Instagram is a powerful platform for marketing your brand. With over 1 billion monthly active users, you can bet your target market is on Instagram searching for inspiration, entertainment, and advice on how to spend their hard earned cash. We’ve all heard the stories: young brands making huge sales just by using Instagram, or stories of everyday people gaining influence and turning their feeds into money making businesses.
So how the heck are they doing it when your feed is all crickets?
Maybe you’re new to Instagram and you’re wondering how to catch up to those rockstar accounts. Maybe you jumped on the Instagram train years ago, but your follower growth has plateaued, or worse, gone backwards. The tactics that used to give you big results are no longer working. With all the algorithm changes, and the fierce competition on the saturated platform, how can your brand stand out from the crowd?
The good news is that the days of great organic growth are not over. Despite what the naysayers are saying, you don’t need to pay to play or resort to less than honest tactics. Keep reading to learn how you can market your brand on Instagram today.
“People don’t buy products or services just because of a pretty picture. People buy into the core values of a brand. They fall in love with a brand’s mission and becoming loyal raving fans because they want to support that mission.”
Know your goals for Instagram
What is the goal of your Instagram account? And your answer can’t be to get more followers. More followers is not a goal. If you’re trying to get more followers so you can make more sales, then your goal is to make more sales – see what I mean?
A lot of brands gloss over this step when building their Instagram strategy, but it’s important to spend time getting really clear on your goals. Without that clarity, it becomes much harder to plan out how to actually reach those goals. Every decision you make from what to post, what to write in your captions, or what sort of competitions you should run, should all be aimed at accomplishing your main goals.
Be clear on your brand values
People always talk about having a theme for your Instagram feed. This is good advice, but most people fail to dig deeper on what that actually means.
Do you remember sitting in English class when you had to discuss the themes of a book? There were plenty of pretty girls in period dresses in Pride and Prejudice, but the theme of that classic was not pretty girls. Love, marriage, gender roles, pride and prejudice (surprise!) are some of the main themes of that book. Themes are ideas that are bigger than just objects. At least, good themes are.
Your brand’s themes should be the core values or mission statement of your business. Empowering women to build their dream careers, changing the beauty industry to be non-toxic and cruelty-free, or educating people to make healthier food choices are all great examples of brand values that can be the theme of your Instagram feed.
Why is that important? Because people don’t buy products or services just because of a pretty picture. People buy into the core values of a brand. They fall in love with a brand’s mission and becoming loyal raving fans because they want to support that mission.
Making your brand’s core values the main theme of your Instagram feed will attract your ideal target market, turn them into loyal followers, and will be more likely to convert into sales for your business.
Know your target audience
Always create posts with your target audience in mind. Be specific. It’s not enough to say your target audience is all women ages 20-45 years. That’s too broad. And if you try to talk to everyone, you’re actually talking to no one.
Create an avatar of your ideal customer or client. Write it down. Know your avatar’s name, gender, age, job, where they live, and what they like to do in their free time. Know your avatar’s problems and work out how your product or services solves those problems. Then create posts that speak directly to your avatar.
This idea can be scary because you might be afraid of alienating some of your followers. That might happen with some of them, which is actually what you want because you only want to keep the followers that truly resonate with your brand.
The truth? Many people don’t get turned off when a brand speaks to a specific target audience. Think about it, very few people are actually super healthy, organic-only, fitness loving mums, but that doesn’t mean that some parts of that lifestyle won’t appeal to many women. Not so healthy, busy mums may end up following an account like that to get inspiration or tips on leading a healthier lifestyle.
Speaking clearly to your target audience will attract the right people to your feed while repelling those who will never convert. That’s the key to creating a highly engaged, quality Instagram following.
“Sales need to be earned, and they’re only earned after building trust with your audience. That trust is built when you serve your community.”
Serve your Instagram community
You’ve seen those accounts, the ones where every post is all about sell, sell, sell. They’re aggressive and boring and don’t convert. Sales need to be earned, and they’re only earned after building trust with your audience. That trust is built when you serve your community.
Serving your followers means always offering value in the content you share. That value can be in the form of inspiration, entertainment, or education. The best way to know if you’re offering value in a new post is to always ask “what’s in it for them?” Then make that value front and center. People are always looking at content thinking “what’s in it for me?” so if that value isn’t obvious right away, you’ll probably lose their attention fast.
For example, if you’re announcing a giveaway on your latest post, say that in your caption in the very first line. Make it very clear right away why a viewer should stop scrolling and read your post. Make it easy for your followers to see the value you offer them. Over time, you’ll gain their trust which is what you need if you can ever hope to sell them anything.
The bottom line
Gone are the days when you could post anything to Instagram and watch the followers climb on board. With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagrammers are no longer easily won over by the same pretty photos that worked on the platform years ago. They’re much more savvy than that.
If brands want to connect with their customers, they need to demonstrate who they are, what they stand for, and how they serve their people in order to earn the loyalty and trust of their audience. Only then can a brand truly thrive on Instagram today.
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Connie Chan is a photographer and photo tips blogger with over 15 years behind the lens. Proving that content is queen, her specialty is creating scroll-stopping flatlays for brands that their audience loves. Based in Sydney, Australia, you can learn more about Connie and her services at whatshepictures.com or follow her on Instagram @whatshepictures.