October 6th of this year will mark Instagrams 10th birthday. Don’t they grow up so fast?
In the last year, changes to Instagrams algorithms have made the platform increasingly business-friendly; new features include IGTV, a ton of new advertising options, and the full expansion of shoppable posts.
The great thing for us mere scrollers is that we are accessing increasingly better content. Brands are forever raising the bar to keep up with the new business opportunities associated with Instagram, and users are reaping the benefits.
We’ve been sifting through our favourite feeds to give you a breakdown of 5 strategies being used by brands that are taking Insta by a storm.
Let’s dive straight in.
The visual platform is fast becoming a staple to any brand’s marketing strategy.
Instagram is the perfect platform on which to develop an aesthetic and for all you creatives, it’s party time. IG feeds allow you to project the intention of your brand through visuals.
A great example of this is Glossier.
Millennial pink? @Glossier.
Designed perfectly for visual marketing, the Instagram feed is the ideal place for their pastel-coloured products. Glossier boasts being a new approach to beauty and sells uncomplicated, natural makeup and skincare.
Nothing says peace & love like pale pink!
The visual storefront offered by Instagram is also used by brands to give insight, as well as aesthetic.
Lululemon, for example, is a workout apparel company whose feed is focussed on motivating people to join a community of runners, players, yogis and gym bunnies (who all wear Lululemon products, obviously).
The strategy works on the assumption that yes, flat-lays of their activewear would give people a basic understanding of what the brand is and sells but sharing images of people on-the-go and in the clothes is far more effective.
The more people who work out, the more people who will need Lululemon products; logical conclusion - inspire people to workout.
We can’t stress enough the importance of the creative. Above all, Instagram is a visual platform, so you have to market accordingly.
We’ve seen a lot of success from brand’s who have taken a leaf out of @lululemon’s book. There’s a lot to be said for marketing the solutions you provide, rather than the products you sell… and looking pretty while doing it.
The @gopro IG account exhibits images and videos taken on GoPro’s, many taken by users, and works to show their audience how they could use a GoPro in their life, ultimately generating sales.
Posts with user-generated content have a 4.5% higher conversion rate than non-UGC posts.
And GoPro has taken this one step further by opening regional handles which feature localised user-generated content; a move that increased their follower base to just short of 15 million and won them the 2018 Shorty Award for Best Instagram Presence.
GoPro has combined innovative creative direction with an efficient reach of its target audience - the other key to success.
@Beardbrand target urban men with beards and they do a great job. Using a visual platform like Instagram allows you to, literally, change the way your brand (or your target audience) is viewed.
Beard brand’s feed uses professional shots of stylish men rocking well-kept beards, alongside artsy shots of their products.
This side by side is extremely effective in identifying a certain type of man with their products, hence they are so successful in reaching their target audience.
Potentially one of the greatest benefits of Instagrams for businesses is the number of people who use the platform. You’re unlikely to meet someone who doesn’t have an Instagram account, so if your target audience is a little niche - Instagram is the place for you.
Beard Brand’s Instagram works almost exclusively to convert followers into email subscribers and frequently posts about one-off content available only in their newsletters. Using this strategy, they boast a 46.6% open and a 13% click-through rate.
While visuals and creative are a major key to the success of your IG marketing, we can’t dismiss the importance of a solid caption.
Hashtags expand the reach of your post based on relevance.
Each hashtag will categorise your post with the intent of making it more ‘discoverable’, so if users search a word or phrase they will be met with a catalogue of posts that use the corresponding hashtag.
Though the limit for hashtags is 30 per post, it’s best practice to use between 3 and 5. Posts that use even one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts using none. So it’s a useful technique for growing your account.
It’s worth doing your research since different types of hashtags are used for different reasons.
Brand Hashtags - these hashtags relate to your brand and will make you identifiable to searchers e.g. Kitkat - #haveabreak
Content Hashtags - these are used for directly engaging with a target audience e.g. if you are a boutique plant company wanting to boost awareness you would accompany your post with #plants #houseplants #greenfingers
Trending Hashtags - these are the hashtags that go totally viral with no evidence of their creators… well done whoever you are!
Hashtags are a great way to target a specific audience, but also a great way to grow a community. This leads us nicely onto our fifth and final observation around successful Instagram marketing.
Good community management can be boiled down to three key elements: consistency, relatability, and voice.
IG accounts that evidence a solid community are those which respond to each comment, message, photo tag, and communicate with their followers regularly. They embody the personality and voice of their followers.
Your vibe attracts your tribe, after all.
We think the best examples of community management are seen when Instagram is used for social good, whether that’s promoting self-worth like @soworthloving or sustainable fashion like @wearehudredclub.
A personal favourite of ours is @thetravellingmrfox, a feed that follows the adventures of a 32-year-old stuffed fox who travels the world to raise money for an old friend who’s battling cancer. The story has touched thousands of people and exemplifies the best kind of effective community management on Instagram.
The growth of Instagram is set to continue into the new decade and we hope this has given you an insight into how brands are using Instagram so successfully.
There’s tons of inspiration out there, so go on… have a little scroll.