In case you missed it, Instagram has become one of the most vital methods for modern brands to interact with their communities, and potential additions to them. With 500 million monthly users (300 million of them daily users), a relatively authentic brand-to-user experience, and a streamlined call-to-action system, Instagram is no longer an option for brands – it’s an absolute necessity. According to an Iconosquare study in 2015, 70% of users actively look up brands on Instagram, and 62% of those users will gladly follow a brand if the content is attractive. According to Instagram’s user numbers, that’s 350 million users actively searching for brands on Instagram – can your brand afford to not be involved in the process?
Despite Instagram’s growing importance, a majority of established brands continue to flounder on the platform, often performing a visibly awkward dance between traditional advertising and blurry Google Images. There are, of course, a host of companies that are absolutely revolutionizing the platform and its capabilities – so we studied what said brands are up to, and broke it down for you here. You’re welcome :)
Post Original Content
Despite what many brands apparently think, there is no need for another Google Image Aggregator disguised as a brand on Instagram. The idea that having an Instagram account with regular activity will help your business is missing the actual meat of the equation: the content that is regularly shared must be original and interesting. Do you need to hire Terry Richardson to do your office portraits? Absolutely not (would be interesting though). You do, however, have to find a way to add valuable content to the conversation on the platform, even if that value is simply causing a user to smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside for a fleeting moment before scrolling on. Take stylish photos of the office dog wearing your tie with your iPhone, borrow a friend’s camera and perform short interviews with your team’s executives, share new company news with visual cues instead of a boring press release, feature your clients’ amazing work, or gather funny, inspirational, and advice-driven quotes from your co-workers; whatever you do, do not Google “Hawaii beach vacation” and post the first three photos to your law practice’s Instagram account. Don’t do it. Just don’t.
Build a Tribe
The reason that Instagram is called a social network, not an advertising funnel or a digital billboard, is because a main activity included in the process is interaction, even (read: especially) for brands. The only successful brands on Instagram that do not interact with, engage, and appreciate their users are celebrity accounts; so if you’re reading this, Kim K, you can skip this point. For the rest of us little people, it is extremely important to work to build a ‘tribe’ of highly-engaged, loyal followers who regularly engage with and share your content. In many industries, your tribe can also help you with point number one by tagging and submitting original content using your products or services – look at that, bullet-point synergy! Your tribe appreciates replies to comments, authentic interaction on their own photos, and of course, contests and give-aways. Keep in mind that your community doesn’t have to be made up of solely humans, partner brands and fellow small businesses make for great team members in the fight for online relevance.
Create a Consistent Style
As much as everyone loves the ship chef’s infamous everything stew, hodgepodges are rarely good for business, and never easy on the eye. Choose a select few filters, if you must use them at all, and stick to those few exclusively. Try to maintain a color palette that matches your brand: faded and cool-toned or bright and vibrant. Modern brands are constantly coming up with new ways to style their feeds in interesting ways, whether it’s creating patterns of black-and-white photos mixed into the colored ones, or adding a consistent border around each photo; do some research and find a style that works for your company. Breaking out of the norm for a special shot isn’t against the rules, but overall your audience will appreciate the strong branding that arises from a consistent style.
Remember that, like everything online, Instagram’s best practices are constantly evolving as creative companies find new ways to engage their audiences. Time spent on the platform shouldn’t be wasted scrolling through friend’s cat pictures, but instead pay close attention to brands in your space that boast high followings and active engagement, and follow Instagram’s business blog for helpful tips. Lastly, if all of this just seems like way too much work, and you’d like to focus on other aspects of building your business, contact us at A Design Partnership to chat about our social services, so that we can come in and help you build an online brand that matches the hard work you put in offline. Cheers.