When building your brand online, a website is a great asset to help reach your customer base and communicate your services - what you do and how you do it. However, websites have their limitations which is why more organizations are turning to social media to elevate their brand. In fact, combined with a simple, user-friendly website, social media can enable you to - reach even more potential customers.
If you’re looking to create content that resonates with your online customers, why choose Instagram? According to Sprout Social, Instagram has the highest brand engagement among the many social media platforms out there and boasts more than 400 million users. This means that in the six short years since it was launched, it has made a huge impact!
Capturing the moment through photographs is effective, so it’s no surprise that many huge companies like Nordstrom, Starbucks, Lorna Jane, and even FedEx, understand how Instagram can resonate and bring brand awareness to their products and leverage its potential. No matter the type or range of services you provide, Instagram can give your company the opportunity to expand what your brand means by giving a voice and aesthetic beyond just your website.
Capturing the essence of your company and brand, engaging meaningfully with your audience and creating engaging content can be challenging. Here are some easy tips to help you make the most of your social media efforts.
Finding that Magic Hashtag Number
In order to create engagement and find an Instagram community that resonates with your brand or company, ensure you’re using hashtags that get your content out there to the people who should see it. Hashtag communities are essential to Instagram, which is why it’s important to use relevant hashtags and the right number of tags, too. The key is ensuring you’re using the most relevant keywords, and not just hashtags that will get you noticed. For example, websites like Top-Hashtag will generate similar hashtags for you based on a specific keyword search, but not everything generated will sound right to market your product. Think about users you are interacting with, users you would like to interact with and ensure hashtags stay relevant to what you’re saying; in each post and as a company.
Be Brand Specific...
Does your company have a tagline already used in your promotional endeavours? Or, if not, why not create one that can be used as a hashtag for Instagram? Think of how it would work in the Instagram universe and how it could target your dream demographic. For example, the camera company GoPro uses the hashtag #goprogirl to get their female users to tag their images captured with a GoPro product. It creates brand engagement, encourages users to share how they use GoPro products for a chance to get featured, and best of all, it generates content for one of GoPro’s niche demographics: women. Think critically about hashtags that define your company, or how a hashtag can expand your brand to a group you think your product should be reaching.
...But, Be General, Too
Focus is always good, but there are some general hashtags you should consider to ensure your content reaches more people. For example, if your product is coffee, why stop at just your company name, or hashtagging your company tagline? Are you highlighting a specific type of coffee? Are the beans Arabic? Is it a #latte? Sometimes a clever hashtag is key, but other times, keeping it simple means you might reach all the coffee lovers out there.
Location, Location, Location
Hashtag relevance can change depending on who and where your brand is looking to target its users. Sites like Trendsmap allows you to search popular hashtags and user profile handles to see the popularity and use around the world. This can be important if you are crafting a post around your Norway audiences, and you want to ensure the hashtag is also popular among those global users.
Every Hashtag Counts
Many people forget that it’s not just the hashtags in your image’s caption that count. In fact, you or your followers can comment with additional hashtags to cache your post in that hashtag search as well. This allows you to update or add additional relevant hashtags without editing your caption, or removing your photo.
Keep It Discreet
While too many hashtags can alter the message in your caption, you can always add additional hidden hashtags in your post. Use a text editor (such as the Notes app on an iPhone), to draft your caption, enter a couple periods to break the text, then input additional hashtags that will be hidden from your viewers in their newsfeed. By doing this, your post will appear in your followers’ newsfeeds with the caption, and the hashtags will be hidden by a “more” button. This enables you to use a few more hashtags without making it blaringly obvious to your followers you’re doing so.
Appreciate Your Community
More times than not, companies aren’t thinking about the people they interact with on social media, and how they could impact their brand, sales or bring awareness to their services or products. Ensure that users who comment on your content are being responded to in a timely manner. To make it personal, also ensure you’re using their “@” handle to tag them in your responses. This allows them to feel they’ve been heard and creates a friendly, approachable voice associated to your brand and image.
Go Above and Beyond
Some big-name companies follow their company name and associated hashtags to pick up anytime their brand is mentioned on social media, and ensure they respond to users - no matter the subject. This level of dedication is admired and while not everyone can have this access of time or resources, most users would agree definitely leaves an impression. If you can’t do this, try to think of some other ways to engage with your customers that go above and beyond the standard.
Seek Fan Content
Users react differently when a company’s product is shared by their network friends rather than the company itself. This type of product showcasing appears as more trustworthy. Hashtags are a great way to petition your followers and customer base to create posts highlighting your service; a giveaway might even help generate this content quicker.
Start a Hashtag Giveaway
As mentioned above, creating an Instagram contest can bring awareness to your brand and products and help generate customer-made content. Also, if you make one of the requisites of the giveaway for users to follow your profile, you’re sure to get your follower base boosted. It might mean giving away one of your more coveted products, but it could result in some serious engagement and follower traction.
Find Your Influencers
While you might get mixed signals on whether or not social media influencers actually work, getting an influencer to advertise your product could be as effective as regular paid advertising and allows your products to reach new Instagram communities beyond your own. It might just mean giving a piece of the pie to the influencer as well; or at least free swag for them to compose the needed social media post showcasing your gear.
Consider Paid Advertising
With Instagram’s “Sponsored” posting, you can boost a particular paid post that adheres to Instagram’s main theme. Small nuances that can benefit you, such as a “Call to Action” button, an ability to click through to a website of your choice, and a swipe through “Carousel” style post means you can have fun telling your brand story; all the while knowing you’re reaching a user base outside your own followers list.
Incorporate Your Other Customer Bases...
If you’re active with your customers in other ways such as through email newsletters or other social networks, think of ways to incorporate your Instagram profile. Embedding your Instagram highlights in your newsletter, or showcasing a great customer within your newsletter each week is a great way to build and showcase your Instagram account. Facebook, which owns Instagram, also does a great job in ensuring sharing content from Instagram is easy as a tap or click.
...But Still Remain Exclusive
To counter the above, sometimes sharing isn’t caring. While it’s great to promote some of your Instagram highlights to your other networks, it’s important you still give a reason for users to follow and visit your Instagram page. Sharing exclusive information, company promotions, or doing specific giveaways on Instagram ensures interest is still piqued and engagement remains high.
Now you’re ready to expand your company’s brand via Instagram! Much like traditional marketing, it’s all about finding your niche demographic, and being innovative to ensure you continue to keep your followers interested -- and stay ahead of your competitors. What outstanding ideas do you have ready to make your brand stand out from the rest?