How to use Instagram to improve your digital marketing

Instagram today is considered one of the most important channels for any digital marketing strategy with the platform providing a great opportunity for brands to increase their customer engagement with over 800 million monthly users.

Over 60% of users say they have discovered a new brand or product through Instagram, and a further 30% have purchased a product they discovered first on Instagram.

However, algorithm changes and increasing competition have made the platform a tough challenge for any brand to find success without a sizeable marketing budget.

This means, brands today need to think creatively and strategically to ensure their content not only reaches their customers, but successfully delivers against their business objectives.

Six key principles that brands need to follow when developing a social strategy for Instagram.

photography studio

Why follow a brand

It is important for brands when developing their Instagram strategy to specifically identify how they want to use the channel to engage with their customers.

Firstly, it is important to understand what factors influence purchase and user behaviour on the platform. By doing this, brands can develop and make better, informed decisions about their social strategy.

Currently, users on the platform engage with the channel most in seeking sources of information, entertainment, inspiration, Q and A’s and following their topics of interest.

The largest population of users are millennials. Key facts to consider  if millenials are your primary focus:

  • 79% are impacted by friends and word of mouth
  • 69% are experiencing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
  • 70% are more influenced by non-celebrity bloggers than influencers
  • 62% would try a product suggested by a YouTuber over a TV or movie star.
Relevancy and reach

There are two main strategies that brands can use to reach their audience effectively and that is through paid and organic methods.

A paid strategy is a short term approach that enables you to specify in greater detail, your target audience, increase reach and drive strong brand awareness with relevant content. However, it is important to note, this method can be expensive over time, and should primarily be used as part of a specific campaign strategy.

An organic strategy on the other hand is a longer term approach that takes time before you achieve consistent results. This gives brands the ability to build a loyal following, and generates opportunities for your customers to engage with your brand providing insights to guide your content strategy.

Create a successful content marketing strategy

Before you start planning the visuals and key messages to use as part of your digital marketing strategy, it is important that you first identify the key business objectives you are trying to achieve. From this brands can then determine their:

Tone-of-voice – is the tone formal or informal, is it conversational or does it raise questions. This is a key area brands need to establish early.

Visuals – by having a consistent visual style on your Instagram page, your brand is able to better communicate a more cohesive story that resonates with your customer.

Quality – does the content require professional grade photography and videography, or can it be shot on mobile by any team member?

In addition to this, it is important that any content produced delivers value to your audience. Your content must address one of the following criteria – does it educate, inform, entertain, pose a question, or offer a discount?

If your content strategy does not address all of the above, it’s time to revisit and refine it until it is clear that the content is delivering value.

digital storytelling

Storytelling for digital marketing

One of the most effective ways to generate engagement is through achieving a deep emotional connection with your customers. By using key elements of storytelling in a business context, brands can drive not only greater awareness, but also customer loyalty and engagement.

In addition to this, it is important when planning your stories to follow the same process as you would when preparing a story for print or radio. Content must be tailored to the medium that it is to be featured.

With so many different ways of reading or viewing a piece of content, it is important for the creators to consider who their audience is and how they will consume content. Is it on mobile, tablet or even desktop? Each platform provides unique challenges and formats that deliver the greatest impact.

The following storytelling tips outline key steps brands should take when developing a story that creates an engaging emotional connection with customers:

Create brand specific stories with a key audience in mind – targeted content is more effective than generic content as it addresses and answers key challenges the customer is facing. By focusing on a specific target audience, the content creation process will flow more naturally and become more direct.

Take the time to build an impactful headline – make sure your title grabs your audiences’ attention (make sure this is not click bait), ask yourself is this sharable? Would people want to talk about this with their own networks and friends?

Create content that lasts – don’t fall for the trap of writing to keep up with trends. Take the time to address key topics and issues that your audience needs answers for, this will make your content last much longer.

Have a storytelling strategy in place – establish set goals and develop your strategy accordingly. Do you know what channel your audience is on? What content are they engaging with most? Are they current customers or is it a new market you’re trying to reach.

Use data to increase the effectiveness of your story – data should be at the core of your planning when creating and developing content for your customer in the digital space. Draw upon owned channels such as your website and social pages to identify what content really works, what customers are liking, sharing and commenting on and even what they’re saying about you.

running

Use emotion to drive engagement

Emotion plays a vital role in creating campaigns that make an impact with your audience. Today, emotion is one of the greatest predictors in determining how your audience connects with your brand online.

Throughout the branding process, establishing and forming impactful memories in your customer’s mind is vital in developing a strong connection and association with your brand.

The main goal for brands on the platform is to create a strong connection and belief in your company and brand identity that morphs into becoming part of your customer’s personal identity.

In order to achieve this, brands need to activate two key drivers in making people follow them and engage with them on a regular basis. These are association and inclusion.

These two factors are key to any successful branding campaign. The idea of being part of a bigger group, or a dedicated tribe of followers of like-minded people resonates well with customers as they feel a new sense of belonging.

A great example of this is Nike Running. Nike has a dedicated running club and app that connects other runners together in forming running groups, taking part in events and tracking individual progress all while using their products.

Their Instagram page is all about running, and showcases celebrities, athletes, and everyday runners to help drive their brand story.

protest

Stand for something

Two-thirds of consumers want brands to take a stand on both social and political issues. The challenge however, is identifying, when is the right time for a brand to get involved.

When commenting on both social and political issues brands must first ask themselves whether this social or political issue will disrupt or challenge the core values of the brand. Is this issue something that we can influence and engage with for good?

If the answer is no, it may be in the brand’s interest to not say anything at all. This is ok, especially if the issue does not reflect or relate to your brand at all.

By making people feel part of their story, brands can not only drive greater engagement but create a loyal following that lasts.