How to Create Impactful Visuals, Grow Your Following, Drive Brand Awareness and Engagement on Instagram

Following closely behind Facebook, Instagram is the second most accessed social platform worldwide. Over 1 billion people use Instagram every month, with 500 million using the Stories function daily and an average user browsing for an average of 53 minutes every day. Read on to discover our Instagram Marketing tips.

Whatever your business, Instagram gives you the opportunity to show the personality of your business, showcase your products, recruit new team members and inspire your audience – and all of this is a visually impactful way. Every month, 130 million Instagram users engage with shopping content, making it the perfect platform for direct sales, but in an authentic way, not pressured way.


It’s all in the visuals

If you have a business selling products or a service which can be promoted visually, then Instagram is the perfect choice. Video and imagery will always work well, but only if you have the right marketing strategy in place. A well planned strategy will keep you focused on your on your target audience and your goals, so that is always the best place to start.


Set your goals

What do you intend to use Instagram for and how will you differentiate content on this platform versus others? Will Instagram be purely for building your brand awareness? Will you be selling your products direct from your feed and if so, will you be using user-generated content? Will you be sharing content from behind the scenes, showcasing your company, product and/or service in action? Do you want to recruit new people to work for the business? Do you want to share customer testimonials?


Who is your target audience?

Any good marketing strategy will include target customer profiles. Who do you want to target? What age are they? Where do they live, what are their interests, motivations and challenges? A great place to start is to look at your competitors followers as they will most likely be similar to yours. Why not follow them to encourage a follow back. Another top tip is to monitor popular hashtags relating to your business. See who is engaging with these hashtags and then check out their profiles.


Competitor analysis

It is always worth undertaking a competitive analysis to see what other marketers in your field are posting. Review their profiles and for those competitors you aren’t aware of search for terms related to your business and industry to find similar accounts. Which accounts to see what posts are getting the highest engagement, what popular hashtags they’re using, what their captions are, how often they post, and how quickly they’re growing. This information can serve as a benchmark as you start growing your own account.


Build a consistent brand Identity

Random and disjointed content can confuse your audience; it’s important to maintain a consistent brand identity on Instagram. Your branding is in effect your brand personality and your values. How would you want your customers to describe you? Are you professional, quirky, adventurous, traditional? Portray these values through your branding. Tools such as Canva are great for producing quick and easy professional looking graphics which are perfect for social media use (including your Stories). The Instagram Layout app (for iPhone or Android) is also excellent for creating interesting montages, especially if you want to post more than one image or showcase a step-by-step guide for example.


Work on a content plan across all channels

It’s always good to have a content plan to work from for your content across all marketing platforms. What social media posts do you plan on sending and when? When are the key calendar and awareness days and are they relevant for your business to talk about? What team news do you want to share? What press coverage is planned and when? How about events, do you have any coming up you need to promote or summarise afterwards? Social media is of course one channel in which to reach your target audience, but the content plan should include all other channels including email marketing, blogs, advertising, events and PR. Think of it as your master bible and something you refer to every day to stay on track. We like to plan our content calendar 3 months in advance and use tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer as scheduling tools to save time when it comes to scheduling our content.


Grow your following – and don’t stop!

social followingMany businesses make the big mistake of using various tools out there to “buy” a following from the off. This is not recommended – buying followers will not give you an engaged audience. When it comes to followers it’s not always quantity that is important, but that the people following you choose to follow you and are interested in the content you are pushing out on your feed. Growing your following organically takes just as much time and effort as creating and posting content does. Make sure your username is recognizable and searchable. And that your bio is short, succinct and relevant. If people can’t find you, they can’t follow you! We also advise setting aside some time each week to follow new accounts or influencers relevant to your business. This may then encourage some follows back, share the love!

Finally ensure you have at least 10 high-quality posts before you really start following and engaging people. If users visit your profile and find it empty, they probably won’t follow you, and may forget to come back and try and find you later. Hook them in from the start.


Engage and start conversations

It is not enough to simply follow other accounts, for your Instagram strategy to be really effective, you also need to be engaging and interacting with content. This is the most natural way to draw attention to your own brand without being seen as spammy. Appreciate your followers by responding to their comments and engaging with their content wherever you can. It is also well worth tagging business associates, relevant membership organisations, industry associations or accounts you want to nurture which will give them a prompt to respond and further engage with you.


The Importance of Hashtags

hashtagsHashtags are Instagram’s signposts and help people navigate through millions of posts to find what’s relevant or of interest to them. Research shows that less is more when it comes to Hashtags and 5-10 is a good number, any more than that and your account could look spammy, think less is more! It is also a good idea to look at other popular Instagram accounts in your sphere and see how they are using hashtags and adapt what they are doing for your own content.

A quick top tip from us – save common hashtags for your business on your phone notes ap or on a document on your laptop or computer so that you can quickly copy and paste as you need them.


A few content ideas to maximise success

Teasers: Instagram is a great platform to show your audience glimpses of new products before they’re available. A great way to build excitement and encourage videos to be shared and go viral!
Live launches: the Instagram Live feature is a great tool for showcasing a new product or service. You can then, drive users to purchase by including a purchase link in your bio. Check out Linktree, a tool you can use to create one bio link that will then send your followers wherever you want them to go.

Promotions: Discounts, BOGOs, and competitions are a great way to drive first-time sales, always be clear about what the call to action is and give a deadline to create a sense of excitement and urgency.

Charity: customers expect companies to make a public commitment to a charity or worthwhile cause these days. They like to feel that buy choosing to shop with your brand over others, that they are giving something back. Supporting a charity can build affinity for your brand and help turn followers into customers.

Highlights function: using the highlights function is great to showcase various product ranges, blog posts, categories such as key dates or seasonality. Use these as photo albums so that you can always draw attention to them from your feed.

Cross channel promotion: lastly, it might be an obvious one, but always be sure to promote your Instagram on other channels. Include an Instagram social share button on your website and share your Instagram on your other social media platforms. Add a link to your email signature and to your email marketing comms.


If you need help with your social media strategy and in particular you would like to get to grips with Instagram, then we would love to hear from you!

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