I recently dipped my toes into the waters of Instagram for one of my clients. Essentially a start-up company, I was already helping them to establish a stronger brand voice and visual language for the company that could be extended to collateral, website and social media. So, it was only fitting that I help relaunch their brand and show them how it could be done on Instagram.
Instagram is the primary social channel for this provider to inspire and evangelize a growing market as they offer a unique and visual product. Appealing to both a consumer and a commercial buyer, the posts need to look both trendy and beautiful. An elevated design sensibility is the backbone of this product's design, so it also needed to communicate design excellence across the Instagram feed.
Photo by Dean Rose on Unsplash
So, what did I do? Or maybe the better question is, how can you identify and extrapolate key elements from your existing brand palette to create a cohesive and unique Instagram feed?
Follow these three tips to elevate your brand:
Choose a consistent color story
The key to Instagram is the feed. Those discovering you for the first time will look at your home page and see the grid display of your past posts. This become the visual essence of who you. From the description at the top, to the images you chose to post, it all needs to communicate as one.
Color is the easiest way to unite this disparate collection of images. Feature just 1-3 of your brand colors. You can do this with color overlays, filters, textures or any combination of these. Even 4-color photography can be unified by the consistent use of point-of-view, lighting source, depth of field, subject and more.
For this client I used a combination of techniques. A consistent color filter was applied to 4-color photography which gave them a bit of a high-contrast, blue-green hue. I also introduced a selection of 4 different texture treatments which could be rotated as overlays and layered with solid color and text. And the 2 brand colors were consistently applied, along with uniform typography.
Lastly, an essential element of the brand palette was a small version of the logo that displayed in the lower right corner of every post. While this treatment may not be appropriate for every brand, for this client I felt it was the best way to drive brand recognition with the limited effort and resources they had at their disposal.
Inspire your audience
Like all social media, marketers need to remember that "marketing" is not about "selling" on these platforms. It's more about inspiring followers and building an audience that can relate to the values and mission behind your brand. Images should therefore be less product-focused and more motivational. Words should be minimal, conversational and informal. Helpful tips or insights are also good.
Related to this strategy is the use of hashtags. There are a lot of conflicting methods of using hashtags to build your audience. Some embed the hashtags within the text. Some list them at the end. Some say you should use a minimum of 20 different hashtags per post. Others focus on just a small handful (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/hashtags-for-instagram/). My strategy is less is more. I try to choose relevant hashtags and use not more than a half dozen per post. But the hashtags I do choose should be high-ranking ones which can be tested using this handy tool (https://hashtagify.me/hashtag/value) or ones like it.
I also like to use famous or aspirational quotes on Instagram. People will often like or share these so they are ideal for building followers and awareness. Find relevant quotes from people in your industry or create your own that can serve as a rally cry to your specific tribe.
Instagram stories, polls and other interactive posts are also a great way to involve and engage with your growing audience.
Like most good things, building a quality audience will take time. There are tricks to boost your followers or even purchase them. But to make it really count, those that follow you should be actual prospects who may one day purchase your product or solution. In this way, they easily become evangelizers and will serve to inspire others to buy down the line.
With this in mind, play the long game and be thoughtful about what you post and how you earn the respect and trust of your followers. Influencers and related product providers can be good resources, so cross-promote and engage with their feeds respectfully. There is plenty of internet love to go around. But fair warning, you can also earn bad juju if you do it wrong!
Don't be self-serving. Always keep the user in mind. Consider offers and content links that provide your audience with more valuable information. Content marketing is about being helpful and proving yourself an expert in your field. So, point readers to blog posts or additional content on your website in a helpful way. This will serve to nurture their interest and readiness to buy.
Quality begets quality. What I mean by that is to be sure and follow the rules and best-practices for instagram. There are specific sizes and post lengths that will get you the best results (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-image-sizes-guide/#instagram), as well as best days/times and frequencies to post for your industry (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/). Be a quality channel and over time you will build a quality audience.
Your brand is your lifeblood
Whether you're already active in social media or you're just now dipping your toes in the water with Instagram like I was, these tips should help you set your brand apart. As the lifeblood to your commercial success, be certain that how prospects perceive you in social media is in a way that elevates your brand to new heights, thus building loyalty and inspiration for what's possible.
Need some help with your social strategy? Give me a shout and we can look at ways to elevate your brand and build your audience. Custom-designed social templates can be yours to create and manage your own posts or retainer social-media management contracts are also available.
Hi. I'm Barbara Bogue. The name [double b] came from my initials. Here I share tips and advice on marketing, design and copywriting.
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