5 Steps to a Successful Social Strategy for Instagram

More and more businesses are realizing the importance of incorporating social media into their daily marketing activities. Although Facebook and Twitter have become regular fixtures in the average company’s social media strategy, not as many businesses have recognized the potential of Instagram as a platform for increasing brand awareness and fostering customer engagement. The image-heavy nature of Instagram calls for a unique strategic approach, but when done correctly, it can add an entirely new dimension of creativity and authenticity to the social profile of your brand. With more than 200 million monthly active users, Instagram is a veritable gold mine for businesses that are looking to connect with their customers in a fun and meaningful way.

As a business, your strategy for Instagram must necessarily differ from that of Facebook or Twitter. While Instagram can definitely enhance your ROI, the payoff may not be immediately returned to you in physical dollars; instead, the platform will do more towards building brand reputation and awareness, which will ultimately make a positive impact on your bottom line. So what does a social strategy for Instagram look like? Below are five key steps to take as you build out your strategy for this popular platform.

1. Choose a General Theme for the Majority of Your Images

When you study the Instagram accounts of some of the world’s biggest brands, they typically have a consistent overall theme of some kind. If you look on Sony’s Instagram account, you’ll see several pictures of their products in real-world settings (on a desk, in a photographer’s studio, in a living room, etc.). Coca-Cola’s Instagram account features the ubiquitous soft drink in several settings that evoke feelings of comfort and happiness. Nike typically features photos of athletes engaging in the daily grind of training and practice. Each of these companies have tapped into an overarching theme that builds the strength of their brand. Give some serious thought as to what you want your brand to be known for, and find a way to take photos that visually represent the essence of that theme. This is not to say that you can never post images that deviate from your main theme (almost all companies do this as well), but this should be the exception rather than the rule.

2. Become Fully Versed in the Mechanics of Using Instagram

As with every other social media platform, Instagram has its own set of functions that you will need to become familiar with. Similar to Twitter, you can hashtag different terms on your Instagram photos. Make good use of the hashtagging feature, but don’t overdo it. Anything more than three or four hashtags per photo can appear “spammy” or desperate. Also take some time to familiarize yourself with the different filters you can apply to your photos. Some of the most popular Instagram filters include Earlybird, Amaro and Valencia, each of which alters the various properties of the photo to give it a distinct feel (vintage, warm, airy, etc.). In addition, learn the other essential Instagram basics such as liking (or double-tapping) photos, posting comments and following other Instagram accounts.

3. Determine Your Post Frequency

True to the laid back vibe of Instagram, posting every single day is not required, nor is it really even expected. Three to five times a week is a sufficient post frequency to keep your account looking lively without stepping into overkill territory. But don’t tlet the laid back vibe make you lazy – still develop a posting schedule, and check your account daily for any “chatter” that may develop around your photos. Always engage with your followers when you see that they are gravitating towards one of your posts.

And speaking of followers…

4. Pay Attention to Who is Following You

Although Instagram is quite different from Facebook and Twitter, it’s still a social networking site at its core. This means that you should pay close attention to who follows you, and be sure to encourage them to share your photos and your Instagram page. Follow your followers as well; let them know that you value their loyalty. Don’t be afraid to re-post some of their photos to share with your audience; just be sure that you select images that are not too personal or controversial.

You can also reward your followers by offering them various discounts or promotional codes when they post images relative to your business on their accounts. This could be a photo of someone using or posing with your product, etc. Instruct them to use a specific hashtag in order to be featured on your Instagram feed. Small gestures like these can go a long way in terms of increasing customer engagement and loyalty.

5. Familiarize Yourself with the Instagram for Business Blog

The Instagram for Business Blog is a fantastic resource to help you learn all of the different ways in which you can use Instagram to further your marketing efforts. This one-stop shop features tips, how-tos, news, brand spotlights and much more to help you stay up to date on the best ways to leverage the Instagram platform for business success. Make sure to subscribe to their feed, and make it a regular practice to check up on the latest updates from Instagram HQ.

All of the above tips can help you develop a solid social marketing strategy using the Instagram platform. Put them to use, don’t be afraid to experiment and always remember to have fun!

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