Do you remember the last time you saw a small airplane pull a banner across the sky? You were at the beach enjoying the sun, on an afternoon date or simply pulling some weeds in your garden. Suddenly you heard a loud airplane engine or an indistinct image pulled up in the corner of one your eyes. Then, by reflex, you looked up. There it was, streaming across the broad, expansive sky, slowly, fluttering, prominent: the message. You can see it now. It’s branded on the flesh of your imagination.
In my case, the image I remember belongs to an automobile insurance company. I may never buy their service, because my home and auto insurance package is simply too good. However, I know who they are and, were I to lose the aforementioned discount that company would be on my reference list of organizations to contact immediately.
Any company that announces their name on a banner across the sky is also announcing that they are powerful and larger-than-life because they are showcasing themselves on one of the largest stages of the human imagination: the sky. Those are powerful and effective ideas to associate to your brand.
This example is highly relevant to the Instagram platform because it’s based on the image, not on language. While Facebook and Twitter can display images as well, text is their dominant language. Image differs from words as a carrier of message because it’s immediate. You don’t need to know how to read to be affected by an image. This makes Instagram a very powerful marketing tool. As a corollary, it can super magnify your brand if you nail your message.
1. You must have a strategy to message effectively on Instagram
This goes for all marketing on any platform. By “strategy,” I mean a long-term plan and a vision for your brand. Without a strategy, your Instagram marketing campaign will immediately express that your brand is amateurish and irrelevant because your images will lack cohesion. In other words, an Instagram marketing strategy is not just taking and posting pictures. It’s doing that with the purpose of telling your customers something specific about your brand: your message.
2. Your viewers must look at any photo on your Instagram feed and be able to articulate a positive message about your brand as close as possible to your intended one.
Go look at a few Instagram galleries. Often you will find galleries that will tell you nothing about the person or the brand. Who are they? What do they do? What do they stand for? What are they all about? In a serious, or thoughtful, Instagram feed these types of questions are answered at least generally. These kinds of feeds drive traffic because since they are meaningful, the viewer bonds to them.
3. Do your homework
Here are 4 questions, in no particular order of importance—start with your favorite one—to get you started on articulating your message or to revise your current one.
What’s your brand voice?
What’s your brand’s story?
What’s your brand’s culture?
What’s your product or service?
4. Post around your message
Quick, what’s your brand, or company, centered around? What causes you to gloat with pride when you think about your business? Is it the way you treat your workers? Then your posts should show them. Does your business contribute in a big way to its community through volunteering efforts, community outreach or charity? Then your posts need to reflect this. Post photos or your products or of your services in action.
5. Don’t be overwhelmed
Don’t be discouraged if you’ve suddenly realized that your Instagram marketing campaign is diffuse and inarticulate. Messaging evolves, just as businesses do. Mature Instagram marketing campaigns, if analyzed over time, will show an evolution from disparity to cohesiveness or from message A to message B. Likewise, don’t be frustrated if you’ve suddenly realized that your message is outdated. Just go to work.
6. Parts to a whole
As you begin to post photos with a newly crafted, or revised, message in mind, don’t lose the forest for the trees. Stay consistent. In the world of Instagram marketing, the single photograph must tell the same story as the whole gallery.
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