Ignore Instagram at your own peril.
Since Facebook’s acquisition of the channel in 2012, Instagram growth has exploded, with 300 million active users, 30 billion photos shared, and an average of 70 million photos posted per day.
People are engaging with Instagram posts on levels unparalleled by any other social network. According to Forrester research, Instagram user interactions with brands is 400% higher than on Facebook and Twitter, delivering 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
So how can brands start building an Instagram presence? And how do you start engaging with followers to drive sales?
Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Never Forget the Hashtag
Thomas Lashier, the owner of Freaky Fresh Marketing, says that hashtags are key to reaching prospects and customers on Instagram:
Companies can categorize their photos and videos using relevant hashtags, which will help their photos and videos show up in live feeds that their prospects are following.
By using hashtags, businesses can drive traffic to their Instagram profile, where they can use the profile link to drive traffic to their website or an introductory offer.
2. Find Your Influencers
Chris Paul Jensen Jr. of (W)right On Communications says that influencer marketing is key to growing your Instagram following. He gives the example of SHREDZ, a nutritional supplements company:
SHREDZ only made $90,000 in 2012, but after partnering with a fitness model, Paige Hathaway, the brand jumped to $5 million in gross revenue by the end of 2013. SHREDZ achieved these numbers with just a small team and digital promotion. At the beginning of the partnership, Hathaway had 8,000 followers; she has grown to over 1.8 million in a span of three years.
3. Integrate Your Contacts from Other Channels
Brett Farmiloe, founder of Markitors, has a unique way of building your Instagram following and maximizing engagement: Identify customers who are already on Instagram:
The first step is to export a list of all customer phone numbers and contact information from your database or CRM. Take that list and import them as contacts into your Gmail account. Then, import those phone numbers and contact info from Gmail into a smartphone and log into your Instagram account on your phone.
From there, use Instagram’s “follow all contacts” feature, which will search for any of your contacts on Instagram and then you can select to follow them.
4. Integrate Instagram Content with Email
Finally, Instagram and email marketing can be a really powerful combination.
If you embed live Instagram content around a brand hashtag, you can streamline that process by offering photos taken by customers to people who are considering a product or service. This makes the email more engaging and the product more appealing.
Hyatt, for example, has used Instagram in email campaigns to feature the latest Instagram photos from its properties to give new guests a glimpse into what they can do during their stay.
5. Going Where the Engagement Is
Instagram is the king of engagement. Through the power of hashtags, influencers, and more, it’s possible to turn Instagram into a powerful funnel for both lead generation and customer engagement. The best part is that all you need to get started is your phone and a great picture.
Miles Williams is the CMO of Movable Ink. Miles is focused on telling the Movable Ink story to brands that want to create faster, smarter, and more measurable email programs. With over 20 years of experience, he oversees all global marketing efforts including brand development, demand generation, PR, and partnerships.
Top image courtesy of Yeamake / Shutterstock.com.