By Hugh Beaulac
You may already have an Instagram account, and know how to edit your profile and post photos. But is there a difference between posting selfies and promoting a brand? Well, yes! As a self-taught social media manager, I’ve learned when it comes to promoting a brand on Instagram, merely having a presence there isn’t enough to succeed.
As the numbers indicate, more and more companies are running business accounts on Instagram to reach their target audience and promote their brands:
- The Instagram community has grown to more than 800 million users.
- Instagrammers share more than 95 million posts a day.
- 25 million business profiles are on Instagram.
- 70.7% of U.S. companies use Instagram for marketing.
- 60% of Instagrammers say that they have learned about a product or service on the platform.
Promoting a brand on Instagram pays off as it helps to:
- Build brand awareness
- Establish communication with clients
- Reach potential clients
- Handle negative feedback
- Increase brand loyalty
- Promote solutions, not products
The conclusion? The competition is high. While Instagram marketing is booming, it’s become more difficult to stand out from the crowd. Running an Instagram business account for a client opened my eyes to the problems that can occur while promoting a brand.
1. The niche is competitive
As the number of marketers who use Instagram is growing, to succeed with Instagram, you need to be highly active, you need to be picky about your posts, and you have to constantly seek out ways to beat your competitors.
I learned in my job that engagement matters. While reach and impressions may be fine, in the case of my client, people didn’t want to interact with my content—my posts didn’t get enough likes/comments/saves. The problem is competitors are fighting for the same audience, posting content daily. Therefore, people are spoiled with the information; they simply aren’t interested in what you post until you’re a famous brand with an already-established reputation.
It’s harsh, but true: Unless you promote a yummy slice of pizza, don’t expect to simply post a photo and then kick back and watch your post getting hundreds of likes and comments. So, how can you survive in a competitive environment?
Follow your competitors: Keeping an eye on your competitors helps you to avoid making their mistakes. Figure out what’s popular and stay one step ahead of them.
Be creative: Many topics have been covered to death on the web, but you can keep your content fresh by looking for new angles; a little creativity is all you need.
Get active: Due to Instagram’s algorithm, not every post will get seen on a news feed. Thus, you need to hook an audience and make them want to visit your account. One way is to like and comment on posts your target audience shares.
Yes, promoting a brand requires a lot of work, but since we live in a digital era, marketers have a host of tools and apps at their disposal they can use. Here’s a list of tools I use to automate mass liking/commenting:
- Limit your likes to 300 per day.
- Have no more than 60 follows/likes/comments in an hour.
- The actions interval for the new accounts (the first 12-20 days) is 36 to 48 seconds.
2. Overplanning doesn’t always work
Being a keen marketer, you probably have put a lot of effort into creating a winning strategy. You very likely have determined the type of content to post and the time for publishing it. Having a pre-written content plan can be helpful, but planning doesn’t work every time.
Reason #1: You use tools. If you use Later or Buffer, you know that scheduled posts will not publish on their own since Instagram does not allow such apps to post directly to the platform. You can, however, receive notifications on your phone for when scheduled posts should be published.
Reason #2: You post at the same time daily. Sticking to a schedule is great, but you need to be flexible when it comes to reaching your target audience. To achieve maximum reach, you need to post when your audience is active. People are active at different times, so use Instagram statistics to determine the best times to post.
Reason #3: You don’t pay attention to breaking news. From time to time, life can’t be planned. If you want to be a successful marketer, you need to know what’s causing the current buzz and then write situational posts to attract an audience. Check out the example of Krispy Kreme successfully using the buzz of the 2017 solar eclipse in a post that went viral. The lesson here is you need to create spontaneous posts.
The bottom line? Planning is great, but you need to stay flexible.
3. Figuring out the right content may involve lots of trial and error
What do you do after hitting the Share button? Do you simply wait for the first “like” after you upload a photo? If you think your work is done after a post is published, here’s some bad news: Promoting your brand on Instagram is not just about posting content—it’s about achieving high-level business goals. The more people you attract, the better. So what should you do after publishing a post?
- Like people who have interacted with the post.
- Answer all comments.
- Analyze impressions/engagement.
If you see that your post isn’t popular with your audience, you need to figure out what’s wrong with the post. You need to analyze! No matter which tool you use—whether it’s Instagram Insights, Socialbakers, or Squarelovin—it’s important to find out which posts get the most engagement.
Once you know what suits your audience’s needs the most, you can adjust your marketing strategy to save time and get better results. After all, it’s nearly impossible to give your followers what they need in one click, even if you know their expectations.
4. Subscribers want to want to feel accepted
Have you ever heard about belongingness? It is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. It’s in our nature: We want to feel valued. As human beings, your followers want to feel that they matter, and it doesn’t cost much time or effort to give them what they want:
Tag people in your posts. If you’re a regular Instagram user, you may have noticed that people and brands tag other accounts in their posts. While it’s normal to tag a friend, it’s not typical for brands to tag their followers. Doing so, however, is an actionable way to draw people’s attention and make other followers keep an eye on your posts.
Give UGC (user-generated content) a try. The best thing about modern digital marketing is you can rely on your followers when it comes to content creation. Social media users today are eager to share reviews and often include photos with their feedback. Well-known brands like Starbucks can expect dozens of great posts and photos; if you’re a smaller brand, it’s time to encourage followers to create content for you:
- Run Instagram contests.
- Feature the best publications.
- Track your brand mentions.
Seventy-six percent of people find content posted by other consumers to be more honest than brand content. Take advantage of the power of UGC as it’s a proven way to get high-quality content, without having to invest very much.
Communicate with followers via DM. Let’s face it: People are fed up with annoying product ads under their private posts. However, engaging in private communication with your audience and addressing problems they may have with your brand is a great way to establish long-term connections, as long as you don’t try to promote your business. When I write direct messages, most followers reply, and what’s more, they start interacting with my content. Establish a strong connection with your audience, and then offer a solution (not a product). Once you have a number of loyal followers who trust your brand, you can promote your product with ease.
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5. You need to stay mobile 24/7
When you run social media accounts for a business, get ready to receive questions and complaints from your customers. As more people feel comfortable communicating with brands on social media, this is where you will be hearing from them. However, be aware that only 32% of social media complainers are happy with a company’s response time, and 42% of customers expect brands to reply within 60 minutes. Moreover, it’s been proven that many complaints are never answered.
No matter what your business niche is, you need to think about your customers’ satisfaction. Reply to requests as fast as you can. Being active all day long is a proven way to satisfy customers’ needs and give them what they want.
6. Followers may not see your posts
It used to be when you published a post, you expected your followers to see it in their news feed. Unfortunately, those days are long gone due to Instagram changing its news feed algorithm.
The new algorithm will show a post to more people if your audience has reacted positively to the post. But it becomes a catch-22—you need your followers to like/comment on a post to reach more people, but the post may not be reaching your followers if no one has interacted with the post.
Thus, you need to look for other options to deliver your message. One way is to run an ad campaign, but this can be expensive. If you’re a small business owner and don’t have a budget for ads, there are other ways to promote your product:
Influencer marketing. People trust opinion leaders, and you can collaborate with Instagram stars to promote your product. You can send your product for a review or pay for a sponsored post.
Crossposting. Become familiar with #follow4follow and #like4like hashtags. Here, another account publishes information about your brand, and then you do the same in return. The benefit is both brands enter already-established communities.
Be aware that marketing trends are changing fast. To be successful with social media, you need to keep an eye on trends and statistics as they help you to understand your audience and niche to get better results.
And things change fast on Instagram. If you’re working on a new marketing strategy, learn from other people to avoid making their mistakes, and consider these takeaways:
1. Doing a competitive analysis is crucial, if you want to create a winning marketing strategy.
2. Keep an eye on the latest breaking news to be aware of main topics.
3. Analyze posts regularly to give your audience what they want.
4. Post UGC, and promote your followers on your account.
5. The faster you reply to customers’ comments, the better.
6. Invest in ways to reach your audience.
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