Since its creation in 2010, Instagram has slowly but surely risen up the ranks as one of the most popular social media sites. With 1 billion monthly active users, if you aren’t on “the ‘gram” then what are you doing???
Many businesses may be afraid of using Instagram, thinking it's a place solely for the 'selfie,' or those with a Kylie Jenner-level following, but the truth is, all businesses should be on Instagram! B2B personal branding expert Wendy Marx, suggests that the essence of good PR is simply story-telling; no industry is “not visual enough” to be on Instagram. Don’t believe me? Check out why PR is, and should be, your best friend here. 🤳
When used correctly, Instagram allows businesses to engage with customers, via interaction in the comments section, and by using visuals to capture the attention of those who may not have initially been regarded as the target audience. In fact, 83% of Instagram users have found a new product or service just from advertisements and profiles they have come across on the platform. Why would you not want to be a part of this?!
Social media management giant Sprout Social, states that Instagram is the second most logged into social media site for daily use behind Facebook. Furthermore, 90% of accounts on Instagram all follow at least one business. This could very easily be yours if you follow the next steps carefully! A well-planned PR campaign instantly increases the credibility of a business, and you can see how here.
At the very least, Instagram allows businesses to expose themselves and show why customers should trust them and come to their business over a competitors. Instagram has long been the underdog of the social media world for business growth, but once you master how to use it to your advantage, Instagram will be the one social media your business can’t do without!
As simplistic and obvious as this may sound, making sure your Instagram account is set up in the right way from the get-go is critical to your PR campaign. Following Allie Decker’s Instagram Marketing advice, when your business first sets up its account on Instagram, ensure you sign up with a business email so your account isn’t linked to a personal profile.
Pick a username that is synonymous with your business to maintain consistency with your on-and-offline presence and to ensure you are easy to find for your customers. On the possibility that the name you want to have is taken, vary the name slightly, but be sure to put your business name in full name section so you are still easy to find. 🔍
For the final part of this section, we have the bio section. Instagram bios have a maximum of just 150 characters so you are limited to what you can say; be direct and concise about what your business is and what you can offer. As Wendy’s Instagram marketing tips helpfully tells us, Instagram bios are not searchable so this process should not be a daunting one as there is no need to worry about keywords or the use of hashtags (which we will explore soon!) It is also good practise that your website and contact information is in your bio as this is the only place you can have a clickable URL and send people offsite.
Set Some Targets:
Before you begin to post any and every little thing you think your audience wants to see, first sit down and ask yourself: what do I want to achieve? The way you will use Instagram, will depend on why you are on it and what you hope to achieve for your business.
Neil Patel’s guide to creating an Instagram campaign cites the use of the 4 T’S – one of which is Target. This essentially means understanding exactly what you hope your PR campaign on Instagram will achieve.
Your target could be simply to grow an Instagram following and gain some followers, or to drive sales, to promote your products, to send people offline to an event or your store, to redirect them to your website or simply just for brand awareness. Whatever your target is, make sure you have it at the forefront of your mind as you decide on the tactics you will use to achieve your business targets. 🥅⚽
Know your Audience 👀:
The next thing you need to do before you begin any sort of marketing campaign on Instagram, is to determine your target audience. Why waste time and energy on posts that your target audience won’t even engage with? It is therefore best to begin your investigating before you begin posting! 💻
A piece of advice arising from Instagram marketing suggests drawing your target audience from other marketing strategies you have in place or have previously used. This has the goal of keeping your target audience consistent and ensures you are attracting a pool of people you have previously been successful with. It is also advisable that you consider all factors; this includes age, gender, income, interests etc. 👶👧👵
If you do not have a previously determined target audience, or are unsure of where to start, the guide on creating a killer Instagram PR strategy recommends finding out what type of
content within your industry receives the most interaction in the form of likes, comments and reposts. You can also see what hashtags are popular within your industry that these people are also engaging with. It's also worth having a look at the competition’s Instagram accounts and see who follows them and decide whether they could also be part of your target audience.
Employ the Right Tactics:
Now that you know who your target audience is and you have your business goals set out, you can finally decide what tactics you are going to implement to achieve those goals!
There are many different tactics you could employ to meet your targets, and top 10 marketer Neil Patel suggests a few. They include, running a contest, having promotional events and connecting with influencers. The tactic you employ will depend on the goal you have. For example, if one of your targets is to drive sales, you could have promotional events where you exclusively offer followers promotion codes if they purchase your products.
In regards to collaborating with influencers, media data experts Burrelles shows us that 49% of consumers depend on a recommendation from an influencer for a purchasing decision. This shows just how important an influencer could be to your business, so choose them wisely! Ensure who you choose to collaborate with works in a complementary industry to you, or offers a similar service, as this can greatly increase your following and the amount of people you can reach within your target audience.
Optimise your Posts:
Regardless of the industry you are in, your posts give you the chance to show off your company’s culture and the issues at play in your industry as the killer Instagram guide alludes to. Other suggestions of posts you could share include showing off individual team members and their stories, changes to your brand, events you host and even customer stories.
🔑 However, there are three keys things you should keep in mind when it comes to posting and these are: timings, frequency and engagement. There are optimal times for posting on Instagram, aka when the most users are online, and are therefore more likely to see and engage with your post. However, it is advisable, that in the beginning, you post at different times to see which times experience the most engagement, as this could vary depending on where in the world the majority of your following is located.
Posting frequently is recommended, but do try and make sure you are not just flooding your timeline with posts 24/7. On the other side of the spectrum, do not “ghost” your followers and barely post at all. 👻 Once again, you can determine how often you should post based on the amount of interaction you receive from your followers.
Finally, make sure to engage with your followers! This is one of the surest ways to build rapport and successful relationships so be sure to encourage comments on your post and reply to them when you can. Following back some of your top followers would also be great touch. ✨
Sprout social media also shares some critical advice when it comes to the captions accompanying your post. No matter the post, always make sure there is a combination of either a call-to-action, which can include a question or a reference back to your website in your bio for example, a hint of personality, which would include the use of emojis and a
conversational tone, and hashtags. #️⃣Hashtags are not to be underestimated, and putting about one to five on your post is considered optimal. You can even make a hashtag that is applicable only to your business. If you do this, encourage your employees, customers and followers to use it as this will lead to increased visibility of your business on Instagram and this hashtag will be associated solely with your business, making you instantly recognisable.
Utilise the Features of Instagram:
Congrats, you’ve covered all the basics of Instagram! Now it’s time to graduate to the features the ‘gram has to offer and utilise them to boost your engagement in all areas:
🎯 Stories: as we live in an age of FOMO, (the Fear Of Missing Out) Instagram stories are your best friend! Your followers have 24 hours to view them and they are great for showcasing what you are currently up to. Got something important to show? Put it on your story! One fun thing to do with your stories, and to add a personal touch, is to have a takeover! Let your employees each show off a day in the life of your business. This makes your followers feel valued and as though they have been given behind-the-scenes access to your business.
🎯 Paid advertisements: this is a sure way to reach your target audience and direct them to a place of your choosing. Here, Instagram allows you to choose who you want your post targeted at by allowing you to select the pool of people it reaches by defining your target audience by age, gender, location and interests. Once people click on your post, you can choose whether they are directed to your website, for example, or Instagram profile, depending on what you are trying to achieve.
🎯Reels: these are a relatively new addition to Instagram, but a vital one! You can post short videos to your profile, which can be edited with music and special effects before you upload, and these can be shared by your followers. They are a fun, easy and light-hearted way to engage with your followers so be sure to utilise them!
Most importantly – Track your Insights 📈:
Once your Instagram account has 100 followers, Instagram enables your business account to track your insights. This helps you to see what your audience looks like in terms of age, gender and location and allows you to see which content is attracting the most attention in terms of views and actions that have been taken in relation to the content you have posted.
Keeping a regular eye on your analytics allows you to improve how your Instagram operates overall and ensures that the content you post keeps your target audience engaged, consequently driving you closer to achieving your targets. 📊
However, it’s all well and good viewing your insights, but make sure you act upon them. If we follow the advice proposed by using your Instagram for PR success, you should be asking yourself questions about your insights and using the answers as ways to improve your Instagram account. For example, ask yourself how the frequency of your posts affects your engagement numbers, or which type of posts receive the most interaction. Once you have evaluated this, make the relative changes to your account and ensure you keep building upon them. 🔁
Once you have the ground work of your profile, target audience and business objectives covered, you are ready to begin a successful PR campaign on Instagram. The amount of success you have is determined by your ability to figure out which strategies are the most effective in your industry and receives the most engagement on your page. Once you have this sussed, using Instagram to run a successful PR campaign will be a walk in the park and this will be reflected in the success of your objectives being achieved! 🎉
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About the Author:
Camara is a third year Law student at the University of Exeter, with a passion for writing. She’s currently an intern PR Assistant and Blogger at GuidedPR. When she isn't writing or hitting the law books, you can find Camara either working on her own blog that she has created, or on social media keeping up with current affairs!
Find Camara on LinkedIn.