Using Instagram for Business Growth

Last week, I attended a webinar organized by Astrolabs Academy, hosted by Jessica Avedikian, Digital & Social Media Marketing Consultant and founder of Social Astronaut, on how to brand your Instagram account, the USPs that matter, how to make it relevant to your audience and why branding matters for your business. Here are my takeaways from the webinar:

Why is Instagram Important?

Not only can you reach a wider audience unlike traditional marketing, but you can track, understand and monitor your audience, and see if they match your business requirements. You can even build user generated content via collaborating with your fans so that they can generate content for you. There are lots of brands that are doing that in order to promote authenticity and build trust with their target audience. To top it up, your return on investment will be higher and you can always change your content easily to tailor to your customers’ needs.

Branding is a Science

When a company is branded well on Instagram, you will have unique selling propositions (USPs). Studies on neuro science discovered that there is a merge between customers’ perception and marketing strategy which ends up making a real impact on customers. Design is a tool to create something beautiful and needs to be blended with your strategy. We have emotions after all; what makes us click? What makes us ignore?

Branding is Not Just About the Logo

Branding on Instagram is about having the right mission, vision, values, strategy that needs to be crafted in order to reach the right target audience. Branding is also about having the proper look and feel, and not to forget, the experience.

Why Do We Need to Focus on Instagram?

There are now more than 1 billion accounts in the UAE, and more than 500m Instagram accounts worldwide. According to Adweek, a study was conducted to show that 80% of Instagram users are following an Instagram brand, showing lots of engagement and generating voluntary higher traffic than any other platform.

We need to Have Strong and Concise Content on Instagram

To have compelling presence online, this will tie in with our brand awareness. Our content needs to also tie in with our Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) in order to help us raise our brand awareness. General Electric has mastered the use of imagery, as well as strong and concise content.
This gave its audience high quality visual storytelling and hence increased its engagement with a consistent look and feel offline and online with its global audience.

We Need to Create a Brand Perception and Tie it into Our USPs

Have you ever thought how your brand fits into Instagram? Your brand’s Instagram grid is all about how to get that compelling brand to show through your imagery, through your story and your brand’s tone of voice. For proper brand awareness, your Instagram brand should be all about how you present yourself; what is your specific brand USP? It needs to be a short sentence that no one else should claim or use. What differentiates you from others? What is special about you? Everyone in the organization needs to know your USP.
FOUR Ways to Differentiate your Brand

  1. Find a Need and Fulfill it with Your Proposition.
    Is your product or service reliable? Is it compatible? What are your customers’ needs? Careem have found that unique edge and had an advantage over others.
  2. Specialize in a Specific Category.
    For example, LUSH provided something extra that others haven’t. They provide cosmetics, all hand name, are vegan, yet also socially responsible. They have drilled down their offerings into a specific category, being cosmetics, while making it audience specific.
  3. Create a Non- Existing Desire.
    Create a brand new solution. Think about brands that are startups, a create a brand new desire. For example, the very first iphone was created to fill a gap in the market which revolutionized the mobile industry.
  4. Give Your Customer a Special Experience.
    Customer experience is another aspect of branding. If you take a look at Build a Bear, they give you a whole experience where children can dress the bear, stuff the bear, feed it, and go through the whole journey, which leads to enhancing their brand proposition and gives a special experience and connection to the brand.

Tie Your USPs into Your Instagram Grid.

Your Instagram grid needs to execute your USPs. For example Pandco gives you a specific look and feel (even though they don’t claim it verbally). The reason we know this is because they are consistent in the imagery and they are true to their customers. They are nostalgic, masculine, risky, warm and adventurous – and we know this from the consistent feel they portray from their imagery and the clothing the models wear. The USPs are embedded into their Instagram grid.

Another Instagram account that stayed true to their brand is Sugarbearhair, a hair vitamin company. they kept things fresh, and reflected everything through their touchpoints. They are healthy, quirky, youthful, funky, alternative, fun and reflected this across all their touchpoints. Even the influencers followed the right guidelines to publish the right content.

The Tone of Voice is Super Important on Instagram

You need to think about how you want your customers to feel on Instagram. How does the brand make you feel? The words that you choose define how your customers feel. You need to form your brand’s tone words. Usually we put these tone words on a white board and brain storm with a team 5 to 6 words that really reflect the brand. Try to select words that are not too similar, example, calming yet energetic. If you take a look at Converse, you will see how they chose a great combination of colours, where they became edgy yet with a ‘vintagy’ style. They were not afraid to do this. Once you have identified your tone words, you can convey your USPs in the right tonality and you can tell a story on your Instagram.

The Brand Story

Focus on using the right photography for your instastory. Though it may sound like a lot of work, you need to incorporate your USPs into your story for each picture. It’s really important to resonate with your consumer in an emotional way. In other words, incorporate the colour pallette, brand elements, brand experience, type of photography into your brand story. Feel the narrative. Make sure you are serving your USP through your story.

Captions Matter

If your purpose is to engage with the customer, you have to think of the right captions. Your tonality in the caption matters. For example, Skittles always use funny and crazy captions as well.
More About Photography

A good visual is something that makes you feel good, showing that your brand is true to their value. The above steps will help you touch your values and missions. So take the time to choose your imagery, choose the right angles, choose the right filter, and be consistent. If it means hiring a photographer, then be it. You can even use Unspslash.com, Pexels.com, creativemarket.com, istockphoto.com for some good imagery and content.

Planning is Also Key

Arrange your photos and plan ahead of time to plan your grid. You can upload your photos, preview them and use planoly so you can visualize your grid before it gets published online.

The best visual on Instagram is really something that makes you feel good and connected to the brand.

When you look at the overall grid and you see that all the touchpoints are the same, you will know that this brand is true to their customers.

 

With an M.A. in Marketing and a Diploma in Digital Marketing, from the UK, Maha has 15 years’ experience in project management, content development, branding, marketing consultancy and marcoms for SMEs and startups. Maha continues to blog for clients on a freelance basis. You can connect with Maha on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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