Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most influential social networks available in today’s social landscape. With over 200 million users sharing upwards of 20 billion photos, the mobile platform is fertile ground for brands looking to connect with an exceedingly captive audience.
However, Instagrammers are notoriously resistant to direct advertising on Instagram, and the platform has only recently begun to cautiously implement promoted posts. Overall, users have been fairly receptive to the ads, but with all the marketing potential Instagram holds, there are much more effective means for engaging consumers on the social platform.
Currently, advertising on Instagram generally falls into two categories: celebrity endorsements and spam. Celebrities are a natural choice for brands looking to market due to their massive following and presumed influence. However, the misconception is that they are the most effective.
The New York Times recently highlighted the value of Instagram’s influence over traditional advertising saying, “for the millennial generation, which spends a lot of time scrolling through social media feeds, Instagram influencers are far more important than celebrities.”
Here are several ways brands can leverage social media influencers and benefit from native advertising:
- Use influencers to amplify your brand and reach your audience
Instagram is a boiling pot of visual gratification across an endless spectrum of interests, which allows companies to expand their brand awareness across a variety of verticals, while also targeting specific demographics.
Using Instagram influencers humanizes your brand allowing you to tell compelling stories from a consumers perspective. This is an effective means for reaching your audience in an way that is authentic and native to them.
Influencers of everything from fashion and food to sports and entertainment provide brands with an endless opportunity to reach new consumers of all walks of life, increasing potential for possible customer conversion.
- Use influencers to track campaign success
Success of ad campaigns usually boils down to the numbers, but there’s actually lot of value in measuring how meaningful your brand’s campaign is in terms of influence. Measuring influence goes beyond number of followers to examine quality of followers as well as their intent to purchase, and overall brand awareness and sentiment.
Instagram content is easily consumed, and also encompasses a vast amount of valuable marketing data that can be analyzed to help your brand identify what content consumers are most responsive toward as well as what influencers and followers are most engaging. Brands can then quickly make strategic adjustments to optimize results.
- Connect with a network to quickly identify top influencers for your brand
Influencer networks are perhaps the most effective way to discover and match brands to influencers as they can effectively vet influencers, review their accounts and evaluate analytics to be sure it’s the best fit. As well, influencers are comforted knowing they are compensated through a reputable network.
Instagram’s “explore page,” formerly known as the “popular page,” (and now the new People page) is also a great way to discover influencers. The updated explore page includes more targeted results based on photos you’ve liked and people you follow as well as their respective followers, making it a great way for brands to identify their target audience on Instagram and engage influencers in that space.
- Monitor hashtags, tags and mentions, and make adjustments
Instagram makes a conscious effort to restrict spam and junk posts by prohibiting web links in photo comments; however, influential Instagram users often connect with brands and introduce them to their audience through hashtags, tags and mentions.
Utilizing these tools is beneficial for brands because they connect your audience to a point of purchase, while also building awareness for brands and creating a social presence that demonstrates consistent use of the brand.
Brands can leverage this by consistently monitoring tags to see what works as well as creating new tags that highlight current campaigns and prompt Instagrammers to use them, therefore keeping them engaged with the brand content regularly.
- Give incentives through sponsorships, giveaways and paid product reviews
Giving influencers a reason and a means to engage their audience with your brand is enormously beneficial. Influencers are great tastemakers, so allowing them to test new products and be the first to introduce them to their audiences raises awareness and heightens interest. It also enables you to get early and honest feedback.
Supplying influencers with exclusive or free products and incentives encourages them to promote your brand and gives audiences original content that is easily digested on Instagram. Simply posting a photo or video sharing a Coke with friends or sharing where your Mercedes Benz takes you, tells a story and shows the audience how to interact with brands in everyday life.
Image credit: CC by Brent Ozar