Is your company looking to use Instagram as part of its social media marketing strategy? This post is for any business large or small, anyone responsible for marketing efforts for business on Instagram. However, even if you aren’t a company you can benefit from the information and over-riding principles we teach in this article.
The end goal is the same whether you are a business owner, an influencer, or someone who hopes to become an influencer….we all want to grow on Instagram. Growth means a greater share of the market will see your brand. Growth on Instagram means big business!
Ask yourself…what are you willing to commit? Time, money and dedication will be needed. But Instagram is where it’s at! Instagram is now the largest social media platform in the world. And as Facebook has recently announced changes to their algorythm Instagram is poised to take over an increasingly larger share of social media marketing as well.
Let’s get right to it.
Beauty Above All Else
Marketing on Instagram is unique. In order to succeed on Instagram you must buy into the fundamental belief that beauty can be found EVERYWHERE. Beauty, creativity, artistry and visual story telling are king! And overt advertising is out! Sure, people ignore these guidelines every day, but you don’t see these same people succeeding on Instagram. Follow the rules, post beautiful content and the Instagram gods may start to smile at you. Yes, it’s more complicated than this but this is where you must start.
Learning to turn ordinary situations and mundane topics into artistic moments…..therein lies the rub.
No matter what your niche, whether you’re selling tires or beautifully crafted smiles (dentistry), your images must:
- Catch the eye
- Inspire curiosity
- Spur emotion
- Broadcast a gripping message
Image vs. Graphic Text for Social Media Marketing
We’ve already talked about the fact that Instagram is a visual platform first and foremost. But what about posting graphic text, ie. inspirational quotes? We do see some value in using inspirational, thought provoking, or humorous quotes that seem to cut straight to the chase. It seems easier too, doesn’t it? Why not just use text? Here’s why: Research has shown that emotional response to visuals is more positive than text. And, Instagram is a visual first platform.
We aren’t outlawing graphic text, but want to make it clear that visuals should far outweigh text and be the first choice when possible. It’s like the 80/20 rule. You can use it, but in the right proportion you’ll achieve the best results.
Even when promoting, it’s better to promote with an enticing, beautiful photo that just might pass as non-promotional than to smear words across the screen. Lead with beauty.
Social Media Marketing: Creating Emotional Response
Here is the key: Your images don’t have to show something that directly or literally represents your brand, AS LONG AS it reinforces the kinds of emotions you want your customers to associate with your brand/company.
For example, a tire company’s feed should not be only pictures of tires. And a dental office does not want to show a feed of just the inside of people’s mouths!
Rather, you want your feed to represent how your company sees the world. You want to push people beyond the normal concepts of what they associate with your field to include the bigger picture. You want to paint the picture of the lifestyle that your product or services makes possible.
For example, the tire company might include photos of a hot car pulled up to a fancy restaurant with a beautiful woman just stepping out of the car. The tire company is making the bridge to the type of lifestyle their tires will lend themselves to. You should include pictures that you know your brand’s target audience will be attracted to.
Another example is the dental office that shows pictures of a beautiful family smiling all together (the dental practice treats children as well as adults). A picture of a romantic dinner for two with a closeup of the woman’s beautiful smile shows the promise of romance is the end result of having beautiful teeth and a beautiful smile. Health, beauty, attractiveness, success, happiness….all of these things are in line with a healthy, beautiful smile provided by the dental services!
Personification of Your Brand
People don’t relate to brands, per se. They relate to people. So the goal is to make your brand personable. It’s not enough to share beautiful photos, you must also create a personality behind the photos.
One way to make your brand more personable is to make people laugh. This is one area where you can veer away from your specific brand image slightly. Humor doesn’t have to be in line with your brand…it’s like taking time out of your regularly scheduled programming to laugh. This is human, and it is welcomed. Making people laugh makes your brand more personable and relatable, so bring on the giggles!
Learn more essential strategies to build follower connection and engagement in our post:
Social Media Marketing: Make it Timely
Instagram is a current, up-to-the-moment platform. It follows that it is driven by what is happening today. The best posts create relevance based on current events and what’s trending NOW! Keeping in line with seasons, holidays, and world news is a great way to get your posts to attract your audience and even make your posts go viral. Don’t ignore the world around you. Instead, use it to make your posts more relevant and timely. Use the trends to become part of the trends!
Don’t make the mistake that most brands do by creating a social media strategy based on ALL promotions or NO promotions. Both extremes will do your brand a disservice. Reaching a happy medium should be your goal. What is this exact best formula? It will of course vary from brand to brand and audience to audience, but a good rule of thumb is 80/20.
Make roughly 80% of your feed valuable, helpful, intriguing, inspiring, high-quality content that builds engagement as well as attracts new followers and reserve 20% or less for more direct promotion or sales. Depending on your audience this number can vary. Pay close attention to how your followers react and adjust the types of promotions you include as well as the frequency.
To add value to your promotions reward your followers for their loyalty by promoting special sales and incentives available only to your followers on Instagram.
Social Media Marketing Image Resources
It is always best to create your brand’s own unique visuals, whether they are photos or videos. Original content is always your first choice. But when budget and time constraints make this impossible there are many options these days for free or inexpensive stock photos. Carefully curated and mixed with mostly original work this is a very viable practice.
The sources below offer some free photos. You will find most sites offer a selection of free and then a bigger selection if you are willing to pay. The benefits of paying are multiple: 1) usually the best photos are not free and 2) the paid selection will include photos that are less used. Instagram rewards uniqueness so it might be worthwhile for this important quality alone. Some sources that offer free photos include:
A source for inexpensive photos is:
Looking for graphics? Head to:
This is a brief listing. Searching the web you’ll find many more sources. Take the time to research and find the sources that offer the best photos for your brand. Be choosy. Take your time and make sure your photos truly represent your brand and your true, consistent image. Sloppiness or inconsistency will do your brand disservice and be a waste of your time.
Marketing Power on Instagram
The marketing power of Instagram is already huge and all signs point to nothing but continued growth. It’s time to get on board or your brand will be left behind. If you are already on Instagram it may be time to invest more time and effort. Since both of these commodities are highly valuable it pays to be smart. Educate your company’s social media team, stay abreast of the continuous changes, and your brand will be poised to harness the full power of the future of social media on Instagram.
For more Instagram strategies read: How to Master Instagram Game with Winning Strategies
Want to be trusted, valued, and rewarded by Instagram? Find out how to keep your “trust score” high. Read: What’s Instagram’s Trust Score and Why Should You Care