Instagram is no longer just a fun app for teenagers to share photos with their friends. The platform has evolved to become an ecosystem of so much more – including stories, locations, messaging, and live streaming. It has become a content machine for consumers, brands, influencers, and agencies all over the world.
There are now over 500 million active monthly users on the platform, with 90 million photos and videos posted every single day. Brands are all in on the platform as well. Nearly 50% of companies are using Instagram to bolster their digital presence. And that number is only expected to grow, as more and more companies (big and small) build their digital identities on the platform.
This massive influx of activity has made it harder for marketers (especially newbies) to build an online presence and stand out. The best marketers and growth professionals from around the world are able to differentiate their profiles by being creative and bringing inventive digital strategies to the space. While it can be challenging, being different is what growth and virality are all about. You cannot expect to put in a mediocre amount of effort and get extraordinary results – you have to find something new!
Here are 5 of my favorite strategies to differentiating your brand on Instagram.
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1. Use Stories
Most companies manage a number of social media profiles across a variety of platforms. They are spending their time not only Instagram, but also on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Linkedin, the list goes on and on. While everyone is spreading their time thin, you have a serious opportunity to become THE Instagram marketing expert. Spend the time to learn the ins and outs of Instagram and you will be leagues ahead of your competition of naive marketers.
Many media managers, who are spreading their time very thin, fail to make use of one of Instagram’s most popular and effective feature: Stories.
Stories take time to build. They can be hard to get right. But doing them well is very worth it!
Effective Instagram Stories can bring color and life to your brand’s account. While you want to keep the message simple and easy to digest, you can still do some really creative things with stories – like hold contests, competitions, and hold interesting conversations. Stories are a unique medium to connect with your audience, as they are able to provide a transparent, behind the scenes look into your company and create an authentic relationship with the viewer.
2. Be radical
The easiest way to be different on Instagram is to be real. Embody your brand’s persona and build content that your brand stands for. Few brands do this at all. Most marketers put up a fake, plastic version of their brands.
Redbull brings their culture online really well – as they promote their daring and radical brand identity with content that supports their vision. Realize that your followers followed you for a very particular reason. Once you understand that reason, you can cater content that perfectly identifies with your audience.
3. Respond to comments
Once you have begun to amass a large following on Instagram, it can be easy to forget about where you started. As soon as you let the hype get to your head, you will likely stop doing all of the little things that helped you get to the point of where you are today.
One little thing that everyone forgets about as soon as they get “famous” is responding to all the comments left on their photos. You rarely see big time celebrities and brands responding to their comments.
But when you do, it stands out. Brands that engage with their audience show that they are human and are willing to invest in their audience. Simple responses are easy to do and can pay off big time in the long run!
4. Work with influencers
Influencer marketing is really hot right now. Brands can partner with “influential people” in different niches on Instagram. Generally it is a more efficient means of advertising because you do not have to pay to target an entire market; instead, you can segment by type of follower.
Effective influencer marketing is extremely targeted – identifying the right influencer to partner with ensures you have the right audience in front of your content.
And this trend is only expected to increase in value. Influencers are continuing to gain more and more power with their audiences. Unlike traditional celebrities, “internet famous” influencers have a special and transparent bond with their audiences.
This unique relationship is extremely powerful when it comes to brand association and cross promotion.
5. Be consistent
Very few marketers are prepared to show up to work everyday and make a conscious and significant investment in their brand on Instagram. And even those who do, do not always bring it. The ones who do, however, are the ones who are able to grow on Instagram the fastest and for the longest period of time.
Making a consistent effort on Instagram, like any exercise, is the only way to forecast long term success. It is easy to be consistent on Instagram for a few weeks…maybe even a few months…but it will take a year plus of regular posting before you can expect to get any traction. Prepare yourself for the long journey!