Let’s get one thing out of the way before we get started on this little ol’ blog here.
Instagram is not real life.
We’re not pretending that being on Instagram and making sure the world is kept up to date on your meanderings through life is the most pressing issue in the world. We know that poverty, climate change and making sure AI doesn’t destroy the human race place ever-so slightly above what Kendall Jenner decided to post on her afternoon toilet trip on the scale of world importance.
But that doesn’t mean we should completely dismiss social media as a force for all that is dark and evil in the world. It’s just as powerful as a force for good, and huge amounts of incredibly positive initiatives and events have started and propagated because of social media. The Arab Spring was organised on Facebook and What’s App, Instagram allows filmmakers and conservationists to share their love of the natural world with the rest of the planet, and YouTube gives short form, high quality insights into the lives of creatives like Will Smith and Jason Mamoa.
But why does this matter to you?
Well, we’re going to tell you in this article. There’s a lot of attention on the app right now, and we think you’d be a little bit silly if you didn’t try and get some eyes on your business via these social media apps. There’s a lot out there on the what and the how. We want to dig into why and try to convince you that posting pretty pictures of your business can help you build brand awareness, loyalty, get you new business and also let you have fun along the way! Woo!
It’s hard to ignore the sheer numbers that Instagram commands. With over 1 billion monthly users, 500 million daily active users and engagement rates 10x higher than that of Facebook for brands, it would be a little silly to not have a presence on the platform. Within those 500 million daily active users, there’s likely to be someone who can offer you some help or wants to use your service or product. All you have to do is cut through the 100 million daily uploads and grab their attention. That’s where the fun comes in.
Grabbing and holding the attention of your audience requires you to know them. Do a little market research and figure out whom you’re selling to. Then sell to them. Create content that caters directly to your target market. Imagine you want to sell a holiday to people 18-30. You can break that subset down to as specific as you possibly can. We can give you an example of this based off of one of the staff members of Studio 24-7.
Male aged 18-30.
Male aged 18-30 living in Cheshire.
Male aged 18-30 living in Northwich, Cheshire.
Male aged 18-30 living in Northwich, Cheshire who is a filmmaker.
Male aged 18-30 living in Northwich, Cheshire and is a filmmaker searching for the term ‘Lumix GH5’.
Here this specificity leads us to someone who’s far more likely to buy a product that’s in someway related to the Lumix GH5 than just broadly placing a demographic of “Male 18-30”. This specificity really requires a bit of open mindedness to embrace and insight to discover. Letting go of huge numbers on social media is tricky as we’ve been brought up in a mass marketing age, but changing your mind-set to hyper specific micro-marketing can pay off in the long run. Being able to relate to someone on a hyper-specific level gives you the opportunity to only sell to those who want to buy, and extends your reach within that community for a number of reasons.
Firstly, hyper-specific marketing isn’t something that’s often done. Surprising your customers by targeting them as directly as the final tier on the list above will definitely catch their attention. Imagine watching a video that talked about a hypothetical person living in the place you live, working the job you work and doing the hobby you do. You’d definitely remember that product, and think about it when you were ready to make a purchase.
Secondly, as small businesses we often forget that a lot of ad marketing online is to get people interested in your product. It’s not necessarily designed to make people buy straight away. With hyper-specific marketing you can target people at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Those who know nothing about you, those who are interested in making a purchase but haven’t decided on the brand yet, and those who have bought from you before and are fans of your brand. Having a tailored message for each of these stages will help you to encourage people to move to the next stage.
Finally, you’re not wasting time selling to those who don’t want to buy. Save yourself some energy and only focus on those people who are going to become customers. Some people will be completely averse to your product, like trying to sell a brand new Porsche to someone who has just bought a new car, or only rides a bicycle for environmental reasons. Selling your Porsche to these people would be a waste of time and resources. That’s not to say you should write them off – they could become important spokespeople for your brand if they enjoy what they do. We often spread the word about brands we enjoy the content of and have researched, even if we’re not actively using the product. Awareness is important.
Instagram is a social network. Those two words are indicative of how these tools should be used – socially and to network. Too often businesses and individuals adopt a ‘Web 1.0’ approach of ‘if you build it they will come’. This simply does not work in 2019. If you engage in conversation with people and their content, your following will grow both on Instagram and in real life (we realize that your network in real life isn’t a ‘following’, because that sounds pretentious, but you catch our drift).
Imagine you’re a Brit living in Australia. You’re searching on YouTube for other content creators and come across someone who recently made a “New Years in Sydney video”. Awesome. You fire them a message on Instagram, and because of the timing you’re not actually in the same parts of Australia at the same time. Oh well, they post cool photos and tell cool stories, so you’ll stick with it.
A year later and you’ve moved home and get a message from this guy you met online saying he’s still travelling, but will be home soon and has an opportunity he wants to talk to you about. Awesome, we love networking. This guy has organised a road trip through Snowdonia with a camper van company and you get the van for free. Excellent, where do I sign up?
Fast forward to when you’re packing the day before the trip and you realize you’ve never actually met this person in person and the week could very well be a disaster if you don’t get on. Oh well, it is what it is and life throws us it’s curveballs, best to see what comes up.
Of course, the week is a success. That was the story of how Ben and Josh met, and shortly after Josh was hired at Studio 24-7 as a co-conspirator. The power of Instagram.
Instagram places a lot of value on imagery. Beautiful photos and videos do very well, but it’s worth remembering that the story behind a piece of content is far more important than the piece itself. People are captivated by story, and your content should reflect this.
The word story is thrown around these days with reckless abandon. Here at Studio 24-7 we believe stories should say something. They should make people think, cause them to feel something or attempt to motivate or inspire them to action.
Remembering to cater to your target audiences is also very important. Remember that content is free to distribute, and only costs time to create. If you can make specific pieces of content for each of your target audiences then it may be beneficial to do this.
Ease of Use
Instagram is incredibly easy to use. This is obviously beneficial for you as someone marketing a product or service, but it also helps increase the variety of demographics that use the platform. If everyone from your niece to your grandma can use Instagram then your opportunities for sales increase exponentially.
Using your online platforms as a sketchbook is a strategy we’ve been keen to explore. Due to the sheer volume of pictures and videos being posted, your content is likely to be buried fairly quickly. This sounds like a negative in the first instance, but on a second examination it offers us an opportunity; you can post things that are simply test runs and ideas to see how your followers react. What a wonderful function! Live, real time marketing testing of your idea with real people who are already engaging with your business. It doesn’t really get as good as that (with respect to online marketing, ice cream and chocolate non-withstanding).
Finally, it’s fun! It’s a fun challenge to grow an online brand. If you turn it into a game, and remember that you can make real life friends and contacts through Instagram, all this work can turn out some pretty special things.