In the social media world, Facebook may still be king but Instagram is gaining steadily gaining on the social media giant.
According to a statistics report from Sprout Social, Instagram has one billion active monthly users, with 500 million checking the platform daily and 25 million business owned accounts. What is even more surprising is that 80% of Instagram users follow at least one brand, and 200 million of them actively check out business accounts on a daily basis.
Clearly, Instagram is an incredibly important channel for businesses of all sizes and industries to utilize. What is truly unique about Instagram is the fact that it can be used for multiple types of customer interactions along the buyer’s journey.
Customers can search brands during the research process or be introduced based on a targeted ad. Businesses can use it to sell products, promote special deals, and reach wider audiences, while customers can use the platform to communicate directly with brands.
However, given the fact that so many businesses are using Instagram already, there is little room for error. You want to make sure that your company is taking full advantage of this social media platform in order to grow brand awareness and cultivate more leads. So, what are the most effective strategies to capitalize on? Let’s dive in.
1. Share customer success stories to build communities
Social media is all about building connections – many of us use it to stay connected with friends and family across the world or to join groups with people who share similar interests. People tend to connect for a specific purpose, so brands need to be mindful and give their audience a real reason to follow them on Instagram.
One of the reasons why people feel emotionally connected to a brand is because there is a sense of community surrounding the company. When people recognize that a business cares about people “like them” and shares similar values, they will be more likely to follow and engage.
User generated content (UGC) is one of the best ways to show customers that your audience truly is a community – and specifically one that actually matters to your brand.Furthermore, “real” content resonates far better with audiences. According to a report from Stackla, 86% of consumers agreed that authenticity was a key deciding factor in their purchasing decision and 60% found UGC to be the most authentic form of content that a business can use.
Try to share genuine customer stories as much as possible for authentic and powerful UGC. This type of social marketing is really popular for goods and services that offer visible results.
For example, many companies that sell online workout courses benefit greatly from sharing progress photos or videos of customers doing a workout on their Instagram pages. Kayla Itsines’s page promoting her BBG fitness program focuses mainly on sharing UGC before and after photos of her clients.
This helps to build a community of followers encouraging and motivating each other, while also using genuine content to build trust with new customers.
2. Utilize influencers – but be careful who you choose
Obviously, influencer marketing is incredibly popular, but is it really as effective as we think?
Big name accounts are charging thousands of dollars for a single post, which can really cut into return rates whereas micro-influencers tend to charge just a few hundred. Research has also shown that these smaller accounts actually have far higher returns in terms of likes, comments, and views.
The key reason behind this is the relevancy of the audience. Accounts with lots of followers will reach a far wider audience – but the majority of them may not be interested in your product or service. However, by working with smaller accounts that are more focused on specific niche communities, you will likely have a more focused audience to speak to.
Be sure that you are doing thorough audience research when you are looking for influencers to partner with.Remember too that you are working with an influencer – they are not just an advertising outlet. They have their own voice and brand, plus they know their audience quite well. You may want to give them a little bit of creative freedom when it comes to creating the promotional content so that it fits with their aesthetic and comes off as truly genuine to their audience.
3. Get your audience talking
Many customers now use social media to speak directly to brands – but not always for the best reasons. Some use it to complain about a negative experience. Obviously, these are not the kinds of online mentions that you want to see (or want other customers to see for that matter).
Instead, you can take control of the conversation by using some of the latest Instagram features to interact with your audience and gather some insight into their preferences, ideas, and questions. These tools are added to 24-hour long stories, a feature that is extremely popular and engaging with Instagram users.
Some of these tools, such as the poll, questions, and quiz features, can actually help you get to know your audience and start up interesting conversations.
For example, you can see how Imperfect Produce used several of these features to share some interesting information and gather insightful feedback from their audience to inspire new content.
4. Make your posts buyable
More and more consumers are using social platforms to discover new brands and products. Thankfully, Instagram is now making it easier than ever for your audience to buy directly from a post. Thanks to their newest feature, you can now embed links and price tags directly on a post that will prompt customers to the product page for a quick checkout.
This gives your brand a lot of creative freedom to build interesting ads that can inspire impulse buying decisions. You can also use these embedded pins in both your permanent posts as well as on your 24-hour stories.
Visual posts and videos are great for highly curated content that is visually appealing, whereas your Instagram stories are better for showing how the products look in real life, as you can see from Aerie’s buyable posts.
Instagram is clearly playing a more significant role in social media, especially in the way that businesses are using it to connect with customers. It is interesting to note here that most of the strategies used on this platform are not directly promotional.
Instagram is far better used to build communities and awareness, but some of its newer features can certainly help to boost conversions, too. The key here is to keep focus on your customers. Be genuine and authentic and encourage them to engage with your brand directly to build meaningful relationships and positive sentiment.