If you’re a social media user, chances are you’re familiar with Instagram.

Known far and wide as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram allows individuals and marketers around the globe to share photos and videos with their followers.

While millions of people use Instagram for fun, very few marketers have incorporated it into their marketing strategy. This is a massive oversight, though, because Instagram has the potential to be one of the most effective social media marketing platforms in existence.

Read on to learn more.

Why Instagram Matters

While it may be tempting to ignore Instagram for the Facebooks and the Twitters of the world, Instagram has a massive reach that can work wonders for marketers. As it stands now, there are 500 million active users of Instagram around the world. Roughly 300 million of these users access Instagram on a daily basis, and this collective user base generates a shocking total of upward of 95 million photos, videos, and images each day.

With these numbers in mind, it’s clear that Instagram offers tremendous potential to marketers who are interested in expanding their brands and broadening their online presence.

In addition to the fact that Instagram has a broad user base, the platform also boasts a higher-than-usual engagement rate (about four percent for brands on Instagram, versus 0.1 percent for brands using Facebook and Twitter). What’s more, Instagram is significantly less crowded than other social media platforms. While a full 93 percent of all marketers use Facebook to market their company online, only 36 percent use Instagram, which makes it easier to stand out and be heard.

How to Use Instagram Effectively

Now that you know why Instagram is so useful for marketing, let’s talk about how to develop an effective marketing strategy to help you succeed. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Optimize your Instagram bio

The Instagram bio (seen at the top of your Instagram profile), is the first impression visitors receive of your page. To meet all of your users’ needs and reflect well on your company, your bio should contain all of the relevant information about your business as well a link to your website or shop.

Be sure to include a high-quality profile image or logo, the name of your company or business, and a brief introduction to what you do and why. This will help drive more engagement and ensure that your users are interacting with your profile the right way.

2. Make use of hashtags

Instagram, like Twitter, is built around hashtags. One of the best ways to get noticed on the platform is to use these hashtags to your advantage. Posts with 11 or more hashtags get more attention, so don’t be afraid to pile them on your photos. For best results, though, your hashtags will need to be relevant and intelligent.

One great way to ensure this is to use the Explore feature of Instagram to find posts tagged with popular or on-trend hashtags. When you find a trending tag that relates to your product, service, brand, or company, include them with your photos. Users will stumble across your content in this manner and will be able to interact with it more effectively.

3. Post consistently to Instagram

A social media platform is only as good as the interaction therein. To ensure your Instagram profile continues to earn plenty of love, make consistent contributions to the platform. There’s plenty of information out there about the best times to post to Instagram and, while these times may vary slightly depending on your specific audience and demographics, it’s wise to ensure that you’re posting content consistently.

As a general rule, this means you should dispense new content at least several times a week, and that you should be posting it at the optimal post time for engagement and interaction.

4. Develop a unique style

Brands that succeed on Instagram do so with the help of visual strategies. Because Instagram displays photos in a tile pattern, it’s wise to ensure that the photos you post to the platform all have one cohesive element holding them together.

As a brand, you likely already have a color scheme that appears throughout your marketing, so it’s wise to bring this to your Instagram marketing as well. Keep the photos in your display centered around the same color scheme and ensure that the subjects, styles, and material you shoot have a consistent line of style running through it.

5. Communicate with your users

One of the best things about Instagram is that it can be used to develop close relationships with customers. The best way to develop these relationships, though, is to communicate directly with them.

This means that followers who interact with your photos via comments, likes, or shares should be rewarded with a direct shout out.

Alternately, you can respond to customers who comment on your photos or interact with your content in other ways. Regardless of what you choose to do, interacting with Instagram followers regularly is one of the best ways to ensure long-lasting followings and healthy relationships that boost brands.

Instagram Can Bring Huge Marketing Success

While Instagram may seem intimidating for online marketers who aren’t familiar with the platform, it’s a hugely effective marketing platform that can help build your brand, encourage customer engagement, and create a better marketing strategy across the board. What’s more, Instagram is a fantastic way to develop a cohesive visual strategy that can benefit your marketing in other areas, as well.

By taking the time to develop an Instagram presence today, it’s easy to excel at online marketing in the future. Plus, since Instagram is significantly less crowded than other online platforms, it’s easy to stand out and get noticed, while social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are often simply too crowded.

Because of this, investing in Instagram is a wise way to boost your online marketing skills and ensure that your brand continues to stand out to your customers.

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