Social Media Connects Brands and Customers

More pandemic research confirms that online touches – and social media in particular – are important tools for connecting and engaging customers. Salesforce​ surveyed over 3,500 consumers worldwide to learn how consumers engage with brands. Social media emerges as the most influential channel for communicating with consumers.

Social media was found to be the  the most interesting and most noticed channel across all demographics when asked to compare social, television and email. 54% of consumers say they notice brand content on social media always or frequently — a higher figure than any other channel.

The survey findings highlight three trends.

  1. Consumers value organizational models and use of technology that provide differentiated, digital-first customer engagement.
  2. Customers value personalized, empathetic engagement and expect messages that resonate with their individual needs.
  3. Metrics like customer satisfaction and digital engagement can be used to optimize online outreach.

Advice for Brands

The results also offered some advice for brands.

  • 59% of consumers believe the frequency of messages should be decreased
  • 58% say the variety of messages should increase
  • 73% want messages to focus on products rather than brand messages

Is Instagram Right for Your Brand?

Instagram is a social media platform with a strong focus on sharing visual content. It is used by over a billion users worldwide. Is the platform a good place to market your business?

Instagram by the Numbers

While Instagram continues to rise in popularity, its daily login is still second to Facebook. 63% of Instagram users login at least daily, while 74% of Facebook users login at least daily.

According to Statista, demographics break down as follows:

  • 43% of women, 31% men
  • 75%  age18–24
  • 57% age 25–30
  • 47% age 30–49
  • 23% age 50–64
  • 8% age 65+

Is Instagram the platform for you?

Instagram is generally considered to be a great platform for:

  • Businesses that have great photography to share
  • Businesses that sell physical products
  • Businesses that are community-oriented or that have an informal approach to their marketing

Instagram is an informal platform with a strong focus on visual content. To succeed you need to have original visual content to share.

Setting up Instagram for Your Business

  1. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Open the app and click on ‘Sign up’ to enter your information.
  3. To let Instagram know that this account is for your business, go to Settings in the app. (Find Settings under the icon shaped like a person in the bottom right corner of your screen.) Click on the hamburger menu in the top right corner. In Settings, go to Account and click ‘Switch to Professional account.’
  4. When you’ve switched to a business account, make sure to add information about your business to your account.

Getting Started

The best way to engage on Instagram is to start posting. Try different ideas and see what connects you with your target audience.

A great source of ideas is to look at the feed of similar businesses to see what they’re posting. You can also research best practices in your industry or field.

Let people know that you have a new account on Instagram. Add a link to your website and email signature. Mention it on your other social channels. Follow customers and people in your target audience for the hope of getting a follow in return.

Content Tips

Take some time to define the story you want to tell. Can you photograph people using or wearing your product? Can you use your posts to introduce the people working at your business? This is a great platform to help people see inside your business and to get to know you and your mission better.

Be consistent in how much you post and the overall look and tone of your posts. People who connect with you will expect consistency.

Research and use relevant hashtags. Adding the right hashtags will help people see your post. Research to discover the hashtags you can use to reach the right people. Use the hashtags that are most relevant to each post.

Instagram Best Practices

Instagram best practices continue to change. This is true of all social platforms. Since more businesses are looking to engage more in Instagram, here are some latest best practices.

First, Know the Instagram Platform

Instagram is the place to showcase your brand expertise and personality. Generic posts won’t cut it on this platform. To find success, you need to be authentic and share unique insights.

Establish a Business Profile

Establishing a business profile on Instagram is a crucial first step. You’ll be able to build your brand image, following, and sales funnel in ways a personal profile won’t allow.

Business profiles can:

  • Include call-to-action buttons which visitors and followers can tap to make contact or do business with you
  • Earn a verification badge from Instagram certifying your authenticity
  • Access real-time data to understand how well your organic content is working for you
  • Launch and track ad campaigns

Populate your profile to appeal to your target audience. In 150 characters or less plus a photo or logo, you need to portray who you are, what you offer, and why you’re different in a way that is meaningful to the audience you want to connect with.

Share Interesting Content

To be relevant on Instagram, you will need to share interesting content regularly.

What to post? A great way to start is to ask your followers what they are looking for. Ask them to submit questions or for feedback on posts. Other ideas:

  • behind the scenes
  • demo products
  • step-by-step tutorials
  • tell a story
  • share your take on an important topic in your industry
  • share your followers’ content

Every post will need a visual. Decide on your style and stick to it. The platform offers filters that can help give your images a distinct look and feel. Strive to make each post eye-catching and identifiable as yours.

You can also use video on Instagram. The first 15 seconds will be visible on your feed. For longer videos, you can post a 60-second preview with an invite to watch the entire video. You can also post a series, allowing viewers to tap on the name of the series to watch episodes.

Research and Use Hashtags

Instagram users search for content using hashtags (#). They can also follow hashtags.  Research the hashtags that are relevant to your expertise and your brand.

Use them in your profile content and your posts. Don’t go overboard – select the hashtags that are most relevant to a particular post.

Create an Editorial Calendar

Building a following on Instagram requires consistent activity. To make sure you keep up a steady pace, create an editorial calendar to define your posts. Determine the pacing, the goals to target, as well as the content (words and image) for each post.

With this planning tool in place, you can also schedule posts in advance, streamlining the time needed to have an effective presence.

Track Impact and Adjust

Instagram Insights offers a detailed view of how your content is performing.

  • Content: Most popular posts as measured by total impressions. You can also see metrics for individual posts including total impressions and users reached.
  • Activity: Profile visits, website clicks, and information about where and how users find your content.
  • Audience: Data about your followers including gender, age, and location, when they’re most active on Instagram, and how fast your following is growing.

Look for trends that help you understand what to do more of (and less of). Both high and low performing posts help you fine-tune your messaging and design.

Pay to Promote Your Best Content

Set aside a budget to promote your best posts.

  • Click the “promote” button below the post
  • Choose a business objective and a call to action (“Learn More,” “Watch More,” “Shop Now,” “Book Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Contact Us”)
  • Choose your audience (let Instagram do it, or create your own)
  • Choose a budget and campaign duration
  • Once your promotion is approved, Insights about the ad will appear in your notifications tab