As Facebook becomes more convoluted with ads, Candy Crush Saga requests and political debates, a steadily increasing number of social media users are flocking to Instagram for a simple photo-sharing experience where it is easy to meet new people and get a behind-the-scenes perspective from their favorite brands, celebrities athletes and more. I personally feel like most businesses can benefit from being active on Instagram especially clothing boutiques, furniture stores, restaurants and fitness trainers/gyms. Gaining a following here will, of course, take some time, clever strategy and effort but it is a great tool for reaching plenty of people in your area who would most likely be interested in the services or products of your business. Below are a few ways you can increase your brand awareness using Instagram:
- Rely on Hashtags for search - If you have created a hashtag that is synonymous with your brand, you should be doing a daily search of this hashtag to find those who are talking about your business. If they're talking about you or to you, talk back. Also, you can search for the hashtag that represents your city or cities nearby to find local people who may be interested in your brand. For my clients I typically search through profiles using the hashtags #CLT and #queencity. This brings up a huge list of IG users from different backgrounds with different interests. Sif through this list to decide which users you would like to create a relationship with or that you hope would follow you back in return. You can also search for industry-related hashtags to find people who are interested in the industry that your business belongs to. For example, if you own a restaurant or bakery, it would be wise to sporadically search the hashtag #cltfood to find posts from people who are into the Charlotte food scene and love it enough to post photos of what they're eating. (I'm totally guilty of this.)
- Be Active - This should go without saying as any business owner or marketer should know that if you dedicate your marketing plan to include certain social networks, you must continue to be active within these networks to see any growth or return. To stay top-of-mind with IG users, make it a habit to Like and comment photos of people in your area or whom you follow. Chances are once you remain active with these people, they will take notice and become more interested in your business or brand.
- Post Original Content - This is the fun part. With Instagram there is no limit to the opportunities of creativity to showcase your brand to people who have never heard of you before. Have fun with your brand and browse different IG accounts from larger brands that you feel like you can relate with to get a bit of content inspiration. A few suggestions for engaging content on IG would be to post funny photos of your staff, motivational quote photos, teaser photos introducing a new product, photos announcing a special discount or sale, photos of you and your staff at a charity event, etc.
There are many ways to portray your business' message with a little thought and creativity using Instagram. Employ an original, solid strategy for the photo-sharing mobile app and stick with it. You'll become more creative along the way in showcasing your brand and will soon gain a following of people who know enough about you to perhaps refer you or eventually purchase from you.
(Sidenote: I had followed the ShopRiffRaff boutique store on Instagram (isted below) for a few months without ever knowing where they were located. I wasn't sure if I ever intended on buying a dress from this boutique but felt like it couldn't hurt to be able to look at pictures of pretty dresses every now and then. A few days ago ShopRiffRaff posted a dress on Instagram that I fell in love with and within 3 minutes of seeing the photo, I walked to my computer and purchased the dress along with another top from their website. I still don't know where this boutique is located. Have I proven a point here yet?)
A few brands who do well with Instagram:
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