Instagram Marketing Guide: From Zero to Kylie
Instagram Marketing is what you should be doing right now, because this is where it’s at.
Don’t be too quick to throw Facebook out of your marketing plan, though.
But back to Instagram Marketing.
In this article, there are very few basic Instagram Marketing tips.
I don’t do basic, try one of the gazillion articles online right now. Then come back here.
Because what you’ll find here is plenty of the Instagram tips that I’ve personally come to learn during my career as a Social Media Manager/ Instagram addict/ Cultural theorist/ Englishman in New York.
Why am I sharing these with you?
Because I love knowledge sharing. Also, because I love attention.
Does this article/guide give you everything you need to Instagram Marketing your heart out?
Yes, it does.
Does this article/guide mean you can fire your Social Media expert now?
No, it doesn’t. Unless they have never posted anything on your account. Or never made you an account in the first place.
I mean, the world is a weird place right now.
Don’t drag me into this. Ok, granny, let’s do this.
What is Instagram Marketing?
Instagram Marketing refers to the orchestration of integrated actions on the Instagram app and outside of it, aiming at promoting a product/ service/ brand/ cause.
Instagram Marketing can be a standalone Marketing practice, but has the potential to encompass and complement at the same time other ongoing Marketing actions.
In other words, as a product manufacturer, you can add the Instagram account @nametag to your packaging to drive traffic there.
This way, you can start building your Instagram community with people who have actually purchased your product, not just potential customers.
Another case in point is to partner up with an influencer on Instagram.
Getting a thumbs up from a reliable, trusted source is one of the fastest, most genuine ways to grow your account on Instagram while watching your sales rocket.
So, let’s take a look at what Instagram can do for us.
Before we begin
In this article, I have used a galore of Instagram Marketing examples from hair, beauty, and makeup companies, not because this is a post for eCommerce exclusively not because I am shallow (but maybe I am, bazinga!).
I follow brands on Instagram all the time, but I often grow old of their posts or content. These brands have managed to impress me consistently over the past few months, and much more than that, excite me with their content and the amount of work they put it.
I think it is because the beauty and cosmetics industry is SO competitive and new players are joining the industry all the time.
Before you start reading, keep this in mind: almost 100% of these Instagram tips are transferrable to your business, you just need to find what their equivalents are in your industry.
To hit this month’s milestone you need…
I love a pain-oriented approach, so, below are the three main goals that you can aspire to achieve through Instagram Marketing:
- User engagement (aka #Double_taps)
- Sales/Registrations (aka #Conversions)
- Brand loyalty (aka #Competition)
It would be pretty straightforward to ask you to choose one of the goals above for your Instagram Marketing.
But I won’t, because this is not how Instagram Marketing works.
Instead of having one single goal, in practice, all three goals work towards your account’s performance.
So, you need to integrate mini actions for each one of them every time you post, or at least every week. You can also use some powerful Instagram tools to help you streamline this process.
Instagram Marketing – How to Increase User Engagement
Your Branding is at the heart of everything
To get noticed by the consumers, you need to be different.
However competitive your industry may be, a strong brand identity is your VIP pass to customers’ credit card bills.
Invest in your branding to differentiate your offering and build memorable associations in your customers’ minds.
Your branding is not competing within your industry, alone. It is competing with every brand out there.
Instagram, highly visual a tool as it is, does not leave room for haphazard posts.
If you are in fashion eCommerce and you believe that posting your latest fashion items will suffice to grow sales, (hate to break it to ya) it won’t.
If your competitor posts their new entries, their innovative packaging, cute little stickers with every purchase, polls on Instagram stories about “who wore it better” or “how would you were this”, and you just stick to bombarding your followers with new stuff, it won’t be long before you turn your business into a product catalog.
And product catalogs might just do the work for your audience. But they won’t create this gut feeling that we want to elicit across users when they see your posts.
So what’s it going to be; tap to view or swipe away from your story? Double-tap your post or scroll down?
Align your Buyer persona with your branding
Your brand’s buyer persona has certain characteristics.
Work these characteristics into your branding and aesthetics and wording from advertising to replying to posts.
Going the extra mile will please users who will be surprised and excited at the same time.
To design your buyer persona you must first let your brand interact with a broader audience, otherwise, you will find that you are projecting your wishful thinking onto the buyer persona.
This means that you could deprive your brand of the right audience(s).
So, explore the audiences early on, while you can still pivot or diversify your product.
For example, run ads targeting audiences who like “traveling, street food, DIY” (this could also help inform your brand’s core values, as a process), and “fine dining, DIY, volunteering”.
Every one of the interests you add to your buyer persona characteristics is your audience’s habits, hobbies, or aspirations.
Factor these into your design.
Work on unique Copy
You are the writer of the play, and you must write the role of the protagonist.
Everything the brand says must be a catchphrase. Much like Titus Andromedon.
Give your brand the pizzazz it deserves.
If there is no pizzazz, why are you even exploring Instagram as a channel?
Even if you are an NGO or serving a cause of sorts you still need the audience of Instagram to notice you.
Nothing helps you break through the clutter than smart, concise copy (and really cool visuals).
Break the mold with Refreshing content
You know there are few things that we haven’t seen yet we easily marvel at simple ideas so beautifully executed.
So, look for unique accounts regardless of the industry, google “most popular Instagram accounts”, follow people the same age as your target group, see what they post, what their stories are like.
Find the mold-breakers and get inspired. Then turn to art.
Use art as the way to reinterpret what you have.
Suppose your business has only one product, for example, you sell ice cream. Sure, you’ve posted all different flavors, cones, sprinkles, and so on.
What happens next? Take it from glossier; post textures.
Needless to say, I fell in love with the perfect execution as much as I did with the concept and those little pink paws which are paw-some!
But make no mistake, glossier was/is not the only brand to have gone down that textures path.
Check out how Fenty beauty pulled this off:
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Welcome “FU$$Y” to the #GLOSSBOMB fam! This new shade comes in the same shea butter moisturizing formula as the other Gloss Bombs, but now with the perfect pop of pink. Who’s ready for more gloss? Available now at fentybeauty.com, @sephora, @harveynichols, and #SephorainJCP!
I spent 5 seconds staring at this image.
I might have lost myself into it.
Develop a full-blown, 3D Brand personality
Can your brand talk? What’s its voice like? What’s its favorite show? Would it be a Road Runner fan or a Coyote?
It’s things like these that help you understand better your brand personality.
In turn, this personality will help design the respective buyer personas for your brand and ultimately attract the right audience for you.
Oh, just be fun, will ya!
People go to Instagram to feel lighter.
If your brand or content is not fun, it might be more challenging to achieve that engagement rate.
If you go on Instagram to represent a cause you must find that sweet spot of staying true to your principles, but also meeting your (potential) audience halfway by adapting your messages and visuals to the Instagram community expectations.
Speak the language (both semantically and visually) of the Instagram community; check out how Greenpeace built on the #10yearchallenge trend and went viral:
Embrace the rule of scarcity
Users will engage with you when they want to get their hands on first. Check out the captions of the posts below:
But this also applies to B2C businesses. Here’s what this Cheesecake shop in Amsterdam does:
Now think: how could you bring this to apply to your business/brand?
If you’ve got it, flaunt it: User-generated content
Your job is to create content. Now, when your audience/customers take the time to create content as if they worked for you, you need to thank them.
And okay, I understand that not everyone has the skills to create something equally beautiful as your experienced designers do.
But sometimes, sending a DM (Direct Message) to them to thank them for tagging you or using your hashtag with their post is enough.
Others, it might take a quick fix to render a user’s photo into a masterpiece.
And then, you can always create a collage of your users’ posts, then tag them, and post that on your stories.
There are ways to be mindful and considerate and socially intelligent and you definitely know how to be polite!
Partner up: Account Takeovers
Account takeovers are those instances when one influencer takes over a brand’s Instagram account and Instagram stories for a day or a week.
Now, I’ve said this before that I don’t recall a successful takeover.
I think the reason is because there is friction during the transition, like, I wake up one day and I see the brand I love, and there is this man/woman whom I’ve never seen before in my life, the brand has not informed me of it, and I just hate this and have to wait for that day/week to end. Yes, I don’t like changes and you can never be sure that your audience will enjoy this cultural clash.
But there are ways to overcome this.
They are called: “Communicate the takeover” and “Warm up”. Pleased to meet you both!
First of all, a lot of thinking and research and square eyes go into choosing an influencer for a takeover.
What are they going to talk about? How are they going to express themselves?
What will they say afterwards, after the takeover about the collaboration, or how they will respond to comments made about our product.
I’ve seen an influencer sell out a product they were promoting because one of their users called it out.
Lest that they would lose one furious customer, they took sides with the user and sold out the brand.
I could feel my skin crawl as I went through the comments and came across this, I could only imagine what the Brand Manager or whoever sealed the deal was going through at that moment.
So, you need to choose a professional, an influencer with their own brand is probably an indicator of a good business(wo)man who’ll know what to say and what not to.
Also, do make sure you’ve followed them for a considerable amount of time and seen that they speak words of kindness and can reply politely to any kind of comment.
This is essentially a synergy you are rooting for. So be careful, because your brand is going to join another brand and it has to be successful.
Another good filter would be for the influencer to have previous experience with brands, but the red flag on my part here would be that they might have been associated with that other brand in the perceptions of consumers.
This would ultimately take away from their reliability as endorsers. Think about it.
You see an influencer promoting one product this year, another the year after that, another one three months later.
That’s quick cash, and influencers will have no problem to do that, but pros won’t agree to it.
So, if you are just starting out this is an awesome Instagram tip to give this a thought or two.
Dare to share: Backstage content
How much more personable the brand appears when it dares to share the unseen aspect of business?
Behind-the-scenes footage and photos are unique at communicating the vibe and energy of what goes on.
At a previous company, we used to post photos of the premises where the manufacturing and bottling process took place.
If you are a restaurant you can post photos of your prep processes in the early morning, or the chef picking out fruit and vegetables, or something going awfully wrong with the new cutlery delivery, anything that shows what it feels like to run a restaurant. Check here some juicy ideas for your restaurant’s Instagram marketing strategy.
Inviting your audience in and sharing these moments with them in a tasteful way will add to your branding.
I do have to mention however that it’s not the what, but it’s the how you communicate that.
So, like everything else, this too, could backfire if you keep posting photos at the expense of showcasing your new dishes or focusing on the quality of your ingredients.
Another of my favorite examples is that of hair salons. Instagram Marketing for Hair Salon businesses has blown up over the past few years, as has for Nail Artists.
Anything from before/after photos, to hair processing to nail designs, is Instagrammable.
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This has spurred so many B2B companies to send their influencer clients/ or the best influencers out there their products in fancy packages.
Don’t take it from me, see for yourself: I see @jenatkin getting all this free stuff, @desiperkins, @chiaraferragni, and so on.
And the trend is expanding!
I mean, they’ve been getting sponsorships, respectively, for Roo (her dog), for her Tia (her aunt), her baby (ok, maybe we had seen this one coming).
This is an industry within an industry. Take notes.
Consistency and The Young Prince
“The next day the little prince came back.”
“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”
Frequency is key to Instagram.
Earlier, it was just for algorithm purposes, if you had established a frequency posting, your content would be served to more people within your audience.
Now, things have changed and some content creators have lost their vigorousness about posting.
So, consistency of post frequency is key.
You implicitly create an expectation for users to follow you and see your posts.
If you post a motivational video every Monday morning or air your podcasts every Sunday night, your audience will be able to make time for you.
Bonding time!: Polls & Questions
Another great way to spark excitement among your followers is to ask polls and questions through the stickers provided in the app.
Now, what this will also help inform your buyer persona.
And as time goes by, you’ll be able to get feedback for your products, your customer experience, what they would like to be different.
See what Ouai did.
Then post a story (and then add it to your Highlights, as Ouai did. You’ll find this under MASQUE. Check out their account here).
Content that reflects the aesthetics of the branding
What I learned in one of my previous jobs was that when a graphic designer set their heart and mind to bring the best out of a photo, no matter how bad the orignal was, they worked miracles.
I also saw on a regular basis how this low-budget startup of ours managed to generate more than 30 posts out of 4 professional photos of our products.
It’s amazing how re-purposing your content can create so much new content!
Next, make sure your photos and videos have a specific hue/tint/shade/filter.
For instance, an overview of Instagram accounts will bring forward a preference for a specific hue.
Some brands go for colder, blu-ish photos and videos, while others go for pink-ish shades.
These are closely associated with each brand’s identity.
Repost your best photos by users or post an Instagram Digest
For every brand, it’s sort of expected to be liked by users.
It certainly means a lot when, as a marketer, you get a notification in your inbox about a user mentioning/tagging your brand.
But neither of these examples, compared to when you mention your users in your stories.
Check out the one below by glossier.
By highlighting their favorite users’ posts, they are sparking creativity across the rest of their followers who will go to extra lengths to come up with something smart and fresh.
I’ve noticed that glossier does this beautiful user-generated content repost/digest, and it always wraps up with this smiley waving its hand. See below:
Always stay current
Always use the latest hype to promote your products.
Early 2019 this #10yearchallenge thing caught on.
A little before that, there was the “Egg for World Record on Instagram”.
Whatever, literally whatever industry you are in, if you can get your Marketing team to come up with a cool idea for your brand to join in, you’ll be enjoying the benefits of brand personification.
In essence, pulling this one off will have your followers think of your brand as a person, and in this way, users can relate to these more easily.
How To Reach your Sales and Registrations Target
Work those offers and discounts
To sell more on Instagram, launch Sales and Discounts for the first 100 people to complete a purchase on your website, give out coupons, etc.
Now, you’d be a fool not to use all this traffic for your email marketing strategy.
Set up popups and try A/B testing on different landing pages to see which offers work.
Set up website tracking to track customer journeys and actually act on them; did they abandon their cart? Send them a reminder.
Did they drop out before checkout? Send them a voucher for free shipping.
Best part? Set these up once (or have our experts set them up for you) and cascade them. What are you waiting for?
The one and only rule that makes the world go round
The rule of scarcity. Announce your latest items and spill the beans;
“LIMITED #NewIn: We just brought in these super limited edition clutches. Only 75 to go around the world, so… like it? Buy it.”
See the section above for more information.
Choosing your Influencers carefully
How influencers give your sales a boost: they have an audience that trusts them and looks up to them and values their opinion.
Whatever it is they are promoting, it has a strong lead-in for users to purchase.
For instance, it takes an excellent endorser to promote your fashion brand or service with a SERIES of posts, not a one-off collaboration.
And it takes an excellent endorser to promote your product or service with a SERIES of posts, not a one-off collaboration.
These posts could be an Instagram post and three Instagram stories, for example.
One more thing: it will all be a lot more convincing if the influencer you are partnering with has your product lying around in another (non-branded) Instagram story within a month or two.
Try to choose more “generous” influencers, the kind that will go the extra mile to say “Since so many of you asked me about this [vase, I got it from a local store, DM me and I’ll send you the address]”.
Kicksta’s guide on approaching influencers with cold emails.
Designing beautiful Landing pages
Creating the perfect landing pages for your main segment and sub-segments will help you get to know your audience better.
Such insights also inform your copy and visuals and brand aesthetics.
Knowing your users’ lifestyle and preferences gives you background information about where you can catch them; the radio station they listen to (so that you buy airtime to run audio advertisements), the underground stations they go to most frequently (so you can advertise there, or give away samples of your product), and so on.
Using “Tap to view” to boost sales
This is a feature that I bet when Instagram launched it, users loved it as much as brands did.
Simply by tagging your products on an Instagram photo ,you upload…
…users can then view posts with this item (when this item was used), as well as a direct link to the brand’s eshop:
Now, you can set this up, too, if you…:
- sell products, instead of services
- have a Facebook shop and a product catalog
- are the Administrator of the Page or the Business Manager account
- have switched to a Business profile on Instagram
Make influencers out of your customers with Reviews/Testimonials
To give your sales a boost, try sharing what the community thinks about the product and how they use it.
This will create a sense of community and help users start engaging with each other.
This one should go under your Instagram stories, and not your posts so much.
You see, posting authentic user reviews is something useful but users are unlikely to engage in a quantifiable way (that also makes you look good, i.e. like or comment).
So, they might watch the video but they won’t engage with it because who cares.
Post it on your stories though, tag the users, add links to your stories, and you might get more reviews, this time without even having to request them.
The way to Bestsellers: How-to and Tutorials
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part of my inflight routine is applying the @summerfridays “jet lag” mask. ✈️✈️ • it goes on white ish but once you rub it in you can’t tell you’re masking. • it keeps my skin super hydrated and feels like a protective barrier when i’m flying! • you can put it on your eyelids too! • doesn’t need rinsed off!
Another actionable idea to make the sale is to share tutorials (see Fenty’s Tutorial Tuesday with Rihanna herself) or how-to videos (see below):
What I also love is how Fenty uses this content and shares it with their newsletter mailing lists. Here are a few screenshots of the newsletters I’ve gotten over the past few weeks:
Squeeze more out of your Link in bio
With Instagram you only get one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted.
Ok, so you don’t have the Swipe Up button. But you can still show more of what your brand can do for its customers.
So make it do more for you: instead of having to change your link in bio every time you publish new content (articles, YouTube videos, etc), simply update your all-in-one link on the service you select (examples listed below).
The users will be presented with a list every time they tap on your link so you won’t miss any prospects because they couldn’t find the link.
Post a button reading “You found it!” which will take users to a voucher generator.
From there, they will be able to purchase with a discount (which cannot be combined with another offer or ongoing sales).
Growing audience regularly with profile visits ads, stories ads, boosted posts ads
Advertising is KEY to everything you do. But don’t overspend. I hope you
understand overstand this.
I always tell my clients it’s not about a 45K account with 350 likes for engagement underneath.
This is not sustainable (because likes will cost you a lot of money and it won’t bring you any money either), and because it’s killing your public image (45k should come with at least 1k likes, if you ask me. But we’ll talk about engagement later on.)
I’m not going to give you a magic potion of “3 parts promoted posts and a pinch of ads”.
Every account is different and if you have an expert claiming they already know what your audience is like, they are either overpromising (euphemism for “lying) or have no idea what they are talking about.
Try These Ways To Boost Brand Loyalty
I said it and I’ll say it again: post User-generated content
No faster way to a customer’s heart than rewarding their choice with their 15 minutes of fame!
It’s so easy to tap into the brand loyalty pointer, which, believe me when I say, will soon be a currency for all brands.
Building your community
Community building is as simple as this: reply to comments, like comments, like photos you are tagged in and leave a comment, repost user-generated content, reply to messages, ALL IN THE SAME WRITING STYLE YOU USE IN YOUR CAPTIONS.
Make sure you make this part of the deal with your copywriter.
Create bonus content for your users
How can you not love a brand that creates a special place on its website so that its fans (not customers, necessarily) can talk, live, breathe the brand?
This is a sneak peek of what the inside of Glossier’s freebie section looks like (and what a great idea for list-building that is!).
Brands are creating wallpapers and screensavers, mixtapes and quizzes, sticker apps, etc for their audiences.
If that isn’t awesome branding, I don’t know what is.
Targeted doesn’t mean you can’t be inclusive.
It means you need to re-define targeted.
To draw from the beauty industry examples, at a time when major brands such as CHANEL and FENTY by Rihanna have launched cosmetics for men, your brand can’t afford to leave any minority out.
Think of all the ways your product can be used and bring that in.
Invite everyone to the game, and make that part of your branding and values.
Oh, which, by the way brings us to…
Get your brand values straight
You’re going to say that I should have mentioned this at the beginning, but I like to reward readers who read everything in the article, so will intentionally misplace information.
Your brand is supported by 3-4 values. These are the main pillars of your branding, and every new product or service you design should comply with these.
For instance, if you are in eCommerce and cosmetics, I would expect to see “cruelty-free”, “vegan”, “sulfate-free”, etc.
Then, Sephora goes out and does this: launches Clean Sephora:
If you are serious about values, spend that extra day or two with your Marketing team to (re)define what your core values are.
Every now and then, revisit your Social Media Marketing plan and bake these values in anew.
Your existing customers will know, but they can always use a reminder, while the new followers who came in later will need to be initiated/educated into the values of the brand.
The only time I can be basic is this…
…introducing you to some Instagram Basics. Consider this your glossary.
Choosing your Username
Choose a username, if it’s already taken then make sure you choose another that is as close as possible to your business (and ideally, short).
For instance, when Moosend couldn’t find their own handle on Instagram, they signed up with @moosendapp (Let’s be friends, you’re gonna love what we’ve been working on for the past few months!).
Now update your website page with your Instagram button.
You can also add a Live Instagram feed to your website. This way, your Instagram feed can attract more followers, or serve as refreshing content on your website.
Switching to a Business profile
To have access to audience insights, promotions, and have a phone number, email, shop set up through Instagram, you need to set up a business profile.
Let’s say you already have an Instagram account, but missed the “Switch to a business profile” notification from the app?
Go to Settings>Account>Sign Up for a Business profile or Switch to a Business Profile.
The difference is that in the latter case you just convert your existing account, and then follow the steps.
Defining your industry
Choose your industry; if you can’t find exactly the category you fall into, choose a broader description such as “Artist” or “Public Figure”.
Adding your website
On Instagram, you only get one tappable link (and that goes for everyone no matter how many followers they have).
So, whether you already have a website or a holding website add it there.
Writing a powerful pitch/tagline
Your bio on your Instagram profile can be changed multiple times until you have something you are truly happy with.
Don’t forget to write your tagline using keywords that make your account searchable online.
Adding to Highlights
This is one of my favorite parts. Some businesses are using Highlights in the best way possible, especially the ones which have access to the Swipe Up feature.
I mean, some of these guys/women/glitter queens are pros!
Check out what Glossier have set up:
One highlight is for “Q+A”, that is answering customers’ questions about products or ways of use.
Another highlight is every week’s Top 5 posts, again from users/followers.
I also noticed that the brand did a “January special” as I would call it, regarding their followers’ “Skincare Resolutions”.
This is purely user-generated content from Instagram accounts as small as 379 followers, all of whom are making a pledge to the brand about their skincare rituals in 2019. Lovely.
Other highlight ideas include “History” (how and when it all started for glossier as a company), “Mixtape” (enabling the Instagram community to download the music playing in their showroom, “New Products” with their latest releases, and so on.
Striving for that Instagram Verified profile
“Only some public figures, celebrities and brands have verified badges. It’s not currently possible to request or purchase a verified badge.” (Instagram Help Center)
Now playing: Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame
Ugh, you know, I wish I could tell you there is a shortcut to that.
According to Instagram: “If your account doesn’t have a verified badge, there are other ways to let people know you’re authentic.
For example, you can link to your Instagram account from your official website, Facebook Page, YouTube or Twitter account.”
But, essentially, I guess you can buy your way to Instagram verification by promoting your Instagram page and posts, and of course, fill in the identification data.
By the way, here is how many people are looking for the coveted blue check:
Working your way to Swipe Up
I’m afraid you’ll need to have reached 10,000 followers to unlock this feature.
But don’t worry. If you are not there yet there are many follower apps that will help you get them.
If you are a verified user, then you may or may not have access to it.
But, there is one cool trick you can try:
Try uploading a video on IGTV.
Then go back to your account and look for the chain link icon on the top right of your stories.
This is your gateway to the Swipe Up feature, only to IGTV this time, I’m afraid.
But hey, you gotta start some place!
Worse comes to worst, you might actually prompt users to tap the “Link in bio”!
Engagement should be around 10%
What is the best engagement rate for Instagram Marketing?
Well, I always strive for that 10% of organic engagement.
Of course, this number decreases as post frequency increases.
Also, this percentage plummets to 1-4% for influencers such as Kim Kardashian. But you don’t need to worry just yet, you’re not Kardashian-level. For now.
But if I were to choose an influencer to do business with, I would make sure they reply to messages, repost user-generated content or reply to polls, and so on.
Investing strategically on Instagram Advertising
If you are familiar with Business Manager on Facebook, you can design ads from there.
For more information on your Instagram Advertising check out the Social Media Section in our Marketing Calendar article (bonus: worksheets for 2019).
Trying different targeting
Your targeting may tell one thing, but your followers might believe otherwise.
You choose your targeting based on your market research and personas and yadda yadda, but sometimes consumers pick up your product and might embrace it a lot faster than your intended audience.
So what do you do? See which audience makes you sustainable.
And how you can better serve them. Use the “link in bio” trick to get them to land on one of your pages.
Then monitor the performance of each of these landing pages.
Making your own GIF with your brand
Can you imagine embellishing (ok, branding) your Instagram stories with your very own GIF?
Amazing? How fancy of you! Oh, you want one for your brand too, Suzan? Suh-rry, no idea how we did this. (Ssshh..Grab the link)
What is “GRWM”? Did anyone fall asleep on their keyboard?
No, GRWM posts are actually a thing (YouTube primarily) but the trend is catching on on Instagram, as well!
It stands for “Get Ready With Me” and audiences can follow their favorite beauty influencers getting ready in the morning.
If I were in B2C, I’d jump at the opportunity to do a GRWM before going to work, meeting an important client, closing a deal, and so on; all the researching, reading, abstinence from hair salons for ([normal distribution]+2) days, burning the midnight oil, slacking, texting, and the like.
C’mon marketers, our lives are exciting, too!
Rules to Live By
Engage your followers with Storytelling
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is the art of creating ambiance, eliciting feelings, and generating imagery in the minds of your readers and listeners.
How to use storytelling for Instagram Marketing?
No one expects you to channel your inner Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
If you are in eCommerce, say in fashion, storytelling is “Wear this outfit on your third date. If you are past that third date, wear it on your unthird date.”
If you are in eCommerce, say in home electronics, storytelling is showing kids’ enjoying an ice cream and a caption reading “There is always space for some things”.
Your inspiration comes from your audience’s lifestyle.
What are their lives like? How are they going to use your product(s)? What makes your audience happy? Zoom in on their lives.
Zero in on their feelings and thoughts.
It will be more difficult at the beginning, but it gets a lot easier as we go along.
Repost your employees’ public content
It’s one thing to say you have an inclusive corporate culture, or suggest that thought the annual party photos with your employees, but nothing says “great company” or “awesome working environment” as employees rooting for you on their social media accounts.
Reposting that content (using a Repost app that gives credits to creator on the photo, not just the caption) that your employees posted is a great way to show the great working environment and culture you have cultivated in your company, without having to say the words.
Photos speak louder than words, here.
And, also, there is one more thing about that: seeing that a company has invested in employees’ having a good time or bonding speaks to the employee inside us and that makes us love the brand even more.
Or, to put it fancily, we project these feelings of security and appreciation back to the brand.
Fun culture is what will always get you the best people.
That’s why everyone wants to work for Google; we see the playground culture they have established, we’ve read so many articles about, even though we can surmise that it’s not playdough and legos that bring these results to Google as a company.
Write posts which educate your audience
If one of your products or your entire suite is innovative, don’t leave it up to the Instagram audience to figure out what you do. They won’t.
The audience as a whole (not your target audience) is lazy and not interested.
Unless you are past the “struggling musician” phase, you won’t get people commenting on your photos to ask what the product is or what service you are providing.
With all these products they are already busy spending their money on, it would be naive to think that your product will make them pause and run a quick google search for you.
What they will do, though is that they will run their FBI level research methods if they see Hailey Bieber donning it, or a local influencer NOT promoting it.
We get more curious about things that are kept hidden from us rather than things that we know they are there to tempt us into buying them.
I used to work for one of the first beard grooming companies as a Brand Manager and Social Media/Community manager and I took their branding and built it into our posts.
Essentially, the branding was about “ancient Greece” and the “land of bearded gods”, so what I did was that I did my research to come up with a pool of fun facts and trivia about beards in ancient Greece.
Then, I designed a concept for the upcoming month, which tackled every one of our challenges one by one: one month was “Barber trust” with tips from barbers who we did business with, and tagged their barbershops.
I then promoted that post in their local area and they got more customers, and we got more orders.
Then, they reposted our posts so their followers got to explore the full range (Even products that their barber hadn’t ordered) or to discover the new trend through well-groomed beards and styles on our Instagram account.
Using our official hashtags (which were, on the packaging of our products and on our every post) users could navigate the community posts and we could repost user-generated content (see more below).
I regret creating 3 official hashtags for the brand, I just wasn’t sure what would catch on and didn’t want the first batch of 10.000 boxes to be completely ruined.
This only created extra hassle for me, having to monitor three hashtags. Eventually, the top hashtag of the three caught on (even though it was the longer one).
That’s the reason no matter in which niche your brand falls within it is utterly important to use the right Instagram hashtags!
Consider posting Inspirational quotes
I am not a fan of inspirational quotes unless you are a meme account or a Human Connection Specialist account or an entrepreneur/she-ntrepreneur.
In that case, make sure you decide on a general guideline regarding font and visuals; the point here is that if you reserve an iconic font for your posts, users won’t be able to tell whether this is a new one or they’ve already read it.
They’ll have to read every one of them to be sure. So, make small changes every time.
Post boomerang videos on Instagram stories
Boomerang is one of the recording options on Instagram stories. It allows for a 3-second timeframe to film something that is then played in reverse too.
Try to be as creative as possible here. If you are in eCommerce selling cakes you make, you can start from a beautiful cake (this could also be the video’s thumbnail, that small preview image, so that it’s more click-friendly) and then record the icing of the cake being removed.
Of course, you can always go for a video using your phone camera or a professional one and achieve the same effect simply by using an app.
Remember that when you use the camera on the Instagram app resolution drops significantly, so I recommend using your phone’s camera. Oh, and by the way, if you choose to add a sticker of GIF in your stories, the resolution also drops.
How about some Hyperlapse action?
Wherever in the world you are based, you can find a nice spot and record a time-lapse video.
If you are a travel agent or digital nomad or even a hotel with a magnificent view, hit that Hyperlapse button.
Also, keep in mind that there is a separate Timelapse app by Instagram. Speaking of which, you can also download the Collections app to glue photos together as in a collage.
Here are also some of my very favorite apps, such as HUJI, Blur Photo Editor, Pantone, and Canva.
How about your own show on IGTV?
This is probably the latest Instagram app (that I know of, at least) and, it has some specific settings, for instance only portrait videos, not landscape ones.
If you are a business, I would suggest you hire professionals with professional equipment to record such videos. You see, the very point of IGTV is better resolution (hence “TV”).
But then again, you could be peeling soap bars (see below) and get thousands of views because everything is “so mesmerizing”.
Oh well, we can’t argue with these visual trends, can we! Another idea is to use natural light on a sunny day because even your phone camera will do.
Try it out and see for yourself! And then, if you see that there is an audience for these videos of yours, you may as well consider scaling things up, renting equipment and all, etc.
What should you use IGTV for?
To lose the square-shaped videos format and to upload longer video clips. These videos are easier to watch.
See you on Instagram Live!
When is the right time to do an Instagram Live? When you have communicated it properly.
You’ll need a concept, maybe an influencer or a workshop happening, a teaser or two in the days leading up to the day of the event, to overcome the time zone differences regarding the time of the event you can use the Countdown sticker in your Instagram stories.
If the first Live doesn’t go very well you can schedule another for the next month.
This time, to overcome the previous negative experience (I mean your first Instagram Live) you should do sweepstakes or a giveaway.
And then use that live to prompt your viewers to take action, for instance, to sign up for your newsletter or your loyalty program.
Check here how IGTV works!
Get your own Rainbow text on Instagram stories
This is no biggie but it’s one of my favorite Instagram tricks.
It takes the skills of a competent guitar player or pianist or crocheting, because you need 3 fingers on the screen to achieve that. Check out how in this random video I found online:
Step 2: Tap on the message to highlight all of it.
Step 3: Keep your index finger on the one end of your highlighted message and your thumb on the color palette.
Step 4: Start sliding both fingers towards the right direction: your index finger goes from start to finish, your thumb swipes across the colors you prefer.
Step 5: Tada! Dedicate this to me. No? OK, just an idea.
Bonus: Check out here some awesome Instagram story templates to nail your Instagram story game!
Getting inspired on Instagram
You know what they say about inspiration; you never know when it hits ya!
So make a collection of Saved posts on your account.
When you come across a post you like, simply tap on that bookmark icon on the bottom right of the post.
This way you will be able to create a mood board of sorts or multiple collections organized per content, month, or influencer.
Organizing your Screenshots
Whenever you come across a really cool Instagram story, here are a few things to do:
One idea is to take a screenshot and then add that screenshot immediately to a dedicated folder on your phone (especially if it’s an iPhone, *sighs*).
If it’s a video, then take a screen recording (love you, iPhone)(now playing: Katy Perry’s “Hot n Cold“), and then add it to the respective folder.
Never ever EVER skip this step, or you’ll end up with a useless folder. Keep separate folders for all your clients, by the way.
Two, forward it to your clients on the spot. Ask them if they like it and if they would care to do a similar concept.
Another idea is to add the screenshot to your Evernote along with an audio message with your inspired idea.
We always think we’ll remember it afterward, and it.just.doesn’t.work., right?
Oh, Google Keep might also be a good Evernote alternative, by the way. Take your pick.
What was your life like before me? I know, right?
Instagram Analytics made easy
If you are an experienced Instagram Marketing manager, then you might think you don’t absolutely need an Instagram Analytics app. #not
When you have to keep track of multiple Instagram accounts all at once, then, you sort of need Analytics.
And there are plenty of Instagram Analytics apps out there doing just that.
Insights such as engagement rate, countries you are most popular in, demographics of your audience, even sentiment analysis by monitoring users’ comments in terms of positivity! Coolness level over 9000, #amirite?
Before you go
Step up your Instagram Marketing today.
Keep a progress chart of your actions, month in, month out.
Consider it your memoirs as you crush your competitors, one by one.