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2017 Instagram Marketing Guide

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Instagram has become one of the biggest and fastest growing social media sites with more than 500 million users that generate an average of 95 million photos and videos every day.

The benefit of Instagram is its visual appeal and the ability to create a community around shared images. The platform launched in 2010 and has shown significant user growth in almost every demographic group. The continued growth and popularity of Instagram has made it one of the most sought after marketing tools for businesses of every size.

One of the reasons marketers like Instagram is the opportunity it creates for engagement with your audience. The site has an engagement rate of 4.21% per follower which is 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.

With a well-planned marketing strategy on Instagram, businesses begin to see positive results from their engagement on social media. Our Instagram marketing guide helps your business make the most of your marketing efforts.

Instagram Marketing Guide

Advantages of Brands Using Instagram

Marketers are now beginning to gain an interest in other social media sites like Instagram because users like to engage with brands on the platform.

Statistics show that 70 percent of users reported having looked up brands on the platform and 62 percent of users actually follow at least one brand.

One of the biggest advantages of advertising on the platform is that there is less competition with 36 percent of marketers on Instagram versus 93 percent of marketers on Facebook. Social media sites like Instagram have also been proven to influence users’ purchasing decisions without the need for hard sales pitches.

Sharing visual content on Instagram, taking advantages of tools like hashtags and using certain marketing strategies can help you ensure that you get more buyers.

Setting Up Instagram Goals and Objectives

Setting Up Instagram Goals and Objectives

Before you begin sharing content on Instagram, the best strategy is to have some goals and objectives in place so that you know what you intend to accomplish with every post. When you have a clear idea about what you want out of Instagram you can create content that will more specifically help you achieve your targets.

Something to think about when posting on Instagram is how this platform can help you accomplish goals that others may not. You should also identify your target audience and especially those that are active members on this particular platform.

Some common goals that businesses have with Instagram:

  • Showcasing products
  • Building a community
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Advertising to potential customers
  • Connecting with influencers
  • Driving sales

Once you have a few goals in mind you can then decide how much of your time and budget you would like to commit to the platform.

Optimizing Your Profile

Setting up your Instagram is simple but in order to get the most lift from your profile you will need to figure out what information you share. Instagram is different from other social media sites like Facebook in that it doesn’t allow you to add links to posts so your profile is the only place you can link back to your company website.

Including a link to your site somewhere within your bio can help drive more traffic and keep users connected. The bio itself can be a short description which represents your business and can include a brand hashtag along with the link.

Optimizing Your Instagram Profile

For the profile picture most brands use a company logo or mascot so that their page is instantly recognizable to users.

An interesting way that brands get around the inability to post links is to include a particular link you are promoting in your bio temporarily and reference it within a descriptive post.

Instagram Content Themes and Strategies

Instagram Content Themes and Strategies

The core of your Instagram marketing plan revolves around the kind of content that you post so it is important to look over your goals again to incorporate them into your content.

Certain brands might want to focus mainly on showcasing their products for users to browse through on their Instagram as a kind of look book or catalogue.

Instgram Content Themes and Strategies

Others might want to incorporate the community and culture of their company with photos of team members, events or activities at work. Another type of content can be in the form of practical tutorials that include products along with tips and tricks on how to use them.

Instgram Content Themes and Strategies

Short tutorial videos often get viewed multiple times which makes them more effective at generating engagement. You can consider the audience you are targeting and what type of content you think they would like to see most while still meeting your company’s own personal content goals.

Interactive and Engaging Content

Interactive and Engaging Content

A great strategy is to balance out your content by including posts that are geared toward participation among your followers. Brands on Instagram often create campaigns asking users to share their own content and include a branded hashtag that promotes their company either as part of a contest or simply to get people involved.

User generated content is a very effective tool in getting more followers and creating more engagement with your brand. With this type of content you can get tons of images that you can repost later, crediting the user to further encourage followers to engage.

Within your own posts you can also increase engagement by asking users to tag their friends and encouraging them to comment. User interaction helps to increase brand awareness and create loyal followers that like to have fun producing their own content with your products.

Creating Your Own Instagram Style

Creating Your Own Instagram Style

When you have a better idea about what type of content you want to post and how to balance the different types, you can consider what style will best represent your brand. This includes your composition, color palette, any fonts you might use and Instagram filters.

In order to showcase your products or share your company culture you will need to have stunning photos that are taken with color and composition in mind. If you have already established a certain style for your brand you can incorporate this into the photos that you post whether they are minimal, natural, bright and colorful, or whatever best suits the way you normally advertise your products.

The important thing is to have consistent, familiar feeling throughout all of your posts. You don’t always have to strictly adhere to a certain style but establishing a color palette and the aesthetic of your brand will make your Instagram more memorable and recognizable to users.

Using Captions and Hashtags

Using Captions and HashtagsInstagram captions can be a useful way to share information with users about products or sales that you want to promote but they can also establish your brand’s voice. Captions can be short form or longer text but keep in mind that after 2,200 characters Instagram will truncate them with an ellipsis.

There are plenty of possibilities when it comes to captions whether you want to tell a longer story, make a short and snappy summary of a photo or ask questions to encourage user interaction. Within the caption it is always important to include hashtags because these help to categorize content and make it easier to find your brand on Instagram.

Using Captions and HashtagsUsers on the platform search hashtags as a way to find specific content and new accounts to follow. Posts with hashtags tend to get more engagement overall but it is helpful to research which tags are most active and which ones people in your market are using right now. Check out All Hashtag for ideas!

Instagram Location and User Tagging

Instagram Location and User Tagging

Aside from hashtags, another way to allow new users to discover your content is through location or geo-tagging. If your photo was taken in a certain city, famous spot or you want to include the physical location of your store then adding it to a photo map will give it some context.

If your company has an event or is promoting a certain destination then a location tag can be useful in helping followers find it. Most importantly photos with a location tag receive 79 percent higher engagements than posts without one.

Users might search for photos of a specific location the way that they search for hashtags to find the content that interests them. Within your Instagram posts you can also tag other users such as individuals in the photo or other brands featured in your post.

Other individuals brands might tag you in return which will help to increase engagement and awareness.

Find the Right Frequency of Posts

Find the Right Frequency of Posts

As you are creating your content and finding your brand’s style and voice on Instagram, you will also need to think about when and how often to post. Establishing a publishing frequency can help users know when to expect new content from you and can also allow you to get the most engagement out of your posts.

Most brands tend to post at least once daily but studies have shown that posting more than twice a day does not necessarily decrease engagement or having any negative effects. That being said it might not be best to spam your followers’ newsfeeds with too much content right away.

A good way to start is to post once a day and then experiment with additional posts to see if they produce more engagement or have any kind of impact. Another element to consider is the timing of your posts. Typically, the times that receive the most engagement are in the morning and evening but this may vary depending on your audience.

Commenting and Responding to Followers on Instagram

Commenting and Responding to Followers on Instagram

Commenting and Responding to Followers on InstagramAside from posting great content, you can also help increase engagement on Instagram by getting involved on the platform yourself. You can start by following other accounts such as influencers in your industry. Interacting with influencers might encourage them to check out your products and include you in their posts.

You can also interact and engage with your own followers by responding to their comments, messages or liking their photos when they tag you or your products in their content.

If you are posting user generated content you can tag the individual and thank them with an @mention to keep them in the loop. If users have questions or concerns in the comments sections you can address them directly with an @mention and respond with a comment.

Interacting with followers tends to increase their response and helps to demonstrate that your brand is in touch with your fans.

Analyzing Your Marketing Results on Instagram

Analyzing Your Marketing Results on Instagram

Analyzing Your Marketing Results on InstagramIn order to have the most effective strategy on Instagram you should keep adjusting and changing your tactics based on what works and what doesn’t. You can accomplish this by analyzing your results and tracking the performance of your content.

If you notice that a particular type of post receives more engagement you can continue producing similar types that will get the response you want for important promotions. You can gauge your results by analyzing the number of comments and likes received as well as the engagement rate for each post.

You can calculate the engagement rate for a post yourself by adding up the number of likes plus the number of comments and then dividing by the number of followers at the time of the post. This will give you the rate in the form of a percentage which you can start to track as it increases or decreases through each post.

You can also track branded hashtag mentions and location tags to give you an idea of how well a certain campaign is performing. For more in depth metrics you can find an analytics tool that can show you post results and how your Instagram engagement changes over periods of time.

Here are some Instagram analytic tools to check out:

Using analytics you can start to make adjustments to your Instagram marketing strategy so that you adapt to what seems to work best on your profile. Every brand has different methods that work for them so it is just a matter of spending the time to figure out the right ways to reach your target audience and get them interested and/or engaged. The most effective Instagram accounts have been crafted through careful planning, style choices and marketing tools that help achieve real results.

Okay but what about real world examples???

Glad you asked. In the next section you’ll learn about some companies and brands doing some cool things on Instagram.

Instagram Marketing Case Studies

We scoured Instagram to find some great examples to help with your marketing efforts.

Qantas Airlines Uses Stories to Target Millennials

Qantas Airlines Uses Stories to Target Millennials

Australia’s leading airline, Qantas, wanted to inspire a millennial audience by embracing the Instagram ad feature called Stories which provides followers with temporary video clips that can be streamed for one day before they disappear.

Because Stories are a popular trend among a younger demographic, Qantas produced mobilefriendly ad creative specifically designed for the full screen vertical video format. They were also able to repurpose existing assets for ads combined with rich travel imagery that created a visual story.

Qantas Airlines Uses Stories to Target Millennials

The ads were created for AWOL a travel site that guides people in their traveling to experience the culture and adventure of unique places around the world. By incorporating stunning and inspiring imagery of travel destinations, Qantas and AWOL were able to represent their brand while appealing to millennials interested in exploring new places.

Through their month long Stories campaign Qantas saw:

  • A 3 point lift in brand awareness overall among millennials
  • A 4 point lift in brand awareness among males aged 18-24
  • A 4 point lift in ad recall among females aged 18-24
  • A 5 point lift in ad recall among males aged 25-34

By capitalizing on the popularity of Stories and using interesting visual content, Qantas and AWOL were able to drive awareness, recall and recommendation in their target audience.

Mobile App Bejeweled Uses Top Instagram Influencers to Advertise New Game

Mobile App BejeweledTo market their gem matching puzzle game, Bejeweled teamed up with popular Instagram users to influence their followers to download and play the mobile app. They began their campaign by promoting their hashtag #shinyplace in a YouTube video featuring JiffPom, a puppy with his own Instagram profile and more than 2.5 million followers.

Mobile App Bejeweled Uses Top Instagram Influencers to Advertise New Game

They then partnered with other high reach Instagram users to spread the word about the campaign and ask users to share a gaming photo using the hashtag #shinyplace. Social media stars like comedian David Lopez and fitness/yoga guru Koya Webb, added sponsored posts including the hashtag to their own Instagrams with photos of themselves playing the game.

Advertise New Game

Combining their YouTube video with sponsored posts and a catchy hashtag helped boost the campaign and get more people on Instagram interested in the game.

Through their social media influencer campaign, Bejeweled was able to:

  • Increase their rank from 454th to 135th on Apple’s top-grossing iPhone games chart
  • Rise from the 702nd to 182nd top-grossing app on the U.S. Apple App store
  • Receive over 1.5 million views on their Bejeweled branded video

By taking advantage of social media celebrities’ ability to influence followers and using a branded hashtag, Bejeweled rose 520 places in their ranking following their campaign.

Fashion Brand Zara Shares Product Focused Content for Instagram Success

Fashion Brand Zara Shares Product Focused Content for Instagram Success

The clothing company, Zara, has expanded rapidly into a recognizable brand both through their innovative structure and savvy social media campaigns. Zara has ever-changing product lines with a quick production process and affordable trendy clothes that are featured as an online lookbook on Instagram.

Fashion Brand Zara Shares Product Focused Content for Instagram Success

Fashion Brand Zara Shares Product Focused Content for Instagram SuccessZara is able to stand out on Instagram because their posts resemble the type of visual content users might see in a fashion catalogue. The brand offers tips regarding fashion trends and is skilled at predicting what will be popular in upcoming styles.

Because their content is very product-focused, their Instagram presents Zara as a leader in the industry and allows the audience to browse their profile for fashion ideas. Zara also uses Instagram’s video feature to further capture people’s attention with new products and has partnered with social media influencers like Teesh Rosa to promote certain trends.

Through its product-focused content and fashion tips, Zara has:

  • Netted $2.3 billion in annual profits making it one of the most successful retail companies in the world
  • Reached more than 20 million Instagram followers
  • Added 4.6 million Instagram followers in the span of 8 months

By presenting themselves as experts in fashion trends and showcasing their products on Instagram, Zara has used social media to effectively establish their brand.

Major League Soccer Uses Instagram Video Ads to Reach Fans

Major League Soccer

The first division professional soccer league known as Major League Soccer or MLS wanted to use mobile-optimized video ads to increase viewers for the upcoming championship match between Toronto and Seattle.

Major League Soccer

Their goal was to use video ads on Instagram and determine their impact using a Facebook brand lift study. The awareness-focused campaign used short videos in a square format, which is suitable for both the Instagram and Facebook mobile newsfeed.

The videos featured clips of exciting plays throughout the season and used text overlays with information in the beginning of the video for the upcoming 2016 MLS Cup event. They targeted the video ads to existing fans of the two teams playing in the event as well as broader soccer and sports fans.

Through their brand lift study, MLS discovered some impressive results from their 5 day long campaign:

  • A 31 point lift in ad recall
  • A 36 point lift in ad recall among 25 to 34 year olds
  • A 22 point lift in awareness of the 2016 MLS Cup
  • A 24 point lift in intent to watch the 2016 MLS Cup

By using mobile optimized ads to target soccer fans, MLS was able to create an effective instagram campaign for their sports event.

We hope you found our content useful. Instragram can be a great marketing tool for your business but it does take time and consistency to build up your fan base. Best of luck building your brand!

If you need help with Instagram Marketing give us a call at1-800-932-5421 or send us an email.