Businesses make bank during the busy holiday season. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling—the key to success is to focus on sales. Among social media platforms, the format of Instagram lends itself to visual marketing.
That’s because Instagram requires a photo or advertising graphic to post.
Millennials have flocked to Instagram since it does not lend itself to people sharing news articles, political rants, or engaging in heated arguments. Most Instagram users are under 35—a prime shopping audience.
Facebook must have spotted this trend when they plunked down $1 billion to buy it. What started out as simple photo sharing has evolved into a sophisticated marketplace for memories and marketing writ large in pictures.
Download the App
Instagram functions as an app installed on your smartphone. If you access it on a computer, you can’t create a post. This confounds new users. There are some websites that will publish to Instagram for you, but they tend to have a learning curve or fee involved.
Set up Instagram as a business account. This will unlock features to help you track your success—metrics that measure how many users your posts are reaching. These analytics can also help you determine whether or not you are hitting your target market.
If you accidentally set up Instagram as a personal account, it can be converted.
On Instagram, image matters
Users scroll fast, so the images that work best are arresting. Captions tend to be pithy and creative. It’s a visual medium, a trait it shares with traditional advertising.
That’s why it is an especially good tool for businesses to use during the holidays. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bar, restaurant, or retailer—a picture is worth a thousand words.
Photos should be shot (or cropped) into a square, the native format of Instagram. It will allow you to add photos cropped to a ratio of 4 by 5, but square shapes work best. If the photo you want to use is outside of that range, there are apps and tools online that will add a blurred or colored background so that the image appears square.
Content is King
Instagram is all about the visual aesthetic. Put a lot of effort into the photographs or graphics you post.
The app includes a bevy of filters to help your images pop on the small screen. Use them wisely. If one enhances your photo, by all means use it. But there’s no reason to filter every photo just because you can.
There are myriad photo editing apps to help you polish your pictures. Some allow you to add text onto photos, or even create mini-ad layouts that are quite sophisticated. It takes time to find, select, and learn how to use them, but they will enhance your marketing effort tenfold.
Show some personality in captions. Does your brand have a voice? Is it informational, sassy, funny, irreverent, butch, or refined? Lots of styles work on Instagram. Pick one and stick close to it.
Hash it Out
Instagram search relies on hashtags, which are words preceded with the “#” sign. When you add a hashtag, people can find your post (Instagram captions are not searchable). Thus, if I were selling something and wanted to reach the LGBTQ+ community, I might append a caption with hashtags such as #gay, #lgbt, or #pride. Other examples include #giftsforher, #holigay, or #donwenowourgayapparel.
Take a look at what similar businesses are using as a starting point (competitive intel), and don’t be afraid to string a lot of hashtags together.
The included screenshots provide a window into what others are doing. There’s more to the story, but these simple tips will help you get started quickly.
Ready? Whip out your camera and get to work. Sell yourself silly this holiday season.