Instagram may be a novelty social network compared to “old schoolers” Twitter or Facebook for example, but it has fast grown to be a user engagement beast. Not any generic engagement beast, you may notice, but a brand-related one. To put it simple: chances are that if you play your business cards right with Instagram, you’ll get a huge turnover for your efforts.
A study conducted by Forrester Research earlier in this year illustrated the huge engagement pool of Instagram. The company studied more than 3 million user interactions towards an equally respectable number of brands – 2500 of them. The case study included altogether seven social networks. Instagram came to be an absolute champion, delivering an engagement rate of 4,21% – 58 times the engagement per follower Facebook had or 120 times the engagement Twitter had.
These statistics may get you ready to rumble, but before diving in the vast sea of filtered photos and colorful content, you have to keep some things in mind. Otherwise, you might find yourself struggling with your brand’s reception by your followers in Instagram.
Be genuine & keep it real
Yes, you are selling your products and maintaining your online image. You are a brand and you want to act like one. Just be careful while doing so, especially in terms of vision.
Truth is that while Instagram is very filter-friendly and prone to image (over)editing, your followers will appreciate if you keep it real. This means no overly-edited pictures, no artificial photos and certainly no cringe-worthy direct marketing messages inserted here and there. Be genuine and authentic, both in your images and communication process. Produce believable content that is near to the reality surrounding all of us, not some far-fetched make-believe vision.
Of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t edit your brand-related content. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it and achieve a “real” look that will appeal to your followers, not irritate them. We all need a slightly buffed, yet believable reality – not a pompous substitute of it.
Don’t run wild: maintain context
Again, this might apply to both your products and your communication. Let’s focus on your products first, as #3 will lean more towards how to engage with your followers.
Showcasing products is an art that deals with both business thinking, psychology and a creative mindset. Amplify this in the case of Instagram, given the already high set bar of visual appeal in this type of social network. In other words, you are doomed if you just scatter around product images without bringing any context to the table.
Think. What does your product go well with?
Let’s say you’re selling a summer dress. Instead of uploading an image of it hanging on a loop in a boring room, get a female model and do a quick photoshoot among flowers matching its color and theme. Putting the dress in the context of the surrounding summer is much more appealing!
Always include your products as a part of some bigger picture. Be careful not to lose focus, though. No matter how big your pursued context is, your product must be the focus point of the composition, not something barely noticeable.
It’s not only about you – it’s about your followers too
This really applies to all types of social networks, but Instagram is up there with Twitter regarding the need to interact with your follower base.
No one likes brands that don’t really engage with their customers. If you lack interaction, you might appear too self-centered and sales-driven and people might feel you’re treating them only as a source of income for your brand instead of actual human beings.
Don’t forget that your followers are your sidekicks on your business journey. Without them you’re in some great trouble. Respect them, cherish them and make them your closest friends.
Here are some really simple activities that will achieve great communication between you and your followers and will elevate your brand to the next level of social media:
– Liking your followers’ photos & commenting on them
– Replying to comments that your followers have left on your posts
– Reaching out and mentioning your customers (using the @ symbol)
– Asking for feedback or insight on your products or business as a whole
The last one is especially valuable, since you get to both interact with your followers and flatter them and receive quality feedback that will shed insight on what you’re doing right (or wrong).
These are only the founding pillars of maintaining a clear and follower-friendly Instagram presence with your brand. This social network is surely a tempting fruit to reach for so go for it, but be insightful when doing so. If you did your social media marketing, engagement will follow and skyrocket your brand.