Instagram is currently the fastest growing social platform, recently reaching 700 million monthly active users.
In Australia, Instagram has about seven million active users, second only to Facebook, and with new tools and features like Stories, live-streaming and enhanced messages, the platform is arguably still on the rise.
Make no mistake – members of your target audience are active on Instagram. How many, and how effective it will be for your business, will vary, but it is worth consideration. If you’re not active on Instagram, you could be missing a significant opportunity.
So, how can you help your business succeed with Instagram? How can posting images lead more people to your products, and how can you use the platform to advantage?
Here are some tips.
1. Quality is key
The first thing you need to understand about Instagram is how people use it. Instagram is generally an aspirational platform – people use Instagram as a form of escape, to look at attractive images of places they want to go and things they want to have.
For this reason, it’s important to concentrate on posting high-quality images which, ideally, frame your image in an aspirational setting. What sort of background would best complement your products? What type of lighting are you using? Would this image make you stop as you’re scrolling through and take notice?
With 700 million users, there’s no shortage of Instagram content to look at – you need to make sure yours stands out.
2. Be consistent
Along with image quality, you also need to be consistent. The brands that perform best on Instagram have a certain colour theme or style that flows through each image, and this becomes a form of branding in itself – users will come to know the look and feel of your posts.
Posting regularly is also important, which is true of all social platforms (if you want people to follow you, you need to give them a reason), but maintaining a specific style can also go a long way in boosting your Instagram performance.
3. Hashtag it
Hashtags originated on Twitter, but they’re even bigger on Instagram. Adding the right hashtags is key to boosting your Instagram reach, and because they’re so common on the platform, you can use more of them. For example, on Twitter, any more than two hashtags per post and they lose their effectiveness. On Instagram, the optimal number of tags is nine.
To research the hashtags that are best for your business, enter your keywords into the search bar on Instagram and see which tags, and related tags, come up. It’ll also give you some idea of traffic levels for that tag. You should also look at what tags people are already using when discussing products and services similar to yours and consider adding them to boost reach.
4. Use your link wisely
One of the key challenges of using Instagram is that you can’t post links in your image captions – yet. Instagram is conducting various experiments which include adding links, but right now, posting a link in your captions will not result in an active connection, making it harder to direct your audience to the relevant page for your products.
The way around this is to use the link in your profile. You’re allowed one active link in your Instagram profile text, and this link can be whatever you want. Some brands refer their audience to this link to connect them to relevant products. For example, if you posted an image of your latest product and you wanted people to go to your product page, you could put a note in your caption saying ‘Link in bio’ to direct people to it.
It’s not perfect, but it is a way to facilitate connection to the relevant product page.
5. Paid ads
The only way to facilitate direct connection from your Instagram content to your website is with paid ads. With Instagram ads, you can use the same targeting as you can on Facebook (which owns Instagram), and you’ll have an option to include a call to action button which can say either:
* Learn more
* Install App
* Shop Now
The button will appear highlighted at the bottom of your post, and enable you to add a direct link to the relevant page on your website. Paid ads on Instagram come with variable pricing (you pay what you want), and there are many new options being added – if you’re serious about using the channel for marketing, it’s worth consideration.
As noted, Instagram is a growing platform, and its potential uses are expanding with every update. As more functions are added, it’s becoming a more diverse platform, where more types of messaging and interaction are taking place – it’s worth taking the time to find out if those engagements could be of benefit to your business.
As Australia’s leading marketing services company, Sensis engages consumers with Australian businesses through websites, search engine marketing and optimisation, online advertising and its directories businesses.