Against all technical odds, Instagram has become the preferred social network for strategic branding and marketing. When we say against all odds, we are referring to Instagram’s policy of only allowing external links in the biography section of the profile, which effectively sets this social network apart from many others in which URLs can be posted in just about any post or update. There is a strategy to make the most out of this limitation, and we will discuss it later herein; we should first mention how Instagram has evolved into a premier branding platform.
Social media netizens tend to be highly visual. Remember the days when Twitter used to have SMS functionality? Earlier this year, the original Twitter SMS service was quietly disabled for many countries, and this was foreseen by many tech analysts; one of the reasons behind this move is that Twitter users are no longer using SMS, a medium that does not support embedded images.
Anything that can be presented visually, whether related to products or services, can be promoted on Instagram with the right strategies. Once you start building an active audience, which is not difficult because this network has turned into a highly engaging digital platform. If you do things right on Instagram, your business will benefit from gaining the trust of your followers, thus making them more loyal to your brand and increasing overall website traffic despite linking limitations.
With all the above in mind, here are the strategies you should be following to highlight your business on Instagram:
Instagram Linking Add-On Options
Similar to Twitter in its heyday, Instagram is enjoying the attention of third-party developers who create services and add-on programs that can enhance user experience on the network. Alls.Link is an example of an add-on that can greatly improve marketing efforts. In essence, this subscription-based service lets you add more than one URL to your Instagram bio; plus, it also provides a platform for special projects such as an editorial calendar, Facebook pixel, and Google Analytics.
Image Editing Solutions for Instagram
A Design Kit is an iOS photo editing app that seems to have been developed with Instagram users in mind. If you use an iPhone or iPad to take photos that end up being posted on Instagram, you will want to run them through A Design Kit in order to make them look gorgeous. There are many other image editing apps you can use in this regard; it is up to you to use them or simply allow your competitors’ Instagram accounts to look better. Here’s a good example of company’s Instagram that was clearly put together with the help of an image editor; notice how the photographs of engagement rings and other jewelry pieces seem ready to come off the screen.
Figuring Out Your Instagram Audience
The metrics and analytics available from Instagram business accounts are meant to be thoroughly evaluated. An advanced evaluation strategy consists of creating what is known as buyer personas, which combine demographics with the factors that attract them to the brand or else keep them away from it. You want to create about a dozen of these persona profiles for the purpose of developing a content strategy. If you sell office supplies, for example, you may want to post images of products that will appeal to younger and older workers alike. One way you can create personas is by enticing customers to take surveys; you can do this with coupons, special discounts, or even gifts.
Of all social networks, Instagram stands out as being the most sensitive to hashtags, even more so than Twitter, where hashtags are mostly used for trending events. Instagram hashtags have grown organically, and they are tightly integrated with the search functionality of the network; moreover, they can show you the level of interest they generate when you review analytics. A company that sells t-shirts, for example, will find that #tshirts has millions of posts, but a more specific hashtag such as #vintagetees has not even reached a million posts. The latter hashtag could be a good one to explore as long as the company has interesting images about retro and vintage t-shirts, and this can be further cross-referenced with the buyer personas we mentioned above.
Finally, it is important to remember that Instagram is not an echo chamber nor a sales platform; it is a social network where users seek information, engagement, and validation. Treat your followers in the way you would like to be treated; be mindful of their posts, comments, and reactions whenever they are relevant to your brand.