Facebook and Twitter have come under fire over issues such as fake news and hate speech. There’s one social media platform that has managed to keep its image squeaky-clean. That platform, of course, is Instagram. With its aspirational shots of sunsets and fashionistas, Instagram is going from strength-to-strength. It’s since managed to diversify its offerings with the introduction of Stories and IGTV.
Instagram now has over 1 billion monthly active users. Double the number of monthly active users of Twitter.
Facebook has gone to great lengths to make Instagram more brand-friendly. At its most basic level, Instagram’s use of hashtags makes organic digital marketing campaigns easier to measure. They also allow for brands to drop into existing conversations (more on that later).
Creating paid ads on Instagram is simple too. This is a result of its integration into the Facebook ad platform. There’s no steep learning curve to get started if you’ve used Facebook ads before. No wonder then that Instagram ads increased by 28% in the second half of 2017. Finally, Instagram has upped its game by offering specific features for businesses. It offers a fully fleshed-out analytics platform to measure key results. As such, 1 in 3 UK small businesses are now building their businesses on Instagram.
So, setting up a branded Instagram page should be a no-brainer then, right? Well, not exactly. An Instagram account without a long-term strategy can be costly. Not to mention damaging to your brand. Consider these steps before deciding if your brand actually needs an Instagram account.
Is your audience using Instagram?
Instagram is successful, but its success comes from a specific demographic. Older users do use the app, but the userbase is generally younger and skews more female. Consider that 38% of women use Instagram, compared to 26% of men. 59% of 18-29-year-olds use the service, compared to 8% of those 65+. There’s a reason you don’t see brands selling cruise holidays to pensioners. It’s not a good use of your resources.
Will your audience want to follow you?
You must ask whether your business is something people would want to follow? 80% of Instagram users follow a business, but this doesn’t fall equally on different sectors. Fashion, interiors and travel all perform well, but many services don’t. For example, you need to have a specific reason to follow your car insurance provider or your energy supplier.
Do you have the content you need?
On Instagram, content is king. If you don’t have good quality photo or video content, and know that you never will, then Instagram is a bad decision. No one will follow an account full of grainy or bad quality pictures.
Its best to have a monthly content planner to ensure you have quality content. If you’re a product-focused business, then put those product shots to work! 65% of top performing brand posts on Instagram feature products. If you deal with services, consider more pictures with people. Photos with faces get 38% more likes.
Finally, if you don’t have much content of your own, do you have access to user-generated content? User-generated content has a 4.5% higher conversion rate than standard photos.
What are you contributing to the conversation?
As with all social media, it’s too simplistic to use Instagram as a broadcast channel. If you want your audience to engage with you, you need to add something to the wider conversation. For example, tying into the latest news and trends or offering posts such as make-up tips or fitness goals works well.
Instagram’s hashtags make discovering trends and trending topics simpler. Instagram’s Discover tab can help you keep a finger on the pulse of the global Instagram community.
Do you have a growth strategy?
It’s sad to spend lots of time creating content, only to then share it with a handful of followers. There’s little point spending resources on good photos if you don’t have a growth strategy in place.
If you’re a big brand, email marketing campaigns or in-store communications work well. For B2B brands, use internal communication channels to get your employees on board. Smaller brands can make sure they’re contributing to wider trends using hashtags. This will increase the chance of appearing in the Discover tab. Often though, a certain level of paid ads will help start growing a community.
Have you considered customer service?
This one is crucial. While people rarely use Instagram to complain, it’s still a two-way communication channel. Customers can and will try to get your attention and will not be happy if they feel ignored.
Your customer service team must be on board with your Instagram account. You need an effective strategy for flagging negative comments or requests for help. The best practice is to take customer queries offline. Leave the comments section free for positive feedback on the content. Often though, a certain level of paid ads will start growing a community.
Brands should never feel peer-pressured into setting up an Instagram account. “Everyone else is doing it” is not a good enough reason, and as I hope we’ve demonstrated, it isn’t for everyone. Instagram is a fantastic way to engage your audiences and drive sales in the long-term. Especially if you have a strategy for quality content that adds to the conversation.