Not only is Instagram the fastest growing platform in Australia, but its visual, easy-to-use structure means it’s the perfect advertising and engagement channel for brands.
For those who use Instagram regularly, it’s difficult to believe it only launched seven years ago, so quickly has it become a means to follow the visual journey of friends and the greater tribe. It’s no surprise that with the ease with which we can adopt it, learn to use it and effortlessly share something in seconds, it has grown to a phenomenal 5,000,000 monthly active Australian users.
While Instagram may not have the membership of Facebook, research by Forrester – which studied more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks – found that brand engagement per post was 4.21 per cent on Instagram, as opposed to 0.07 per cent on Facebook and 0.03 per cent on Twitter. That means Instagram delivered 58 times more brand engagement than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
Below are five ways to drive engagement with Instagram.
As the popularity of YouTube attests, videos are great for engagement, especially when it comes to educating or entertaining your customers. Also growing in popularity are behind the scenes videos – as the expectation for company transparency increases, what better way to engage with customers than to offer them a visually enticing snippet of your processes – this is how we cook, this is who makes your clothes, this is what we do to get our ideas…If you want to tell a long story in a short space of time, check out the independent app Hyperlapse, which shows up to 45 minutes of footage at 12x playback speed. The advantage of a short video in Instagram over other platforms such as YouTube is that it’s there, in the feed, and only requires a tap to access.
Share user-generated content
It’s the tribe mentality – we are more likely to buy products that others have purchased and are loving. People also like to see products in real life, whether it’s how a piece of furniture looks in situ or seeing how a dress fits on someone other than the catalogue model. If you have a well-recognised brand or a large following, customers may be sharing images and tagging your company without prompting. If you need to generate more images, running a competition is a great way to increase user-generated content and expand your reach. Once you have access to customer images, including them somewhere on your website can also increase brand engagement and trust.
Run a competition
Everyone loves a giveaway or sale and if entering to win is easy and fun, you should get a good response. To run a competition on Instagram, offer an incentive such as a giveaway or discount voucher and ask people to do something simple, such as posting an image of one of your products using a contest-specific hashtag; or ‘liking’ the competition post and tagging a friend. Limiting the competition to Instagram can create a sense of exclusivity for your followers but if your number of followers isn’t great, you can promote the competition on other platforms, promoting your handle and increasing reach, or run the competition through multiple channels. If you do this, make sure you include clear instructions about how to enter from each channel.
Yep, since late 2015 brands have been delighting in the fact that they can now advertise on Instagram with Sponsored Posts. Instagram ads can be in the regular square format or landscape, still or video, and must be set up through your business’ Facebook account, which you need to link to your Instagram account. Targeting parameters are set through Facebook. The visual nature of Instagram and the limitations this throws onto advertising actually make Sponsored Posts less jarring than they can be on other platforms. To really engage with Sponsored Posts, try entertaining or picturesque brand-personality shots rather than product shots. Done with flair, your followers will enjoy them in the same way they might a friend’s post. For more information on Instagram advertising click here.
Coordinate your images
The brands working Instagram to its best advantage are those that include a mixture of images in a unified way. Strategies to visually illustrate a brand include not just images of products in a flat lay, catalogue or lifestyle format but unrelated shots of objects, places and people that represent the personality of the brand. A general marketing rule is to focus 80 per cent of your content on engaging, educating and entertaining, leaving 20 per cent for product promotion. For best results, mash these up together but plan for a connecting thread to run through the images, whether that’s a colour palette or content theme. Above are two businesses perfectly illustrating their brand image with their loosely coordinated shots; Boost Juice with its cheeky vivacity and Cable Melbourne with the understated elegance of de-saturated tones and black.