Sahail Ashraf posted on 29 June 2016
Instagram still looks like a safe bet for most brands. With quick access and not much of a learning curve, it’s an easy platform to get involved in and to make progress with.
When it comes to maintaining momentum, though, it can all become a little bit tricky.
Choosing the right posts can be a challenge after those first few initial shots at the game.
Try these ideas and see which ones work. We bet most of them will.
Your customers are the most important people in the world. No one is going to argue with you on this one. But how are you using this knowledge in your Instagram work? As soon as you start to realise the importance of customers and their lifestyles, you will be in a position where you can create powerful and effective campaigns on the platform.
If you make and sell a product, then this is the very best approach. Run a competition for your customers that asks them to take a photo of themselves using your product. When all is said and done, it all comes down to the people who use what you sell. You need to show how it enriches their lives and adds value.
So a great idea for Instagram posts is to include pictures of your customers holding your shoes, hats or soup cans aloft, front and centre. Smiles are optional, but they help. If you can include this kind of shot in your Instagram campaign on a fairly regular basis, it advertises your product in the very best way possible.
If you run a restaurant, ask customers to take a photo of their meal and tag it with a hashtag you’ve set up. Run a competition for all customers, so that anyone who tags gets entered into a draw. Trust us. They will tag if the prize is good enough. And the marketing value will pay off.
Your customers are a great source of images. Use this source.
Takeaway: Make your customers the focus of much of your Instagram content.
Another source of Instagram value is the office. This works both for large companies and smaller companies. It’s different for both. A large company that shows its employees off seems more human. A small company that does this just seems friendly and authentic. Look at us. We employ really cool people, and they are just like you.
You can’t force coolness. But you can show how the staff do their thing. The faceless company is dead in the water, and your customers will always like to see images of how you work. Include ‘action shots’ of staff running the place. Or have a ‘bring your pet to work’ day and take a zillion photos of cute animals and their cute owners.
The really cool stuff here comes about when you actually show your staff members doing their jobs, especially if it involves working directly with the product. It can work with the sales team even, on the phone and smiling. Even better, take photos of your staff serving a meal. Or cutting the cloth for your garments.
It all make sense when you think about it. With the plethora of companies springing up everywhere, and brands showing that they have nailed basic social media marketing, your job is to show the human, hard-working side of your extremely committed staff.
You can take it in another direction and look at the senior staff in your organisation. Candid photos of the boss can really help to humanise what you do. It shows customers that these people are approachable. The bigger you are as a company, the trickier this gets, but it is worth considering if you really want to show how your brand likes to connect with people.
Takeaway: Use the humans you work with to add warmth to your profile.
Going back to the customer-centered approach, one of the very best things you can do to receive a constant input of photos is to run a contest. Giving customers the option to create pictures for your Instagram with a prize at the end of it. If it is done well, is a surefire way of creating a constant supply of images. And the best thing is, it is all solid marketing.
Work out what you want to give away as part of your contest. Choose something that has clear value to your customers. The easiest option here is a freebie, a t-shirt or something else that has value. A free meal always works, whether it’s you doing the cooking and serving or a free meal in a classy restaurant in town.
Getting the prize/giveaway right is absolutely vital to the success of your contest. Pick your best product (this doesn’t necessarily have to be the most costly), the one that means the most to your customers.
Create a blog post and cross-market your content. Hit all your other social media platforms and spread the word about the contest. Check your metrics so you know that people are actually engaging while you do this. Scattergun approaches are not cool.
In the blog post, ensure that quality is high when it comes to writing, and splash a ton of photos of your prize all over the screen. Make it the biggest thing to happen at your company. The more effort you put into your launch, the better. And whatever you do, make sure that every platform you are on in social media is screaming out the news that you are having a competition.
Obviously, make it an absolutely mandatory requirement that anyone who enters the contest must follow you on Instagram. This has particular relevance on other platforms. Making entrants Instagram followers is absolutely vital. You’re running this contest on Instagram.
Once the contest is underway, this is where the real magic happens. Interact with the people who are part of the contest. Like their photos, and enter comments. Encourage others too. This is real engagement and it helps to build up that movement, that tribe.
This builds up the groundswell as people start to share and engage. Then give the contest a hashtag. This allows you and your followers to easily find the content when they are on Instagram. It also gives the contest itself its very own brand.
If you are a coffee shop, and you’re asking entrants to take photos of their coffee cup doodle, use the hashtag #cup or something similar. It builds up that branding, allows the images to be found easily, and starts a little bit of a movement.
And at the end of it all, you have free advertising and real engagement. We cannot stress enough how great contests are on the Instagram platform. Because it’s an incredibly easy way to gain attention (it’s a picture) and because of that ‘instant’ feel on the platform. It’s the quickest, best way to get people involved.
Takeaway: Competitions are free advertising and engagement magnets.
Yep, selfies can be a fantastic way to bring that human element into Instagram. Obviously, you can arrange for selfies to be delivered from staff or customers, it’s all in how you play it.
The value of a selfie is that it has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Everyone has done one or at least heard of them, so using them in your Instagram content makes great sense.
Make them high quality if you and your staff are doing them, and obviously, include your product in there in some way.
Takeaway: Selfies are universal, but remember to include your product.
Quotes get huge engagement on Instagram. People just love reading inspirational quotes from inspirational people. It can set them up for the day, offer insight, or even just raise a smile.
Alongside all the other stuff you are uploading, throwing a quote into the mix on a regular basis really helps to add to the content load. And don’t forget, you do not have to use inspirational quotes all time, or quotes from famous people.
Consider quotes from your staff. If they’re having a great day in the office, just get that quote up there that conveys the good news. Or if someone said something that was just funny, tell your followers. There are tons of great quote apps out there, which help to make a great picture out of a few words. Use them, and don’t be afraid to use your own quotes. The engagement level is high, so it is well worth pursuing.
Takeaway: Use quotes to inspire, or just to entertain. It’s high engagement stuff.
Yes, we know. Memes can seem a little bit weird when we are talking about brands. But you know what, they can really be a completely new way to drive engagement.
Think about it. If you create a funny line or comment about your brand and its products, then stick it into a photo, you have a meme. The meme could then become hyper popular and get a ton of engagement.
If you’re a little un-sold on this one, just take a look at the popular memes around right now. Putting all the vaguely offensive stuff aside, you could easily hijack a funny animal meme and stick your own, branded commenting there.
Memes are not used enough by brands on Instagram. But memes are visual. And guess what? Instagram is visual too.
Takeaway: Memes are a great way to add variety and fun to your feed.
Another great idea is to create a “how to” set of photos (or videos) in a sequence. Then blast these out over a few days.
The value of this is that it builds engagement by keeping people fixed on your tutorial over a period of time. It also shows that you are being helpful and that you want to do this in an inventive way. This is still not a major part of the strategy for many brands. Time to jump in and do it yourself.
Oh, and to make sure it is a high quality operation, use the best photography you can muster.
Takeaway: How to content builds up engagement over a period of time.
Some ideas there, then, on how to spice up your Instagram feed. To be honest, there’s nothing better than a good contest, combining that instant feel of the platform with some quick marketing.
But consider all the options above. They will all help build engagement and, most importantly, combining the ideas will help you get together a real content calendar for the platform.