With a jaw-dropping 300 million active monthly users (as of December 2014) and 15 times the typical engagement than that of Facebook’s, Instagram has come on strong since launching late 2010. But the platform has come even further since developing promoted posts in 2013. The first Instagram ad from Michael Kors received four times the usual number of likes compared to non-promoted posts and reached a global audience of 6.15m. Not bad for a simple watch snapshot.
Of course, brands have flocked to the platform in troves, dropping hashtags and product pics like content bombs on fans and friends worldwide. But with 71% of the most recognized brands in the world now active on Instagram, it now takes more than a few follows to make a splash and cut through the carefully filtered haze. Take a look and some tried and true techniques to win at one of the mobile web’s most beloved visual tools.
1. Work with new app integration. With new functionality like carousel ads and complimentary standalone apps like Layout (both launched in the last month alone), it’s clear that Instagram is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of both consumers and advertisers. Creativity is key here, and in the last week alone, a number of brands have adopted use of Layout to create some really lovely content. Take beauty megabrand Sephora, for instance. They developed a series of photo collage tutorials using Layout to explain the tricky process of contouring. It’s an effective use of visual storytelling that translates telepathically fast. New features and offerings often let brands tell richer, more complex stories, so lean on the latest and greatest when the opportunity arises.
2. Think outside the feed. Whether you’re creating a “build your own” gallery like Mercedes did to launch the GLA to Millennials or developing a twelve part looping microseries like Gap, there is so much more to be done on Instagram than hazy, shimmery selfies or gratuitous food porn. Look beyond the format to find new ways of telling your brand story.
3. Embrace the hashtag. Hashtags work in two ways, providing people outside your network the opportunity to discover your content through a shared interest and expanding your reach through a keyword or phrase. Quite shockingly, it appears that more actually IS more when it comes to hashtags on Instagram, as seen in the image below. Track trending hashtags to see how and when you may artfully integrate them in to your own brand’s content for better chances at engaging consumer.
4. Use UGC as more than just a high five on social. Getting submissions from your fans has the opportunity to live in so many places beyond your social stream. According to Forbes, “When consumers are exposed to UGC in the ecommerce environment, it provides the social proof needed to engage longer.” Take those awesome fan pics and use them as content on your website, in email campaigns and in digital ads. Always adopt the 3 Rs of content and refresh, reuse and repurpose (especially if it’s highly visual and popular with your fans).
With a solid strategy in place and regular, high quality posts that give your fans a glimpse behind the curtain, the Instagram world is your proverbial oyster. Snap smart and we’ll see you on the flip side.
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