It seems like many small businesses have an Instagram nowadays — close to 70 percent of top brands, in fact, according to a recent study. That can be a problem. With so many brands using Instagram, it becomes increasingly difficulty for smaller firms to differentiate themselves.
The topic of today's post is a simple one: how to leverage Instagram marketing best practices to make your profile stand out. We're going to talk about this challenge in two parts: first, look at the common elements of compelling photos; and two, marketing techniques to make sure your photos reach a wider audience.
Let's first look at the photos themselves. Like any other piece of content, customers know a cool photo when they see it. Think about your own experiences: what is it about a photo or piece of art that grabs you? Then think about your buyer personas. What are their interests? What photos will resonate with them? Most importantly, post photos that both speak to your brand.
Therefore, your photos should:
- Sell an experience. Here is where your brand management truly comes into play. What does your brand signify? Freedom? Adventure? Security? Trust? A cozy coffee shop can easily post an evocative photo of their floor at breakfast time. It gets a bit more difficult for brands selling services. If you fall into this category, remember the power of the human connection. If, for example, you're a local bank, we're thinking shots of happy customers, friendly staff and pictures of your local neighborhood.
- Tell a story. A photo can humanize and illuminate a seemingly simple business transaction. Let's say you're a solar company. A photo of a technician assembling a panel in a residential neighborhood with the caption "Going green in Stockton - one family at a time," can be a far more effective marketing tool than a cold call or banner ad.
- Pay attention to detail. By "detail" we mean the actual specs of the photos themselves. A study carried out by social media research group, Curlate, analyzed a spool of eight million Instagram posts and came up with the characteristics of photos that generated the most likes. For example, photos that are predominantly blue get 24 percent more attention. We encourage you to check out the findings for greater detail, but the bottom line is this: that data suggests that photos that are "predominantly blue, spaciously cropped, bright, and mildly desaturated" get the most likes.
Now that you know the basics around what constitutes a cool photo. Now comes the second piece of the Instagram marketing puzzle — how to make sure people actually see it. Here are some tips.
- Include hashtags. Another recent study found that photos that included hashtags had a much higher "like-to-follower" ratio — meaning visitors who click "like" are more apt to become followers — than those that did not. (For more information on Instagram hashtags click here).
- Crowdsource. Actively encourage followers to post their own photos of your brand. It will strengthen relationships with customers with the added benefit of providing additional content.
- Track what works (and then tweak). See what photos generate the greatest response and use these findings to inform the composition of future photos. (Odds are you'll be surprised).