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Best Practices in Instagram Marketing

DATE PUBLISHED: July 24, 2014

Small businesses are beginning to realize what the rest of us have known for years: we love to share photos. Thanks to platforms like Instagram, photos can become an integral part of a small businesses' marketing strategy.Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 4.43.06 PM

Instagram has over 200 million active users who have shared over 20 billion photos, with 60 million photos shared everyday.

The question, therefore, isn't if businesses should embrace Instagram marketing but how they should do it. 

Before we look at some of the best practices for Instagram marketing, it's important to realize that unlike other social media platforms, Instagram can be a useful marketing tool for most companies, regardless of their industry. The reason for this is simple: if you're a business with a product or service that can be captured and shared visually, then Instagram can work for you.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to learn that in a recent study examining Instagram adoption by brands per industry, the automotive, fast food, soft drink, and apparel industries are most represented on Instagram, with a 100 percent adoption rate. 

Of course, simply being on Instagram doesn't guarantee you'll expand your brand, reach new customers, or grow your business. To accomplish these goals, you need to first understand that Instagram marketing succeeds when it elicits emotions or behaviors in users that cannot be generated through merely reading text. You need to convey an experience. With that concept as a guiding principles, here are some more practical tips:

Highlight the "insider's view." Show the inner workings of your business. Put up photos of a barrista making an espresso or give followers a head's up on new products or service. Make the viewer feel like they are part of your team.

Cross-market other elements of your business. Have a charity event to promote? Do you run a volunteer program for your employees? Show photos of these elements in action. It will show that your brand is much more than just dollars and cents.

Promote photos on other social media channels. You'll inevitably generate more views if you link Instagram photos to your other social media sites.

Be selective in your photos. Sometimes less is more, and that is especially true in the photos you select. Make sure the photos generate a desired response from viewers and that the photo itself is aligned with your brand. If you're a small bank, for example, you need to exude trust, experience, and professionalism. Sharing photos of a recent big wave surf competition may be cool, and it may — in your mind — promote your bank to a younger, male demographic, but it doesn't align with your brand's message. 

Get your customers involved. The only thing cooler than posting a photo is having a customer post one. Encourage them to do so and share photos that speak to your brand.

Have an end-goal in mind. A standalone photo can serve a valuable role by strengthening your brand without any overt commercial intentions. However, every now and then a photo can be leveraged to provoke readers to take a specific action, such as visiting a shopping cart or landing page. Don't get us wrong: the intention here is purely commercial, but when executed properly with a tasteful photo and compelling copy, it can prove successful.

NHas your brand dipped its toes in the waters of Instagram marketing? What's worked? What hasn't? What else would you suggest to companies who are starting out along this path?

Looking for assistance in measuring your social media marketing efforts? Download our Tracking ROI eBook.

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