A whopping 9.5 million Australians on Instagram, and about 80% of Instagram users follow at least one brand. Better still, almost 70% interact with brands regularly, compared to a mere 32% for Facebook. This visuals-focused social media network is a powerful tool if you want free exposure to your target audience, while building your brand identity and converting followers into brand evangelists.
With Facebook’s new algorithm promoting content from friends and family, and demoting brand content, it’s become increasingly hard to reach users without paid advertising. Where Facebook is all about conversation, Instagram is all about discovering something new, which makes it a great platform for direct marketing: reaching new people, raising brand awareness, and showcasing what you do and how you do it.
So, how can you use Instagram to kick goals for your business?
Understand your user
The average Instagram user is under 30, female, college-educated, living in an urban area and with disposable income. In general, most under-30s are on Instagram; millenials see the platform as a place to find out cool, fun new things and explore their interests; a style resource; a way to share their lives with friends, and discover the new.
When they want to know more about a subject, sure, they’ll Google it, but they’ll also go on Instagram and check out the hashtags. If a Perth Instagram user is thinking about what to do when friends visit from interstate, they’re just as likely to get inspiration from #perthisok and #perthweekend as their parents are to use TripAdvisor and WeekendNotes. They’ll find new restaurants, new stores and new trends by going down the rabbithole of their favourite hashtags. They’ll actively seek product recommendations, giving you a great platform to be front-and-centre in their mind; and while it’s a long, hard slug to get to the front page of Google results, it’s not hard to be seen by your target audience on Instagram as long as you… *drumroll*
Understand the medium
Unlike other social platforms like Facebook, Instagram doesn’t allow you to share links: any link you include in your posts will become plain text. You’re allowed one live link in your bio, and some businesses will change their bio link for each new promotion. But you can also just direct your audience to your website; if you’ve designed your site with UX in mind, it should be easy-to-navigate to find the content you’re highlighting anyway. Otherwise, embrace Instagram for what it is – a platform that doesn’t want you to click away! – and plan your posts accordingly with interesting, informative and visually-appealing content.
So, what does this all mean? Let’s take the example of a pest control company. You don’t want to show pictures of cockroach infestations – but you do want to show happy families enjoying pest-free homes. Making something bespoke and beautiful? Let’s see how you do it. Running an accounting firm? Share your wisdom, introduce your team, and tell the story of what makes your firm different from the rest.
What works on other platforms won’t necessarily work on Insta, so think visual, focus less on links and embrace the opportunity to show the world what your brand is about. And with so many companies advertising on Facebook, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of noise:: many business owners are nervous about using Instagram to promote their business, giving well-designed Insta campaigns an advantage.
Think carefully about your bio and description
Many of your Instagram followers won’t make it as far as your website, so think of this as your “About” page. You don’t want to cram an elevator pitch into your posts. Your bio and description are where you get to introduce your business, your relevant hashtags and where to go if they want to learn more.
Test, measure, adjust and target
Don’t just post for the sake of posting! Understanding your followers and what works for them – and what falls flat – is a journey. Try new things, tweak your posts, and get familiar with Insights so that you can understand who reacts to what, and when.
Finally, great posts deserve a great following! Instagram ads usually take the form of Sponsored Posts, which let you reach your target audience through criteria like location, demographics, interests and behaviours. This lets you drill down to reach users that are most likely to follow your brand, which will then give you the opportunity to reach these high-quality leads again and again to reach your business goals. Go forth and win!