According to the latest statistics from Socialmedia.com.au , Instagram is the fourth most popular social media platform in Australia at the moment (figures from August 2016). It’s still lagging behind Facebook and YouTube in popularity (and WordPress, which comes in at #3), but it’s ahead of other well-known platforms such as Twitter (#8), LinkedIn (#6) and Pinterest (#15). According to the Socialmedia.com stats, there are 5 million monthly active Australian users of Instagram – and there’s a high chance that a lot of them are at the younger end of the demographic curve and use their mobile phones to keep up today with the latest.
Instagram is THE social media platform for visual content – static images, infographics and, of course, videos. We’ve all heard of the notorious photos of meals and the ubiquitous selfie. However, there’s much more to Instagram than that.
As it’s a snappy way to interact with your audience, Instagram can be a very useful tool in your social media marketing kit. However, you have to use it well and appropriately if you want it to be effective.
Here’s a handful of tips, hints and inspiring ideas to get you started.
Basics For Beginners
Have a separate Instagram account for your business rather than sharing business-related marketing content on your personal account or (what’s worse) vice versa. Believe me, the people who are searching for someone to renovate their kitchen and are considering your building company don’t want to see your lunchtime sushi or all your selfies.
Choose a good name. If you can, the name of your business or organisation is ideal. However, you may find that your name has already been taken by someone else (presumably on the other side of the world). In this case, you have to get a bit creative so you can still get your name out there and let your audience know what you’re all about.
Link your Instagram account to other social media accounts. In particular, you should link your Facebook account to your Instagram account. This will save you a bit of time if you’ve created a great short video that’s perfect for both platforms, as you won’t have to load it twice (or three times).
Use hashtags! This is such a simple thing but it’s easily overlooked by those who haven’t used Instagram for social media marketing before.
Don’t be afraid of using very basic and simple hashtags. Yes, even something simple like #architecture or #coffee or #Monday will increase your chance of being spotted by a new follower who might not have come across you otherwise.
Keep an eye out for trending hashtags – and use them if they’re appropriate. Trending hashtags show what people are interested in right now, so including a trending hashtag in your latest Instagram post is a way of hitching your wagon to a star (or, to use a different metaphor, jumping on the latest bandwagon). Of course, you should only do this if the trending hashtags are something to do with your business. You probably don’t need to use #Trump if you’re a builder or a coffee shop… unless you have been building a pretty impressive wall as part of your latest building project and you want to be a bit flippant.
Run hashtag competitions. Here, you are relieved of the pressure of continually producing top-quality images and videos (and making good graphics is hard work, as we know all too well). Instead, your followers will take the photos and submit them, tagged with the unique hashtag you have created for this particular competition. For example, you might have a competition where your followers and fans have to take a selfie of themselves doing a particular activity (using your product?) or in a certain place (in your store?), and everyone who does this goes into a draw to win a prize (or you could judge the photos or get followers to vote on their favourites – there are lots of possibilities). This article we came across has some examples of hashtag competitions that ran in the US with some success.
Beware of unintentionally rude hashtags. The convention with hashtags is to run all the relevant words together without any punctuation #likethis. However, this can create some unexpected problems if you do it without thinking. The worst one recorded so far was the hashtag created for the launch of one of Susan Boyle’s albums and the party celebrating its release. The hashtag was intended to be “Susan Album Party”. However, this came out as #susanalbumparty. Oops. Make sure you read your hashtags carefully before you post them (and maybe get a second pair of eyes running over them just in case).
Commenting And Interacting
Don’t just wave your product about. Using any social media platform is about connecting with your customers and interacting with them, not just doing the digital equivalent of mailing catalogues. Of course, you want to mention or use your product in your photos, but remember to humanise things. Show someone using that product and put a colourful or quirky description. Have a sense of humour.
Respond to comments. Unless they’re obvious trolls, of course. Some negative feedback needs to be handled sensitively but you need to show your followers that you actually care about or at least are interested in what people say to you and about you.
Comment on or like photos or videos posted by your followers, especially if your hashtag or product is involved.
Use your followers’ photos if they’re brilliant – with permission, of course, and don’t forget to acknowledge the person who took the original image in the description accompanying the photo or video. For example “We really love this photo Jenny Smith took of her woodwork project using our…”
@Mention your followers in your descriptions when appropriate. If you are sharing a follower’s photo or if you’re announcing the winner of a hashtag competition, use the @mention tag. It’s simple to do and it really personalises things – it could really make someone’s day if they found that you had mentioned them (and they will find out!).