There is one universal language that people from all over the world can understand.
No, it’s not English. And no, don’t get cheesy — it’s not love either. What we’re talking about here is not the language that you hear or speak, but the language you see and interpret emotionally: The language of pictures and images.
Some studies have found that around 90% of the information transmitted to the human brain is visual. You may not believe it, but your brain can register 36,000 visual images per hour, and your eyes can process an image within 13 milliseconds. It’s no wonder, therefore, if you prefer visual content over large chunks of text.
If you want people to recognize and engage with your brand, you should start going visual.
This guide will give you some tips — and background information – to improve how you understand and market through Instagram.
The Fastest-Growing Social Media Platform
At the centre of the hype for visual marketing lies one social channel that makes it all possible: Instagram.
This platform has seen impressive growth over the years, and recent reports show just how much it has succeeded in becoming the new face of visual marketing. Instagram has more than 400 million monthly active users as of September 2015. It averages 2,100 new posts every second and 180 million uploads every day.
The Fuel that Drives the Game
A huge part of what made Instagram what it is today is the demographic that it targets.
Instagram has piqued the interest and attention of the most sought-after audience of today: Millennials. This target demographic is the most likely to engage with brands over the web, as users spend an average of 257 minutes on the platform each month.
The Power of User-Generated Content
Another reason why Instagram blossomed is that it harnessed an effective marketing strategy that puts users at the core.
On Instagram, brands are not the only ones who can create content. Individual users can generate their own hashtags, run photo campaigns, and upload visual content.
Instagram is a place where content can be more important than the curator. You can make noise if you have something unique and interesting to share.
How to Get Ahead on Instagram
Many digital marketers unfamiliar with Instagram are understandably trying to learn how to use the network. Of course, there are always proper and smart ways to do it.
Here are some of them:
1. Create inspiring content
Instagram thrives on creative, visual content that provides meaning for the users. It’s easy to be dismissed as irrelevant on this channel because most of the brands here are producing high-quality content that can elicit a lot of engagement. The key to getting ahead on Instagram is to do something that can pull some heartstrings.
2. Build a visual identity
For your target audience to remember you, you need to be consistent with the content you share. Your works should exude a similar mood or tone so people will recognize your style easily. Give your brand a personality that your target audience can associate with.
3. Attack from a unique point of view
Marketing through Instagram can be quite a challenge. Brands that are not willing to take their marketing up a notch can be easily sidelined in this social media platform. Instagrammers value stories that are told from a unique perspective. If you want to get ahead on Instagram by connecting with your audience, give them something that they won’t find elsewhere.
4. Present fresh content
Your customer base will easily forget you if you’re not always on their feed. To grab your followers’ attention, you should share relevant content at least once a day. Competition is tough on Instagram, so if you don’t want other brands to take over your audience, always be on the lookout.
5. Take advantage of hashtags
Exposure can be your ace in the almost-saturated atmosphere of Instagram. To get maximum exposure, you can add relevant and popular hashtags to your posts. Hashtags will make your content more accessible to people who are actively looking for the products you sell. That’s why hashtagging is an effective way to engage with your current customer base while also growing your audience.
Research a hashtag here:
6. Use the right filters
Because this social channel mainly produces visual content, it harbors some underlying psychological principles that can help improve brands’ marketing efforts. For example, there are different types of photo filters that can get different reactions from users. According to Populagram, the top three filters are Normal, Valencia, and Earlybird. Another site, TrackMaven, revealed different results, with the top three filters being Mayfair, Normal, and Inkwell. If you can conduct a study that is specific to your own audience, that will help.
7. Run interactive contests
One good way to grab your followers’ attention and create a buzz is to have contests. Users love giveaways especially when all they have to do to win is to like, share or comment to a post, or to use a hashtag and leave their email addresses.
8. Sponsor posts and product reviews
Social marketing is not always free. To really get ahead on Instgram, you will sometimes need to shed a few bucks and ask the biggest influencers and bloggers in your industry to promote or at least review your business.
9. Establish a two-way communication process
A successful Instagram marketing campaign typically involves open communication with your followers. This means that you have to respond to comments when your input matters and your voice can make a difference. Pay close attention to what you’re saying, and make sure that your brand personality resonates with you every time you put yourself out there to engage with your audience.
10. Track and monitor your data
You’ll have no other way of knowing if you’re on the right track if you don’t keep an eye on your Instagram stats. You need to analyze whatever data you have and work from there. It’s the only way for you to know whether you’re using the right strategies or you’re fighting a losing battle.
Thought Leaders and Trendsetters That Have Gotten Ahead on Instagram
Brands that understand how Instagram works can create meaningful and interesting interactions that Instagrammers find worthy of their attention.
Here are some of those big names:
- Mercedes Benz: This automotive company builds awareness by showcasing its products in interesting angles that display how vehicles fit in with people’s lifestyles.
- Starbucks: This coffee company is big not only in the real world but also in the virtual landscape. It runs engaging contests and hashtag campaigns that get as many as 11,000 entries.
- Groupon: This discount provider turned heads when it released its “Banana Bunker” product, a plastic holder for a single banana, which seized the public’s attention because of its bizarre and risqué look.
- Smirnoff: This beverage company leverages Instagram’s strength as a visual channel. It entices its audience with professionally shot and edited images of drinks that look too good to resist.
- Bachelr: This men’s fashion startup company uses sponsored promotions to spread word about its products. The payoff has been noticeable — the company server crashed because of the amount of traffic that flooded in through Instagram.
Now you understand just how critical it is for your business to get into the bandwagon and use Instagram as a marketing tool.
Stay on top of your game and make sure that you’re ready to conquer this marketing platform.
The Marketing Thought-Leader
- Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing Founder
The Social Media Professor
- Aurora Meyer, University of Missouri Adjunct Professor
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