Instagram is really becoming a hot social media tool to be on today. As of June this year, Instagram had 500 million monthly active, more monthly active users than Twitter and is the second most engaged network after Facebook.
You should be on Facebook as a priority but if you are looking for another channel to use, Instagram is a great one for the fitness and sports market. You can bring your brand to life through creative images and videos – a picture tells a thousand words (a video even more so). It is such a wonderful way to show your personality in a different light and portray who you really are. Plus Instagram has got to be one of the most simple and fun social media channels to use.
By harnessing the power of Facebook and Instagram together, fitness and sports businesses are able to find the greatest reach for their campaigns across both platforms to deliver the most value for your business.
So first, what exactly is Instagram and how does it differ from other social media channels? Well Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables you to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.
It is different to other social media channels in that it works on a mobile platform so though you can view it through your laptop, most of the activities will be done through your phone (though I will give you some tips as to how you can use your laptop to post images and videos).
Instagram tends to me more popular with younger age groups and more women than men tend to use this channel so if this is your target audience, you need to be on it.
So if you have decided that Instagram is for you, read my top tips to increasing your chance of success with this channel.
1. Choose a recognisable user name and set up your profile.
Once you have downloaded the app, make your profile public (so people can see you).
Your username should be recognisable and easily searchable, like your business name. If your business name is already taken as a username, try keeping your business name as the first part of your username so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across your account.
Your profile photo is one of the first things people see when they visit your Instagram profile, as it’s displayed prominently in the top right-hand corner. It should be something easily recognisable; something that’s on-brand with your other social networks. It may be your logo but a nice smiling image of you (if you are the owner of the business) would be good too as it makes it more personal.
Now with your profile, you only have 150 characters so make sure you people know what you’re about and give them a reason to follow you. Include who you are and what you do, and be sure to add a hint of personality (or maybe a hashtag or two).
Instragram has also recently allowed people to set their profile up as a business which means you can add in your Web site details too.
2. Great pictures
It goes without saying that Instagram users will respond more to beautiful, captivating and creative photos. Strong images can help you boost engagement, and if you’re a local business, they can drive customers to your location. On your Instagram account, you want to post photos that show your products in the best possible light.
While Instagram posts don’t have a character limit, general rule of thumb these days is the more concise the better. When crafting your posts, let your image do the storytelling. It’s more likely to convert viewers than what you write in the caption. However, the caption can certainly provide supplementary information.
3. Better still use videos
Just with all social media channels, pictures are good but videos are great and will always get more traction than just images.
Don’t think about 15 minutes of fame, it is now down to 15 seconds – that’s all you have on Instagram so make the most of it.
4. Let everyone know
Make sure you tell all your members, clients, leads, friends and followers that you are now on Instagram and to follow you.
In all of your marketing communications make sure the Instagram logo is proudly displayed so people know how to find you. Have a direct link online to your Instagram page to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.
Give people an incentive for following you (maybe a free protein bar or shake) and tell people there will be exclusive offers just for Instagram fans (more on this later).
5. Look at who to follow
Instagram’s search function makes it easy to find people and brands to follow. You can search by username, or choose a hashtag that may be relevant to your business.
Following more people and businesses is a great way to make new connections and can also provide inspiration for your Instagram account. Find influencers in your industry, clients and engaging users and follow them.
You must engage with other businesses and profiles if you want to build your network and establish relationships in your niche.
Following others lets them know you’re interested in their content and also offers you opportunities to interact with their content in the feed.
Take time to research other accounts in your niche and look at these as opportunities to network and build a relationship. This could even offer great opportunities for you to collaborate, helping to showcase your content to an even wider audience.
Now #hashtags are HUGE in Instagram and are a great way to help other users find your content on Instagram, just like on Twitter. Since users can both search for hashtags and click on hashtags they see in posts on the app, using relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, just like on Twitter, you have to make sure you’re using the right hashtags for your brand and please don’t go overboard.
Don’t use a hashtag just because it is popular or trending – always ask, is this hashtag relevant for my business (so #healthy, #workout, #fitness would be good but be careful about using ones such as #love #nofilter, #selfie as these are done to death and may not work well for you).
As for how many hashtags to you, well the maximum is 30 but please don’t go overboard and use 30 hashtags at once – this just comes across as blatant and maybe a little desperate. I would suggest between three and five to go with each image and caption.
Using the right hashtags helps put your content in front of people searching for keywords and phrases associated with your brand or business.
7. Loading more than one image at a time
One of the limitations with Instagram as opposed to say Facebook is that you could only load one image at a time. If you have a lot of pics to load up, this could be a bit time consuming.
But I always say there is a solution to everything – there are now a number of apps such as Instaframe, Photogrid, Photoshake and Picstich.
Instagram has also recently put out it’s own app called Layout which combines multiple photos into the one. You simply select the photos and then decide how they will be displayed as one.
8. Can’t load the images from your phone?
Instagram is designed to be used in real time on your mobile but let’s face it, sometimes this is hard to do. It is often a lot easier to load and add any comments through your computer or laptop.
Again there is always a solution – there are a number of applications you can use which will help you load the details from your computer at home or work. Grindr or Deskgram may not have all the functionality that the app has, but you can do the basics and if need be, edit the details on your phone.
9. Be Active
Now that you are on Instagram, like any social media channel, you need to be active and not just load a few pics and then walk away. Like any relationship (and let’s face it that is what social media is), you need to be consistent with your attention.
Just like Twitter, in Instagram you can use the handle or @ when you are mentioning or referring to someone. And always reply to anyone who makes a comment that refers to you.
10. Use Competitions
Instagram is a great platform for contests. Contests can ask users to comment on your photo, share it, mention a certain number of friends, or even share their own photo with a specific hashtag. Many users see these contests as a benefit of following a brand on Instagram, so don’t worry about bothering people. Try out a contest, track the analytics and see how it benefits your brand.
11. Advertising on Instagram
And finally just like you can advertise on Facebook, you can now also run ads on Instagram.
The good news is that businesses of all sizes can now create and run Instagram ads. All you need to start is a Facebook page. Then during the ad setup process, you’ll set a budget for your ad, select a target audience, and create the ad content.
The key to successfully marketing on Instagram is finding new and interesting ways to connect with your audience through visuals. By thinking outside the box and holding contests, using short videos, taking out sponsored ads, and posting creative product images right in your Instagram feed, you can build awareness, boost engagement for your business, and connect and position your brand in a new and exciting way.