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You’ve given it some thought and you want to extend your brand reach across popular social media sites like Instagram. Although the platform has experienced some drop in engagement rate, it still has the highest engagement rate compared to other social media platforms. While Facebook struggles with 0.2% per follower, Instagram stands at 2.3% engagement rate per follower. This makes it one of the best platforms through which you can promote your brand and engage with your target audience. If you’re having some trouble gaining a footing in Instagram marketing, here’s a thorough guide to help you get started.

The first few steps

Your first steps would involve setting up your brand’s Instagram account and then optimizing it to befit a top brand. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But make sure you keep the following tips in mind when setting up an Instagram account:

  • Remain consistent with your name and photo – When you’re promoting a brand, you need to stay recognizable. You may be using a fancy username for your personal Instagram account but for your brand, you need to create a username that’s similar to or related to its real-world name. Make sure this name is consistent across all the social media channels you use. The same goes for your profile picture. Australian skincare brand Frank Body, for instance, goes by frank_bod on Instagram. It’s a slight variation from the actual brand name but still recognizable especially since they use the same profile picture as their other social media accounts. As you can see in the screenshot below, the brand uses the same profile picture for their official Facebook page.
  • Optimize your bio – Before people decide to follow your brand on Instagram, they’re going to check out your profile. And your bio is one of the first things they’re going to see. So you will need to optimize this section with something that’s informative and interesting and maybe even funny depending on your target audience. Make sure you include a link to your website so that you can gain more site traffic through this platform.The Frank Body example is great when it comes to an Instagram bio. It’s short and catchy while still telling users what the brand is all about i.e. coffee-based skin care. They’ve made use of a hashtag #letsbefrank as some sort of pun that goes well with the brand name. At the end of the bio, they’ve included a link to their website as well.
  • Promote your Instagram handle – Since you’re planning to promote your brand through Instagram, you’re going to need to grow your following. The best way to get started with this is by inviting your existing fans and customers to follow you. You can promote your new Instagram handle through your website and existing social media accounts. Secto Design promotes their Instagram account through their official website and gives a brief description of what users can get from following them.
    Secto Instagram
    Smarter Travel even went so far as to write an entire blog post telling readers why they should follow the website’s Instagram account.

Instagram promotion ideas for brands

Now that you’ve set up your brand’s Instagram account, how do you get started with promoting your brand? You probably know by now that hard-selling isn’t going to cut it here. So how do you engage with your target audience in such a way that they’ll want to buy from you? And how do you create content that can enable you to establish a stronger Instagram presence?

In a previous Pagewiz article, Elna Cain talked about running a PPC campaign on Instagram. This is a crucial step for brands that wish to reach out to a new audience. But beyond your sponsored ads, you also need to actively promote your brand by producing engaging content and running Instagram marketing campaigns that work. Take a look at some of the most effective ways for brands to promote themselves on Instagram:

  • Embrace fan contributions – With Instagram’s engagement rate being the highest among all social media channels, it’s an ideal platform for you to engage with your audience and build a strong relationship with them. This is the platform through which you can personally interact and bond with your audience. One of the best methods to do this is by featuring fan contributions on your brand’s Instagram account. Invite followers to submit photos related to a specific theme or photos of your products. You could introduce a unique hashtag that they need to use for the image so you can easily find the submissions. You can then pick your favorite contributions and feature them on your account. This is an excellent way to make them feel like a part of your brand, helping you garner their loyalty. Moreover, these contributors are helping you promote the hashtag across Instagram. FedEx is a good example of this as the courier service regularly shares photos taken by fans who have spotted the FedEx 777 airplane. People can use hashtags like #777 or #planespotting and FedEx picks their favorite photos to feature on their Instagram account.

Fan instagram

Shralpin is a perfect example of user generated content that has turned an Instagram page into a well-known brand in the skateboard community. Users post videos and pictures with the hashtag #shralpin and they can get exposure to 190,000 skaters around the world for sponsorships. Shralpin also cross promotes from Instagram to their website by sharing all content to shralpin.com.

Another excellent example is We Work, which provides shared office spaces in different cities around the world. They often share images originally taken by members to showcase their office spaces. The company promotes its laid-back culture using the #dogsofwework hashtag and features fan contributions using the same tag.

WeWork Instagram

  • Run a contest – Contests are one of the most effective ways for brands to increase their visibility and engagement. If you’re running a photo contest, for instance, you will be encouraging users to create photo content using a unique branded hashtag for your brand. So they’re promoting your brand to their own group of followers, who might want to check out the hashtag and participate in the contest as well.If you’re considering promoting your brand through Instagram contests, you need to create the rules in such a way that you’re meeting your goals through it. For example, make it necessary for users to follow your brand on Instagram in order to grow your following. You can get them to promote your brand and contest by encouraging them to repost the contest image using a unique hashtag. You can also boost engagement rates by requiring them to like at least one of your photos and tag their friends in the comments.These are just a few examples of the rules you can set up. You can always customize them according to what you wish to accomplish. Additionally, make sure the prize is something that your target audience will value so as to further encourage them to participate. Daiya Foods created a contest to promote their salad dressing.
  • The rules were simple – users just had to share a picture of their favorite salad ready to be dressed with the salad dressing from Daiya Foods and use the hashtag #DaiyaReady. The prize consisted of $25 worth of products from the brand. They’ve specified the deadline and the rules of the contest but further provided users with a link to the complete rules of the contest.The Tamba Surf Company giveaway contest is another example of an Instagram contest that you can use for promoting your brand. As you can see in the image below, the rules of entry are a bit more detailed than the Daiya Foods contest. Here, users have to follow the brand’s Instagram account and like the photo. They also had to repost the photo and tag the company. Additionally, users could improve their chances of winning by tagging their friends in the comment section of the photo. For every person they tag, they have one more chance of winning.
  • Work with influencers – Influencer marketing is a trending marketing channel and is popularly used across different social media channels. Rather than working with mainstream celebrities, you’ll be working with influencers relevant to your niche. The idea is to choose an influencer that your target audience looks up to for product recommendations. The influencer will then promote your brand to their loyal fans, encouraging them to check out your products.So influencer marketing on Instagram is especially ideal if you’re a startup and you want to raise awareness about your brand and products. Even for a brand with an already established follower base, you can work with influencers on Instagram to promote your new products. An excellent example can be seen with Califia Farms’ #WTFisNitro campaign aimed at promoting its new range of Nitro Cold Brew.The brand partnered with several influencers in the health, lifestyle, and food niches to promote the product. Healthy lifestyle blogger Raquel Roldan, for instance, posted the following image. She showcases the bottle alongside a bowl of pudding and describes the new Nitro-infused cold brew to her followers.
  • influencers InstagramThey also worked with health enthusiast and Instagram influencer Leah for the campaign. Like Raquel, Leah positioned the bottle of Nitro Cold Brew next to a smoothie bowl. This post alone received more than 2,800 likes.There are plenty of ways to work with influencers on Instagram. In addition to having them showcase your product you could run an influencer takeover campaign or promote a giveaway contest through them, and more.
  • Take them behind the scenes – Instagram is an excellent platform to give followers an insight into your brand and what goes on behind the scenes. By showing them your brand story in a completely different angle, you’re getting them to feel even closer to your brand. You can give them your point of view and how your team works. The goal to show your audience the story around the product instead of simply displaying the product.You can find plenty of ways to take your audience behind the scenes. Maybe you could give them glimpses of your team at work, the creation process, photo sessions, etc. Menswear brand Nixonbui does a great job of this by regularly updating followers with behind-the-scenes shots. The following image, for instance, gives fans an insight into the photo-shoot of the brand’s Spring/Summer 2017 catalog.The designer behind the brand also gives followers a glimpse of his workspace and actively engages with fans. This is a great way to add a human touch to your brand interactions, letting people know that there are real people behind the brand.Behind Instagram 2
  • Provide them with exclusive offers and promotions – Make your followers feel good about being fans of your brand by providing them with exclusive access to offers and promotions. You can announce special sales and discounts through your Instagram account to grab the attention of your audience. Instead of accompanying a regular image with a caption about the offer, make use of text overlays to immediately attract potential customers. This is a great way to ensure that people don’t casually scroll past the photo, as the photo announcement can immediately capture their interest. This doesn’t mean you overcrowd the image with too much text. Just highlight the important part of the message and then provide more details in the caption. Here’s another example from Nixonbui.
    Nixonbui InstagramWatch brand Shore Projects also gives an excellent example in the form of a simple text overlay reading “Summer Sale!” That’s really all you need to capture the initial interest of your audience and stand out from the rest of the images flooding their newsfeed.

Final thoughts

Now you’ve got a clear idea what you’ll need to do in order to promote your brand on Instagram. You understand some of the best practices to follow when setting up your brand’s official account on Instagram. You also have some excellent examples to give you ideas for your upcoming Instagram marketing campaign. All you have to do now is come up with a proper plan and outline your goals so that you can fully optimize Instagram marketing for your brand. Got any questions to ask about promoting your brand through Instagram? Leave your comments below.