Today, social media accounts often serve as the first point of contact between a brand and a potential customer. Whether a customer has discovered your content organically on a platform or proactively sought out your profiles, making a strong first impression is essential to securing the relationship. But cultivating a strong profile and following out of the gate is not always as seamless as it appears.
The amount of time users spend on the app is steadily growing. In 2014, Instagram users averaged around 21 minutes per day on the app. In 2017, the platform released updated time spent statistics, announcing that sub-25 users now spend 32 minutes per day and the over-25 demographic spends about 24 minutes per day sharing and consuming photos and videos. Because this platform has become a cornerstone of our digital lives we may easily fall into the trap of believing that it’s easy to make the crossover from individual Instagram user to brand user.
Today brands have to walk the delicate line between promoting their products and services and facilitating genuine engagements — those boundaries can easily feel blurred, which makes it all the more difficult to balance.
If you’re in the process of trying to establish or grow your organization’s Instagram presence, follow these four steps:
Establish Your Voice and Tone
Instagram audiences don’t just engage with one post at a time; when they see an interesting photo or video pop up in their feeds, the immediate next step is to survey the source’s profile as a whole. If your posts look disjointed from one another, it will immediately cause confusion and, possibly, raise red flags. Consumers today are accustomed to a high level of aesthetic design and storytelling on the platform. If a brand falls short of meeting these expectations, viewers may immediately write that brand off as sloppy or of a lower quality.
Planning the look, feel, and tone of your account is the best way to ensure you deliver a holistic narrative engagement experience. A 2018 Sprout Social article outlined the necessary steps for establishing a strong and distinguished voice on the platform; according to their social experts the foundation of any Instagram voice is the establishment of brand beliefs. Understanding who you are, the value you bring to market, and how you differ from competitors will serve as guideposts as you build out content.
Connect With Relevant Followers
Distributing quality content into a vast void benefits no one. So, if you have taken all the right steps to establish your brand beliefs and share visual stories to reinforce them but no one is looking at your profile, then you’ve just wasted time and resources. To help you avoid wasted time, you can tap into platform growth engines like RocketSocial, a platform dedicated to targeting quality audience members based on hashtags and competitors’ followers. Another dedicated growth tool helping brands across verticals establish their platform presences is SocialSteeze whose team of growth experts focus on hashtag placement and geographically relevant individuals to build your roster of followers who are likely to not only engage with your content, but (hopefully) convert.
Instagram is a two-way street; you simply cannot expect to achieve success on the platform by publishing content and never interacting with others. Liking your followers’ posts, leaving comments, and responding to their comments on your posts sends the message that you are committed to building relationships with every individual customer. Hiring a community manager is an excellent strategy for ensuring that community building is never overlooked.
Data doesn’t lie. You may be convinced that stark product shots are the most interesting way to tell your brand’s story, but if your followers do not like or comment on any of these photos, then it’s safe to say that they disagree. Union metrics is a free tool that delivers comprehensive performance reports that reveal whether or not your content is succeeding at driving engagements.
As a platform, Instagram is constantly evolving; the platform is always experimenting with new ways to maintain their userbases’s interest. In April of 2018, The Next Web reported four potential new features that have been periodically spotted within the app, including universal portrait mode and cinemagraphs. To build viable communities on the platform, organizations have to nimble and read to adapt their strategies based on shifting platform features and customer expectations. While it’s impossible to predict exactly how Instagram will change in the next six months, it is safe to say that launching an account anchored by strong voice, relevant followers, regular engagement, and consistent performance tracking will put you in the best position possible to grow and thrive.