The amount of social media channels you ‘should’ be promoting your business on can be overwhelming. There are mixed views on the value of Instagram and even though many marketers enjoy it on a personal level, they don’t feel it is a useful platform for growing their business. I would argue that these brands aren’t using it effectively and as a result their accounts fall flat. The good news is there are many ways to maximise the potential of Instagram whether you’re a small company or a global brand.
It’s obvious when companies are on Instagram just to have a presence. The most common feedback I hear from companies is that it isn’t a useful platform for them as they don’t have the visuals that say, a tourist board or surf brand does. Some of the brands that are really nailing it on Instagram don’t fall into these categories and in fact aren’t companies you would expect. A couple that come to mind are the Australian accounts of certain charities or sparkling water brands.
So how are they doing it?
Firstly, they are showing some personality – many brands are risk averse when it comes to their Instagram account and so they come across as sterile. Instagram isn’t a place to repost promotional website or brochure images.
Effective brands also post regularly. This can be said for most social media channels and it’s just as true for Instagram. Tourism Australia is an Instagram superstar but they’ve posted 6,000 times to help gain their two million followers.
If you can’t imagine creating that much content, remember you don’t need to do it all yourself. One of the ways Tourism Australia has grown their following that all brands can make use of is user-generated content.
In simple terms, finding great photos that have relevance to your brand and reposting giving the creator image credit. This can really help build your online community and it has the snowball effect of encouraging people to tag you in their photos in the hope they’ll be featured. A key point here is to repost the images manually rather than use ‘regram’ apps, which enable the sharing of another users image automatically on your account. Although it’s simple, the watermark that appears on the reposted photo will detract from the beauty of the original image.
One of the reasons Instagram remains so popular is it’s an outlet for creativity. When it comes to businesses and building engagement though it’s best to steer clear of anything too arty or obscure. The most effective photos for business accounts are clear, high-resolution and not filtered. People should also be able to quickly understand what’s happening without having to stop scrolling to read the caption.
So I have pretty images, what then?
There is value in using Instagram solely as an awareness tool but businesses that are using it effectively are doing more than just getting a double-tap from their followers. To really leverage the potential you should also be thinking about the back-end strategy. Not many brands are currently tracking click-throughs and directing this traffic to meet business objectives such as newsletter signup or even to make purchases.
But hasn’t Instagram usage peaked?
Not even close. People keep coming back to Instagram as it’s the cleanest and simplest platform. Globally it has 400 million users and these figures are still growing. It has almost doubled its reach in Australia in the last three years and I believe it will continue to grow as its usage and content strategies evolve and it reaches demographics and regions it has not even touched yet.
About the author
Andrew Green is the founder of Konichigram, a marketing agency that focuses solely on making Instagram work for businesses and brands. Andrew is currently a student at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership.