Instagram has more than 700 million monthly active users, and 32 percent of all internet users have an Instagram profile.
It’s not just younger consumers that PR and marketing pros can reach through the platform, either.
Jenn Herman, author of “The Ultimate Guide to Instagram” and owner of Jenn’s Trends, a Top 10 Social Media Blog, says that 33 percent of Instagram users are 30 to 49 years old, and 18 percent are 50 to 64 years old.
Even so, PR and marketing pros often approach Instagram marketing without a proper strategy—and without enough forethought.
“Many people think, how hard can it be to upload a photo?” Herman says. Successful Instagram marketing is more than just posting a perfect shot.
Here are four power tips that can launch your efforts on the visual app:
1. Know your audience.
PR and marketing pros should start by getting acquainted with the consumers of their content. Herman advises:
Know who your audience is, what they want from Instagram, and what your goals are as a business. Marketing for a public figure will have different strategic tactics from someone marketing a local restaurant.
Let your wisdom guide your content decisions, too. PR and marketing pros should focus on their specific audiences, avoiding getting caught up in the rush to attract “hot” demographics such as millennials.
“If [your] audience is women over 50, create content for that audience. Don’t assume you have to create content that everyone else says performs well on Instagram,” Herman says.
2. Start with a strong foundation.
A successful Instagram strategy begins with a clearly branded profile that matches your organization’s voice.
[Use] a business profile on Instagram in order to make it easy for customers to contact you, but also to allow your profile to be recognized as a reputable brand. Your bio on your profile should also be fun, relevant and intriguing. It should convince someone as to why they should follow your account on Instagram. Essentially, that bio is your elevator speech to convince newcomers of your value.
From there, PR and marketing pros should focus on crafting outstanding content and remember that quality supersedes quantity.
“Posting three to five times a week, with great content, is more than sufficient to get good reach and exposure to your audience,” Herman says. “Posting more than twice a day will typically hurt your brand in multiple ways.”
3. Match your Instagram strategy to other marketing efforts, but don’t duplicate.
“An Instagram strategy should complement any other marketing strategies,” Herman says. “It should not work in a silo.”
Herman advises PR and marketing pros to create “cohesive content” for Instagram that can help you achieve your goals. This content should not be regurgitated posts from Facebook or Twitter—nor should you automatically share all your Instagram posts on other platforms—but your efforts on the visual app should complement your other social marketing campaigns.
Each platform should have its own strategy, content and captions. If you have branded colors, a certain tone or voice, a style or personality that is prevalent in your brand, that same style should continue to Instagram. If you’re polished and professional everywhere else, don’t be goofy and childish on Instagram. If your colors are bold and bright elsewhere, don’t have muted pale tones on Instagram.
Don’t assume that what works on Facebook or Twitter will also work on Instagram, either.
“It is its own unique platform that requires a unique strategy to see real results,” Herman says.
4. Look beyond numbers when embracing ‘influencer’ marketing.
eMarketer predicted that digital advertising budgets will surpass TV outlays in 2017, and it reported that 84 percent of marketers are launching at least one “influencer” marketing campaign this year.
More than 40 percent of marketers found more success by working with influential social media users than through traditional ad campaigns, and this year 63 percent are increasing the amount they spend on campaigns featuring online users with large followings.
Many PR and marketing pros are turning to Instagram power users to help boost their presence and reach more potential customers. Still, Herman advises brand managers not to get caught up in follower numbers when selecting a brand advocate.
“When looking to partner with influencers, look at engagement, not just the number of followers they have,” Herman says.
An account with 100k followers and 100 likes per photo is not an influencer. But an account with 10k followers and 500 likes per photo and dozens of comments per photo is someone with power in their audience.
Make sure the Instagram heavyweight you retain can back up his or her promises to deliver brand awareness and leads.
You also want to know what sort of results the influencer has created for other partners. Did partnering with this person generate more leads, traffic, sales, or other outcome? A good influencer will have that data for you.
Though experience working with organizations can be a positive trait in an influential Instagram user, avoid those whose profiles are littered with ads and other sponsored content.
“Someone who is working with a different brand every week and constantly promoting a broad range of products or accounts is not going to drive big results. They’re too diluted, and their audience has stopped listening to them,” Herman says.
5. Hashtag it.
“Hashtags are super-powerful on Instagram and can ensure your content reaches a whole new audience daily,” Herman says.
Make sure you’re using the tool on each of your Instagram posts—and it’s OK to use a heavy hand. Herman says:
Use at least 15 hashtags (you can use up to 30) on each post, combining popular hashtags (over 500k posts), with moderately popular hashtags (100k–500k), and niche-specific hashtags along with your branded hashtags for best results.
Hashtags can increase visibility and deliver your content to an entirely new group of consumers, but PR and marketing pros shouldn’t forget calls to action.
Though Herman says that the tactic shouldn’t be employed on every Instagram post, PR and marketing pros should provide easy-to-follow instructions in the post’s caption, with a matching link in your business profile:
… [W]hen pushing for action from your audience (to read a new blog post, sign up for an opt-in, grab a free download, utilize a promo code, shop for a product, etc.), include a call to action in your post caption that instructs them to click on the link in your bio. Then, make sure that the link in your bio actually goes to that exact page on your website!
You can learn more from Jenn Herman, along with speakers from Tronc, Virgin America, Sprint, Microsoft and more, at our PR Now & Next Conference on July 20–21 in Chicago.