Posting great content is always vital for social media marketing – it’s what prompts people to engage with your brand, and what keeps them coming back for more.
On other social networks, this can mean sharing links, posting interesting articles, and starting conversations. On Instagram, it begins and ends with images. The whole network was created to let people share their photos.
This is especially true if you’re selling products online. According to one study, 93% of decisions in the buying process are based on visual appearance. So good images are vital.
Aside from taking excellent photos, how can you make your Instagram content more appealing?
Choose a theme
The best Instagram accounts tend have an underlying theme or tone. You need something that inspires or intrigues followers, beyond simply your products.
For example, Under Armour uses the hashtag “#IWILL,” and its posts almost always relate to physically overcoming obstacles.
DIY projects and creative solutions to problems (using your products)
Influencer content (more on this soon)
Contests and giveaways
Quote images are always popular as well, and they don’t even require an original photo. Put an interesting quote on a nice background, and users will be happy to share.
Use tools to help
Not all of us are design geniuses. And the good news is that you don’t need to be. Foundr Magazine CEO Nathan Chan recommends leaning on the multitude of apps out there that help you post better images.
Foundr uses Wordswag, Phonto, and Typorama to beautify their posts. Other popular options include Canva and Piktochart.
Calls-to-action (CTAs) tell the user what you want them to do. Here’s an example:
Whether you want users to download content, visit your website, or buy, you need to be clear. A good CTA tells them what to do next.
On Instagram, this can be slightly tricky. The network only allows one link – the one in your bio – so you can’t insert links into image captions, comments, or the image itself. And without a link, how can you create a CTA?
Smart marketers have developed a few strategies:
“Link in bio”
We’re all probably a little sick of seeing this, but if you only have one link to spare, you have to get users to click on it. The simplest method is to tell them where they can find more info – the link in your bio:
Since you can’t put a link in the image, give users all the other information they need. What can they buy, where can they buy it, and why should they (what’s the benefit)?
Promo codes are perfect because you can easily track them. Whenever someone buys with your Instagram code, you know the source of the sale. So while you can’t track the link as easily, you’ll still know where the buyer came from.
Like vs comment
This strategy also works well on Facebook and Twitter. Conduct a quick poll with your followers, and let them vote by using either “like” or “comment.” It’s a simple way to increase engagements with your profile, and doesn’t take much effort.
Alternatively, you can ask users to choose “A” or “B” in the comments section. If you sell shoes, have your followers choose their favorite color. If you’re a University, let them select their favorite uniform for the basketball team.
Make it fun, and generate some interest. But most of all, help your followers do what you need them to do. If you need them to share your content, show them how. If you want them to buy, make it clear and easy.
7. Tell Stories
If you’re an Instagram user, you already know about the Stories feature. It sits at the top of your feed, and lets you see several posts in a row from the same user.
For marketers, this is wonderful gift. You don’t need to try to convey your entire message in a single image, you can string several together to tell a narrative.
What are Stories?
Stories are different from your usual Instagram posts in a few key ways:
These images flow from one to the next in a slideshow
Each image is erased after 24 hours
Because the images are full-screen, there are no captions
Other users cannot see comments
And you don’t need to worry about trying to appear higher in your followers’ feeds – all Stories sit at the top of the app, and users can scroll through them to find the ones they like.
A few best practices
Stories can help brands show some personality, or apply a narrative to their products. Followers see your images in the order you want them to. That’s what makes them… well, stories.
Here are a few tips for first class Stories:
Offer something different – Don’t just string together your usual Instagram content. Show sneak peeks or “day in the life” glimpses to make this content feel special.
Focus on the narrative – Try to give Stories a beginning, middle, and end. Introduce a person, place, or product, pique the user’s attention, then knock them out with a killer CTA.
Be informal – Stories also tend to be more intimate, and less polished, than other Instagram content. That doesn’t mean that they can look rough – far from it – but you can show your brand’s human side here.
Try a takeover – Let a talented staff member take over the account for the day and build their own story. Or, if you have good connection, a well-known influencer is even better.
If you’re lucky enough to have a verified account, you can even add links to Stories. This makes for great CTAs, where the user simply has to swipe up to go to your site.
Take advantage of this opportunity to craft a different style of content. Balance your carefully composed timeline images with more off-the-cuff Story content. This variety keeps your users paying attention for longer, and hopefully sharing you with their friends.
8. Work with influencers
Influencers are industry VIPs, and their word goes a long way with buyers. Whether you’re trying to build your Instagram presence or make sales, their endorsement is just what you need.
To do this, first you need to identify the right people.
Good influencers should:
Have a suitable audience (that might actually buy)
Be vocal and visible in your industry
Have a history of influencing their followers’ decisions
In other words, they actually need to be influential. Just having a huge following isn’t enough.
Mention’s Influencers Dashboard is a great tool to find them yourself. If you monitor your brand or your industry, it shows you the most important people posting about them on Instagram, and lets you reach out directly:
Once you’ve found the right ones, it’s time to reach out. So how can you get influencers to work with you?
You may need to pay
Over time, Instagram has become a fine-tuned influencer marketing machine. Models, lifestyle bloggers, and artists make serious money sharing products. Foundr Magazine’s Nathan Chan shared this table with us in our Instagram Masterclass:
While it can cost you serious money to market your brand this way, it might just be the jump-start you need.
Give them swag
Some influencers can be persuaded by the offer of a little free stuff. If you sell interesting, exciting products, many well-known users will gladly wear them in an Instagram photo – provided you let them keep the goods.
This approach is nothing new, it’s the reason why millionaire movie stars are given goody bags at the Oscars – brands hope desperately that George Clooney will be seen wearing their watch.
Offer your target influencers your next season’s stock in exchange for a little publicity. Make sure their followers match your buyers, and your business is sure to grow.
“Share for share”
We don’t all have money to throw at influencers. Sometimes, it’s better to find other people and brands with a similar profile to yours – they can help you reach new audiences in exchange for shares, comments, or links.
If you want to work with these people – and you should – you need to figure out what you can offer them. This doesn’t have to be limited to Instagram, either.
Maybe your Instagram account is new, but you have a thriving Facebook community. Would they give you a shout out on Instagram if you link to them on Facebook? Or maybe they’d prefer five tweets?
The key here is compromise. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
Time to dive into Instagram marketing
Hopefully this post provided you with some new ideas for your Instagram strategy, and how to make Instagram work better for your brand. Now it’s just time to put them to use.