the two strategies boosts your return on investment (ROI) and provides qualitative results in an arena that can sometimes be a bit nebulous.

Put a face (or faces) to a name

Social media allows you to humanize your brand. Consumers are growing increasingly more interested in corporate responsibility and what brands do outside of the services they provide or products they sell. There is a very tangible movement toward emotionally connecting with the brands one supports. Using social media to spread awareness of how your brand operates both internally and externally can serve as an additional, non-paid branding effort. When consumers can relate to a brand’s core values, they are more likely to become loyal return customers.

Accentuate campaigns

Use social media to extend your paid advertising campaign by integrating imagery and messages across all the platforms you manage. Brand’s like National Geographic use social media as a behind the scenes or breaking news medium. Messaging and imagery initially used across social media later develops into stories that appear in the glossy pages of the world famous magazine. Similarly, brands can use social media to give inside looks into the development of a particular advertising campaign or to simply augment a campaign
without spending additional dollars.

Hone in

In order to maximize budgets, small businesses often use advertising to cover a range of promotional services or products. Social media can help focus an advertising campaign and allows a business to feature products or services in a more detailed way. For example, a small business may want to use radio and print advertisements to promote a sale happening in stores. Social media platforms serve as a great way to spread the word even further and show off some specific items or services consumers can expect to get on sale.

Implementing a strategic social media plan that delves deeper into your business’ culture and offerings might be just what your advertising is missing. Find the social media platforms that best fit your needs and set aside some time each month to develop a few posts that highlight your work or products. Coupling your paid efforts with some authentic, organic social media content can greatly lift your overall investment at no added cost.