Getting the most from Instagram

Getting the most from Instagram

With more than one billion users globally, it is not surprising that increasing numbers of businesses of all kinds and sizes are using Instagram as a platform to find new customers, engage existing ones and to grow their brands.

As Instagram is an exceptionally large and well-used platform, and its users pursue such a huge and diverse range of different interests, it has become one of the best social media platforms for promoting businesses and selling product.

Reaching your audience

Given Instagram’s highly diverse set of users, most businesses will find a significant number of prospective clients on the platform. It therefore provides marketing opportunities for companies of all kinds, both large and small. A carefully developed and well directed post may reach a wide audience, who then may well go on to purchase your product or service, and even go on to become a loyal customer or client.

While Instagram is a social media platform, approximately one-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses. So if you don’t have a business profile on Instagram yet, you should consider setting one up, as it will likely further enhance your business’s credibility and assist you to strengthen your brand.

But just how do you achieve meaningful communications with appropriate audiences on Instagram? Communicators specialising in social media marketing can assist, but if you’re a small, or micro business, you could also quite easily learn the ins and outs of the platform and do it yourself. In any case, no matter whether you are the owner of a micro-business or the CEO of an international company, it can be useful to know at least the basics of communicating and marketing on the platform.

Any social media campaign needs of course to first identify its target audiences so that your efforts can be appropriately directed. One of the great things about Instagram is that it can easily be directed to reach your target audiences and in fact does so quite intuitively.

What kind of content?

With regard to your content, this should be short, punchy and to the point and start by highlighting the most important information that you want to convey to your target audience. Remember, most of us have a short attention span and every day we are all bombarded with content from various online platforms. So it is critical that your content engage your audience from the outset and convey your most important messages in the first lines of a post.

It can be a great idea to include a call to action in your post as this tends to encourage engagement. You can also use your content to build anticipation throughout your Story by developing slides that are progressively more interesting and which convey a story.

The style you use in your Story should always be consistent and in keeping with the style of your brand. You should post regularly to keep your audience engaged but also only when you have something meaningful to convey. This can include highlights, milestones and important updates. This will enable followers to see your progress and exactly what you can offer them.

Using Instagram Explore

The Instagram Explore page, which is accessed when you click the magnifying glass icon (or Explore tab) is central to getting your messages and product out to followers. Instagram Explore is essentially a personalised collection of photos and videos that is selected for a particular user via special algorithms. These algorithms are designed to provide the user with content that they are likely to be most interested in and engage with. The content provided to the user on Explore is based on things such as the content and subject matter they have viewed and engaged with previously while using the platform.

So, one of the important goals of your Instagram posts is to get them on to as many of your targeted audience’s personalised Explore pages as possible. This can be achieved through creating engaging content that is likely to interest your audience, as well as through the use of appropriate hashtags and options like adding a location. It is advisable to use hashtags that are unique, distinctive and relevant to your business.

It can also be a good idea to ensure that you regularly respond to comments and engage with those who have shown an interest in your post and who may have queries about it, so that you don’t miss opportunities to connect. Consider tagging individuals and other appropriate businesses when relevant to do so. This will potentially result in them returning the favour and create opportunities for you to engage with them further. Tagging the interesting locations you visit in your posts can also assist you to generate interest in your posts and company.

Once your post begins to generate responses and interaction, it starts to gain traction and reach larger and larger audiences who are likely to be interested in your content. Those users who enjoy your content are also then more likely to start following your page. This may enable you to go on to develop a significant following of people who will receive your content directly to their personal newsfeed.

Key to achieving this is to produce regular content that engages and fascinates your target audiences. This is quite an art and one that agencies such as SWM Communications specialise in and can assist you with. So give us a call today if you need help with communicating your products and services on Instagram or any other social media platforms.

Getting to grips with Instagram Stories

Another important platform tool is Instagram Stories, which are vertical, full-screen photos and videos that appear at the top of the app, rather than in the individual’s news feed. Unless one has 10 000 followers or more, these stories disappear after 24 hours, but the important ones can be added to Story Highlights on your profile.

One can share both photos and videos on Instagram stories and they tend to have a particularly high level of engagement, so they are an excellent means of reminding people about your products and brand. More than 500 million people use the Instagram Stories platform and, according to a recent survey, 58% of users say that they have developed an interest in a product or brand after seeing it in a Story.

Instagram Stories can be used in many different ways to get your messages across to your target audience. To make your content really stand out and come to life, the platform incorporates a number of interactive tools such as captions, stickers, music, polls, Swipe Up and Instagram Story filters. So you may run things like creative interactive quizzes, or competitions to enhance engagement and interaction with your audience.

It should be noted that Generation Z has been identified as generally preferring video content of only a few minutes long over still pictures. So, engaging with them using video on Instagram stories, where a segment is only 15 seconds long, can be a particularly effective means of reaching this audience. Reels and platforms such as TikTok are also popular short video formats.

As followers can easily reach you via direct messaging, respond to your polls and competitions, or upload your content and tag you, Instagram Stories are an excellent way to improve engagement with your target audience. Furthermore, the platform’s algorithms, pick up on the content that is most interacted with, thereby enhancing reach.

Summing up

These are just a few of the basics of using Instagram as a tool to grow your brand and sell your services and products. There are also other tools such as analytics that can assist you to gauge how successfully you are reaching your audience.

Should you like further information on how to use Instagram for your business, we provide some further reading below, or contact us at SWM Communications for assistance in designing you a social media plan that will have real clout.


References and further reading