August 22, 2017

The Complete Guide To Instagram Marketing For 2017 (Part 1)

Twenty-sixteen was the year in which social media platforms like Instagram reached near-full maturity. While innovation slows and adoption levels reach saturation, it’s easy to assume that marketers are getting savvier on how to fully exploit the potential of such a powerful medium for engaging consumers.

But the truth, in our opinion, is that many marketers and brands are still failing to properly harness the innate power of Instagram in boosting sales and brand recognition.

That’s the reason why we decided to put together the most comprehensive guide yet to turbo-charge your marketing efforts and improve your results where it matters — Eyeballs, Engagement, and Earnings.

Niche Suitability

It goes without saying that Instagram as a social platform is inherently, erm… visual. This can certainly deter smaller brands and blogs because the effort and expertise required is perceived to be higher.

Not only that but there’s no escaping the fact that some types of content do better on a platform like Instagram than others. These are what I consider to be niches that have a full natural compatibility with Instagram:

  • Travel
  • Food
  • Luxury/Lifestyle Goods
  • Automobiles
  • Fashion
  • Health
  • Fitness

This is not to say that brands in other spaces cannot do very well with their marketing efforts on Instagram. They most certainly can do well but it is somewhat more difficult and may require a greater degree of creativity in your approach.

As you read each broad niche in the list above it won’t have been difficult for your brain to start sparking with logical ideas for posts. But this is only half the battle — proper execution and engagement are what brings success.

Note: if your business operates in a different niche to those above, you should keep reading. Approaches that blend elements of humor, for example, can work for any brand. We’ll also look at examples of using data visualizations and daily motivational images as effective types of Instagram content.

Case Study: Effective Content For Any Niche

Whilst we may invest a considerable amount of time in our Instagram content strategy it goes without saying that drawing people to your posts in the first places is only half the battle. Later in this post, we’ll talk about turning ‘eyeballs’ into meaningful engagement through a variety of strategies.

For now, however, let’s take a look at one or two examples of how anyone can put together an Instagram post with a winning formula in a short amount of time.

Let’s take one particular example: a business or blog in the car industry. In this case, you’ll be seeking to engage with the large online community of car enthusiasts who are potential buyers of your merchandise or readers of your blog. How might we go about it?

  1. For an interesting viral fact, we’ll head over to Reddit and it’s highly popular ‘Today I Learned‘ (TIL) subreddit.
  2. Use the search bar and enter our keyword ‘car’ and be sure to check the box to limit your search to this particular subreddit.
  3. Next, sort the results by ‘top’ and show links from ‘all time’. Immediately we’ll find some short, punchy facts related to cars that have gone viral in the past. In this respect, the Reddit audience becomes your own personal focus group showing which information is most compelling and shareable. On this occasion, I’m going to pick a top result regarding Mercedes-Benz cars.
  4. Now we’ll head over to Pixlr and its fantastic, free Express Tool. Click ‘Open URL’ and head on over to Google Images. A simple search for ‘new Mercedes-Benz’ will bring up a huge number of results. Pick one and select ‘View image’.
  5. Copy and paste the URL over to Pixlr Express and use the ‘Type’ tool to immediately add text over the top of your image. Here’s something I came up with in less than 5 minutes:

All that’s left is to save your image and share it on your Instagram profile!

Note: this is just one of many strategies for producing content and it can be made applicable to almost any niche by modifying the steps above. In subsequent parts of this blog post series, we’ll look at other methods of putting together posts with viral potential. You may want to add a watermark to your images in Pixlr so that your brand may still receive exposure if others take and repost the image.

Getting An Audience For Your Content

Let’s say you’ve been inspired to act and now have some nice content prepared. Unfortunately, this alone is usually not enough to get serious traction for your page. Once a page gets some initial popularity it will often grow exponentially in what is known colloquially as the ‘snowball effect’.

The trouble is… getting this initial momentum for your page is the most difficult proposition of all. Let’s take a look at a few ways you might get the follows and likes flowing.

Reach Out And Network With Influencers In Your Niche

This is a simple and often highly effective place to start. Using a tool like BuzzSumo you can identify individuals in your industry that have already built up influence. It’ll also help you to observe which types of content are doing well in your niche so you can further tailor your formula for success.

Once you’ve identified people already achieving traction with your target audience you can begin engaging with their content yourself or making your introductions in the hope of getting a mention.

However, remember that the cardinal rule of networking is to make yourself useful to the person you approach. Give them a useful tip or a piece of content you found that you think their audience might appreciate. Don’t dive in asking for a favor right off the bat because it isn’t likely to work.

Reciprocity is an important tenet of persuasion for a reason.

Run A Physical Business? Harness Your Customers

If you have a physical storefront or you serve customers at their location, then don’t let this opportunity go to waste. Make sure your advertising material contains a plug for your page and a compelling reason for them to check you out.

Have A Contest Or Offer Exclusive Discounts

There’s no escaping one simple fact: money motivates consumers. Whether it’s winning a prize or saving money on purchases this is a proven method of attracting people to your page. Try this guide on holding a successful Instagram contest and if you run an ecommerce site, consider releasing coupon codes with savings exclusively through Instagram.

Bring Existing Audiences Over To Instagram

Those people that have liked your Facebook page or subscribed on YouTube are already likely to have a keen interest in your brand and now that Instagram is a fully mature platform in its own right, it’s likely your customers are already on board. Make sure they know about your Instagram profile and ensure the process of them following you is as frictionless as possible with a direct link.

Turn Your Blog Into A Follower Magnet

If your content is already reaching readers outside of social media then your options for engaging with this pre-existing audience are dramatically greater. Your blog is your own terrain and through the smart use of plugins you can coax readers and turn them into social subscribers. There are literally thousands of social media plugins out there today. A couple of my favorites include Pay With A Like (‘charge’ readers a share to access content) and this Smart Social Slider.

Tap The Social Element Of Social Media AKA “Squad Goals”

Many large Instagram pages prompt their followers to ‘tag a friend’. From a marketing perspective this incentive is dynamite because it is natural but also extremely effective at introducing new people to your page.

As an example, food pages will often show an oversized delicious meal (known as ‘food porn’) then tell followers to tag a friend with whom they’d like to share this. This kind of involvement taps into the essence of social media and the burgeoning ‘squad goals’ trend (essentially meaning any real life experience anyone would like to do or share with their circle of friends).

A Quick Word On Paid-For Followers…

In general, I would suggest avoiding paid followers or likes. The followers are likely to be spam accounts and even if they are real people, they are unlikely to have any real connection to your content. The one instance in which I will acknowledge a small benefit of paid-for engagement is in exhibiting social proof.

In the case of Instagram, the mere perception that your page is more popular than it really is can encourage more individuals to follow.  However, bear in mind that while this is a well-established psychological principle, the strategy itself is fairly duplicitous and perhaps unethical depending on your viewpoint.

In subsequent installments of this Instagram marketing blog post series, we will explore a number of these techniques in step-by-step detail. For now, allow these ideas to spark your own imagination.

Converting Instagram Metrics Into Sales

At this point, we have concocted a couple of clever strategies to generate intriguing content and some techniques for getting our audience’s eyeballs onto that material.

In the next part of this Instagram Marketing series, we will look more closely at how we can fully capitalize on our social audience where it really matters: profitability.

Whether your business model incorporates affiliate marketing, contextual ads or product sales we’re going to be looking at how to drive social audiences to the places that matter.

Perhaps you’re running a fashion brand or a vape shop. You have professional aesthetic photography and you’re sharing it on your Instagram profile but you know your customers have a limited amount of time and can’t go hunting through your inventory for every item that catches their eye.

Here we can look at solutions for making your Instagram feed shoppable, such as the one offered by Dash Hudson. Once we have our audience engaged with our content our goal becomes to take them from curiosity to sale as easily and as quickly as possible.

Stay Tuned For Part 2 where I’ll explore the potential benefits of Instagram for ad and affiliate driven businesses too…

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