What Is Instagram Marketing?

The term “Instagram marketing” refers to all the ways a brand can utilize the social media platform to help them further connect with target audiences for the purpose of marketing their products or services. In recent years, it’s since gained popularity as a simple and exciting way for brands to do the following: give audiences a glimpse of what their culture is all about, along with the recruitment of new employees, engaging with customers, and the revelation of products in an all-new manner.

“Instagram’s more than 500 million active users place it well ahead of Twitter (326 million active users), Snapchat (150 million active users), and Pinterest (250 million active users).” (Source: Mediakix)

“72% of teenagers use Instagram and nearly as many (69%) use Snapchat. Both have increased by more than 20% since 2015.” (Source: Pew Research Center)

“More than 80% of Instagram’s user base consists of people living outside of the U.S.” (Source: Business.Instagram)

Types of Instagram Marketing Tactics

Given how broad the term Instagram marketing can be, you may be able to guess that it encompasses a wide variety of specific tactics and strategies that you can employ. If you want to break them down one by one, the ones below are among the most innovative and effective methods for any marketer. With that said, take a close look at the following:

Instagram stories: Among the tactics that you can employ, beautifully designed Instagram stories ought to be the forefront of your plans. There are numerous reasons for this: it allows a business to freely connect with followers, it allows the inclusion of clickable links, the 24-hour window frame means followers need to act fast in order to see what you have posted.
Carousel ads: One of Instagram’s highest engaging ad formats is the carousel ad, second only to the use of videos. If you need a proven tactic concerning high conversion rates, then you can’t go wrong with this. You can even incorporate this ad format to your Instagram stories.
Live videos: Incorporating the use of Instagram stories once more, live videos provide your audience with a window to witness an event involving your company as it happens. It could be a behind-the-scenes look at something, a DIY tutorial, or any other related content. Such a tactic also allows your audience to submit comments and interact with you in real-time.
Story polls: The use of story polls is something that can add a completely brand new element to how you can engage with your audience. This way you can pose a question and gather information in the form of your followers’ opinions and preferences, making it effective in acquiring necessary insight. Story polls also have the added benefit of making followers feel recognized, valued, and listened to.
Inspirational posts: Instagram’s emphasis on visuals does not mean that it is okay to overlook texts. The use of inspirational quotes and posts can provide audiences with content that are relatable towards whatever they may feel at any given time. As minor as it may seem on a macro viewpoint, it is worth noting that people are more likely to follow accounts that they feel are going to provide them with something they can value.
Humor: Speaking of value, there is no denying the impact that humor can have in our lives. Emotional connections are complex but a simple way to find yourself connecting with others is through providing a touch of humor on a daily basis. That does not mean that your posts have to be over the top or even well-rehearsed. Something witty and creative can do just as well.
Influencer content: The use of influencers to help promote your brand is a powerful approach that you can take. It can even be likened to word-of-mouth; influencers, as the term suggests, influence their own followers into following your account and possibly engage with you. This, in turn, can boost awareness for your brand, along with traffic and perhaps the most desirable of all: brand credibility.
BTS: Short for ‘behind the scenes,’ a BTS look into how your company or business operates provides your audiences with the chance to feel like they are following other human beings and not just an automated account. People often want to feel like they are involved with the whole process, so giving them that much-needed insight through the use of a BTS is a smart move.
User-generated content: Since 2018, a drastic rise has been seen in user-generated content. Followers will love having their own content featured by their favorite brands although there is a delicate issue hiding between the lines: consent. For you to use this tactic, you need to ask for the permission and approval of your followers.
Events: Those in need of an extremely successful tactic to boost your brand awareness through Instagram, then covering an event is just what you’re looking for. These can be unique whilst offering personal ways of connecting not just with your audience but even with other brands. The use of hashtags and specific themes also helps in increasing traffic when done in conjunction with events.
Product features: If you need to boost not just awareness of your brand but its credibility as well, product features through Instagram posts are known to be effective. After all, followers are likely to be interested in watching your USP used in action, which helps them envision just where your product can fit into their lives.
Tutorials: Retain old customers and bring in new ones by offering them expert advice. Tutorials are valuable to followers because it helps them with specific problems and it is valuable to you because it can establish you as an authority, leading to the rise in your brand credibility. This can be done with either long live videos or through short video clips. Some are even known to simply place the link to their videos in their account’s bio.
Competitions and giveaways: To build up excitement, there’s a surefire success in the adoption of competition and giveaways. Doing so is guaranteed to increase the visibility of your brand, all the while providing your audience with the wonderful opportunity to earn certain products and engage further with your brand or business.
Asking your audience: Social media marketing runs off the interaction and engagement you get with your audience. By asking their opinions, you do just that. Instagram’s story polls can be a great way for you to do this. It gives them the opportunity to engage with you and you learn a little bit more about what they think of your business in the process.
Teasers: Curiosity is more than helpful when it comes to the cultivation of interest and few tactics are as associated with it as teasers are. Incorporating ‘teaser’ posts in your marketing campaign mean giving your audience with snippets of something that you consider important which they can learn more about at a later date.
Announcements: If you need a tool that can help you boost your customer relationships and transparency, then announcements will do just that. This is a bigger and far more professional method of communicating to the masses, so it is imperative to be as clear as possible when posting announcements.

The Dos & Donts of Instagram Marketing

As fun as it may seem to go for Instagram marketing to further promote your business, the truth is that there are many pitfalls that you need to avoid if you want to succeed. Before you start focusing entirely on the negatives, be aware that there are also a few things that can help improve your practices if only you keep them in mind. Check them out for yourselves below.

The Dos

1. Be as professional as you can be
Professionalism is the cornerstone of high-quality content marketing. Conduct yourself in this manner and everything else will now have a strong enough foundation which can allow you to build great things for your brand. Schedule your posts with the right tools; reply to messages with tact and be timely about it; select a proper username that is fit for your brand; ensure that you bring only the best quality to the table.

2. Be as consistent as possible
Consistency with what you provide through your Instagram account is often associated with credibility and reliability. People respect those who they can trust and said trust is built by things such as adhering to a proper schedule, not allowing your quality to dip too low, among various other means. Having a routine might make you seem ‘predictable’ in the eyes of some, but even more will see you in a different light and that is ‘stable.’

3. Focus on community
When it comes to making sure that your engagement goes up, it would pay to reevaluate just how you approach the acts of audience interactions and community-building. Remember that people normally do not engage with brands that they do not care about in the least. You need to show them some love if you plan on getting any back. Accomplish that and you might find that your followers can become some of your best advocates, bringing attention to your brand in ways that you may not pull off on your own.

4. Place well-crafted ads
There used to be a time when advertising on Instagram was frowned upon. Fortunately, those days are long gone. Now more brands are using ads freely and it is time to join in on the fun. IG may not have the pay-for-play model that Facebook has, but businesses are still afforded the opportunities to get the exposure they need. Boosting may not be free but it is proven to be among the best and easiest manner in which you can promote your posts more.

5. Collaborate with popular and relevant influencers
Who doesn’t love a crossover? When two brands team up, everybody wins. That is the scenario that you could be facing if you choose to collaborate with popular influencers. Through them, you get exposure through what is essentially a brand in itself, with its own followers at its beck and call. However, take care to work with relevant influencers only. For example, if your brand centers around sports, it may not make the most sense to work with an influencer that is entirely focused on feminine fashion.

6. Utilize as many of Instagram’s new features as possible
Instagram is going to keep on updating to accommodate more and more useful features. The key is to adapt to these changes as they come along and use them to your advantage. There’s little to no doubt that everybody else will be using whatever new feature is going to come next. Keep up with the novelty and find ways to fit said feature into your marketing strategy. By rolling with the punches when features like stories and live videos were introduced, many brands found themselves prospering from their innovation. You could very well be next.

The Don’ts

1. Be too sales-y
People want to be exposed to brands that provide value and that would entail not being too ‘textbook’ when it comes to the promotion of your products and services. Too much focus on the sales aspect or being too aggressive too fast isn’t going to win over a lot of people. As a matter of fact, it signals to potential customers that you only mean to make a profit and will subsequently be turned off by you.

2. Disappear for long stretches of time
This goes hand in hand with your professionalism and consistency. Basically, if you neglect your account or fail to post as often as needed, then you are being unprofessional and inconsistent, which leads to the loss of credibility and attention for your brand. Taking a break is understandable, but inform your audience and give them a realistic estimate of your return. That way, they won’t be left wondering where you are and if they’ll ever hear from you again.

3. Buy followers
It always looks good to see your account with a sizeable number of followers, but it feels even better if those are all organic. Do not fall to the temptation of buying followers just to pad up your account. By doing that, you will prove to your (organic) audience that you are disingenuous, which often translates to a lack of overall value for your brand.

4. Spam your content
Few people are fond of content that is not only repeated but also basically shoved down their throat. It is annoying and it can even signal that your brand is more about quantity than quality. Besides repeated content, take care not to go overboard with your hashtags as well. All good things must be kept in balance; neither too little or too much. This can be an easy mistake to make, so watch your step even more carefully from here on out.

5. Be inauthentic
The best way to succeed all in all is to utilize your brand identity in ways that will resonate the most with your audience. Trust is very important so it certainly helps to stay true to yourself and refrain from anything that might seem out of character or inauthentic. The aforementioned buying of followers is an absolute no-no because your inauthenticity quickly becomes transparent. Aligning with brands that do not share your values is also not recommended. Allow your audience to get to know and love you the right way; once you’re there, be sure to stay that way.

6. Make unnecessary use of bots
There is an important need to keep in mind that, for the most part, people will generally prefer to talk to other people. This is because human interaction feels natural and it makes them feel like they can actually make a connection, even if whoever they are talking to is somewhere far, far away. Bots can have their uses, which is a fact that few can ever deny. However, be sure to keep its use at a minimum. You do not want to turn people off by the fact that they are mostly speaking to non-sentient and unfeeling programs.

By deciding on Instagram as one of your go-to social media platforms for marketing, you open yourself to a wide range of potential for success. It is certainly unique among the various tools you can go for. Be sure to make use of what you have read and learned thus far to craft the best online proposals, attract more followers, and take your business to unseen heights. Not only will you be thanking yourself for doing so, but your audience will be just as grateful for having such an amazing brand that they can freely rely upon.