Using Instagram To Build your Brand & Drive Business
When promoting your business, Instagram is by far one of the best places to establish your brand identity and convert your captive audience to customers. This is why over 70% of businesses use IG to promote their company and share what they are all about with their current and prospective customers.
Your social media goals will typically fall into one of the following categories: brand building, connecting with customers or increasing sales. If you are really going to excel on social media, you want to start off focusing on the first two because they are critical to making the third happen.
Strategies for Instagram include sharing content that your audience will love to solidify your relationships with them and using various methods to increase your visibility with new audiences. If you do a great job of getting your well honed content out to the right people, you will naturally see a lift in sales through your efforts. That said, branding, visibility and connection are rarely enough to see a significant impact on your bottom line, especially when you consider the resources that go into social media management. You need to nail your brand, grow connections AND promote sales.
So in a nutshell, we’re talking about spending the majority of your effort creating a great brand, putting out excellent content, connecting with your audience and making it easy to find you, but you’ll find that most of the reward (financial, anyways) will come from the final steps you take to ensure all of this work converts to sales. Having an effective strategy to convert your audience to customers and maintaining engagement is the key to truly making social media productive for your business.
Building Your Brand
Instagram is a great place to grow your brand because it’s a highly visual platform. The majority of people are visual learners so they consume the content best this way. Your avatar icon and all imagery, logos, video and any content should be in line with your brand image – colours, style, vibe.
It’s also important to create a consistent voice in your content. Share what matches your values and always be authentic with your audience. They will stick with you if you are true to your message and what your business stands for.
Growing your brand on IG includes the visual elements, the brand voice woven through your content and the community that surrounds your profile. It’s who you align yourself with, who follows you and how they perceive you when they are there.
Getting More Visible
Part of becoming more visible on IG is who you align yourself with. Who’s content do you share, who do you engage with and who reciprocates these connections. It’s also talking about how current trends affect your business and followers. Using hashtags, tagging other accounts, sharing content and finding new followers who align with your message are all important steps to being more visible on the platform.
Find a few key influencers in your space and share their content when it’s relevant. Consider tagging them in your content if you feel it would resonate with their audience. Try to establish a reciprocal relationship of promoting each other’s ideas and wins.
Hashtags can also be a big help in making your account more visible to new audiences. Consider trending hashtags when they make sense and then find this mix: main theme hashtags (such as #digitalmarketing or #socialmediamarketing), more specific hashtags that have a medium level of followers (ie. #growyourbusiness or #smallbusinessmarketing) and then niche or localized hashtags (such as #yycsmallbusiness or #calgarymarketingagency).
You can also use your follows (discerningly) to attract new people to your audience. If you have a particularly narrow niche, try following those who regularly engage with content like yours or have similar interests. They will often choose to follow you as well and that will help you to find new potential clients and businesses to align with. But don’t just spam people with follow requests – make them carefully and thoughtfully!
You can also choose to boost your posts to attract new viewers to your content and set the goal to increase follows. In this case, you are putting a small amount of budget towards letting Instagram find you the people you are looking for and serving them your content with the goal of having them visit your profile, learning more about your business and choosing to hit the Follow button.
The Right Content For Instagram
You have so many options on IG for content types – posts, Reels, Stories, links, videos, Highlights, stickers, Lives – that you can essentially adapt your message and content to what works best for your audience. As long as you are able to showcase your products and services while communicating your values and brand message, the content types should always be what your audience wants to engage with most.
That said, Instagram heavily favours Reels and video content so you’ll definitely want to try to adapt where it makes sense. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to attract new followers. Let’s say you’re a bakery. While photos are often the best way to show off your creations, creating a slideshow as a Reel is the best way to get your content out to new people because Instagram will suggest Reels more often than any other content type. You can also create short videos and Reels that show you icing a cake, mixing together cool combinations, putting the finishing touches on, showing your daily specials or new flavours and so much more. The best part is that Instagram favours mobile and raw as well so you really don’t need more than a smartphone to capture quick shots or videos to upload.
The most important thing is that your content should revolve around solving problems and informing your audience. For us as a marketing agency, we aim to create content that educates our audience on best practices in digital marketing, techniques, overarching ideas and the technical skills or know-how needed to execute specific tactics and strategies. We also help people to understand the problems we solve – saving them time, money and resources – while helping them to grow their business. If you can help people to solve their problems themselves, you’ll have an advocate for life. If you can help them to better understand their problem, you create trust through education. If they understand the problem they have AND how your solution benefits them, you have a customer!
Connecting with your audience is the key to all of this. You build a beautiful and well voiced brand so it resonates. You make your brand visible so those who need you can find you. You create content that people will love and be drawn to so they feel that connection.
Being on social media means you are available where your audience wants to connect with you. You should encourage questions, answer comments (those that are productive), respond to DM’s and create content that perpetuates a two way conversation with those that follow you. This drives engagement up and tells IG that they should make you more visible. Your audience feels connected and in turn, you get to find more people to connect with. It’s a win all around!
Include a question in your posts or encourage people to share their experiences and stories. Use IG Stories to offer a question box where people can ask you for advice or questions about your products. Let them share their thoughts and opinions. Create polls. Ask for advice on decisions you’re making in your business. There are so many ways to engage and connect with your audience on Instagram which makes it such a fun platform for businesses!
Encouraging user generated content is another great way to connect with your audience. Ask them to share stories, send videos or pictures or tag your business when they come to your location, use your product, engage with your services, etc. This content can then be shared on your feed and Stories. User generated content lets others know that you have amazing advocates, lends social proof, shows you are engaged with your following and encourages more UGC.
The final step that so many businesses miss with their content is asking for the sale. Inviting people to engage with you off the platform or to take the last step to do business with you. It’s one thing to have a large following, or a highly engaged audience, but you also need a portion of those people to convert to sales dollars to cover the cost of the investment you make into your social accounts.
You can use many IG tools to sell your products and services directly on the platform but you still need to have a strategy to make that conversion happen. Sometimes it’s a simple call to action inviting people to buy a product or register for a course or webinar. You can also invite people to visit your website, call now or sign up for your newsletter.
Which call to action and subsequent sales process you use depends on what you sell and what tools you use, but the important thing is to remember that you built an audience of people who want what you have to offer. You created amazing content to share your ideas and how they will benefit the consumer. Now it’s time to invite them to make a purchase and fully become a part of the community that they followed you for. Use words in your posts or videos, link stickers, the link in your bio, IG forms, DM’s and any other creative options you come up with to let people know how to take the next steps and why they should.
Getting the most out of Instagram for your business is about showing people what you are all about and how you can help them, connecting with your audience and building new customers who become advocates over time. Social media can be a very fruitful place to develop relationships and drive sales if it’s executed with a clear strategy!
And while you’re running your business, you may not have the time or the knowledge to truly put Instagram to work for your business, heck, you may not even know if it’s the right fit for you. If you need support choosing the right platforms and creating an effective strategy that allows social media to make you money, we’re here to help!