We've expounded on the merits of an active Instagram account more than once this year, and we're going to do it again in this post. Instagram allows you to easily put a face to a name, so to speak, for each of the products in your store. So if you're not already active on this social media platform, you may be missing out on a golden opportunity to appeal to more customers. Below, you'll find an excerpt from a Buffer article that covers the best strategy your business can take when running your Instagram account. Be sure to give the article a full read to make the most of their suggestions!
Building your Instagram brand
Instagram is all about the visuals, so you need to set out to build a cohesive, recognizable brand identity. How you approach your Instagram brand will be influenced by the strategy you have already determined.
First, consider the visual style you want for your Instagram brand. Choose one filter or a set of filters that you will use for the majority, if not all of your photos. By using the same filters over and over, you establish a style that will become recognizable to your followers. Since your goal is to get Instagram users to stop scrolling once they see your image (in order to engage with it by liking or commenting), the more instantly recognizable your photos are, the better.
Take a look at 33 Acres Brewing Company, which uses white borders and a very white colour pallet in the majority of their Instagram photos. Scrolling through their feed, the style quickly becomes familiar and you start to associate images that meet these characteristics with the brewery.
Other mobile photo editing apps like VSCOcam and Whitagram can provide additional filters or editing options to help you find your style. Photos that have been edited or filtered elsewhere can still be imported into Instagram.
Visually, you’ll also need to decide what content your photos will focus on. In some cases, the content will be obvious: a clothing line will shoot photos of clothes, a restaurant will shoot photos of its food. Not all industries have this luxury, but brands from all industries are finding ways to promote themselves through lifestyle content, which seems to connect well with the Instagram audience.
You don’t have to be a lifestyle brand to post lifestyle content. Hootsuite is a social media management company, but we share Instagram photos of our staff members, our dogs and our offices, since this represents the character and culture of our business.
If you’re unsure of how to visually represent your own company, monitor the accounts of your followers. Look at what they’re sharing and see if you can identify any trends. Then replicate the visual themes in your own content. An accounting firm might find their followers are very passionate about coffee or cars, and share content from their employees which fits these themes. Or these brands could share their followers’ photos (giving them full credit of course) as a form of user-generated content. Marker company Sharpie uses UGC regularly in their feed, interspersing it with product photos to great effect. The use of UGC and lifestyle content makes those product shorts feel less obtrusive and salesy as a result.
Finally, there may be non-visual elements to your Instagram brand, like common language or style for captions. A popular technique used by brands is the branded hashtag.This doesn’t mean simply using your company name as a hashtag (don’t do that). This is about finding a hashtag that embodies your Instagram brand and encouraging followers to share photos that fit that image. Brands receive the benefit of increased exposure to new potential customers, and Instagrammers participate for a chance to be featured on a brand’s profile—as well as the prestige and the increase in followers that accompanies it.
Hootsuite’s branded hashtag is #Hootsuitelife. Lululemon Athletica has users tag their workout photos with #thesweatlife, which has generated tens of thousands of posts from their community. Poler Stuff has not one, but four branded hashtags (#campvibes, #adventuremobile, #bagitandtagit and #beneaththebrim). #Adventuremobile isn’t directly related to any of Poler’s products, but it does speak to their brand persona of active, outdoor living. The hashtag has attracted tens of thousands of posts shared by Instagrammers.