Instagram is all the buzz these days in the marketing community. However, it seems like a lot of marketers and business owners are still unclear on how to fully leverage this platform.
One possible reason why Instagram marketing is still so mysterious is that it seems deceptively primitive—slap any image onto the platform, write a short caption and you’re done. However, this is true on the surface only.
We read these stories of influencers and business owners making money directly off of Instagram, but the confusion persists. So, how do you achieve customer loyalty and increase sales without leaving this fun platform?
If you truly want to leverage Instagram as an effective marketing tool, you have to be very deliberate with each one of your posts. Your branding has to be extremely strong on Instagram—probably more so than on any other platform.
Instagram feed layout won’t lie. It becomes apparent in the first few seconds of looking at any profile whether a particular user is serious about Instagram or not. Besides, in those first few seconds, it becomes extremely clear (or not) what your brand is all about.
Why branding, you ask? Such an abstract concept: How could it possibly help you bring in more hard cold cash?
Let’s get clear on what branding is: It is much more than pretty colors and fonts. It’s about your positioning, your ideal audience and all the ways your product serves them.
Branding attracts your tribe
While it is important to have a cohesive feed in terms of colors, it is much more important to ensure a cohesive theme. Your feed has to attract the right type of audience and appeal to your potential customers right away. When done correctly, your current and potential customers will feel that you “get” them and their lifestyles. It becomes a no-brainer to give money to a company that’s got your back.
If your branding is polished and evident in everything you do, it creates a sense of trust. It shows that you not only “talk the talk,” but also “walk the walk.” In an oversaturated market, the only brands that win are the ones that evoke a sense of confidence.
If your audience believes that your company is committed to fighting hunger, or creating better solutions to their everyday problems, they’ll stick for the ride and entrust you with their money and/or business. If a company is unclear on their audience or the direction they’re going in, potential customers wouldn’t want to “sponsor” the quest.
Branding polishes your storytelling skills
Careful branding makes you a better storyteller, and Instagram is all about storytelling.
This platform presents an amazing opportunity to be engaging, authentic and informal. You can embrace your creativity and your story and tell it in very interesting ways. You can entertain them with every post. You can tell success stories of your clients through images and videos. You can go behind the scenes and show them the everyday life with Stories. You can show off your expertise in the field by going Live. The possibilities are endless.
Whatever content type you prefer, always focus on them and how your brand can help them solve their issues. If you think about it, no other platform allows you to connect with your ideal customers on such a deep level. You wouldn’t expect casual office photos on LinkedIn or employee takeovers on Pinterest. Leverage what’s truly unique about Instagram—its sense of immediacy.
Through carefully crafted branding and a strong focus on storytelling, Instagram provides a massive opportunity to establish your brand as a niche leader. Connect with your audience, learn about their needs, provide massive value and then ask for the sale.
Branding builds a community for you
Strong branding makes your community stronger. Think about all of the communities and the personal image that was built around brands like Apple, Nike, Porsche or Harley-Davidson. These companies all created a “persona,” a set of aspirational qualities people are trying to achieve, whether it’s perceived coolness, toughness or know-how.
This is why it is so important to understand that branding is more than colors—it’s an aspirational lifestyle you’re selling with your product. Once you understand that and develop the right positioning, you will see a true community being created. Such community would not only buy from you, but help you sell more to new people and markets by acting as brand advocates and raving fans.
As you can see, Instagram provides an immense opportunity to attract the right people, connect with them on a deeper level, convert them into paying customers and build a community of raving fans. All of this is possible with the right mindset and carefully crafted branding.
Start approaching Instagram not as random “pretty pictures,” but as a collection of brand stories and attributes.
Lesya Liu is a digital marketing blogger with fully automated Instagram scheduling tool Hopper.