Instagram 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing on Instagram

| May 1, 2013


Since bursting onto the scene in 2010, Instagram has exponentially grown in the last few years, and is now one of the most widely used social networks with more than 100 million monthly active users.

With such a wide audience of active users, everyone from small local business owners to major multi-national brands are finding creative ways to use Instagram as part of their marketing efforts.

If you are just starting out on Instagram, or just starting to use Instagram as a marketing channel, here are some tips on how you can promote your brand/business, drive awareness, and hopefully convert customers and drive revenue.

 

1) Getting Started

The first thing you’ll want to do is set up your Instagram account. Pick an easily identifiable username (I would recommend just using the full name of your business/brand), write a short description (preferably with relevant keywords you are using elsewhere in your digital efforts), and add a link to your company website.

Another tip that can help your profile get found is by using hashtags in your profile description. For example, if you are a ski apparel brand, you could use hashtags like #ski #snowboard or #fashion in your profile description.

 

2) Follow and Engage with Existing Relevant Communities 

If you’ve done any marketing on other social media networks, you are probably already well aware that engaging with your community is a great and almost instant way to increase your exposure, gain followers and gather important marketing insights.

Spend some time browsing Instagram to see what people not only in your industry are posting, but also what your customers and competitors are posting. See what photos they engage with, who they follow, and which photos they like and comment on.

From there, you can find people you consider might be your key demographic and start to engage with them. Like and comment on their photos. If they are interested in what you do (or what your company offers), they will be likely to engage back and follow your account.

3) Mention Influencial People and Brands in Your Posts

I recently helped a heli ski operation in Alaska, Alaska Snowboard Guides (ASG), get their Instagram account up and running. As part of this effort, one of the first things I did was search Instagram for clients of the operation who had just flown with ASG, and then follow the ones who had accounts.

photo (21)

I knew these would be a great first group of followers because as recent clients (and hopefully very satisfied customers), I knew they would serve as great brand advocates who would like photos and share their own experiences to their networks.

One of these recent clients was a media team and group of professional snowboarders, who were there filming and shooting for Transworld Snowboarding. I knew this would be an opportunity to leverage their extensive followers and community to our advantage.

First, I found all of the individual pro snowboarders and video/photo team accounts and followed them. I then looked through their photos and commented on their posts that related to Alaska Snowboard Guides, mentioning the new Instagram handle.

Almost immediately, the Alaska Snowboard Guides Instagram account gained followers from exactly the right demographic. In addition, the pro snowboarders, now aware ASG was on Instagram, started mentioning the brand in their own posts – which went out to huge network of people, most of whom we’re exactly who they were hoping to market to.

In addition, within a few days, there were comments on Alaska Snowboard Guide’s photos asking for more information and details on how and where to book their own trips.

 photo (19)

This exercise also provided me an opportunity to look at the community of followers from the pro snowboarders and find more relevant people to follow and engage with. It also gave me insights into the popular hashtags that were being used for future posts.

 

 

4) Use Relevant Hashtags!

hashtag

There are several ways you can effectively use hashtags to help get your photos and your account viewed and discovered by more people:

  • Add hashtags to your photo description

Add a name or a description to each one of your pictures, and include relevant and appropriate hashtags.

For example, a local San Francisco bicycle shop, Mission Bicycles does an effective job of this. They may write a photo description as follows:  “Our new 2012 #bicycle model. #SF #SanFrancisco”

 missionbicycle

Keep in mind not to overdo it. The goal should not to be to tag every single word, just the most relevant and important.

 

  • Comment on other photos with hashtags

If there is a hashtag you are regularly using on your business Instagram hashtag, it can be wise to spend time commenting on relevant photos from other Instagram users with that same hashtag. Make interesting, relevant and non-spammy comments and include hashtags where appropriate.

This will make it easier for users that are looking for pictures or people with these keywords to find what they are looking for.

 

  • Create or use a hashtag for an event

If you are attending a conference or event (or hosting one) a great way to gain additional exposure for your photos and Instagram account is by either creating or using an existing hashtag for that event.

For example, if you are an outdoor industry company attending a major tradeshow like “Snowsports Industry America,” tag any photo updates from that event with the #SIA13 hashtag.

 

5) Don’t Forget to Promote Your Instagram Presence

This seems fairly obvious, but a great way to get more exposure on your Instagram account is to make sure you are promoting the fact that you are on Instagram and what your handle is, so people can find you.

AddThis, a company that makes social plugins for brands and publishers, has an Instagram follow button for websites you can easily add in minutes. You can also write a blog post about your Instagram presence, tweet out the news, post to Facebook, create a pin on Pinterest and more to get out the news that your brand or company is now Instagramming away.

Brands to Follow

If you’re looking for some examples of brands who do a great job with their Instagram marketing efforts, read my other Instagram posts “12 Brands to Follow on Instagram” and “8 Great Instagram Brand Campaigns.” I hope these tips are enough to get you started on Instagram, soon perhaps I’ll be writing an article on YOUR brand!  What other tips, tools and tactics do YOU use on Instagram? Comment below and let me know.

 

Tags: ,

Category: Recruit 101, Social Media Marketing, Special Agent Intermediate, tmmBosley, tmmJill, tmmKelly, TMMPDX, tmmSabrina

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe Snell says:

    Nice article! Very useful for those interested in getting into Instagram!

  2. Sean T. says:

    When selecting usernames, it’s important to select names that are short, simple and easy to remember. Great article Julie!

    To learn more Instagram strategies, check out “InstaSucess! The Secrets of Instagram!” on Amazon.com

Julie Blakley Recruit 101Social Media MarketingSpecial Agent IntermediatetmmBosleytmmJilltmmKellyTMMPDXtmmSabrina ,


Since bursting onto the scene in 2010, Instagram has exponentially grown in the last few years, and is now one of the most widely used social networks with more than 100 million monthly active users.

With such a wide audience of active users, everyone from small local business owners to major multi-national brands are finding creative ways to use Instagram as part of their marketing efforts.

If you are just starting out on Instagram, or just starting to use Instagram as a marketing channel, here are some tips on how you can promote your brand/business, drive awareness, and hopefully convert customers and drive revenue.

 

1) Getting Started

The first thing you’ll want to do is set up your Instagram account. Pick an easily identifiable username (I would recommend just using the full name of your business/brand), write a short description (preferably with relevant keywords you are using elsewhere in your digital efforts), and add a link to your company website.

Another tip that can help your profile get found is by using hashtags in your profile description. For example, if you are a ski apparel brand, you could use hashtags like #ski #snowboard or #fashion in your profile description.

 

2) Follow and Engage with Existing Relevant Communities 

If you’ve done any marketing on other social media networks, you are probably already well aware that engaging with your community is a great and almost instant way to increase your exposure, gain followers and gather important marketing insights.

Spend some time browsing Instagram to see what people not only in your industry are posting, but also what your customers and competitors are posting. See what photos they engage with, who they follow, and which photos they like and comment on.

From there, you can find people you consider might be your key demographic and start to engage with them. Like and comment on their photos. If they are interested in what you do (or what your company offers), they will be likely to engage back and follow your account.

3) Mention Influencial People and Brands in Your Posts

I recently helped a heli ski operation in Alaska, Alaska Snowboard Guides (ASG), get their Instagram account up and running. As part of this effort, one of the first things I did was search Instagram for clients of the operation who had just flown with ASG, and then follow the ones who had accounts.

photo (21)

I knew these would be a great first group of followers because as recent clients (and hopefully very satisfied customers), I knew they would serve as great brand advocates who would like photos and share their own experiences to their networks.

One of these recent clients was a media team and group of professional snowboarders, who were there filming and shooting for Transworld Snowboarding. I knew this would be an opportunity to leverage their extensive followers and community to our advantage.

First, I found all of the individual pro snowboarders and video/photo team accounts and followed them. I then looked through their photos and commented on their posts that related to Alaska Snowboard Guides, mentioning the new Instagram handle.

Almost immediately, the Alaska Snowboard Guides Instagram account gained followers from exactly the right demographic. In addition, the pro snowboarders, now aware ASG was on Instagram, started mentioning the brand in their own posts – which went out to huge network of people, most of whom we’re exactly who they were hoping to market to.

In addition, within a few days, there were comments on Alaska Snowboard Guide’s photos asking for more information and details on how and where to book their own trips.

 photo (19)

This exercise also provided me an opportunity to look at the community of followers from the pro snowboarders and find more relevant people to follow and engage with. It also gave me insights into the popular hashtags that were being used for future posts.

 

 

4) Use Relevant Hashtags!

hashtag

There are several ways you can effectively use hashtags to help get your photos and your account viewed and discovered by more people:

  • Add hashtags to your photo description

Add a name or a description to each one of your pictures, and include relevant and appropriate hashtags.

For example, a local San Francisco bicycle shop, Mission Bicycles does an effective job of this. They may write a photo description as follows:  “Our new 2012 #bicycle model. #SF #SanFrancisco”

 missionbicycle

Keep in mind not to overdo it. The goal should not to be to tag every single word, just the most relevant and important.

 

  • Comment on other photos with hashtags

If there is a hashtag you are regularly using on your business Instagram hashtag, it can be wise to spend time commenting on relevant photos from other Instagram users with that same hashtag. Make interesting, relevant and non-spammy comments and include hashtags where appropriate.

This will make it easier for users that are looking for pictures or people with these keywords to find what they are looking for.

 

  • Create or use a hashtag for an event

If you are attending a conference or event (or hosting one) a great way to gain additional exposure for your photos and Instagram account is by either creating or using an existing hashtag for that event.

For example, if you are an outdoor industry company attending a major tradeshow like “Snowsports Industry America,” tag any photo updates from that event with the #SIA13 hashtag.

 

5) Don’t Forget to Promote Your Instagram Presence

This seems fairly obvious, but a great way to get more exposure on your Instagram account is to make sure you are promoting the fact that you are on Instagram and what your handle is, so people can find you.

AddThis, a company that makes social plugins for brands and publishers, has an Instagram follow button for websites you can easily add in minutes. You can also write a blog post about your Instagram presence, tweet out the news, post to Facebook, create a pin on Pinterest and more to get out the news that your brand or company is now Instagramming away.

Brands to Follow

If you’re looking for some examples of brands who do a great job with their Instagram marketing efforts, read my other Instagram posts “12 Brands to Follow on Instagram” and “8 Great Instagram Brand Campaigns.” I hope these tips are enough to get you started on Instagram, soon perhaps I’ll be writing an article on YOUR brand!  What other tips, tools and tactics do YOU use on Instagram? Comment below and let me know.