Instagram for Promo: 5 Ways to Build and Connect With Audiences
Building brand awareness can be hard if you aren’t up to date with the latest business tools, including social media. That's why we’re diving into ways to use Instagram—perhaps the most popular social channel—in order to reach your ideal audience. Instagram is not only a great way to connect, but also a helpful tool for promoting your business.
Last month, The Next Web ran an article on how the New York Public Library (NYPL) created a new project called Insta Novels. The project was designed to encourage younger generations to crack open a book by recreating classic novels as Instagram Stories. Social media isn't going anywhere, especially for millennials and Gen Z, so NYPL took something those audiences love and turned into something they'd want to interact with. We think that’s pretty genius:
While the content that NYPL created might not apply directly to the promo industry, it does give us a creative example of how places, like the library, are developing innovative ways to reach a new audience and better connect with existing audiences.
With that in mind, here are a few tips on how you can use Instagram for promo businesses, or even for your clients.
1. Determine your goals
This might be one of the most important parts of using any social media, and it's especially so for Instagram. Think about these next few questions before starting out your page:
- Who is your audience?
- What type of message do you want your followers or potential customer to takeaway?
- How much time do I want to dedicate to building this platform?
We talked to Angela Morris, promotional product consultant at Geiger, mid-south division, whose @thepromoshopper Instagram account is one of the best in the promo business. For Morris, defining goals is the single most crucial step for companies on Instagram.
“If you want a gazillion followers, then you would have a much different approach than if you just want to interact with existing clients," she said. "Go with the flow. Though there is a ton of advice and statistics out there on how you 'should' do things on Instagram, this is ever-changing and it’s important to not lose sight of your own identity for the sake of following what worked for someone else. Remember, it’s subjective—what works for someone else may be different because their objectives, goals and time commitment was also different than yours. #YouDoYou”
2. Keep the Instagram Stories coming
So, how exactly can Stories work in the promo industry? Looking at what NYPL did, companies can utilize Instagram Stories to market products or showcase events. It’s always a good idea to stay up to date with posting images to your profile, so why not take a video and upload it as well? This can work for any business that doesn't want to overcrowd their Instagram feed. Seeing numerous videos in a row (on your feed, that is) can get kind of repetitive. Now, you can save them to your Stories and have followers tap through them. It’s as simple as that.
Another tip is to create a "highlight" that you can save your content to. This is a great option if you’d prefer your Stories stay on your page for longer than the standard 24 hours. Plus, end-users can go back and view it whenever.
Later, an Instagram scheduler app, released a blog post called "The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories for Business," and it covers just about every question you might have about using Stories. One section is based on what to post, which is useful for anyone starting out. From the article:
Like with regular posts, if you’re using Instagram Stories for business, it’s good to post a mix of fun, lighthearted content and promotional content. Instagram Stories is a pretty relaxed place in general, and the quality standards are a lot lower than they are for regular posts.
Unlike posts, you don’t have to feel as much pressure to create lasting content. Think of this as a way to allow users to see your creative spark in action and have a little fun.
3. Create compelling posts
Josh Storey, social media writer for SanMar, Seattle, Wash., shared his experience creating content for the supplier's robust Instagram channel. “This is an evergreen piece of advice for all social media," Storey told us. "Inform, reveal, entertain but do not advertise. If a customer wants to see your catalog, they’ll go to your website."
In general, we find that one of the biggest issues with social media is being able to push out interesting content, every single time. It’s not always easy creating posts that are going to appeal to everyone in your audience. But, if there’s something we’ve learned from asking the social media pro, it’s that when you create posts about things you actually care about, your followers can tell.
“I also like to interject personal posts about my other loves, travel and cats, as these two things are what have brought me closer to clients, colleagues and supplier partners above all else," said Morris. "Showing your interests and personality opens a door for commonalities, inspiring ideas and more meaningful connections! If you’re wondering about if it’s possible to mix your personal and professional social media, the answer is yes!"
4. Construct powerful hashtags
Instagram isn’t always just about the posts. In a post for Social Media Today, writer Andrew Hutchinson offered up a few pointers businesses could benefit from. One of them centered on hashtags. While posts and stories allow you to connect with existing followers, it's the hashtags that allow businesses to reach and cultivate new audiences within their industry.
In addition to explaining that you're able to use up to 30 hashtags per post, Hutchinson points out in his article that, as of last December, Instagram users can now follow specific hashtags. This is big news for Instagram. The tough part about building an audience is actually being able to reach them. With this newer feature, people can find your hashtag and stay on top of it whenever you use it. Remember to use words or phrases that people would actually search for. You do have 30 hashtags to play around with, but make the most out of them—and make sure they're relevant and targeted—in order to grow your following.
“Hashtags are important so that you can attract certain people or industries, plus help make it easy for them to find you,” Morris told us. “I love using hashtags creatively and sometimes throw in some funny ones. That’s when I know who is paying attention. I’ve had clients that never interact on social media call me and say something about that funny hashtag. #WhoAreYou #MyCatLikesColeman”
5. Set a schedule
This last step is more of an overview of how you can use Instagram more effectively for your business. Storey gave us some advice on how to stay consistent with your posts. “Set yourself a schedule and post at least four times a week,” he said.
We wrote previously on how to regulate your social media with a scheduling app. While this might not be exactly what Storey means, it can be an option if you’d rather automate the timing of posts.
If four posts a week is too many (or too few), adjust to your own needs and goals. Once you find a posting frequency that works best for you, do your best to stay consistent.
“At first, it might seem like a challenge to come up with content that often, but once it becomes a habit you’ll find your feed filling up with followers,” Storey said.