In today’s world, where everything has gone digital, building your brand and promoting it should be easy. Right?
First you need to jump the hurdle of creating a website for your brand, either on your own or using a web development service. Next, you’ll need to build your brand’s presence on the social media platforms that will reach your target audience.
For a lot of brands, this includes the photo and video sharing app, Instagram. Instagram has the potential to successfully connect a large audience with your products or services and build a community around your brand. But it’s not nearly as simple as posting all the photos you have, or doing a photoshoot.
8 Steps to Building Your Brand on Instagram
1. Research & Strategy
Before starting on anything, it is always crucial to refine your marketing ideas. For that, you need to have a lot of brainstorming sessions where you need to cultivate an Instagram marketing strategy and ensure it aligns with your business strategy and goals.
Certain factors that need to be well-defined are:
Starting with your social media promotion without having definitive goals can cost you both time and money.
Like any other social media platform, Instagram can create brand awareness through which you will be able to direct traffic to your business website. To achieve that, you will need to figure out your goals for brand promotion on Instagram.
How can you make sure that your goals are specific and achievable? They should be measurable, relevant, specific, doable and timely. Set a timeframe to gain a certain number of followers, likes, comments, visitors to your site via Instagram or even site conversions from Instagram traffic (you can use Google Analytics for this).
2. Target Audience
Like using any medium for marketing, you need to know what market segment you are targeting with each one. You should already know the characteristics of your business’s target audience, that is, the people who will realistically buy your product or service.
Mostly, Instagram is popular among people under 40, so don’t use content that you think will appeal to baby boomers.
Check out your direct competitors’ followers and you’re likely to find your target audience. You might want to follow their followers and hope that they follow you back or at least go through your business page.
Once you know who your audience is, everything will align accordingly.
3. Competitor Research
You always learn from others. So, for this step, you need to know who your competitors are. Study them, their posts, their followers, etc. Note which of their posts get more engagement, what kind of content they publish, what hashtags they use and whatever else will help you craft your content to stand out and effectively build a brand community.
Just don’t forget that you are also targeting the same user base as your competitors. Once you get a hold of the game, you’ll be able to promote your brand better than your competitors.
4. Content Strategy
The most crucial aspect of your Instagram presence is what content you are putting on your business page for your audience. (Please note the word “audience” rather than “followers” because the content is accessible to everyone regardless of who is following your page.)
Content can be visual or text. However, you would want to put the kind of content that will drive engagement. Again, during your competitor research, you might have come across a certain type of content which their followers like to engage with. Analyze it thoroughly, try to adapt to it or else bring your creativity and uniqueness to it.
Apart from studying your competitors, you need to look out for trends that engage users and which closely align with your brand’s identity. Most importantly, you will have to look for hashtags that you can make part of your content strategy.
To make the process easier for you, you can create your content calendar and plan accordingly. Check out the best social media tools to help you with this.
5. Hire Product Photographers
This step is entirely optional. But if you want to have an edge over your competitors, either hire a product photographer or get a good professional camera. Nowadays, Instagram is all about the visual medium. You cannot expect high engagement rates with low-quality images and videos. Neither can you post an inconsistent mix of high-quality images and low-quality image. It will only create a bad impression of your brand.
So, if you have the means to use a professional camera or a photographer, do so. It will give an instant boost to your brand, especially if your competitors aren’t doing the same.
2. Content Style and Theme
As you may have heard countless times before, Instagram is all about the visuals. So it is really necessary to create your own visual identity. You might find some businesses only use low-quality visuals, even if they post regularly. You’ll probably also find that their posts lack engagement and reach. To really maximise your brand’s potential on Instagram, you have to have strong and consistent visuals.
First you will need to think about the content you want to share with your Instagram audience. For instance, if you are a B2B company and offer services, you could share content like customer reviews, your office lifestyle, company achievements and employee achievements.
Now that you have figured out the content, next you need to think about the theme which should be consistent throughout and truly reflect your brand identity. It could be a combination of solid colours, patterns, the size of the image, a particular style and/or different fonts. You must also keep in mind that your visuals, be it an image or a video, should be of high quality. Your visual identity and logo should be consistent across all your other social media platforms.
Once you decided on a theme, font and layout, you could design templates using programs like Adobe Illustrator or Canva. Illustrator allows you to custom design your templates and turn your ideas into reality. Canva is less flexible, providing a wide range of ready-made templates and patterns instead.
Remember that posting without planning and not having consistent visual identity will confuse your followers. And chances are, they won’t stick around for long.
A bonus tip: Even though your smartphone will get the job done, if you want to share really high-quality content on your Instagram feed, you will need to invest in a professional camera or hire a photographer, as mentioned earlier.
3. Smart Hashtags + Branded Hashtags
The second most important feature of Instagram behind visuals is hashtags. Most brands are discovered through the hashtags they put in their captions and Instagram stories. This is how you can appear in the feeds of Instagram users who don’t follow you. So you definitely want to make sure you don’t miss any of the opportunities that hashtags have to offer.
To bring Instagram users to your page and make them view your products, you need to come up with smart and creative hashtags that are not only trending but are well-aligned with your brand identity and the products or services that you offer. If you are completely clueless about the hashtags you can potentially use, check your competitors. See which hashtags they are using.
You can also create a branded hashtag(s) for your brand through which your audience can easily access your products/services. Furthermore, you can utilize other branded hashtags which target a cause, trend or location in your content so that your posts appear in more people’s Instagram feed.
Ideally you should use up to 15 hashtags per post but Instagram allows you to use up to 30. No matter how many you use, you need to be smart about your choice of hashtags, whether they be trending or branded. You need to balance your captions and hashtags such that they don’t overpower your visual content and are not too overwhelming for your audience at first glance.
4. Instagram Stories + Instagram Live
An exclusive feature only for the mobile version of Instagram, Instagram Stories and Instagram Live can take your brand to new heights. Give your followers “behind the scenes” snippets of your business to make them feel like brand insiders and a genuine part of your community.
Usually, an Instagram Story remains visible for only 24 hours. However, if you want to save it or if your customers want to view your stories later, you can create a highlights section. Not only this, Instagram Stories allow you to be more creative with your visuals. You can add stickers, write on pictures, draw/doodle, conduct polls, ask questions, get ratings and use GIFs to keep your viewers engaged. Furthermore, you can have “ask us” sessions on your brand’s page where you can answer your customers queries in real time without having them connect to a customer care representative and make them wait.
Instagram Live streams will also remain visible for 24 hours but cannot be saved once you are done with it. However, your brand gains authority and loyalty from your viewers. They will know that the brand behind the camera is equally invested in their customers and will not betray them with their “fake” services or products. You might want to post an announcement for your followers before going live to attract a larger viewership.
If you want your video to be viewable for longer than 24 hours, you can use another new feature of Instagram: IGTV (Instagram TV). You can upload videos longer than 1 minute on IGTV. You also have an option to share a certain part of that video on your newsfeed or you can simply link it to your Instagram Stories.
All three features allow you to apply filters for extra effect.
Remember that your efforts will be in vain if you forget to add a call-to-action to your Stories, live stream and IGTV. For instance, make sure you tell your followers to go to your website, subscribe or enter a competition
After you are across the first four steps, look at collaborations if that’s where your skills lie. If you have a knack for engaging with people easily, you can build brand authority by partnering with the right Instagram influencers.
You’ll need to collaborate with influencers who resonate with your target audience and brand identity and can genuinely talk about your offering. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, don’t bother collaborating with an influencer whose expertise lies in medicine. You can perhaps collaborate with someone who is equally passionate about design (like Jacob!) and can promote your services.
Instagram influencers and collaborators build their following over a significant amount of time. They gain trust and loyalty over that period. So choose them wisely and be patient. Your collaborations will not only create authority for your brand but will also bring you followers.
6. Create your Community
Creating your Instagram community, regardless of how big or small it is, is very important to promoting your brand. So somewhat unsurprisingly, it will require a lot of time and dedication. You will have to take time out to engage with your audience via comments and direct messages. You will also have to be prompt with your replies because that’s the world we live in, especially with young Instagrammers.
If you are new to Instagram, you could consider building your community using Instagram pods. This is where you and other brands that share the same user base come together and create a group through Instagram direct message. You have to engage with all their new posts, and they do the same for you. For instance, you publish your post, share it with your pod via direct message, and all members of the pod has to like, comment or share your post. This tactic will promote your brand to your target audience and therefore has the potential to bring you business.
Once you build your own trusted community, they will spread the word on your behalf and make your job easier.
7. Be Consistent
Another often forgotten yet important factor in building brand presence on Instagram is to be consistent. The timing of your posts can affect your engagement rate, so once you know what frequency, days of the week and times of day work best for your audience, stick to a schedule. You also need to be consistent with the theme, content and hashtag approach for optimal brand recognition.
Posting thrice a week is optimal, if not daily. Be sure to plan your content so that you don’t fall behind.
Remember, consistency is key!
8. Track your Progress
What is the purpose of following all the steps to build your brand presence on Instagram if you are not tracking your progress? It is really important to take stock of your posts’ engagement and your accounts followers at least weekly. It will give you a better sense about what is working in your favour and what is not.
With the help of Instagram Insights, you can keep track of your posts, ads and Instagram Stories, along with the comments, likes, followers, traffic and sales. There’s also a range of other social media analysis tools available that can help you keep track of your progress.
Once you know what works best for you, tweak your strategy accordingly.
Instagram branding will become easy for you once you get the hang of it. If you follow all of the steps mentioned in this article, your brand will gain a lot of visibility. Once you are visible to your audience, promoting your brand on Instagram will become fun and simple.
However, it is worth mentioning that these steps are not set in stone. No doubt, Instagram will launch new features in the future that will further help you build your brand, so stay up to date with developments and trends.
Leave a comment below to let us know if you follow these steps and what impact they’ve had for your brand.