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How Instagram can boost your business

Instagram is one of the biggest players on the social media scene. As it comes up to its sixth birthday in 2016, we thought it would be worth giving it a closer look.

Fashion and big consumer brands are way ahead of the curve when it comes to Instagram – a huge 96% of US fashion brands have an account. This makes sense as it is such a visual medium so fashion brands can post some great content, but this doesn’t mean that other brands should miss out. Ironically, so many other brands (particularly tech) have been slow to catch up on the Insta-trend. Perhaps the greatest benefit of Instagram is it’s a great platform for sharing your brand personality and helping you connect with your customers. While the immediate business benefit of Instagram is clear (i.e. promotions), it can also give consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your business so they can see what you’re doing and feel like an insider.

Instagram vital statistics
With 300 million active monthly users, Instagram is not something to be sneered at. What’s important to remember is that it is a mobile-first social platform. Mobile is crucial in ecommerce – this year for the first time sales on mobile and tablets make up over half of UK online sales, so tech-savvy Instagram users are likely to be proficient in mobile ecommerce and a good audience to target. There is a huge amount of money tied up in the platform – Instagram will bring in $595 million in mobile ad revenues worldwide this year, and $2.81 billion by 2017. Brands realise the importance of including Instagram in their social strategy, with 85% of top brands having accounts. Instagram has an engagement rate per-follower for top brands that is 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times higher than Twitter – so what’s stopping you from jumping in?

Why Instagram?

Social media is tough because many marketers and sellers view it with a certain degree of wariness – it’s often seen as something ‘fluffy’ that doesn’t drive direct sales. But its influence is vast – it can shape your business personality and connect with consumers on an emotional level. Just to give you an indicator of the level of engagement Instagram has, the average user spends 21 minutes a day using the app. That’s an awful lot for a platform that just shows images, and gives you huge scope to reach potential buyers. Did you know your brain processes images 60k times faster than text? The statistics show just how engaging and immersive Instagram is – if used well, you can boost your brand’s visibility. The marketing power of Instagram means you can build trust and a more personal relationship with customers. If your content is amazing you could even go viral as users share what you put out.

We’ve picked out a few brands that have mastered Instagram to give you some inspiration…

@officeshoes
The bio of Office’s Instagram account draws the buyer in by describing what it offers here that the customer can’t get anywhere else: exclusive sneak peeks and competitions. It also uses fun emojis to draw the user in. The Instagram functionality doesn’t allow you to click through links in the images, which is why Office has included a hyperlink in its bio. If your content is strong enough, users will be compelled to click on a link in the bio or find your website in order to purchase your product.

office_head

Not all of its posts are strictly shoe-related – it hijacks news and seasonal events like bank holidays to build relationships with customers. Hashtags help reach out to new audiences, like those searching for bank holiday-related content.

Dreamy bank holiday situ. Anyone else enjoying a lie-in? #bankholiday #easter

A photo posted by OFFICE (@officeshoes) on

But of course, most of the content is around shoes. The visual nature of Instagram means that Office can really show off its products. It engages with customers and creates social conversations by asking questions on most of its posts.

 

@direct4x4

Although Volo customer Direct 4×4 doesn’t have many followers on Instagram, the quality of the content is high. The bio is fun and does what it says on the tin: telling customers it’s taking them on an adventure, and giving them a sneak peek behind-the-scenes of the business.

direct_head

One thing the brand does particularly well is using humour to engage with users, whilst still promoting its products. This post shows how an extensive use of hashtags can help you reach a wider audience. Studies have shown the ideal number of hashtags to use is between four and 11, while five hashtags per post garners the most user interaction. However, be wary of using posts with 11 or more hashtags as followers could perceive it as spammy. Hashtags should be about quality not quantity – you need to strike a balance between general hashtags and specific hashtags to ensure maximum visibility.