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4 Ways to Use Instagram to Build Your Brand

Harness the power of one of social media’s largest platforms

Did you know that 90 percent of Instagram accounts follow at least one business? One of social media’s fastest growing networks now hosts more than 1 billion monthly users. In the U.S. alone, that number is expected to reach 125.5 million by 2023.

With more than 80 percent of users now following a business on the platform, Instagram is quickly becoming a powerful social media marketing tool for brands everywhere. According to statistics from Sprout Social, a survey of Instagram users found that 83 percent use the platform to discover new products and services, 81 percent research products or services and 80 percent decide whether to buy a product or service.

Instagram introduced business profiles in 2016, and companies are quickly catching on. The site now hosts more than 200 million active business accounts. A business profile offers a few benefits over a personal account, including Instagram Insights, an analytics tool. Insights provides data about user demographics, impressions and how your followers interact with your content. This can be useful in developing a content strategy to target customers.

Business accounts allow you to add your company’s contact information, including a phone number, email address and physical location details. When you fill in those details, they become interactive buttons customers can use to contact you as they’re viewing your page.

An Instagram Business profile gives you access to Instagram Ads. A variety of formats are available, including photo ads, video ads, carousel ads or ads that appear in Instagram Stories, a feature that allows users to capture and post related content in a slideshow format.

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Here are four ways to use Instagram to market your brand.

1. Instagram as an ecommerce platform
Instagram has a handful of tools to help businesses propel their e-commerce efforts. Instagram recently created features that allow businesses to showcase products on their Instagram accounts, get customer feedback and direct customers to your website, where they can buy from your online shop directly. One of the most useful ecommerce-friendly tools is the product tagging feature.

With product tags, you can add a shoppable photo tag to your products. You can edit item prices, add a product description and highlight offers on photos you post to your business profile. You can even link items back to a product page on your website. You can tag up to five prices in one photo, and 20 prices in a carousel ad. Tagged products can contain a description that appears after users tap on the price tag.

To implement this feature, you have to be set up with a product catalog on Facebook and sync it with your Instagram account.

2. Integrate Instagram with other social media
Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, the platform makes it easy to link your Facebook Business page with your Instagram Business profile. Linking your pages is a good way to increase your social media reach.

As the admin of your Facebook page, linking accounts is easy. Just tap the settings menu, scroll to Linked Accounts and find Facebook. By default, Instagram will link to your Facebook Timeline. To link to your business page instead, open Facebook and choose the page that you manage under the Share To menu. Linking with Facebook gives you access to Facebook Ad Manager, which allows you to create ads that run across both platforms. You can customize your target audience and keep track of how your ads are performing.

For an even wider reach, cross-promote your Instagram posts to other networks, including Twitter and LinkedIn.

3. Harness your hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to build an online community and generate buzz about your brand. A branded hashtag, in particular, is a good way to kick off a marketing campaign, showcase products and services or highlight your staff and company culture.

Some of the most popular marketing campaigns have been built around successful hashtags. Who on social media hasn’t heard of #TBT (ThrowbackThursday)? Hashtags are powerful because they categorize content and make related posts easier to find by grouping them with other content that has the same tag.

With the Insights tool, you can tell you how many impressions you get from a hashtag, allowing you to determine what’s working and what’s not. Instagram allows users to follow hashtags, too which means a hashtag that gains enough traction can show up in the feeds of users who don’t follow you. That means broader exposure for your brand.

A few other quick things to remember:
+ Keep the hashtags you create are relevant to your market niche, relatable to your selling proposition and relevant to your target audience.
+ The best hashtags are short and easy to remember. Keep them catchy and simple.
+ Hashtags get people talking. When customers rally around a common hashtag, this creates a community. The more people you get talking about your brand, the bigger your social media audience will become.

4. Create a community
To build a successful brand on Instagram, you need to have a community of your own. Build relationships with your followers through direct engagement. When someone leaves a comment or shares a post, take a few minutes to respond and say thanks. You should be open to feedback and make your followers feel as if they can always be heard at your company.

Create posts that encourage interaction and input. Posts that incorporate calls to action such as “share your story” or “tag your friends” create an incentive for engagement. Take a peek at what your competitors are doing. Look at how they’re engaging with their target market, and how those customers are responding. You might pick up a few ideas for your own posts.

Businesses shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to use Instagram to market. Its reach and influence has grown massively, as it now ranks No. 3 among social networks in user numbers. behind only Facebook and YouTube. Use these strategies to better utilize this powerful social media platform in your marketing efforts.

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