With more than one billion monthly active users, Instagram is a social media juggernaut used by more than 25 million businesses across the world. Consumers use Instagram every day to discover new brands and products. Savvy brands use Instagram as an effective tool to engage with followers and build brand loyalty among fans.
In order to use Instagram effectively to market your brand, business, or product, it is important to first understand Instagram as a platform, its users, and its tools and features.
Users go on Instagram to browse and be inspired by stunning visuals and entertained by engaging videos. Be mindful to post genuine photos of lifestyle shots and exclusive behind-the-scenes looks instead of too many product-only sales photos.
If you are a B2B company, try posting content that captures your company’s unique culture, features employees’ work, or highlights your production process. You can also leverage your employees’ content by reposting them and crediting the original creator of the photo. It helps your followers place a face to the company they follow and adds another dimension of authenticity for your company.
Gen Z makes up the largest user base on Instagram, followed by millennials. Here’s a closer look at the specific age breakdown among U.S. adults:
This isn’t to say you can’t grow a following if your target consumer falls outside of the Instagram age sweet spot, it just means your potential reach and growth rate may be more limited. We want to emphasize here that the number of followers is not as important as having more engaged, loyal followers.
When it comes to gender, more U.S. women than men are using Instagram: 43% of female respondents reported using Instagram, in contrast to 31% of men surveyed.
Location-wise, the majority of users are based in the U.S. followed by India and Brazil. Instagram users’ income levels run across the spectrum from hourly retail employees to Fortune 100 CEOs.
What does this all mean?
If you’re marketing targets female consumers aged 18-35, Instagram is a platform that you can’t really afford not to be on. In fact, your most loyal audience will probably be looking for your Instagram account so they can follow along – it’s a great opportunity for you to stay in constant contact with them and build a relationship to lead to more sales in the future.
Now that you have a good idea of what Instagram is and who uses it, let’s dive into the tools and features available on Instagram so you can start to build your tribe.
First things first, make sure that your account is set to Business Profile before you get started. This will allow your profile to have a “Contact” button so that your fans can get in touch with you right from your Instagram page.
As a Business Profile, you can also create and publish Instagram ads and access analytics tools, called Insights to see the stats on the posts and ads you run. You can use the analytics tools to track and optimize your performance, understand your audience better, and improve the ROI on your advertising budget.
Instagram Stories is a feature that allows you to post more often without clogging up your main post feed. Stories are usually less edited, more “off the cuff” images and videos. Stories usually disappear after 24 hours, but they are also automatically saved in Stories Archive so you can also choose to feature them on your Story Highlights.
Stories are all about authenticity so don’t worry about editing them to look perfect or posed. You can also use features like polls, quizzes, and countdowns to add even more personality to your stories. It isn’t uncommon for businesses to poll their followers for feedback when developing products or use countdowns to create buzz and excitement for new product launches.
You can save related stories to create a menu for your business to promote current promotions and sales or the latest in-season collection. Remember, Story Highlights live right below your profile so it’s in a prominent place your followers will see when they visit your profile. Take advantage of this and showcase your business to your fans!
Hashtags are used on Instagram to reference events, conferences, pop culture terms, entertainment, or recurring themes. Users can search for posts using hashtags and it’s a good way for your content to get discovered.
Competitive research and brainstorming are two of the best ways to determine what hashtags to use on your posts. Take a look at successful brands and companies on Instagram in your industry or category. Do a deep dive into their profile, posts, captions, and hashtags and make an excel spreadsheet of their most engaging content. You can also use the Explore Tags feature to find popular hashtags and related hashtags for your posts.
Video content does incredibly well on Instagram and you have many options when it comes to publishing video content: you can post videos to your feed, stories, go on Instagram Live, or use IGTV.
Instagram Live allows you to share content in real time: once you go live, your followers will receive a notification that you’re live and they can watch and comment using the built-in chat feature. To not bombard your followers, Instagram Live should only be used sparingly and for exciting, real-time events like product launches, interviews, or Q&A’s.
IGTV (Instagram TV) is the latest video offering to join the Instagram toolbox. Viewers can watch IGTV through the native Instagram app or the IGTV app. These are meant for longer-form videos that you’ve edited (versus Live, which is streamed live and unedited). IGTV can be anywhere between 15 seconds and 10 minutes in length, with verified accounts being able to upload videos up to 1 hour long. Keep in mind that IGTV is currently only accessible on mobile, not desktop.
With a wide array of features, Instagram has something to offer everyone. Brands typically have far higher engagement rates with followers on Instagram (likes, comments, tags) than on Facebook, making it a very popular platform for content creators, influencers, and companies alike. If you have questions about marketing your product or are interested in building a brand using social media tools like Instagram, drop us a line to see how we can help!