Why your brand needs an Instagram presence

By Dan Moores topicIcon Social Media

2006-07-26 - 28 -  Road Trip - Day 03 - United States - Iowa - Dyersville - Field of Dreams

We might not like to admit it, but as consumers we can be quite superficial. Although we do take heed of brand reputations when making buying decisions, we judge many products largely on their appearance.

If we're shopping around for a specific product and can't decide which option to actually buy, we'll often just go for the most visually appealing – whether it's a microwave curry, a winter coat, or a two-week holiday.

The object of Instagram is to make things look visually appealing, so you'd think that any aesthetics-concerned brand (which is most) would put two and two together and see the opportunity there. But far too many don't.

Understandably, Instagram is not the first priority for most B2C brands looking to establish a social media presence – Facebook and Twitter tend to come first. But Instagram has 400,000,000 users, which means it's more widely used than Twitter now.

Whatever your company deals in, you probably spend quite a lot of time and money trying to make your products look as attractive and distinctive as possible. Instagram can help you do that at no extra cost – you might need to spend a few minutes here and there, but you won't have to spend any money.

The see-and-snap simplicity

Instagram's immediacy is what makes it such an engaging and addictive platform. According to Econsultancy, the average Instagram user spends a total of 21 minutes per day on the app.

It's also the most easily manageable of the 'big three' social networks (the other two being Facebook and Twitter, as you might've guessed). Take a photo, write a caption for it, and then upload it – the whole process can take less than a minute.

The resources needed to run a decent Instagram account:

  • A smartphone
  • Internet access

That's it.

How to capitalise on Instagram

Although the concept of Instagram is straightforward, you can't just dive in head-first and expect to take it by storm. It requires strategic thinking, like all social media campaigns.

It also requires patience. Instagram users are reluctant to follow new accounts – especially ones with only a couple of photos and a handful of followers. There's not much you can do about followers in the beginning, it's just a case of persisting and posting good photos, which will bulk your profile out and make it look active.

We've used this Field of Dreams quote on theEword blog before, but it seems especially relevant here: "If you build it, they will come."

Here are some nuggets of advice when it comes to establishing Instagram presence.

Open your eyes and keep them peeled

A natural eye for photography certainly helps, but you don't need to be Ansel Adams to produce good Instagram content. The in-app editing tools can help you make even the most average shot look half decent.

Failsafe Instagram content:

  • Well-presented food and drink
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Scenic views of any kind
  • Travel shots
  • Dogs and cats (or pretty much any animal, for that matter)

And the sun sets on another brilliant day of #digital #content #marketing

A photo posted by theEwordLtd (@theewordltd) on

You can incorporate the above kinds of shots into your Instagram campaign regardless of what you deal in. Your posts need to be varied, and they need to show that you're a company made up of real human beings.

So, in short, just keep your eyes peeled for photo opportunities and make an effort to be snap-happy. Once you've done a bit of fiddling about with a photo in Instagram's editing suite, you'll be able to see whether it's worth posting or not.

Don't just post photos of your products

There's no Instagram account more boring than one entirely dedicated to overt product promotion.

Your Instagram campaign should be about projecting your brand's personality. The lifestyle associated with your brand is much more interesting, to your customers, than photos of your products.

We all have to buy clothes, so let's use a hypothetical clothing company as an example. If post after post on the company's Instagram is just photos of different products, with the prices and calls-to-action (i.e. "Go to our site and buy this") in the caption of each one, would you find that engaging? Probably not. Candid (or seemingly candid) shots of models wearing these clothes – in the street, in coffee shops, or wherever – would be much more interesting.

But don't be afraid to post photos that have nothing to do with your products. In fact, go out of your way to do so – it'll make you seem more genuine and approachable.

Be strategic: upload and interact at the peak times

When you post is crucial. Ideally, you want to be posting photos when your audience is most likely to actually be online and scrolling through their Instagram feed. You could post a Pulitzer Prize-worthy photo at 1 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, but because most people will probably be asleep at this time, it'll pass a large portion of your followers by. In short: a great photo can always wait.

Between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. is a great slot, as is 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. – generally speaking, posting at these times is a pretty safe bet. That said, your specific target audience might have different browsing habits. For example – if you operate internationally as well as domestically, you'll need to factor in time differences.

Interaction with other users' and other brands' Instagram content should also be done at peak times. When you're liking photos and making comments at peak times when users are on Instagram, they will be more likely to take the time to look at your profile (then hopefully your website).

Embed your Instagram posts on your website

What happens on Instagram doesn't necessarily have to stay on Instagram. You can – and should – go out of your way to embed some of your Instagram posts on your website's pages (including the blog). This will give your Instagram profile wider exposure and will also convey to customers that you keep up with the times.

Why embed Instagram posts rather than simply post the photos as you would normally? Well, for two main reasons:

First, because embedded posts are clickable. If clicked, the visitor will be escorted to your Instagram profile and all its photos – which will give them an immediate snapshot (no pun intended) of your brand and what you're all about. This is especially valuable if the visitor is quite new to your brand.

Second, because embedded Instagram posts have inviting "Follow" buttons built into the top-right-hand corners of them. Obviously, the more followers you have, the more exposure your brand has – which is exactly what you're after.

Here's an example of an embed (we did do one earlier, you're right, but this one's of cookies):

Look alright, don't they?

Regram your customers' photos

If you're already on Facebook and Twitter, you'll know that you can share other people's posts on your timeline via 'share' and 'retweet' buttons. You can do this on Instagram too, with a little help from a third-party regramming app (which basically takes a screenshot of the photo you want to share, so that you can reshare it on your account).

Instagram etiquette dictates that when you regram someone else's photo, you must clearly point out that it is a regrammed photo and attribute it to the user who originally posted it.

One big advantage of regramming is that it requires virtually no effort at all, and more crucially it allows you to publicly connect with your customers.

Say, for example, you're a travel company specialising in city breaks. One of your customers tags you in an Instagram photo of their hotel room, saying in the caption how pleased they are with their holiday. This is a perfect regramming opportunity. It allows you to share a good-looking photo, it allows you to promote your products, and it gets the customer who shared the original photo much more attention (which, let's face it, is what many of us are after on Instagram).

In other words:

In addition to that, every so often you should search hashtags relevant to your brand's products and lifestyle – that's a great way to actively find relevant and regrammable photos.

Interact with influential Instagrammers

Instagram has its own league of celebrities – users who are famous on Instagram, purely because they're good at Instagram. Lifestyle bloggers with tens of thousands of followers are a good example.

By interacting with these users and their posts – whether that's by leaving a comment or regramming one of their photos – you'll put yourself in a much better position. If this influential user then looks at your profile (which they probably will), likes what they see and then decides to follow you, you're one step closer to wider exposure.

Talk to theEword about your social media campaigns

If you'd like to talk to us about your social campaigns and how to amplify your brand's voice across the various platforms, fill out the contact form just below and we'll get in touch.