Instagram marketing: 5 tips on how brands can use it to attract more attention

Niklas Hartmann, Managing Director at ReachOn GmbH, explains how brands can use Instagram to expand their reach. The social media expert demonstrates how effective a combination of hashtags, collaborations and articles can be.

Instagram marketing will put your brand on the map
Image: © Hello I’m Nik / Unsplash

21 million people in Germany use Instagram – a figure that underlines the importance of the platform for businesses. But most companies fail to harness its potential, with neglected profiles, a dearth of interaction, and monotonous content being commonplace. Given that striking content, eye-catching colors, and innovative ideas will fast-track the route to success, developing a strategy to impress customers is essential. Most people who are responsible for marketing shy away from what they perceive as being hard work, but that is a mistake. Building an exciting profile for your brand involves minimal time and expense.

#1 Designing your brand profile

When users visit a brand profile, the first thing that they see is the profile photo. It only takes a fraction of a second for potential customers to decide whether they are going to press “Follow” or move on, so your profile photo needs to be convincing.

4 tips for your profile photo

Think of your Instagram profile photo as the photo on your resume. If you submitted a job application with an unsuitable photo, your application would just be tossed aside – and the same goes for followers on Instagram. Companies need to make sure they stand out to stop people from skipping over them. That is exactly why brands should use an image that grabs the attention.

An appropriate profile photo features:

  • a head-and-shoulders shot in portrait format (for personal brands),
  • the company logo (for brand profiles),
  • a monochrome, striking background, and
  • a focus on the actual person (for personal brands).

Tip: Identify the most important elements in the profile photo and eliminate the rest.

If you are the person responsible for a brand, avoid the temptation to overload the profile photo. Remember: minimalism is key. Avoid images with friends and distracting patterns in the background. Large companies should use the company logo, while SMEs can use a picture of the company founder to reinforce the link with followers.

That makes sense if the company puts the founder in the spotlight, and can also be useful if customers value independent expertise. If that is the case, then building an expert profile on social media is the ideal approach.

Introducing your brand – short and sweet

The second thing that people notice is the biography, which is an opportunity for marketing staff to present a concise pen portrait of the brand. A well-written biography will impress users and should include

  • a description of the company,
  • its unique selling point, and
  • a call to action.

Calls to action are phrases like “Buy now!”, “Find out more” or “Ask for a quote”. Unique selling points help companies stand out from the crowd. They could be the 20-year warranty, the sustainable approach, or the quality of the product.

It is important that the people responsible for the marketing keep their target group in mind. The biography should be as attention-grabbing as possible and should also be pitched at the right level.

If the company wants to reach mothers with young children, then a personal approach is recommended. In contrast, a solar power project based in Italy that is looking to address potential investors should use a professional, neutral tone to be successful.

#2 Use the right hashtags to boost success

Hashtags give brands enormous reach, provided that the marketers do their research properly. But not all hashtags are equal; different keywords have a different reach and a different audience.

Even supposedly German hashtags may have mainly international content – such as #modelpose, which is used by Indonesian and Russian users. The people responsible for the marketing content therefore need to take a look at the hashtags in advance, to make sure that they will reach the right target group.

It is also essential to make an objective assessment of your profile:

  • Can the brand profile keep up with its main competitors when it comes to engagement rates?
  • How many posts are there with this hashtag?
  • Is the hashtag appropriate for the post?

Choosing top-ranking hashtags is crucial because posts with these hashtags will be shown to users first. This will reinforce how many members of the target group see the post, which will in turn boost the number of followers and the reach of the post. The Instagram algorithm decides whether a brand post achieves a top ranking.

The algorithm is based on the percentage of “liked” posts compared with the range (= engagement rate), the number of comments, and shares. For videos, the download duration – in other words, how long a user spends watching the video – is another important factor.

Instagram marketing doesn\'t work without hashtags
Image: © Jon Tyson / Unsplash

#3 Instagram Stories: Content that disappears after 24 hours

24 hours. That’s how long an Instagram Story lasts. That’s why it’s the perfect format for giving people a glimpse behind the scenes and for creating personal interaction with followers. Companies can use this feature to conduct surveys, answer questions from followers, and get feedback on their product. Once they reach 10,000 followers, they also have the option of adding links to websites, which can help companies boost sales as well as the number of visitors to their website.

The right way to use highlights

Companies can use highlights if they want their stories to be available on their profile for more than 24 hours. Which is useful, for example, if brands want to

  • give a tour of their premises,
  • present their products,
  • introduce staff, or
  • answer frequently asked questions.

This means that highlights should be used to pin stories that offer followers added value in the long term.

#4 Collaborating with influencers

If a profile is just getting started, then collaborating with influencers may be wise. This gives brands the opportunity to expand their reach in a very short time. Choosing the appropriate influencer is an important factor in the success of this strategy, and brands must look at

  • the engagement rate,
  • the key topics,
  • the number of followers,
  • the influencer’s target group,
  • the prices,

and previous collaboration partners.

The key topic is crucial; it would be pointless for a pet food manufacturer to collaborate with a fitness influencer, for example. If the audience is wrong, then followers will not be interested in the posts.

#5 Analyzing posts: what to do

Instagram users have heard it before: months of posts that haven’t generated any success, only rising frustration levels. Lots of decision-makers then start asking themselves what they are doing wrong.

There are plenty of reasons for this lack of success, from monotonous content formats to choosing the wrong time to post or even failing to deliver benefits for followers. If you want to analyze your posts properly, you need a business account. This allows brands to analyze their target group, determine the popularity of posts, and adjust their strategy.

But be careful, because not every Instagram suggestion will deliver success. To give you an example, the app shows you the best time to post, which is usually between 6 and 9 p.m. But it may make sense for companies to post outside these hours, when there is less competition and their post will reach more people.

Instagram marketing – an overview for brands

Instagram offers plenty of opportunities for brands, and companies must leverage them wherever possible in order to take advantage of the platform’s reach. This involves the various features engaging with each other. At the end of the day, long-term growth will only be achieved if followers have a positive initial impression. Once companies have got that right, there are plenty of ways that they can use Instagram to grow their sales.

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