Instagram is famous for being one of the trendiest marketing mediums. As a purely visual platform, Instagram allows the business user to display their best products and proud moments to the world, steadily gaining followers and reaping in Likes. But for years, Instagram has proven to be a pretty fickle medium to use. The lack of advertising options, nature of Likes and mostly organic growth options have made it difficult for marketers to link Instagram to sales.
With the advent of HootSuite scheduling and Instagram’s new advertising module, the Carousel, the marketing nature of Instagram may change completely. Instagram is part of our social media marketing package, so we’ve kept a close eye on changes to the platform. We’ll take you through the works to show you how to make the most out of Instagram in growing your brand!
Here’s a summary of the marketing pros and cons of Instagram:
Pros of Instagram
- Very relevant – the purely visual nature of the platform makes it the perfect place to display your product
- Very fast – a picture can gain thousands of Likes within minutes even if the user has virtually no followers
- Very widespread – using hashtags, the user can target whole segments of Instagram users without prior engagement
Cons of Instagram
- Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Likes do not result in a positive feedback, so gaining more likes will not directly increase the total number of views
- Difficult to link Likes and Followers to sales – Due to the lack of hyperlinks, it is possible for an account to gain thousands of followers without resulting in a single sale of the product(s).
- Difficult to target – each hashtag is mutually exclusive. You cannot target a specific portion of the population without using even more hashtags (hence the resulting “hashtag spam” on some photos even when the target audience is very narrow)
- Difficult to schedule
Instagram’s greatest strength is in its ability to grow your brand. What the platform lacks in its ability to generate sales, it makes up in its ability to generate a loyal fanbase. Since the Likes feature does not further increase the popularity of a post, unlike Facebook and Twitter your KPI’s will not be directly linked to Actions on the post. This is a blessing in disguise. The Likes feature is useful for gauging the organic popularity of a product. If you post two different products at similar times of day, which product gains more Likes? Is this a consistent trend? Treat Instagram as a testing pool for your products: if the product is appealing on Instagram, most likely it will be popular on your shelves and online as well.
Scheduling with Instagram
Earlier this month, HootSuite launched Instagram connectivity to its platform. This is a godsend for marketers, as the scheduling function allows for some spiffy experimentation and A/B testing without manually keeping track of each photo you post. This is a much-appreciated feature, as marketers can now schedule a month’s worth of posts in advance!
Like other social media platforms, Instagram is added to your HootSuite dashboard after linking the account through sign-in confirmation. The only catch is that Instagram still requires posts to be published through a mobile app, meaning that you will need to have Instagram and HootSuite installed on your phone as well. When your scheduled post is due, you’ll receive a push notification from HootSuite to confirm the post. Simply go through the regular steps to posting an Instagram post, while pasting the preset caption to your message when prompted (your phone will automatically load the preset caption to your clipboard).
The biggest draw of Instagram integration is the ability to do everything on a laptop computer ahead of time. This ties in with building your editorial calendar before publishing content, allowing you to see the overall spread of your hashtags as they align with your other campaign goals. Prescheduling different dates and times may give you various results-use the records from your prescheduled posts to test the performance of individual posts as well as overall trends in the time of posting, date of posting, and hashtags used. By identifying your KPI’s ahead of time, you’ll avoid blindly posting content at random times, without gaining any useful information.
Advertising with Instagram
Although this functionality has not been rolled out to all users as of yet, many firms have seen success with Instagram online advertising. This advertising medium features the Carousel, a special 4-panel post that includes a Learn More button that acts as a hyperlink to a potential sales page. By placing a call to action in the post, Instagram now effectively allows businesses to advertise and track the performance of campaigns with utm coding.
It will be interesting to see how Instagram Advertising will be integrated with HootSuite’s platform when the Carousel hits widespread use. It’ll also be interesting to see how advertisers will compete for Instagram ad space-but only time will tell.