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I ‘Gram Therefore I Am: Instagram for Marketers

This post was first published by Hailey Melamut on March Communications’ blog M+PR Nonsense.

Instagram for b2b marketers

As a self-proclaimed Instagram aficionado (shameless plug to follow me @haileymelamut), I spend more time than I care to admit thinking of aesthetically-pleasing ways to share my day-to-day on social media. Yes, I am that annoying friend who whips out their phone to

With the recent increase in ads on Instagram, the app is becoming a valuable outlet not just for individuals, but brands and marketers as well. All digital marketing channels have a slew of unwritten rules guiding acceptable practices, and Instagram is no exception. Users must follow a certain ‘Instagram etiquette’ if their posts are to be well-‘liked’ – both literally and figuratively. document every last morsel of food at dinner and occasionally stops in the middle of the street to snap a quick pic. But, annoying or not, I am far from alone in my proclivity for Instagram — the platform has 300 million active users, and is actually outpacing Facebook in growth and engagement.

But, with so many filters, editing tools and photo layouts to choose from, deciding what to post on Instagram can be difficult. And, with an average of 70 million photos shared each day, users must post carefully to avoid getting lost in the Instaverse. Luckily, there are a few tried-and-true strategies that can help marketers appeal to their target audiences and foster engagement on Instagram.

#LikeforLike; #FollowforFollow

Chances are, if you’ve been on Instagram before, you’ve seen these hashtags. If you’re like me, you probably consider these adages to be a bit cliché. But, even if you don’t actually use these hashtags, the message behind them is valid. By definition, social media entails engagement. Having an Instagram profile is pointless if you idly post from time to time and completely ignore your followers (unless you’re Beyoncé, in which case you can follow 0 people and still be the second-most popular person on Instagram).

For example, Starbucks’ Instagram profile is widely recognized for engaging with its followers, frequently regramming photos and running promotions like its infamous #redcupcontest during the holidays. So while you don’t need to literally ‘like’ and follow everyone, engagement is key to not only build your social media presence, but also to convey the more human and personal side of your brand.

Keep It Simple

Like I said earlier, the editing tools and filter options on Instagram are seemingly endless, and the updates and additions show no signs of stopping. With all these options, it may be tempting to go overboard and make a heavily edited, fantastical-looking post – I myself have given in to this temptation a time or two. But, social media studies have revealed that the most popular filter on Instagram is actually #nofilter. Users scroll through feeds too quickly to process more complicated images, and are more likely to engage with realistic and relatable content – it’s that simple.

Take Ben & Jerry’s, for example. The ice cream company was one of the first brands to leverage Instagram advertising, and saw a 20 percent increase in followers as a result. Now, Ben & Jerry’s maintains a following of more than half a million users, and all by posting simple, unfiltered photos of ice cream. Yum.

Tell a Story

Above all else, people use Instagram as a way to connect with others and share experiences across geographic boundaries. While Instagram is a great way to showcase and promote a brand’s products or services, it’s important to remember the social aspect of Instagram and consider what followers would like to see. The most skillful brands on Instagram manage to do both, merging product with process and everyday life experiences.

My personal favorite is Nike. Rather than repeatedly posting photos of sneakers and athletic gear, the brand shares photos of its products being used in various activities across the globe – even under water. The inclusion of the hashtag #JustDoIt ties each post to the next, presenting a clear and exciting brand persona.

In today’s hyper-digital world, abstaining from social media is no longer an option for marketers. Whether you’re Instagramming coffee, sneakers or pictures of Beyoncé, it’s important to maintain a social media presence to connect with consumers and other businesses. To see how we use Instagram to tell stories at March, follow @marchpr and our podcast @hacksflacks.
In The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Product Launch, you’ll learn:

– How to plan before a big event or product launch
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