If yours is a more traditional business you likely stick to the more “straight-laced” platforms for social media marketing—Twitter, LinkedIn…perhaps you even go a little crazy and dabble on Facebook occasionally. But many avoid Instagram, thinking of it as the slightly older sibling of youth-centric platforms like TikTok…a mercurial land claimed long ago by fashion influencers and Kardashians, offering no benefit to the average small business owner.
But not so fast.
Whether you yourself are a business owner or you work for a marketing firm representing said owners, you’d be wise to give this juggernaut of a platform serious consideration.
Instagram currently has more than 2 billion active users, and they’re using the platform for much more than makeup tutorials. Consider this—more than 80% of those on the platform use it to research products and services, and a whopping 90% follow at least one business account. The truth is, Instagram is no longer the land of millennials but has grown into a space where smaller businesses can make a name for themselves and get their brand in front of fresh eyes.
Which makes it the perfect place to engage in brand storytelling.
Instagram is just the place to share those authentic, emotional stories that tug a viewer’s heartstrings or gets them excited about your product—stories that may feel too personal for more “buttoned-up” platforms like LinkedIn. When executed correctly, storytelling on Instagram can drive growth and foster tremendous brand loyalty amongst your viewers.
But it won’t do to create a business account and start throwing up photos and videos in a rush to catch up to your competition (because I assure you, your competitors are already on the platform). Like all social media marketing, creating an engaging and interesting Instagram account requires some forethought and a clear understanding of your brand.
To that end, I’d like to explore 3 tips that can help you harness the power of Instagram to build your following, grow your relationship with your customer, and create brand loyalty that will serve you well for years to come.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
To Whom Are You Telling Your Story?
It wouldn’t do if a librarian decided to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula to an audience of kindergarten students. Why? Because the subject matter isn’t right for the audience. The same goes for you, your products/services, and the audience to which you’re trying to connect. If yours is an estate planning business, there’s really no need for you to market your services to teens or young adults who are just starting out in their careers. Doing so would be a colossal waste of your time, efforts, and marketing budget.
Sure, these are two rather extreme examples, but the point is before you can make meaningful connections you must know who is sitting in your audience. Who are the people most interested in your products and services?
The internet is inundated with blogs telling you how to identify your target audience, so if you haven’t done that yet a quick Google search should bring up plenty of tutorials.
The bottom line is, knowing who makes up your audience allows you to craft content more effectively and create a story that will truly resonate with followers.
You MUST Take Advantage of IG Live and IG Stories
Don’t think you’re going to tell an effective story by throwing up well-edited photos with interesting captions and call it a day.
Not so, my friends.
In order to tell a truly engaging story, you must be prepared to use the app to its fullest—and that means embracing both the Instagram live and Instagram stories features.
What you likely fear about using such features (not sounding/looking perfectly polished) is what viewers have come to love about it. Most are tired of seeing an endless feed of perfectly edited, professionally stylized photos and videos. They want to see the real people behind the curtain of perfection. They want the good, the bad, and the ugly.
That’s not say you should start airing your business’ dirty laundry via Instagram stories. But it does mean you should get comfortable being real with viewers. Use these features to give viewers a behind-the-scenes peek at the inner workings of your business. Lose the buttoned-up, uber-professional videos and be authentic with your viewers. Use your struggles and mistakes to your advantage. Your audience makes them and seeing you work through yours will increase your relatability.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to be relatable while creating content that lets you stand out as a thought leader in your field. So, use these features to share a bit about your office culture, your thoughts on industry happenings, tips and tricks you’ve found useful when using your products—anything that is going to give viewers a better understanding of your organisation or help them solve a problem.
Get Behind a Cause
This is the tip that often gets the most pushback from clients with a more traditional background, who came up in a business world that kept work and charity involvement separate. But times have changed, and people are increasingly supportive of businesses that are open about their ethical and social responsibility. In fact, in a recent AFLAC CSR survey, 77% of respondents stated they were motivated to purchase from companies that are committed to making the world a better place.
So, get behind a cause, then use Instagram to share your commitment with your followers. Create live videos and stories explaining why your cause is so near-and-dear to your heart. Share videos of employees volunteering at after-hour events. Brag about the money your company raised and donated for a cause. Not only will doing so build loyalty amongst your audience, but it will also likely earn your company respect within your community and improve morale with employees.
And so, let’s add Instagram to your social media marketing rotation. I think you’ll find it the perfect platform for telling the story of your brand and engaging with your audience in a real and authentic way.