With an audience of over 1.16 billion people, Instagram offers important opportunities for brands – both thanks to the engaging and captivating formats available and thanks to the innovative forms of promotion, which have allowed the development of new marketing trends, including Influencer marketing. It is therefore not surprising that more and more companies have included Instagram in their communication strategies. In this article we offer you a complete overview of the major features of Instagram, strategies and useful tips to promote your brand effectively, as well as a preview of the upcoming news.
From October 2010 to today, Instagram has made great strides.
From a simple app for sharing instant photos, exclusively in 1:1 format and available only for IOS, in just 10 years it has become one of the most popular social media globally and a benchmark for brands, which are increasingly including it within their marketing and communication strategies. Translated into numbers, over a billion people use Instagram for an average of 30 minutes a day and around 90% of them follow at least one business account. The statistics from Hootsuite confirm the potential of Instagram.
However, if we want to perform in the best possible way, we cannot afford to leave the sharing of posts to chance, as if it was our personal profile: even if it is a social network, like all other platforms it requires a thought-out social media marketing strategy. In fact, as we have already seen when we talked about LinkedIN and Facebook for business, only if we have a strategic plan will we be able to achieve the set goals.
Now, let’s see what are the tools and features available on the platform in order to use Instagram effectively and efficiently.
Table of contents
Promoting a brand on Instagram: 6 things to do
1. Set up a business profile
After installing the app on our mobile phone and registering on the platform as a user, access the settings, select the item “switch to a professional account” and click on “company”. At this point we can start configuring our business account by choosing the name we want to give to our page, adding all the relevant information about the company to offer users an overview of our products and services, the contacts and the link to direct users to our corporate website.
Once the creation phase of our profile is finished, we can start to use and promote our business, first and foremost by publishing interesting and captivating content for our target, and then by interacting with other users, inviting them to follow our page, like our posts, and following in turn other pages similar to ours.
2. Publish quality content regularly
Instagram is the visual social media. The quality of the content is therefore very important to be able to get noticed and increase users’ interactions.
Let’s exploit all the formats available to create images – single photos or carousels – and short and engaging videos, such as stories and reels, to stimulate the attention of our audience.
As we have already said when talking about Facebook, always posting the same type of content will bore our audience. However, choosing a particular style, filter, colour palette or subject can help us leave a great first impression to those who land on our feed – let’s think, for example, of black and white feeds or minimalist architecture photographers.
Clearly, not all brands have products that allow you to play with a single combination of colour or photos that blend harmoniously together. For this reason, another way to give consistency to our feed stems from the continuity in the covered topics and in the graphics chosen to present them –two things that must always be consistent with our brand. In fact, a feed that is aesthetically beautiful but empty and useless content-wise will have little chance of success in the long run.
Therefore, when we talk about quality, we do not only mean the aesthetic and emotional one, but also (and above all) content quality: we should always strive to provide added value to our audience.
When it comes to consistency, it is advisable to choose the Tone of Voice that best reflects our brand and our communication strategy, to be adopted when we create captions, stories or reels, but also while interacting with other users.
Finally, another factor that we must take into consideration if we want to promote our business in an organic way is regularity in publishing content. If we want to retain our followers and encourage them to interact with our page, we must commit to publishing content frequently and on a regular basis. Remember, however, that between regularity of publication and quality there is a fine line: we do not have to post contents just to make up the numbers, but only when we believe that they are really useful for our audience.
For this reason, it is advisable to set up an editorial calendar through which to plan the content.
Use #hashtags wisely
Hashtags – a term used to indicate a label under which contents on a specific topic are grouped – represent one of the best ways to reach new potentially interested users and increase the number of our followers.
Each post we publish should come with a caption and hashtags related to our industry, in order to increase the possibility that our target will stumble upon our post.
Which and how many hashtags to use?
There are different types of hashtags and it is good to know the differences, so that you can use them correctly.
• Branded hashtags: personalized hashtags associated with the brand. For example, we use #eosmktg. Branded hashtags can be the name of the brand or we can give vent to our creativity to find one that can bring our community together.
• Hashtags related to products and services: keywords that describe our products or services. For instance, within our company we use #marketingagency or #graphicdesign, according to the topic.
• Community hashtags: on Instagram there are numerous communities. Find out which hashtags are mostly used so as to include them to increase the visibility of your brand. An example related to EOS’ business would be #marketinglovers.
• Niche hashtags: hashtags related to a specific sector or topic, which gather a smaller group than the most popular hashtags on the same topic, which often contain millions of posts. If #digitalmarketing is the most popular hashtag, #digital_marketing gathers less than 100,000 posts and could offer us greater visibility.
To answer the second part of the question, that is, how many hashtags to use, we recommend a maximum of 10-11 hashtags per post, mixing between popular and niche hashtags.
4. Configure Facebook Business Suite and Facebook Ads Manager
You did not read that wrong. Since September 2012, Instagram has been acquired by Zuckerberg and has joined the Facebook Inc. group, along with the instant messaging service WhatsApp. The two social networks, in addition to having the same owner in common, also share some features. Among these is Facebook Business Suite, a free management tool made available to marketers and professionals through which it is possible to organize, program, monitor all the activities of the company’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Business Suite is accessible from both mobile and desktop and allows, from a single platform, to create and publish posts, stories, read messages and comments, and monitor statistics.
Through Business Ads Manager, on the other hand, it is possible to set up advertising campaigns, create and save a specific audience to target our ads, monitor the ads and the related statistics in terms of coverage, interactions and shares. It is possible to choose whether to launch an advertising campaign only on one of the two social networks or on both at the same time.
Sometimes, creating an engaging and captivating Instagram profile is not enough to organically reach users who do not yet follow us but who may be interested in our products and services. To be able to reach new users we may decide to make some investments. This absolutely does not mean buying followers or relying on BOTs – two practices we don’t recommend at all – but investing in advertisement by choosing the format that best suits our needs within the wide range made available by Instagram, listed below.
Whatever format we choose to use, it is essential to target the audience to ensure that the campaign is viewed by the right audience and to avoid wasting part of the budget.
By creating an engaging image, we can highlight our brand or a specific product or service. We can choose both vertical and horizontal images and direct people to a website.
Videos can also have a big impact on users, thanks to the power offered by the combination of sound, images and motions. Videos can be in either landscape or square format and must have a maximum length of 120 seconds. However, to prevent the user from immediately switching to the next content, it is important to be able to capture his interest in the first few seconds.
Over 500 million accounts use stories every day, and around 4 million brands choose this format to promote their business, services and products. These numbers are justified by the fact that stories allow you to communicate in a creative and direct way, interacting and getting closer to consumers more easily. Furthermore, thanks to the vertical format, stories make the most of the screen of mobile devices, offering companies an immersive space with fewer distractions.
Each single story cannot exceed 15 seconds and can be linked to a specific scrolling CTA (for example swipe up).
Carousel ads allow brands to tell a longer story and thus highlighting a greater number of products or services in a single ad. In this type of ad, it is possible to use up to 10 images or videos (or a combination of both) that users will be able to view by scrolling to the right.
Furthermore, it is advisable to insert a CTA button that links directly to a website, landing page, the download page of a resource, etc.
This type of advertisement allows to combine up to four images within a single advertisement. In this way, we can visually inspire our audience by offering them an overview of our products.
This type of ad allows to reach users who browse the “Explore” section: the page that users view when they want to see posts related to their interests, but of accounts that they do not follow. This section is viewed by more than 50% of users each month.
In addition to the multiple formats available on Instagram, another strength of the social media owned by Zuckerberg is the ease and speed with which we can activate a sponsorship: we can transform any post previously published into an advertisement in a few clicks. This way we don’t have to create a new post from scratch nor to repost content that we had already published in the past.
6. Take advantage of influencer marketing
Instagram is the platform par excellence for influencers, users who have great popularity in real or virtual life and are recognized as an authoritative and expert source on a given topic. This makes them able to significantly influence the purchasing choices of other people through their social posts.
Precisely because of the strong power that Influencers have proven to have, affecting the visibility of a brand or product, one of the most successful strategies used by companies to promote their products and consolidate the brand is influencer marketing.
The influencer to collaborate with must be considered carefully: if we choose the wrong one, it could damage the image and reputation of our brand, rather than increasing sales or awareness. It is advisable to focus on influencers followed by users who may be interested in our products, who use a tone of voice in line with our brand and who are able to promote products in an authentic and creative way.
Discover all the secrets of influencer marketing here.
What’s new in 2021
How does the algorithm work in 2021?
The most important news launched by Instagram so far concerns the new ranking algorithm.
We are aware that algorithms change rapidly and that they often behave in mysterious ways. However, even partially understanding the logics behind it, allows us to adapt our strategy and improve performance.
The new Instagram algorithm is fundamentally based on our behaviours, giving priority to the contents and users with whom we engage more through likes, comments, follows, private messages and searches carried out in the internal search bar of the social media. So, what we see in the feed and in the stories and Reels sections depends on our behaviour. For instance, the more we like a certain type of post, the more often they will be shown to us in the feed; the more we interact with an account, the more we will see posts and stories of that specific account.
Getting our target to interact with us is essential if we want our content to be displayed in their feeds. Creativity and quality are watchwords to encourage users to interact with us.
Reels vs TikTok
In August 2020, Instagram launched a new format which gives a nod to TikTok: Reels. Since these short videos of up to 30 seconds were introduced, most users have “recycled” and re-shared on Instagram some of the content they had previously produced and published on TikTok.
In recent months, however, Instagram has declared war on videos that show the TikTok watermark. This choice will lead to a heavier workload for creators who will have to create ad hoc content for the two platforms.
Many projects to support brands
In 2020, Instagram launched Shop to support companies that were forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions. In this way they were able to continue to run their business and allow consumers to continue purchasing products with ease. Today, not only can brands take advantage of this immersive full-screen showcase, but they also have the ability to promote and tag their products on posts, IGTV and Stories. This will increase product visibility even further and allow users to shop even more easily and quickly by simply clicking directly on the posts within the feed. Soon, this feature will also be available within Reels.
Furthermore, if now users are redirected to the company’s e-commerce to finalize a purchase, in a few months it will be possible to check out and pay without never leaving the app. Users will only have to insert their credit card information on the platform, while brands will be asked for a fee on sales. This feature is currently only available in the US, but will be soon extended to other countries, as well.
Finally, Instagram lets us know that the team is working to introduce advertisements in IGTVs and therefore offer brands new advertising formats to exploit.
Which platform do you use to promote your company? Have you already implemented Instagram in your social media marketing strategy? Tell us about your experience in the comments and contact us for tips and best practices to better promote yourself on social networks.