The personal uses of Instagram are quite known to everyone, especially teenagers and young adults: you may use the platform to post as many photos of your cat as you wish. Don’t ever believe it if anyone tells you they bore them to death, it’s not true. We all love to see each other’s cats on Instagram (or on any other social media platform for that matter) – endlessly. We can never get enough of it. Another thing that we love to see is your selfies. Post as many as you can, as we can hardly survive a couple of hours without seeing your crazy looking eyes with a fake grin staring back at us from the iPhone screen. Food you are about to eat, or has just cooked yourself, and numberless shots of your legs and feet dangling over the swimming pool on a sunny day are also big hits. So there’s nothing to teach you there.
But how can you use this powerful platform, which is able to congregate 500 million active users – and growing – to tell the story and consolidate the personality of your brand? Can you use Instagram for marketing purposes even if you are not in the photography business? Of course you can. And this happens to be the objective of this blog post. We want to help you use Instagram as yet another tool of your content marketing arsenal. Here are a few tips:
1. Build a list of followers: the first thing you need to do is, of course, add as many clients as you can to your Instagram community. You can use your Facebook and Twitter profiles to help you find friends you already have on these platforms. Using relevant and popular hashtags on your posts will also be very useful to help you get found. Don’t overdo it, though: the last thing you need is to look spammy.
2. Backstage peeks: you can use Instagram to show the world how and where you work. Behind-the-scenes views of your office, your colleagues at work, the cafeteria (if you are lucky to have one) and its wonderful offers, the projects in the pipeline, discreet shots of your happy-hour gatherings at the local bar… Everyone loves to take a peek inside the company they do business with. It breeds familiarity, which makes it easier for the customer to relate to and trust more.
3. Showcase your products: you can use Instagram as an effective virtual shop window for what you sell. Take enticing pictures of your product and refer customers to your website for more information and purchase. Or give the information straightaway as the caption of your post. Be selective in choosing these pictures, as you don’t want to appear amateurish in displaying your product.
4. Set up a picture contest: remember that content marketing should be more about your client than anything else. It must be a way of celebrating the clients and their association with your brand. If they do not see the benefit of looking at your pictures and have a chance to participate in the conversation, it will be hard to build a long-term relationship with them – and that’s what you need. So why don’t you give them an opportunity to appear on your Instagram? Set up a picture contest somehow related to the product or service you sell, and ask them to enter their pictures (if you sell cat food, this will be heaven, as the customers will have yet another chance to show Tiger relishing your product for the whole world to see. Total win-win.). Set clear rules about what can be shown in the photo beforehand and let them know. Then you may portray all the suitable entries, and give the winner something special, like a coupon or a discount on their next purchase.
5. Post awesome pictures related to your business: if you have a language school, for example, you could post amazing branded pictures of the countries in which they speak that language; some kind of typical food; local festivals; touristic locations; historical places, etc.Try to avoid being corny though.
6. Your personal pictures: people prefer to relate to companies as if they were people. In this case, if you feel comfortable, personalize the relationship with your customers by posting some of your private pictures: vacationing, having fun somewhere nice in the company of your family and friends, etc. Marketing gurus say privacy is no longer an existing concept – I beg to disagree – but I can certainly attest the success of many brave people out there who expose themselves totally on the web (if you decide to do it, you’ll be walking a tightrope, though).
7. Images are not necessarily photos: you can post quotes, memes or whatever inspiring thought you might want to share on Instagram. There are a number of apps which will allow you to build professional looking images on the web using amazing backgrounds with phrases on them. PowerPoint or Canva, for example, can do the job.
As long as you get started, you will find out that many more ideas will pop up in your mind as you think of original ways to entertain, educate or inform your audience about your brand. I wish you all the best in your endeavors as an Instagram content marketer.
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