How Brands Can Stand Out on Instagram

Opinion: Want to get noticed? Go where all the cool kids are

Brands can connect with Instagram audiences in compelling and authentic ways Beeldbewerking/iStock

Instagram appears to be surpassing Facebook in terms of popularity, indicating a significant shift in social media. Who knew that this photo-sharing application would become one of the most popular apps in the world, particularly among younger demographics?

Omnicore has gathered some pretty incredible statistics as to why brands should be engaging with Instagram followers. This includes the fact that it had 800 million active users as of last September.

Maybe you are already there and are seeing the growing crowd of brands vying for the attention of all of these Instagram users. Indeed, Instagram has reported that there are now 25 million businesses on the site, compared with 15 million in July 2017. In addition, Instagram data reveals that “over 80 percent of accounts on Instagram follow a business, while 200 million Instagrammers actively visit the profile of a business every day.”

With so many brands out there, it can be difficult to stand out. However, with careful planning and targeted action, you can connect with your audience on this popular platform. Numerous other brands have found great success with a range of tactics.

Leverage Instagram Stories in more ways

Many companies are still not sure what to do with the Instagram Stories feature, but they’d be well advised to figure it out, since Instagram Stories had 250 million daily users last June, up from 200 million two months earlier. Since rolling out the feature in August 2016, Instagram has enhanced it with video and creative tools such as Location Stories.

This means Instagram Stories can be used for marketing tactics such as offering discounts, which would expire within a certain period, just like the Stories they appear in. This provides a way to inspire audience members to take advantage of the deal quickly rather than assuming that it will be available when they are ready.

Story Highlights, which allows you to archive stories, is another feature to consider using to grab attention. It could help you attract audience members that might have missed a story when it first appeared.

You can also use these video moments to show existing and potential customers something different about your brand and product that they wouldn’t ordinarily get to see. That means taking them into your world to show them how the product was made or the faces behind the innovation.

Develop brand partnerships

Another approach to get attention on Instagram is to band together with other brands that share your audience. You can create a joint campaign that focuses on a social cause, for example, or you can pursue an issue that you can solve together for your audience.

Numerous companies also form affiliate marketing partnerships, sponsoring partnerships or added-value partnerships. Such partnerships could involve celebrity influencers if that fits your demographic, strategy and budget.

Look for opportunities where coming together on Instagram might yield a win for all parties, as well as attract more customers who can benefit from all the brands involved. These could include contests, shared research or special events.

Teach affiliates and influencers how to be transparent and authentic

Your team of affiliates and influencers can get you off to a great start in attracting more attention on Instagram. However, you have to do more than just create an affiliate program or draft an affiliate marketing strategy. Getting and keeping attention on Instagram involves transparency and authenticity, so you will need to show your affiliates and influencers how to take that approach with their product mentions related to your brand.

Laura Casselman, CEO of JVZoo, an online software solution with both sellers of digital products and a massive army of affiliates among its user base, notes the importance of consumer education. She explains that online shoppers are looking to sift through all the brands and products they encounter to find those that are not deceptive but offer an honest campaign. They are learning to identify what unbiased product reviews and testimonials sound and look like.

Writing in PerformanceIN, Casselman notes: “Compliance departments must be empowered to enforce. It’s up to online platforms and regulatory bodies to drill down on bad behavior. For JVZoo, that includes holding vendors to a minimum standard for product descriptions. It means bolstering compliance departments so that only high-quality products practicing good ethics can get access to consumers’ news feeds.”

Focus on others

No matter how cool your brand may be, it doesn’t always have to be about you. Talking about your brand incessantly on Instagram can exhaust and de-engage your intended audience. Instead, mix it up by posting about other brands you love. This could even be part of those aforementioned brand partnerships, where you give each other love while also promoting how the other brands help your audience.

In addition, consider sharing user-generated content, which encourages more engagement with your brand on Instagram. Also, it provides for other interesting visuals and information that link to your brand without being about your brand. Such content might include images of your actual audience members in situations that involve your brand or that just connect to the same values your brand adheres to.

Benchmark what other brands do and make it your own

There are numerous best practices brands on Instagram are implementing that you could adapt. For example, Entrepreneur created a list of 25 brands that are doing a great job of using Instagram. Study what they are doing and see where their tactics fit your brand.

This is not about copying what the other brands do. Instead, you are emulating their approaches but modifying them to harmonize with your values and messaging. This could entail adding humor or using real employees in campaigns rather than models. By making their best practices your own, you’ll be able to connect with your Instagram audience in a compelling and authentic way.

@MaryCLong Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.