In the era of social media, every marketer understands the brand value of a strong online presence, particularly on the most popular platforms such as Instagram. From what began as a simple photo-sharing platform, Instagram has developed into an essential tool for businesses, especially B2C.
Consider the value proposition of Instagram — a highly visual platform, with millions of highly engaged users, in large, thanks to the thousands of influencers with mass appeal and the ability of brands and individuals to influence consumer buying behavior. Instagram isn’t just a place for friends to share snaps, it’s also a powerful business tool. Instagram know this, which is why we see the continued addition of new features designed to help brands better connect and leverage the attention of their audiences.
For the savvy marketer, Instagram should be seen as an ideal environment that can be leveraged to drive profit and bolster the bottom line, rather than used as a simple social media platform. This is particularly relevant for businesses in retail and e-commerce, where Instagram has launched a number of new features, specifically for brands.
Here are 3 tactics marketers can use to turn their Instagram profile from a passive platform to a revenue channel:
Plan your Brand Aesthetic and Identity Ahead of Time
The most successful Instagram profiles have a few key characteristics in common, the most obvious being aesthetic and brand identity. Rather than uploading a messy bunch of unrelated images, consider posting in line with a central theme that embodies and communicates the values of your company’s brand. This theme should extend to your color scheme, type of picture content, hashtags and captions.
Tools, including Schedugram, that help to visualize your grid as well as create, analyze and schedule content collaboratively, can be valuable in planning your feed before publishing it. Making sure you can easily collaborate with contributors in one place (from agencies and partner brands to designers, copywriters and other departments) will help you make sure you can post regularly in a consistent style.
Instagram recently reported it now has 1 billion monthly active users. That’s more than triple the population of the entire US, which means a huge audience to market to. However, as marketers, we know posts (particularly sponsored ones) even when viewed millions of times, are useless if the content is not relevant or engaging. In addition to your brand aesthetic, invest in developing a brand narrative that resonates with your core consumer base and attracts more like-minded followers. An engaged following is a secret weapon in the social realm. Take for instance, Kylie Jenner. Arguably the queen of Instagram, her super-engaged audience enabled her to turn her lip-kit side hustle into a cosmetics empire, thanks to a mix of clever Instagram management, hype, leverage of her ‘traditional’ brand and stunning channel-specific content.
Leverage Business Tools
Aside from core marketing features, we’re all familiar with at this point, like the ability to sponsor posts and view analytics, Instagram now offers a range of features that cement the platform’s standing as both a social media platform and an e-commerce portal. If you’ve got over 10,000 followers, make the most of the product tagging on posts (the only way people can easily “click through” to your site from a regular post) and swipe-up links in video or image stories.
The best Instagram management tools will have these features built in, so you can schedule your posts ahead of time and ensure your products are amplified as soon as they hit your audience’s feed.
Instagram’s e-commerce capabilities, however, extend further than built-in features. Since opening their API for developers, other tech providers have built clever integrations to enhance the value marketers can extract from the platform. Tools such as Shopify’s integration for Instagram for Business is one way marketers can provide a seamless shopping experience for customers, as well as a profitable channel for businesses. Shopify’s marketplace of other app integrations makes it simple for customers to browse and buy, without ever having to leave your Instagram page.
Be More Social
Too many brands make the mistake of using social media as a one-way conversation tool and only use it to talk about themselves. The best performing brands understand platforms such as Instagram operate as a community and know that to genuinely engage with followers, they need to behave as a member, rather than a faceless corporation.
One brand doing an exceptionally good job at this is FashionNova. Often, the online fashion retailer will comment on posts, show love to partners and celebrities and engage in creative collaborations, which has helped contribute to their milestone 10 million followers.
Other clever ways to engage with your followers include leveraging tools such as Instagram story polls to give followers a voice, re-posting fun, relevant content (such as customer appreciation posts, celebrity/influencer inspiration posts and viral content your followers would relate to) or running giveaways that encourage followers to start conversations with friends about your brand.
Everyone loves a #goals post! Not only will this kind of conversation-prompting activity boost your follower numbers, but it will also help to build credibility, making it more likely for people to trust making a purchase from your channel. In 2018, it’s no longer acceptable to have a robotic and standoffish brand that only broadcasts but never engages on social media.
The evolution of Instagram continues to provide opportunities for performance-driven marketers to make the most of this highly engaged community and use it to contribute to business profit. By investing in the right tools to unlock Instagram’s potential, as well as keeping up to date with the latest features, marketers have a branding goldmine at their fingertips, with the potential to turn traditional revenue models on their heads.