How To Brand & Sell On Instagram
With 1 billion monthly users – 500 million of them being active daily according to Oberlo, Instagram as come a long way as the platform for brands, small companies and individuals to market themselves. To get your brand out there, it is extremely crucial to understand how a strong branding helps with your social media presence.
Why is branding so important?
Branding is the use of name, logo, design as well as other strategic elements and decisions, to promote a product or service in a way that distinguishes it from competitors and gives it its unique personality. Your brand represents who you are, what you believe in and how you want your target audience perceiving you. Every aspect of your brand has to be shown through your branding.
Like Scott Goodson once said, “No branding, no differentiation. No differentiation, no long-term profitability.”
Take the Air Jordan “Jumpman” for example. The logo brings a few things to mind – Basketball, Michael Jordan, and of course the sneakers. That is how the Air Jordan brand works – being able to associate the logo with the brand, the ambassador, and the company behind it. This eventually drives purchases because of brand familiarity.
4 reasons why Instagram is one of the best platforms for branding
1. Meet your audience right where they are
Specially designed for mobile users, Instagram is a perfect example of a platform that adopts a user-first strategy – basically meeting users where they are, which in this day and age, is none other than on their phones and social media. A brand’s presence on Instagram thus provides it the opportunity to target its audience right where they spend the most time on.
2. Less competition
Instagram has only around 2 million monthly advertisers, which is less than the 6 million advertisers on Facebook, according to an article from Gaurav Sharma on socialpilot. This means Instagram has less competition and a higher probability of marketing/advertising success, which makes Instagram one of the best platforms to brand. Brands also use this platform to see how competitors interact with their customers, which will help them gain insights into developing their own brand.
3. Content for the senses
According to HubSpot, users respond the best to visual content on Instagram.
Visual content has a higher engagement rate than text-based posts, according to TwekYourBiz.com. Being the social media platform that is based purely on photos and videos, Instagram’s got that covered. By sharing visual content, it is easy to see what your business is about at one glance. This is how Instagram has an edge over text-based platforms like Twitter.
Another form of visual content is AR filters on Instagram stories, which are not only visually appealing but extremely engaging for users as well given their interactive nature. Besides costing very little to create and promote, it is also very easy to reach a larger audience as filters are easily shareable. Hence, the higher the number of shares, the higher your organic reach will be. This can introduce new customers to your profile and products, engage them with your content, and eventually drive them to your website for purchase. Another feature that Instagram also has is IGTV, which allows users to upload their videos that have a duration of anywhere between 1 min to 1 hour. This helps if the brand already has or is looking to develop a series of long form video content to educate, entertain or engage its followers.
Furthermore, Instagram isn’t just a platform to push out content that appeals to sight, sound or even interactive movement. If done right, it is also the platform for brands to create content that touches the heart and tugs on heartstrings. A Harvard Professor on inc.com stated that when marketing a product to consumers, targeting their subconscious mind is the most effective. “Emotion is what really drives the purchasing behaviours, and also, decision making in general.” This is the concept of good marketers, seen through many emotion-based campaigns. This shows why an emotional approach is better in securing brand loyalty.
There is a cycle customers go through while considering a brand, according to a news report from Deloitte Digital. First – rational considerations like price and promotions to decide if the brand is right for them. Rational reasons like high prices are also why some customers choose to leave. However, emotional connection then takes over any rational considerations. Nike for instance, uses emotional storytelling to influence customers’ decision-making. Going along with the brand’s values of bringing inspiration to all athletes around the world, their posts are crafted in a way that attracts people who resonate with this message, thus getting them emotionally invested in the brand.
Rather than featuring its products, GoPro uses the exciting and extreme lifestyles experienced by its customers to promote its products, and to introduce an element of human touch into its instagram feed. Not only do the posts reflect the great visual quality of its products, but as a form of emotional and lifestyle selling, this type of visual storytelling helps the content to resonate with its target market those who are adventurous, and love travel or extreme sports.
4. Brand interaction & engagement
Instagram also gives brands opportunities to run polls, tag other accounts and ask questions in stories and posts, which helps to increase interaction and engagement between the brand and its consumers, sparking conversation and extending its reach. Additionally, using relevant hashtags will help new users to discover posts from the brand, increasing visibility. According to socialbakers.com, Instagram has the highest user engagement volume, a major interaction driver for brands, as compared to Facebook and Twitter.
Another thing that makes Instagram engaging is their algorithm that favours relevant content. Prioritizing more relevant content leads to an increase in engagement on Instagram. Take Kylie Cosmetics for instance, who knows how to keep its followers engaged. Being a beauty brand, it features people’s faces in its visuals to showcase the products being used, which makes its content more relatable. Kylie Cosmetic often joins in trending conversations and popular hashtags such as #InternationalWomensDay and #NationalSiblingsDay, which helps its posts to gain more attention.
Kylie Cosmetics also works with other social media influencers, like Australian actress and TV presenter Alissa Janay, to reach out to and engage with new and different user groups on Instagram.
Another brand that uses emotional content to engage, is Dove. When it comes to people who struggle with skin conditions, Dove understood the sensitivity of this topic and approached it with great care and empathy. By sharing real life stories of its customers, and getting them to open up about something that made them insecure, this allowed Dove to interact with its followers in a raw and authentic way that others could relate to and appreciate, rather than taking the traditional overly sales-y approach. In the process, this campaign not only allowed Dove to get to the heart of the problem of what ‘real beauty’ is, but generated a lot of buzz and also revealed to followers what Dove believes in and promises. This, is good branding – getting people to remember something about you other than the products you sell.
4 ways to sell on Instagram
After branding, comes selling. Selling is convincing people to make a purchase upon arriving at your website or Instagram page.
1. Branded content
This is a technique that brands use to create content that is associated with the brand. The intention here is to spark conversation around the brand and seeks to connect with the audience on a deeper level.
In 2019, Dior made an AR Instagram filter on their make-up products to showcase its 2020 Dior Make-up collection, after the success of their previous AR app that allowed users to virtually try-on its sunglasses and accessories. Their idea was to “expand beyond the physical makeup in a world where social media is creating a new form of homoinstagramus beauty”, as quoted by the brand in an article by Mobile Marketer. Being one of the first fashion brands to create an AR Instagram filter, this sparked quite a bit of conversation and generated a lot of buzz. What made it clever was that users had to either follow the brand or visit their profile in order to try out the filter. There was also a link that directed users to Dior’s page if they wanted to find out more.
2. Landing pages
Instagram allows brands to embed links to external landing pages, which leverages on customers’ impulses and allows them to make quick purchases. With the added feature of Instagram stories having a swipe-up link to direct users to the brand’s landing page, this can help drive a lot of traffic to the brand’s website or e-commerce site. Also, instead of linking a product in each post, brands can now create a landing page for all their products and link that directly from their Instagram profile.
3. Shoppable posts
With shoppable posts, users can now be introduced into the shopping journey more seamlessly and organically, without having to leave the Instagram app. They can view the price of the product and browse the brand’s “Shop” directly from their Instagram profile, which is a great opportunity for brands to turn their followers into customers. Daniel Wellington for example, uses a direct-response influencer marketing strategy to make their posts shoppable.
4. Influencer marketing
Another way to sell on Instagram is to collaborate or partner with influencers to promote your brand and products such as through sponsored Instagram posts or stories. How powerful is influencer marketing exactly? According to Forbes, 92% of shoppers trust influencer reviews over advertisements and celebrity endorsements because these influencers are often more relatable, and are users of the products themselves which lends them more credibility.
Influencer marketing allows brands to reach their target audience in a more genuine way than traditional advertising. Instead of brands directly selling to consumers that can be seen as disingenuous, brands can build a relationship with influencers who can in turn help them to sell. According to Izea.com, since these influencers have already established a loyal relationship with their substantial following, these followers will be more inclined to make a purchase of your product. For example, Instagram has a function that allows influencers to tag products in their post, and even if the users are not on the brand’s profile, they can be redirected to it by clicking on these products in the influencer’s post.
3 steps to getting your business account started on Instagram
1. Optimise your business profile
Instagram profiles are becoming the new home page for businesses, according to Oberlo. A distinguishable profile photo, like your brand’s logo, alongside a compelling or relatable bio will clearly describe your brand’s vision and identity. Remember to include a CTA (Call to Action) in the URL section of the bio for driving traffic to your website.
2. Identity & Strategy
Set an overarching tone and visual identity for your brand that showcases its personality. A consistent Instagram feed – in terms of visual aesthetics as well as regularity in posting – also helps in making a good impression, and might even turn users into followers. So conceptualize a social media strategy and set a designated time and day to post content regularly. Familiar faces will benefit your brand too. According to Grin.co, collaborating with popular and relevant influencers will help “promote your brand and increase your revenue”.
3. Be their friend
Build a trusting relationship between you and every one of your followers. Share updates, be relevant, respond to their comments and show followers you care about the same things they do. Community management and the right content creation is key. Take GrabFoodSG for an example – during this period of Circuit Breaker, it has taken to Instagram to acknowledge those in the frontline of essential services such as healthcare workers and drivers. This definitely helps in reflecting the brand’s values as well as its relevance in this day and situation.
Branding and selling on Instagram takes time, but is worth planning for. Many businesses are using Instagram to build their online presence because like it or not, social media is how the world stays connected today. If everything seems overwhelming, start small.
If you are looking to start or enhance your business’ profile on Instagram, there are many digital and social media agencies out there, who with their expertise and their ability to keep abreast with social media trends and updates, can advise.