The easy answer to this question: you need to be where your customers are. As a brand, you can get everything right in your marketing strategy, and this still won’t matter at all if you have no (potential) customers around to see it.
The Data Doesn’t Lie
Mobile media consumption continues to rise and entangle itself more and more into the everyday lives of consumers. In fact, according to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Trends, 78% of consumers in developed markets and 93% in emerging markets all check their phones within an hour of waking up. And throughout the day, they can’t get enough of this screen time: returning to check their phones up to 100 times within those short 24 hours. Can you guess what they’re up to on their smartphones? After checking their instant messages and emails, people head straight to their social media networks.
There are a lot of different networks out there, mainly Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or even Pinterest. But, when you compare Instagram to other social networks, it stands out immensely. Facebook may have the large audiences, but the engagement level on the platform, and on Twitter for that matter is scarce. Instagram on the other hand, takes the crown for highest engagement overall, by far. This is especially important if your brand is trying to benefit from all the good that social media has to offer. You’re not going to generate leads and conversions if you’re just mindlessly posting. You need to create a two-way conversation with the audience.. and this audience just happens to be living and communicating on Instagram.
Your Customers Want to See You, The Real You!
One of the first things Instagram does for your business is increase your brand awareness in a very human way. The more conscious customer has been rising for a few years now, with consumers becoming increasingly aware and concerned with how their shopping habits can have an impact on the wider society. This change in their consumer behavior and purchasing decisions calls for a shift in marketing strategies. Brands now have the job of making sure that consumers like them and trust them. You’ve got to be on the good side of your customers, and Instagram’s highly visual content gives brands the opportunity to present themselves in ways they otherwise would not in other marketing channels. Instagram can be used to position the brand as not just another cold company concerned with the bottom line, but as an entity that is transparent in its practices and invites consumers into their world using their feed.
This whole thing about transparency doesn’t stop at just posting special content and sharing more with the audience. Even Instagram has noticed that consumers want more transparency from companies and users on the platform. They’ve recently announced the new “Paid partnership with” tool that you’re likely to see pop up very soon in your feed. This allows influencers to easily show what brands they are working within their posts, telling their followers exactly when a post is either organic or paid. This is just another step forward in making it easier for consumers to be able to tell what’s a paid collaboration and what’s not. And if you’re a brand using Instagram, being transparent is exactly what you want to be.
So how do you go about it? Well, Instagram is a powerful customer branding tool and a platform that a business can use to build their personality. So go on and show the consumers exactly who you are! Post cool behind the scenes visuals showing the consumers how work goes on in your workplace, and give them the chance to get to know the staff and the people behind the brand. Consumers are increasingly skeptical towards brands and opt to follow ones that no longer are trying to present themselves as the picture of perfection. Instead, they want to see a group of people just like them who are simply authentic and not afraid to show some flaws. Your current followers chose you for a reason, they want to get to know the brand on a deeper level, so don’t be afraid to take them there.
As for new people discovering your brand, this is also another benefit Instagram has over other social networks. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn or Snapchat where people primarily engage with people they know or are connected to, Instagram is more about social discovery from accounts they don’t know. If your hashtag strategy is good, then your posts get to be discovered by people who are actually interested in whatever it is you are offering. And if you have an entertaining and personality-filled feed, you’ve got yourself a follower!
The Content is Endless
Saying that people are fans of visual content is quite an understatement. Especially with how easy it has become to take high-quality photos with just a smartphone, the amount of pictures that people take and share on a regular is insane. Can you imagine that there has already been over 40 billion photos and videos shared on Instagram since it was developed in 2010? Yep, we’re not kidding.
Today’s consumers enjoy capturing snippets of their lives and sharing it: what they’re eating, what they’re wearing, where they’re at and what brands they’re feeling at that moment. This sharing behavior is a goldmine for your brand for a few reasons. One, you now have easy access to an unlimited supply of content that you can put to use. User-generated content takes some of the pressure off of you when it comes to thinking up and creating content. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to cultivate a good relationship with your consumers. What customer wouldn’t feel special if a brand they love reposts their picture or leaves a really nice comment on their post?
You can even take it one step further if you decide to ask for permission to use the posts. When an Instagram user posts using your hashtag, most brands assume that this implies that permission is granted for the brand to use their content, as long as the photo is credited. But to be on the safe (and legal) side, we would recommend taking that extra step to ask for permission to post it. If you DM a customer, for instance, to ask to use their picture, this makes you even more human and authentic to them, and already puts your foot in the door for a conversation. You can take the opportunity to generate some new leads, give them a special offer in exchange for the permissions, or get some insights on how they use the product. Just like that.
Second, user-generated content acts as free advertising for your business. These posts act as social proof for other consumers to see exactly how other people use the products or services you offer. In other words, incorporating UGC into your feed makes it possible for users to see your product in action and inspire them to envision how it can actually show up and be useful in their everyday life. Getting these real-life stories into your Instagram feed is a must, especially since Millennials trust UGC up to 50% more than any other type of media. It influences their purchasing behavior and is more memorable for them in comparison to traditional branded media. And Instagram just happens to go hand in hand with user-generated content, just another reason why it’s an invaluable tool for your business.
Instagram Can Up Your Social Advertising Game
Instagram was bought by Facebook back in 2012, making it possible for you to create and manage advertisements on both platforms from just one ad manager. So if you’re already familiar with Facebook Advertising, adding Instagram to the mix should be a piece of cake. Besides, with over 400 million people opening their Instagram apps every single day, advertising on the platform is definitely something to look into if you’re trying to increase your brand awareness or inspire some action. A good organic strategy is a must and will pay off for you, but we do understand that there are instances where you would like to see the results roll in a bit faster. And that’s exactly where advertising on Instagram can help you.
You can choose between photo ads, video ads or carousels which appear pretty much just like an organic post on a user’s feed, except with added call-to-action links. Not to be forgotten is Instagram Stories which has now also been added to your advertisement placement options in March. This is yet another way for you to reach the people you want to. More than 250 million Instagram users are watching Stories every day, and since they only last up to 15 seconds, you know that they are completely focusing on the content they’re being exposed to. Hello increased brand recall!
Looking for some solid tips and trying to learn how to get the most out of your Instagram advertising? Check out our previous blog right here.
So there you have it. Instagram isn’t only an awesome way to increase your brand awareness, share your content and communicate with your followers. It’s also one of the biggest channels right now for brands to use to build their business. Instagram makes it possible for brands to be present on the most engaging social network out there and connect with customers in a personal manner (an absolute must in converting sales among today’s skeptic consumer). On top of that, it lets brands tap into limitless content opportunities once users are posting their own user-generated content about the brand. And not to be forgotten is the advertising opportunity. If you’re already killing it on Facebook, Instagram can just be the tool you need to take your advertising to the next level. So if your business is not already using Instagram, what are you still waiting for?
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