Instagram Marketing 101 for beginners

Instagram Marketing 101 for beginners

Reading the above statistics you’ll likely have been a little surprised. Instagram is bigger than Twitter and better for engagement than Facebook! Time to get on it!

Why is Instagram so good for interaction? What is it about this channel that makes it potentially a gold mine for companies hoping to make an impression on their prospective audiences? Especially considering that on the face of it, Instagram seems very much more geared towards sharing personal content with no marketing angle?

Well actually, it’s this focus and this limitation that actually makes Instagram so effective.

You see, people are very cynical of businesses and they’re very tired of seeing the same marketing message over and over again. Is it any wonder people aren’t engaging?

On Instagram though, there is no ‘click here’ or ‘buy now’. Rather, there’s just – here’s a photo of us working in our office, a funny meme, a picture of something that encapsulates the subject you’re interested in, a new product framed artistically. This is far less invasive.

As such, brands on Instagram come across much more genuine and don’t appear to have the same obvious ulterior motive.
At the same time, because you’re forced to create something artistic and interesting on Instagram, that will help to make your business seem much more trendy, artistic and interesting itself.

A company that is constantly uploading pictures of sunsets, of their products in amazing lighting or of inspirational messages is going to seem much more savvy and in tune with their customers as opposed to a company that keeps just featuring large banners telling people to buy stuff.

Instagram is potentially highly lucrative for brands then and is a very smart place for them to invest their time and their money. While this may be true though, it’s also very different from other platforms and other social networks. What this means, is that it you need to approach it differently and you need to have different objectives lest you be disappointed.

For starters, you need to be aware that Instagram isn’t about making direct sales and conversions. You can’t include live links in your description that will send people anywhere, so you can’t have a ‘Click Here to Buy Now’ call to action there.

Instead, what you need to be focusing on is your brand’s visibility, popularity, loyalty and authority. Your aim is to build followers on Instagram, so that they will see your content and be constantly reminded about your brand and why it matters. Likewise, you want the people who already like your brand to learn to like it even more and to be constantly reminded that you exist and of all the great things they can buy.

This is very much a ‘slow burn’ marketing strategy then and it should not be measured in terms of immediate ROI. This should be measured in terms of engagement, growth and popularity. In the long term, this is actually much more valuable to you than a single sale.

Creating Amazing Content for Instagram

Now you know the power of Instagram and you know what your overall objective is. The next question, is how you go about populating your account with content that will really stand out and get noticed.

Of course the majority of your content is going to be photos. The good news here is that you won’t need a powerful camera to create these photos and can instead do a perfectly good job with a simple phone camera.

Remember, the dimensions of your Instagram photos are relatively small and the filter is going to be able to hide any low resolution anyway. A HD camera will give you more to work with and you should get one if possible – but don’t worry if you don’t have one right away.

What does matter is the subject and what you’re going to be taking photos of. For a brand, this can be a difficult question.
Obvious Instagram caters very well to creative brands and to companies that sell crafts, clothing, ornaments or anything else that is aesthetically appealing and likely to appeal to an audience that likes beautiful things.

If you knit plush toys, or design shoes, then you can upload pictures of these to show off your products in a very stylish way. Restaurants and food companies meanwhile can be highly successful showing images of what they’re cooking or preparing.
Surprisingly, this will also work very well for technology companies, car manufacturers – even companies creating kitchen cutlery.

Technology nerds can get surprisingly excited about some ‘sexy’ new hardware and if you compose the shot correctly, this can be very effective. Services might also work – whether you show photos of the beautiful websites you’ve helped to create, or you upload images of your team looking over the shoulder of someone working at the computer (for a consultant).

Another angle is to think of the lifestyle and the ‘value proposition’ surrounding your brand. There’s a saying that you ‘don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads’. What is the equivalent of your ‘warm head’?

In other words, if your company sells fitness equipment then you can upload photos of the equipment but you can also upload photos of the lifestyle. This could mean a photo of a taped and chalked hand, ready to grab a pull up bar. It could mean a photo of an empty protein shaker, or it could mean a picture of a figure running on the horizon against a sunrise. Maybe it means a picture of someone looking very confident and in great shape on the beach?

If you sell holidays, then your photos should be of exotic locations, people relaxing in pools and people backpacking across the desert.

If your company offers consultation, legal advice, accounting, then you might have pictures synonymous with business and success: such as people looking out from their office block on the 20th floor, city lights at night, or hands shaking. In all these cases, you need to think about making the image look good in itself and you need to think about how it’s going to make the people reading feel.

A completely different approach to take meanwhile might be to show images of your personal life. This is useful for bloggers and entrepreneurs who want to create a personal brand. Actors, bloggers, digital marketers, musicians, gurus, YouTube stars and more all have Instagram accounts that show what they’re getting up to.

The objective here is to allow your fans and followers a glimpse into your lifestyle so they can feel like they know you. This will build your brand loyalty and your authority and it will make you more likeable, thus increasing the chance that someone will buy from you. While the objective here is to provide an honest insight into your lifestyle though, remember that you also want yourself to appear knowledgeable and if you’re promoting a certain lifestyle or product then you want to imply that this actually works.

What this means, is that you again need to think about the way your photos will make the viewers feel. Try and showcase your lifestyle in a way that makes it seem desirable and that makes you seem successful and confident – this will make your followers more likely to want to listen to your advice. Selfies are really popular on Instagram of course and this is the perfect place to use them.

Finally, note that your Instagram content can also be designed to provide value as information or as entertainment. A great example of this would be a restaurant that also provided recipe ideas, or perhaps a clothing company that offered style suggestions and tips.

Many people follow fashion accounts on Instagram to get ideas for clothes combinations as well as inspiration regarding good outfits and looks. You can also provide inspiration via Instagram, tips, news, ideas for nights out. Think about what fits with your brand and how you can deliver useful information in a visual format.

Instagram is potentially highly lucrative for brands then and is a very smart place for them to invest their time and their money. For starters, you need to be aware that Instagram isn’t about making direct sales and conversions.

Your aim is to build followers on Instagram, so that they will see your content and be constantly reminded about your brand and why it matters. Remember, the dimensions of your Instagram photos are relatively small and the filter is going to be able to hide any low resolution anyway.

Obvious Instagram caters very well to creative brands and to companies that sell crafts, clothing, ornaments or anything else that is aesthetically appealing and likely to appeal to an audience that likes beautiful things.


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