Content Marketing Blog

How to market your business on Instagram

Gone are the days where print and radio were the be all and end all of marketing opportunities. Now, we live in a world where digital rules, and as a result, social media has become one of the best platforms to market your business.

As you’ve probably guessed from the title, we’re not talking Facebook or Twitter – we’re talking all things Instagram. As a platform so widely used by younger members, (34 per cent of users are millennials, Civic Science data published on eMarketer) more and more businesses are signing up to market their services to a younger demographic.

So, it’s time to get down with the kids and find out how you too can successfully market your business on Instagram.

1. Know your audience

By getting to know your audience better, you’re able to serve them better. Simple. But how do you come to understand the ins and outs of your target audience? While speed dating and walks along the beach may suit first-time daters, for businesses looking to market a product or service, there are plenty of free Instagram analytics tools that eliminate any red faces and awkward silences. Better yet, they work exceptionally well.

Understanding your audience is the perfect way to appeal to their best interests

Instagram Insights is a free analytics tool offered by Instagram, which happens to be one of the most popular and most effective. This tool lets you learn more about your followers and how your content is performing. The three main insights business profiles can see are:

  1. Audience: This section lets you find out more about your potential customers, such as their age range, gender and location.
  2. Activity: This insight measures the actions on your profile, including interactions (such as website clicks and profile visits), over a certain length of time.
  3. Content: This section reveals how many people have seen your content and where they have found it. More specifically, data relating to your posts, stories and promotions, This includes reach, which is the number of unique accounts that have seen your content, and impressions, which relates to the number of times your posts have been seen.

Instagram Insights can be accessed through your business profile app – not your personal account – but currently this tool is only available to business accounts with high levels of engagement on Instagram. However, once your business account is in full swing, you’ll be able to compare content, measure campaigns and create tailor-made content for your target audience/followers.

2. Use relevant hashtags

Hashtags are everywhere – and rightly so. Without these clickable words, Instagram users wouldn’t be able to find images or content relating to their individual preferences. Hashtags basically work as Instagram’s sorting system. As an estimated 95 million images are posted daily (Instagram press release data published on Reuters), this social platform needs some assistance in organising and categorising content so the right people see the right posts.

In 2018, HubSpot named the top hashtags for the year as:

  1. #love
  2. #instagood
  3. #me
  4. #cute
  5. #tbt
  6. #photooftheday
  7. #instamood
  8. #iphonesia
  9. #food
  10. #motivation

This list shows the diversity of hashtags, but in the business sense, it doesn’t mean you get away with sticking a few of these top contenders under your post in the hopes of gaining more interaction. Since they are so popular, it likely means your post will go unnoticed in a sea of other users looking to do the same thing.

Trying to rank using popular hashtags alone is like finding a needle in a haystack

This is where using relevant hashtags come in. These are a lot more specific and tailored to your product/service and overall industry. They help attract the ideal audience to your content, rather than every Tom, Dick and Harry who are highly unlikely to convert into a customer.

Did you know that seven out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded? This snippet of information from Sprout Social tells us that if your business isn’t already reaping the rewards of Instagram, other companies are – and your competitors are likely among them.

Did you know that 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded?<br />

When looking for the best and most relevant hashtags for your business, start by conducting research into what your competitors are hashtagging. This is an easy (and smart) way to find out what attracts the right people. Similarly, check out what influencers in your niche are hashtagging. These people often have large followings which means they have done something right!

As part of your wider social media and marketing strategy, you’ll need to stay on top of everything that’s trending in your industry. Adding hashtags that aline with trending topics is a great way to stay current and reach people that are interested in the subject.

In 2018, the top trending hashtags were:

  1. #life
  2. #travel
  3. #fitness
  4. #repost
  5. #igers
  6. #instadaily
  7. #followforfollow
  8. #likeforlike
  9. #nofilter
  10. #ootd

These hashtags can change at any given time, so it’s important to adapt and adjust accordingly.

There are plenty of tools that show which hashtags are trending in your industry. Take hashtagify.me for example. This online tool lets users type in any hashtag, and hashtagify.me shows its popularity, correlations and trends recently, in the past week, and even the past month. Members can even gain and monitor insights that extend as far as finding the best time to post and which influencers are best to reach out to.

Online tools give insight into trending hashtags and the best time to post content.

Using relevant hashtags ties in with targeting, understanding and serving your audience better, but there are a few things to remember before pressing the hashtag button…

Hashtagging best practices

  • Don’t overdo it: 30 is the maximum number of hashtags that can be used on one single Instagram post. However, in this case, the phrase ‘the more, the merrier’ couldn’t be further from the truth. Businesses are recommended to experiment with various amounts and then optimise future posts based on which combination works for them. Some people may end up using all 30, while others may work better with five to 10.
  • Organise your hashtags: Making a record of the hashtags you’ve used in an Excel sheet is an easy and effective way to discover which ones correlate to your most popular posts. Over time, you’ll discover the hashtags that work best for you, and allow you to eliminate any with little relevance.
  • Follow your own hashtag: Whether you create a branded hashtag or use one relating specifically to your brand, always follow it yourself. This way you’ll be able to see every user who has used your hashtag. You’ll then be able to engage and connect with them, allowing you to form better relationships.

3. Create a winning profile

A strong and complete Instagram profile is a key step in marketing your business on this popular social media platform. But what are the ingredients needed to create a winning profile?

  1. Snappy bio

The 150-character limit of your business Instagram bio acts as your elevator pitch to everyone that passes through your profile. Within this space try and include your USP or a captivating summary of what you do. This will easily let users know what you’re about and what they can expect from your brand.

  1. Clickable links

Within the bio section, there’s the option to add links. Unfortunately, many businesses often reserve this for their home page only. Instead, switching this link for events, competitions or different landing pages gives you scope to drive registrations, encourage conversions and even increase purchases.

  1. Themed images

Finding and sticking to a theme is crucial for any Instagram business user. This social media platform has a firm focus on imagery so using cohesive, clean and captivating pictures is key for standing out in the best way. With endless images posted each and every day, you need to give users something to stop scrolling for.

Finding and sticking to your own theme helps users recognise you when scrolling through Instagram.

Case study

Fyre Festival

Set on a private island in the Bahamas (once owned by Pablo Escobar, allegedly), Fyre Festival promised a three-day party like no other. Picture great music, immersive experiences, tropical surroundings, mingling celebrities – you name it, Fyre Festival had it.

Well, that’s what attendees thought. Instead, unlucky festival-goers paid in excess of AU$35,000 to witness the biggest festival flop in history.

“If it was so unsuccessful, why on earth are you featuring it as a case study?”

Despite its many flaws, Fyre Festival pulled off one of the most genius Instagram marketing strategies of the year.

So how did they do it and what can we learn from their mistakes?

The orange tile

Did you see them? In the run up to the festival, the marketing team hired by Fyre paid 400 influencers to post an orange tile to their individual Instagram feeds with the hashtag #fyrefestival. Post-ees included supermodels such as Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid.

Miss Jenner herself boasts a following in excess of 100 million, so you can imagine the curiosity that was ignited in her digilent followers. After the initial orange tile reveal, people were hungry to learn more about what this elusive fyre festival meant and why so many celebrities were getting involved. The marketing team proved that even the simplest of concepts has the capacity to ignite momentous popularity on social media.

Fyre Festival proved that little can certainly go a long way.

Working with influencers

They’re called influencers for a reason. This group of people have the following and credibility to ‘influence’ others through their authenticity and trustworthiness. As noted, Fyre Festival had the capital to onboard some of the world’s biggest (and most expensive) influencers to promote their product/service.

Having the backing from recognised people is a sure-fyre way to grab your audience’s attention. And yes, this technique is still applicable for small/medium businesses. Using micro-influencers related to your industry can help drum up engagements and will cost you a fraction of the price compared to a flock of Victoria’s Secret models.

Demand for desire

Fyre Festival turned the traditional festival stereotype on its head by removing all mentions of wellington boots, mud and cramped conditions. Instead they introduced sun, sea, sand and luxury around every corner.

They stepped inside their target audience’s shoes to think about their innermost desires, and tried their best to replicate it in real life. In order to turn a prospect into a customer, marketers must understand their pain points and desires. Whether they want luxury on a tropical island or a product that improves their lives, highlighting the benefits that speak to their desires is essential.

Fyre Festival had many of the vital ingredients needed to create something spectacular. Instead, their promises turned to mush, which can teach us a thing or two about their failings:

  • Always deliver on your promises. No good ever comes from misleading potential customers. Be true and honest through all stages of the cycle.
  • If you’ve paid an influencer to promote/advertise your product/service, always ensure they adhere to Australian Consumer Law. Failure to display that the post is sponsored can result in hefty fines for all involved parties.
  • Respond to followers. Whether questions or complaints, always reply to those commenting to resolve any issues and maintain engagement. This is something Fyre Festival failed to do, which led to disgruntled and confused customers.

Marketing your business on Instagram is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reach a broader audience who have interests in your industry. It’s just one of many social media platforms that allow you to do grow and strive in this dominant sector.

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Martha Brooke
Martha Brooke About the author