The Power of Instagram

Let us be absolutely clear about one thing: businesses today simply cannot do without a strong social media presence. Whether you run a local shop or an online ecommerce platform, your marketing strategy must include social media as one of the key customer acquisition and engagement channels.

According to the latest Global Digital Overview report, there are 3.8 billion active social media users across the world. At 49% of the global population, that’s practically half the world! Over the last year, social media usage has also seen a 9.2% growth. The pandemic has served to fuel the growth of social media with people flocking online to connect with each other virtually and derive solace from uncertainty. No business can afford to close their eyes to this reality anymore.

Having a social media presence can help your business in several ways. Here are some key benefits for businesses with an online presence.

  1. Social media helps you get attention and build brand awareness

If someone has not heard about your business, how will they become your customer? Your ideal customers are all over the internet, using their mobile phones and laptops, actively and passively looking for solutions to their problems. A well-crafted social media presence will get you their attention and interest.

  1. It communicates expertise

Being on social media can position you as an expert in your field. Your customers are more likely to trust you when they feel that you know that you are talking about. How do you build that trust? By publicly demonstrating your expertise; and the best way for you to do that is via social media.

  1. Brand personality brings you closer to the customer

A dry PowerPoint style corporate-speak does not cut it anymore. Customers are not interested in dry jargon and they will click away faster than you realize what’s happening. However, an authentic brand personality will build deeper connections with the customers and help your personality shine through. This is great for businesses of all sizes. Small business can shine with their true personality and big businesses can show the humanity and friendliness behind their imposing facades.

  1. Sparks conversation among customers

Your social media page can become a watering hole for people to come together and talk about things that interest them about your product. This will give you critical insights about their needs and expectations, what’s working well, what’s not working etc.

  1. A great way to provide support

Whether you like it or not, people take to social media to complain about things they don’t like. Customers with negative experiences are also typically more vocal than those that had positive engagements with your company. It is unwise to leave your brand out in the wild with no active interventions to manage your reputation or to provide support to dissatisfied customers. In fact, your social media presence can be a great way to signal how serious you are about providing great customer support.

Social media is important, but how do you start?

Social media is critical for business, but don’t get overwhelmed. Even for new entrants into social media, it is as simple as taking the first step in creating a profile and start interacting with your customers.

If you already have a website, link your social profiles to the website and also communicate to your existing customers about your channel. Post great content that will connect with your customer segment and develop a brand voice that resonates with them. Keep at it and slowly but surely, your social media presence will become one of the most fruitful aspects of your marketing strategy.

Use Instagram to tell the story of your brand

Not all social media platforms are the same. Facebook is where people connect with friends and family. Twitter is for venting, to get the latest news updates, and to air views and frustrations. Instagram is the place to tell stories and how people want their lives to be.

Used in the correct way, Instagram can become a potent weapon in your marketing arsenal. Instagram had around 30.57 million users in the UK in Feb 2021. Users in the age group 25-34 years old formed the largest segment at 30.7%. Users between 18-14 years old were at 24.9%. If your business targets young audiences, then Instagram is the perfect social media channel for you.

Fig: Distribution of Instagram users in UK (Feb 2021)

Instagram is great for small businesses and those who are just starting out. Authentic and inspiring stories tend to do well on Instagram. If your brand can capitalize on any of these qualities, then Instagram is definitely the place you have to be at.

How to leverage the power of Instagram

Instagram is known to have high levels of engagement which often exceeds that of other platforms. As you know, Instagram allows you to share photos and short videos. It wouldn’t do to simply upload some random photos and videos – you must think through what exactly you are trying to communicate, what qualities you are highlighting, and how to accomplish that with minimum loss in translation.

Here are some pointers on how to use Instagram effectively.

  1. Prefer “organic” photos over glossy and stylistic ones

Instagram is a high engagement platform and attractive visuals definitely get attention. But the engagement levels are significantly higher when the visuals are authentic, personal, and “organic” rather than those sourced from stock photography sites. The personality or humanness behind the brand must become apparent, else you run the risk of being ignored.

  1. Follow friends, current customers, and potential customers

Along with sharing pictures and videos, also follow your friends, and current and potential customers. Engage with them and be authentic and honest in your interactions. Honesty does not mean rudeness – be empathetic and polite in your interactions, but don’t let it be fake and stilted. Human beings are hardwired to smell inauthenticity a mile away. The best and easiest way to manage social media interactions is to be authentic.

  1. Curate unique visuals to tell powerful stories

Use pictures that amplify the purpose of your brand than dilute it. Think about building an emotional connect with the person who sees those visuals. Brands that trigger an emotional response have better customer loyalty and stickiness rather than those that are viewed as purely functional. You aim is to curate pictures and videos that connect emotionally with the audience.

  1. Understand your audience

Think about your customer segment and what their pain points are. What unique value propositions that you offer are attractive to them? What value does your brand currently have in their lives? If you have already established an emotional connect, then great, play it up. If you suspect you are seen purely as a commodity, then Instagram is a great way to slowly change that perception and build a connection.

  1. Have a consistent theme

Don’t use Instagram as a dumping ground for all your pictures. You must decide on and designate a theme. Think about what attracted your customers to your brand. If they follow your account what would they like to see? Stay on brand and on topic, but be careful that consistency does not become synonymous with “boring”. Experiment with different camera angles, lighting, narratives etc. while staying true to your core brand values.

  1. Post regularly

Stay consistent in your posting schedule. There is nothing worse than starting an Instagram account enthusiastically and then letting it gather dust. A ghost-town does not inspire confidence and in fact might create a negative impression in the minds of people who might come across your channel. Decide on a posting schedule and keep up with it. Once you establish a rhythm of posting, say every Tuesday and Friday, your followers will also expect your posts and start looking forward to them.

Lead Internet Marketing’s Expertise in Instagram

The multitude of things that need to be done to establish a strong social media presence can seem daunting. There is a lot to do — figuring out your brand voice, curating and editing visuals, creating interesting narratives, proactively engaging with the target audience, responding to customers on time, sticking to a consistent posting schedule etc. Yes, it can be a little overwhelming.

While it is true that even individuals can build a huge social media following on their own, if you are a busy business owner it often means that you would be diverting your attention from your core business. You will also end up doing a lot of trial-and-error experiments which are best avoided.

At Lead Internet Marketing, one of our strengths in this pandemic has been social media marketing and helping businesses promote their brand on social media, especially Instagram. Our inhouse social media experts have worked with several businesses over the years. This has helped us gain an intuitive understanding of what works and what doesn’t. We’re also able to quickly experiment and select the best tactics that work for specific brands.

It is important to have a well-thought-out social media strategy for brands that want to retain existing customers and capture new ones. Include Instagram and other social media channels as part of your customer communication channels rather than leave things to chance.

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