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4 branding tips for using Instagram for your business

How to Create a Powerful Instagram Social Media Marketing Strategy

One of the most powerful marketing tools marketers have today is social media. From Facebook posts to tweets on Twitter: Publishing your products or services on social media platforms can increase your brand awareness, engagement, revenue, and leads.

However, many people scratch their heads when it comes to marketing with Instagram.

Many of us use Instagram as a personal account to post photos of their family, friends, vacations, and food – but how does that relate to the business? And should it?

As Instagram grows, you should not underestimate its value to further your brand and marketing efforts.

It has become an incredibly valuable marketing platform, and although 18 to 29 year olds are still frequent users, the older age groups are catching up faster and faster.

Some Instagram statistics from Sprout Social for 2018 report:

• 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded

• 80% of users follow a company on Instagram

• 65% of the most powerful Instagram posts contain products

If you feel like exploring Instagram as part of your social media marketing strategy, read the following first tips to get you started:

1. Use hashtags wisely

You do not have to put every hashtag you can imagine in a post, but you need at least some.

A hashtag is the # sign, followed by descriptive words about your image. In this example, I used #marketing and #ctaconf, the conference I attended at that time.

When a user clicks / taps on a hashtag or enters a hashtag in the search box, all the images that use that hashtag are displayed. The user can even subscribe to continue to follow this hashtag.

The hope is that the user sees your photo, goes to your profile and the best-case scenario, follows you and gets involved in more of your posts!

However, if hashtags are very popular, the competition that shows up in the results is big. Similar to SEO keywords, the more popular a term is, the more difficult it is to take first place in search results. So my example of using #marketing was really pointless if I wanted to know about this post.

You want to make your hashtags relevant to your business and your location, but appealing enough for a user to enter them in the Instagram search box.

For example:

• Suppose you have a pizzeria in Vancouver. You publish a picture of your pepperoni pizza with the hashtags #VancouversBestPizza #NicolosRestaurant #DeliciousDeepDish

• Or you are a wedding planner in Toronto. You publish a picture of the first dance of a bridal couple with the hashtags #TorontoWeddingPlanner #LoveWins #WinterWedding

Holidays and special events are a great way to promote your business and attract Instagram followers. Whether it's a Black Friday sale, a Thanksgiving product, or a National Dog Day product presentation, they are all the ideal opportunities to promote your corporate brand in a non-sales way.

2. Thank you for the appearance

Not only do you have to post a series of photos and hashtags, and wait for the likes to arrive.

To attract Instagram followers, connect with your audience, and increase sales or leads, you need to invest time.

Here's an example from video expert Michele Moreno, answering every comment in her video post.

So, when someone leaves a comment or question about one of your posts, take time to respond and thank them / answer their question.

Take a look at their profile and follow them if you like what you see.

Companies often follow commentaries first in the hope that they will return the favor.

You can also search for people who may be interested in your product, then comment on and / or follow their photos, but do not spam them with a request to follow you immediately.

3. Interact with the right influencers

Influencers are Instagram users who can influence your audience because of their popularity and / or their social media.

Danielle Bernstein is a good example of an influencer who has worked with a brand. You may not know her name, but the 1.8 million followers of her Instagram account WeWoreWhat do.

Bernstein and FIJI Water have teamed up to develop BodyWoreWhat, a marketing campaign that offers 8-minute training videos with her and her personal trainer.

That may be an extreme example, and if you do not have deep pockets, you probably will not be able to attract an influencer with nearly two million followers.

But do not despair. From mom bloggers to local gourmets, you can always find someone who follows your target audience, who they like or admire. Maybe you're ready to review your product or take a picture with it – use your imagination!

4. Do not just give away your products

Instagram is not the place to constantly share product photos. Think about the experiences that people make with what you offer or the benefits that people have.

Even better, show real examples. Querying user-generated content from your audience is one way to do that. This means that users share their photos with a hashtag you provide.

The online furniture store Wayfair.com makes user-generated content very good. They have a user-generated campaign that allows customers to share photos of their stylish Wayfair-filled homes with the #WayfairAtHome hashtag.

Make sure people know their pictures may be on your page, and you can dramatically increase your Instagram content – for free!

No matter how you use Instagram for your business, be authentic and true to your brand. It's what the platform is about, and it will help you grow your business, attract Instagram followers, and gain sales or leads.

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