According to this article, more than 1 billion people use Instagram worldwide. The average amount of time users spend on Instagram is 30 minutes per day. In fact, 81% of people use Instagram to research products and services.
All this data only reinforces one message: Instagram offers businesses massive potential reach.
Even if the majority of Instagram users don’t align with your target audience, it’s almost guaranteed with Instagram’s huge audience that a significant portion of your target audience can still be found within it.
Today, we’ll explore how you can kickstart your Instagram marketing.
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1. Set Your Goals
Before you jump on the digital bandwagon and dip your toes into Instagram, ask yourself and your team: Why do you want to be on Instagram?
Obviously, the answer shouldn’t be “Because Instagram is popular” or “Because everyone else is”.
To be successful on Instagram, you need to set goals. This will help justify your time, resources and effort invested.
Of course, there’s no right answer here. You could be using Instagram to connect with your customers (after all, Instagram is fundamentally a social media channel). Or your products are visually appealing hence it makes sense to attract customers via Instagram. You might also share a portfolio of what you’ve done on Instagram. Or perhaps, your target audience is on Instagram so you’re simply building brand awareness.
As a slow writer, there are long intervals between each book I published. Therefore, I use Instagram to keep readers up to date about what I’m doing. For example, writing my draft, editing, preparing to publish my new book. I also share a glimpse of what I do when I’m not writing or working on publishing matters, such as modern calligraphy.
Whatever your reasons are, do ensure that you set your goals first. This way, you always bear in mind why you’re on Instagram, why you’re investing so much time, resources and effort into taking nice photos and posting on Instagram. Once you know the why behind everything you do, you’ll also know what performance metrics are important to you.
2. Determine Your Target Audience
Next, determine your target audience before you even create an account on Instagram.
Who are the people that you want to reach?
- Challenges/Pain Points
You can use your buyer persona if you’ve already created it for other marketing campaigns.
If you’re creating this target audience from scratch, you can dig into your current customers or fans and followers of your social media channels. You can also monitor hashtags related to your business and analyze the people who are using and engaging these hashtags. You should be able to somewhat define your buyer persona.
Remember, this buyer persona isn’t fixed. You can tweak it as your business grows. And of course, you can have more than one buyer persona. But it’s still recommended to keep this minimal so you can focus your marketing efforts.
Once you’re done determining your target audience or buyer persona, do check that these people are on Instagram.
3. Conduct Competitor Research
To understand the market, you should identify your competitors and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. This will give you a better picture of what your competitors are posting on Instagram and what you can do better.
If you already know who your competitors are, you can start by analyzing their Instagram profiles. If you don’t have a list of competitors, you can search for terms related to your business and industry.
Find out what they usually post about, what hashtags they use, which type of content generates the most engagement, how their captions are crafted, how often they post. This will help serve as a benchmark so you can assess your performance as you grow your brand on Instagram.
Also, do take note of opportunities for improvements. For instance, gaps in their content or target audience they might have missed out on. By being better in these areas, it can help make your business stand out from the crowd.
I highly recommend that you create a swipe file. This collection of Instagram posts that work for your competitors can be a source of inspiration. It can also help overcome your Instagram struggles (like when you run out of content ideas or not know what to post).
4. Brainstorm Content Ideas
From the competitor audit, you should have some content ideas for your business.
Again, you can search for hashtags that your target audience are using or industry hashtags and analyze the top Instagram posts.
Equipped with information from both your competitors and industry, you should have enough inspiration. Now, think about the content that you’ll post on your Instagram account.
Here are some content ideas to get you started:
- Motivational quotes
- Fun visuals
- Product shots
- Service tutorials
- Case studies
- Behind the scenes
You can also share user-generated content (UGC). This way, your Instagram followers can see real people using your product or service and thus, build your credibility.
5. Plan A Content Schedule
An editorial calendar can keep you organized and save you time. Most importantly, it manages your Instagram presence because you’re consistently posting on the platform and hence, attract new people and engage your followers.
The first thing you need to decide on is the post frequency. Do take into account the competitor analysis as well as your resources. Whether you’re posting daily, weekly or monthly, the key is to be consistent and stick to your schedule. Ensure that you have sufficient manpower and time to commit to this schedule.
Next, simply create a monthly calendar. Or you could do it in a list way. Whichever is easier for you.
Highlight the days you have to post. Then, note down the content or topic for those days. You can even plan out your captions and hashtags in advance.
You might have themes for certain days like Motivation Monday, Tuesday Tip, Workspace Wednesday, Thursday Tutorial, Friday Fun.
You can also highlight key events and milestones, such as new product launches and special offers.
With this content calendar, you’ll always be one step ahead instead of scrambling for last-minute posts.
6. Build Your Brand
To build your brand on Instagram, you need to incorporate your brand’s personality and identity in everything you do. This includes both visuals and copy.
Take a step back and think about the brand image that you want to convey. What are your brand values? How do you want your audience to perceive your brand?
After determining your brand’s personality, ensure that your content matches it.
If you want to portray a brand that is friendly and helpful, you can create how-to and tutorial content and provide helpful solutions in your comments. You can also be patient and listen to your customers’ concerns and problems. If your brand is fun, you can consider crafting funny and witty captions that make your audience laugh. If your brand is youthful, you can post colorful visuals.
You might even apply a color palette to your visuals. This doesn’t have to be your brand colors. It could be colors that resonate with your target audience.
Your visuals can have a specific style
- Single color
- No filter
- Flat lay
This distinct style will then make your brand recognizable. When people see your posts in their Instagram feed, they’ll know instantly that it’s your brand.
When crafting captions, ensure that your voice, tone, language and jargon resonate with your target audience. Compelling stories will also make your brand more relatable.
The key is to build a consistent brand. Conflicting content across your various social media channels will confuse your audience.
7. List Down Locations & Backgrounds
Listing down all possible locations and backgrounds that you can use for your Instagram visuals will save you time.
Be specific. You can even list down the distance: places that are near and far. If you’re applying a color palette to your visuals, you can also include the colors of these locations and background.
Here’s my list
- Light Brown: nightstand beside my bed, my bed’s headboard (with natural light from the window)
- Brown: dining table
- Off-White: my desk
As you can see, my usual locations and backgrounds are in my house since I mostly write at home. But I highly recommend that you include places that you usually frequent. For example, if I frequently go to a café to write, I might include the table by the window that overlooks the street.
Of course, this list isn’t fixed. Neither should you adhere strictly to it. It’s just a list of go-to places where you can take photos for your Instagram account.
8. List Down Props That You Own
Another list you should make is a list of props that you own. These are items that are within your reach and that you can use immediately.
Here are the props that I own and usually appear in my Instagram photos
- Coffee mugs
- Beverage coasters
- Fairy lights
- Stationery: pens, pencils, highlighters, paper clips, post-it notes
Most of the items are related to my business. It’s quite obvious that I’m an author since I feature these items.
Likewise, you should try to feature items that are related to your business so your audience can tell at a glance what products and services your brand offer.
9. List Down Props That You Don’t Have But Would Like To Have
After analyzing your competitors, you might notice that certain props keep appearing in their Instagram visuals. You can then consider using them in your own Instagram visuals.
If you don’t have these props currently, you can consider buying them if they’re affordable and within your budget.
For example, I noticed that some authors and readers feature flowers, candles and decorative trays in their photos. I don’t have these items currently but I do hope to get them someday.
10. List Down Hashtags
You should already have a few hashtags that your competitors and industry are using.
But do take this a step further and analyze the hashtags by keying them into Instagram. Look at the number of posts with these hashtags and check out the top posts. Is there a pattern or trend for the top posts with these hashtags? How are the visuals or copy like?
I also recommend that you categorize these hashtags so you can easily search for the ones you need when you’re posting.
Your hashtags should typically revolve around your brand, products or services and industry. Also, ensure that your target audience use or at least, search for these hashtags. This way, it’ll ensure that your posts will reach your target audience.
Here are some hashtags I use
Now It’s Your Turn
Now, pick up your camera and start shooting! You can, of course, use your phone’s camera too.
All the best to your business! I hope these tips can help kickstart your Instagram marketing~
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