Using Social Media to your business’ advantage is crucial to many industries these days, but because of its popularity, it’s getting more difficult to stand out. Even so, new businesses and influencers are finding a way to gain the attention of Instagram users and growing their business because of it. What do they have in common? We’re here to tell you!
We’ve been watching how users engage with different content and have some tips on how you can get them to engage with yours. We must warn you, Instagram is a slow burn, meaning it takes time, patience, and even more time to grow your audience. Much of the initial growth will lend a hand to your brand awareness so please don’t expect too many conversions right away and if you’ve been dealing with the slow burn for a while, these tips should help your account accelerate the growth.
If you’re an eCommerce brand, we can’t stress the importance of using Instagram enough. Instagram is slowly becoming another version of Google for so many people (yes, we really do mean that…no typo there). Users are searching for and purchasing products right from their favorite social media platform. Influencers now have the ability to tag products from affiliate brands making it easier for Influencers to sell your brand’s products.
Are you service-based or sell items at a brick and mortar? The brand awareness you can achieve from this free platform is AMAZING. Get people in your store by making it THE place to be in town and have your services so sought after that you are the first business to pop in the minds of users.
Tying this back into what we kicked off with – you won’t make it on Instagram if your content isn’t COMPELLING. And we don’t mean a feed full of semi-interesting stock photos or the office dog (we do encourage a tasteful sprinkle of office dog photos – like this one of our Barketing Director, Roger) or reusing the same captions – we mean tapping into those creative juices for something much more engaging. Ok, here are my six easy steps up your Instagram game!
1. Follow Inspiration
Have an influencer you would love to work with and who would fit in with your product? Love the aesthetic of another business? FOLLOW THEM! Following other inspirational accounts is guaranteed to spark creativity for your own content and extend your reach by growing your network. It’s also a great way to keep an eye on your local/industry competitors, current trends, and what your potential customers are into now.
You can consolidate this inspiration by creating a Pinterest board to gather all of the colors, designs, and word inspiration that you find. This will be a consolidated spot to help keep your posts consistent with your branding and will keep you on track for future content.
2. Be Consistent
Once you’ve researched how similar brands are presenting their products and services, your next step is to figure out how to incorporate your new content into your brand. Other social media platforms are pretty forgiving when it comes to posting content or graphics that might use a slightly different font or shade of blue, but the case is not the same for Instagram. If you aren’t using the same font, style, your exact branded colors, or even write your captions in a different tone, Instagram users will be able to tell.
The reason for this is the habit most people have when they are following a new account. Users will discover your account by being fed an ad, seeing you tagged in an account they already follow, a friend suggests it or they find you on the explore page. Once they’ve found your account, the typical user will scroll through your feed and they will only follow you if they like your content. Much of this relies on the consistency of your brand and the aesthetics of your feed. If a user likes what you’ve posted and can predict that you’ll keep posting that way, then you’ve got yourself a new follower and a warm-ish lead.
3. Design is Important but Photos are EVERYTHING
We can’t stress enough, that the biggest difference between Instagram and other social media platforms is the use of stunning photography. Posting a graphic with a stock image and some text might perform okay on Facebook, but that type of content has no place on IG. Put your key information in the caption and use the image to compliment it. Have something important in your caption? Users aren’t going to read it unless their interest was peaked with your image. It’s a never ending cycle.
While having a degree and extensive practice in graphic design or photography could help, it is not the end-all be-all when creating your Instagram content. Since the take off of Instagram, tools for amateur content creators are readily available for everyone. There is something for all abilities and for the type of content you want to create.
One of our favorite tools in the content creation process is Canva. This website and app provides an extremely intuitive way to create posts and it’s a really easy way to place a logo or watermark on your images (if that’s your thing). Save your logo, colors, and fonts in your Canva account and never worry about using the wrong shade of blue again. Their Instagram templates are updated often and serve as a good template on how to throw a little bit of Mojo into an image.
If you don’t have the Lightroom app downloaded to your phone we really hope you have VSCO…and if you have neither, let’s step up your Instagram right away and get these photo editing apps on your phone or tablet NOW!
Here are some good examples of how to tastefully add some graphic design to your photos and how to get those user double-takes.
4. Add Motion
Videos have proven to be more visually pleasing to Instagram users and thus more effective to your business’ engagement. While videography can be difficult for those who don’t have any experience, creating gifs, slideshows or any other type of stop-motion graphics can take just a few minutes and increase engagement. There are apps that add just enough motion to still images to catch a users eye (even your fast swiping Sally) like Pixaloop. Creating a GIF on your desktop is made easy with the help of GIPHY.
5. Find User Generated Content
If your users are tagging or mentioning you in their content, we sure as heck hope you are acknowledging them! User generated content (USG) is a gold mine for businesses. These people are marketing for you (can’t you tell we are passionate about the subject?)! They are genuinely attracted to your products and/or services enough that they want their followers to know about it. How do you get more people to trust your brand? Get real people to endorse it and if they do so without you reaching out, SCORE!
Below are two huge brands showing their appreciation for their fans by posting their content on their official page. Make sure you are staying within your aesthetic and brand, but if these are true fans, you shouldn’t have to worry about that too much.
6. Utilize the Story Placement
Make sure you are utilizing the story placement if you aren’t already. Most Instagram users check their stories before their feed to get caught up with any relevant information they don’t want to miss from their friends, favorite brands and influencers. Make sure to carry your branding into your stories. You can do this by adding your branded hashtag, framing an image with your branded colors or use the same templates!
Don’t forget to add either a hashtag or a location or both! Instagram is featuring stories that utilize hashtags and location tags on the new Explore page. Don’t like the look of hashtags on your images? Cover it with a sticker or hide it behind an image!
Everlane does a great job keeping their stories consistent, informative, and eye-catching. This brand is consistent with how they introduce new products by using the same colors, fonts, and style. They feature much of their USG in their stories, making it important for their most devoted followers to see if they have been featured and to spark fashion inspiration among their fashion-forward audience. Everlane does a series most Tuesdays called #TransparencyTuesday where they let their followers ask tough questions from production practices to new product releases.