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Building Your Brand on Instagram

In the Summer of 2013, Kimye gave birth to Northwest, the word “selfie” was added to the dictionary, we tried to learn what the Fox really says, and Instagram had 130 million active monthly users.

This summer (yes, we are still considering it summer in steamy Baltimore!), just two years later, Kimye is expecting baby number 2, people are using selfie-sticks, we can virtually communicate with Emojis, and Instagram has reached a whopping 300 million active monthly users and the number grows daily.

Instagram, like the #selfie, has taken the world by storm not only for your typical user who posts the occasional #tbt or #instagood post, but for your brand as well. The photo-centric social media presents many opportunities to help build your brand when used effectively.

But how do you do that? How do you actively engage, build, and communicate with your followers to benefit your brand using just photos? By implementing a few things into your posts and practices, your brand can see impressive results and growth organically.

1. #Hashtag

First and foremost, your brand’s Instagram account must be active and posts made regularly to stay relevant to your current followers and to reach potential followers. Your brand should understand what’s popular to hashtag on both Instagram and in your brand’s market.

Nordstrom is on top of both industry and Instagram trends that are relevant to its audience, the young and hip fashionistas. Nordstrom’s captions are clever and relevant, its #Nsale hashtag is brand focused, and its #ootd (outfit of the day) and #tgif hashtags are both popular on Instagram.

Nordstrom’s posts average approximately 13k likes each!

2. Engage your followers

Instagram is a great place to show your brand’s community some love.

Recognizing your followers using @mentions, encouraging users to comment with their opinions, asking them to post their own photos, requesting them to tag your brand or hashtag, reposting what your followers post, and interacting with them via comments or likes are a few ways to show your appreciation and increase profile traffic.

Starbucks is very well known for reposting pictures their followers post and posting photos of their followers. This encourages more followers to frequently take pictures of their Starbucks experience and drinks, generating a lot of Insta traffic and recognition of the coffee company.

The hashtag, #starbucks has been used 22,354,716 times and counting…talk about brand awareness.

3. Post photos, not ads

Avoid posting too many promotions or photos with a CTA to buy since users don’t typically open their Instagram app to shop. They’re likely just scrolling through to see high-res, interesting, and enjoyable posts. There’s nothing wrong with dropping a few lines about your latest sale or accomplishment, but a big draw to Instagram is that it’s not riddled with ads like many other platforms.

Your specific audience will determine the nature of your posts, but overall, they should illustrate the type of lifestyle your brand embodies and the message your brand wants to convey to your target market.

Nike is a pro at posting inspiring, product featured images that aren’t all about making a sale, but rather invoking that #justdoit feeling that resonates with its customers. Here, the Nike products are noticeable, but they are not the sole focus of the post.

Nike has 19.3 MILLION followers on Instagram.

4. Keep up!

Instagram, like most apps, updates pretty regularly with bug fixes, privacy policies, etc. But occasionally the app will make pretty big changes to critical features that create potential for new followers. In order to ensure that you’ll be found by new followers and maintain a strong presence, it’s best practice to adhere to changes and follow the new trends. The more your posts follow the trends, the more they will appear to potential followers.

For example, Instagram has a feature that enables users to indicate the location of the posts. When the location is searched by others, the post will then appear.

Other best practices for each post include:

  • tagging yourself and others
  • using filters
  • using custom #hashtags
  • sharing on other social platforms

#5 Sharing is caring

One way to reach a consistent brand image is by posting the same images across your social media profiles. Each Instagram you post should also be shared on Facebook & Twitter so your followers across platforms see it and can like it multiple times, or be pushed back to your Instagram page. It’s as simple as allowing your apps access to one another and could also help you to attract new followers.

We provided these recommendations, along with contest and strategy ideas, to one of our partners. They then saw an increase of over 10 thousand followers in just under a month. The key is to remain authentic, consistent, and motivated so you can give your followers something to double-tap about. Instagram is quickly becoming a preferred social media choice among users and has more capabilities than filtering a picture of your Sunday Brunch or #wcw (we’ve all been guilty of doing both…#basic). A well-run Instagram account can create profitable and unique opportunities for your brand.

PS… @missionbaltimore

PPS… Instagram just announced they will roll-out paid ads by the end of this month…stay tuned for some follow-up blog chatter from us on THAT one.