Part 1: Why every business needs to be on Instagram
It rains little hearts, hashtags determine the everyday life and the annual vacation becomes a photo shooting. – A life without instagram – what would that be? Hard to imagine for many of us! Sad reality.
But what about the business sector? Instagram counts 25 million business accounts today and yet, it is often underestimated as an effective marketing platform. Having an account “just to be there”- that’s the motto. The account remains untouched for many months until an intern finally finds some time to upload a picture during the break. And B2B companies still can’t identify themselves with this, in their eyes, “teen platform” for selfies and snapshots. And there we go: The power of a large marketing platform is not being used properly and the Instagram account does not achieve any added value. Feeling trapped? Well then, stay tuned!
Instagram: Numbers don’t lie
If you don’t know what Instagram is, you’ve probably spent the last few years on an isolated, undiscovered island far away from civilization, smartphones and wifi. Well we’re happy for your experience and don’t want to exclude anyone here. Therefore a short introduction from scratch: Instagram is a photo and video based social network that allows you to edit images with tools and filters and then share them and interact with other users in the community. Today Instagram has 1 billion users.
At first glance, Instagram still looks like a simple photo community for the younger generation. But the reality is quite different: For companies of all sizes and from a wide range of sectors, the platform is a real marketing wonder. For those of you who like numbers, here are a few facts:
- 1 billion active users worldwide
- Instagram is the second most frequently downloaded (free) app
- 500 million people watch Instagram Stories every day
- 200 million users visit a business account every day
- 62% claim Instagram contributed positively to a purchase decision.
Quite tempting, isn’t it? The high number of users offers relevant target groups from all possible industries. The chances that your own target group will be somewhere among these numbers are not so bad. Well, so much for the first point why you can’t afford to do without Instagram these days. But what other factors make Instagram a real gold mine?
Reach and brand awareness
Instagram is still the best platform to promote brand awareness. In general, Instagram also has a much higher engagement rate than other platforms: 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and even 84 times higher than Twitter. Users comment, share and give thousands of hearts to your brand. Based on the algorithm, your content will also appear in the home page feed with similar users. Using the right strategy, you can achieve a high reach and continuously boost the brand awareness.
Show don’t tell
Your brand must inspire and be convincing. Today nothing works without storytelling. But even text-based narratives are not exactly brilliant. Reading a long text to understand why you should buy a product – nobody has time for this anymore. With Instagram you can score with the magic of visual storytelling. Whether through videos or images, show how much creativity and individuality your brand really offers and turn information into a visual story. People process visual content 60,000 times faster than text-based content. Thus, Pictures and video content attracts more attention, so that brand messages are better anchored in the memory.
On Instagram, you can quickly and easily get in touch with the customer, address problems, and answer questions. The more transparent and responsive a brand is to the customer needs, the more likely users will build trust with the brand. And the more trust they build, the greater the chances that they will purchase a product.
Instagram is the most popular platform for influencers. The platform offers over 500,000 active influencers with at least 15,000 followers. But you no longer have to pay a celebrity to share the product or message. Quite the opposite: micro and nanoinfluencers usually offer a more engaging follower base and create higher credibility. If you cooperate with the right influencers, Instagram can create enormous brand awareness, generate more traffic and ultimately more conversions.
At the same time, a company has lower advertising costs than, for example, through TV advertising. Less costs, higher credibility and transparency, as well as an active community… Still doubting?
Interactions on a personal level create emotional connection between consumers and the brand and thus promote long-term customer relationships. This allows us to build a community around the brand, a “fanbase” of like-minded people who interact with each other.
Stories or live video features in particular allow “behind the scenes” insights and thus create personality, transparency and credibility. Developing an emotional bond with an entire community is one of the strongest competitive assets you can achieve for your brand.
Instagram and B2B – does that fit?
Most B2B companies are still hesitant about using instagrams. Teen selffies and tough business- that just can’t go well. And so they relying primarily on LinkedIn and Facebook. Although we mainly address the end consumer on Instagram, B2B companies can still achieve a positive word of mouth and increase company awareness.
B2B companies often have the reputation of being drier and stiffer or even “boring”. But they can do differently! Instagram in particular allows you to surprise, inspire and arouse emotions. Employees can explain products and processes or introduce themselves. This gives every company more personality, helps to stand out from the competition and guarantees authentic insights into the corporate structure.
With all the career opportunities we have today, employer branding should always be the focus of every company. Many applicants almost assume that a company has an Instagram account in addition to Facebook, LinkedIn and its own web page.
What values does the company convey? Who works there? What content do they generate? These are all questions that have an enormous influence on the brand image and play an important role for young talents.
Instagram Marketing made efficiently
Is it sufficient to simply provide a Selfie with a filter every day and upload it? No. 5 years ago you might have had a chance to reach one or the other viewer, but today the world of Instagram doesn’t look so rosy anymore.
You can still achieve all the above mentioned successes, but as with other marketing activities, Instagram requires a good strategy, a lot of time and dedication. Inconsistency doesn’t pay. In many companies, Instagram (and the other social media channels) is taken over by interns who, in addition to all the other tasks they have, barely find the time to post a picture. But if you don’t dedicate enough time and creative input to your Instagram channel, you won’t succeed.
Here are some basics you should always keep in mind:
- Clearly define what goals you want to pursue on Instagram. This could be brand awareness, more traffic, building a certain image, or sales.
- Create virtual consistency: Snapshot, filter, done? That would be too easy! Instagram is all about aesthetics, because it’s a photo and video based platform. Creating an appealing format with high quality content is therefore a must. Above all, make sure that the images in the feed match each other well in terms of colour and are also consistent with the brand image. Stay true to your own brand and try not to imitate successful companies. Authenticity and individuality are crucial.
- Branded Hashtags: Special, branded hashtags motivate followers to engage. This helps building a community by allowing other users to upload their own content through your hashtags. It doesn’t always have to be the brand name; that could also be keywords that represent your brand message or vision.
- Effective Captions: Yes, Instagram is a photo based platform. But the power of the caption should not be underestimated! Captions should effectively underline the image content and also impress, inspire or arouse emotions through “storytelling“. Questions or call-to-actions that motivate followers to engage are also well suited.
- Community Engagement: Interact with your followers or generally all users who have taken the effort to comment under your image. Quite often, comments are simply being ignored. Not a good strategy for long-term commitment, because as an active follower you want to be appreciated and get something back. Even if a user leaves an emoji only, well then give him an emoji back ! If a user uploaded a picture with your product, share it! This also has a positive effect on the algorithm: The more comments an image has, the better its reach.
And besides that you have to test, test, test! Simply try what works best with your own community. What do the viewers like? In this way you better understand the needs of the target group and learn how to implement customer feedback. At the same time, you will always be up to date on current consumer trends.
What do we learn from this? Brand awareness, enhancing the brand image and building a community. Instagram can be very promising. This is true for companies that address consumers as well as for B2B companies. The benefits you can achieve from the platform will depend on your own strategy though. Try to share valuable content that tells visual stories and encourages interaction rather than dry and “empty” images that just impose products. The content needs to be “instagrammable”.
Instagram remains an important marketing tool in 2020. If you’re not using your account effectively for your business yet, you shouldn’t hesitate any longer. 3,2,1… go! Create, post and engage!