Wednesday, January 14, 2015

4 Keys to Instagram Marketing

I have to admit, I was a little late in recognizing Instagram as an effective marketing tool. I kept hearing about it from the 20 and 30-somethings in my circles, but as far as I could tell it was nothing more than a picture sharing space. How wrong I was. Instagram is growing by leaps and bounds and if you haven’t included it in your digital marketing mix, you should probably think about doing so - especially if your target audience is anywhere in the 18-44 age range. Why? Just look at these numbers:

69% of Gen X and millennial users fall in that age range and, while the current user base is primarily female, eMarketer expects that to change to an almost even split by 2016. A March 2014 eMarketer report estimates that 40.5 million users were U.S.-based consumers logging in to Instagram at least once per month. Regular usage levels nearly match Twitter’s, particularly on smartphones.

The Instagram platform directs your user’s attention to a single photo stream, too, so it’s not as overwhelming. They are something of a captive audience, viewing one visual treat at a time.

Keys to Leveraging Instagram

  1. Add a link to your profile. This link is easy to change and should direct the viewer to whatever landing page is hot at the time. You can leverage it for your new product introduction landing page or that contest you’re currently running. At the very least, it should default to your website homepage. Social Media Examiner recommends getting a Bitly or link for metrics purposes. This will allow you to track clicks from Instagram. If you use a regular link, Google Analytics will report the visit as direct.
  2. Keep it real. Instagram users don’t want to see obviously contrived pictures. They want to see genuine photos taken of real activities. Instagram is the ideal place to leverage user-generated content (UGC), but make sure you give the original user credit. Look for products or services in use. People want to see how those boots look with the skinny jeans tucked in. This is a great way to start a conversation.
  3. Treat it like a banner ad. Throw some text on the image. Call out whatever is important, but remember to keep it simple and to the point. This isn’t the place to call out every detail. Pithy is key here. If you have more information or a call to action, you can place it in the image caption – but you still want to keep it short and sweet.
  4. Don't spam the feed. Think of it like twitter – you don’t want to overload your followers’ feeds. Space out your posts to take advantage of the most interactive part of the day. For instance, photos garner strong interactions all the time, but apparently people won’t watch videos at work, so the best time to post videos, according to a July 2014 report by TrackMaven, is during the off hours, between 9pm – 8am EST. Day-to-day activity doesn’t vary much, but there is a slight uptick in activity on Sunday. There are also several applications that will allow you to schedule Instagram posts to take advantage of the most interactive part of the day. A couple of the most popular are:
    • Latergramme – You can upload individual images and organize when you want your posts to happen, but it won’t post for you. Starts at $9.50/month.
    • ScheduGram – Allows you to manage multiple accounts and upload and edit single or multiple images, and upload videos. Pricing starts at $20/month.

The Bottom Line

Instagram is expected to be a key player in the 2015 advertising ring. It’s growing steadily and is experimenting with advertising options. Take advantage of it now, while reach and engagement are at optimum.