How do small brands stand out in a noisy, digital world? Be seen. Instagram is a visual content-driven social media platform. It is one of the best tools to for small brands to gain visibility, drive engagement and build awareness.
Why Is Instagram Important for Small Brands?
In 2017, Instagram had an estimated 500 million daily active users. It is the second most popular social media network in the world. Instagram’s vast and valuable reach is an advantage for small brands on the platform. According to Digital Vijay, audiences receive visual communications faster and better retain it. This makes visual content even more critical in digital marketing and branding.
Instagram Uses and Features
Instagram’s core feature is content sharing. Users edit then share photos and videos as posts on their profile pages. Posts also become visible on their followers’ timelines. Once a user uploads content, they can add captions, hashtags, and geo-tags and tag other users. With these features, posts are easy to track and search, and increase in visibility.
Other functions are now available on the platform. They allow users to engage in new ways:
- Stories lets users post content that is only visible for 24 hours, like Snapchat. Other media are available to layer, including licensed music, emojis, gifs, text and links to user profiles and external sites. Users can archive and group Stories into collections for others to view beyond the 24-hour expiration.
- Instagram Live, similar to Facebook Live and Periscope, allows users to live-stream video and interact with viewers via a chat function.
- Instagram TV is similar to Facebook Watch or LinkedIn Learning. Users can create and share long-format video content. These videos are available to post on the user’s profile and add to collections.
Instagram also offers business profiles with additional tools for brands to build awareness and drive engagement.
- Contact buttons are located at the top of business pages. They immediately connect users with businesses via email, text or phone call.
- Promote boosts the visibility of a previously shared post.
- Insights provides analytics into follower demographics and post performance.
- Shopping tags posts with product information (descriptions and prices) that link directly back to a brand’s website
Tips and Tools to Get Started
There are many right ways to use social media in marketing. Clear and concise messages, and posts with intention are always important. As you integrate Instagram into an overall social marketing strategy, remember these tips:
- Content must have a clear purpose. First, determine the intention (promote, raise awareness, etc.). Then, ensure all elements (images, captions, hashtags) are an accurate reflection of the brand and intent.
- Use text sparingly in images. Convey the message in one view. Use the caption to continue the story. Canva and Adobe Spark are tools that help create captivating posts that tell stories with few words. These tools are also cost-efficient for small brands with limited budgets.
- Create and use brand-relevant hashtags. Create a brand-unique hashtag to build awareness. Include other relevant hashtags to boost the brand’s visibility in searches.
- Be aware of your audiences’ interests and triggers. In digital communication, intention and tone is not always apparent. Messages are easily misinterpreted. Be careful and deliberate in combining images, captions and hashtags. Consult multiple people to proof content before post.
- Plan ahead. Consistency is the key to maintain visibility. Create a content calendar and plan posts ahead of time. This will ensure messages are on-time and relevant. Hootsuite and Planoly allow you to create and schedule posts. Allocate one hour per week to brainstorm topics, create images and schedule posts.
Hootsuite’s list of over 24 Instagram statistics is a helpful with strategy creation. These statistics show the significance of Instagram as a branding tool. Instagram’s Business page is a robust resource for small brands that want to gain visibility on the platform using a business profile.