5 Things You Must Know About Instagram
What is Instagram, and why is it so popular? At the 2015 NAMM Show, Ben Blakesley offered a unique perspective on this social networking and image-sharing service that has gotten more than 300 million active users since it launched four years ago. As a music industry marketing and technology expert, Blakesley shared his practical approach to social media marketing, including opportunities for music retailers to market through Instagram.
“Random acts of kindness are great and make the world a better place—but random acts of marketing aren’t,” Blakesley said. “You need to have a purpose and set your goals and strategy for Instagram and any other marketing channel.”
He offered some powerful stats on Instagram: 300 million monthly active users, 70 million photos posted every day, 8,500 likes and 1,000 comments every second. According to Blakesley, you might see three to six times more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook and Twitter.
Having established Instagram’s social media influence, he cautioned that it’s not effective at search engine optimization (SEO) and isn’t the best place to drive direct sales response. “People aren’t there to buy; they’re there to connect and have fun,” he said.
Blakesley shared the reasons Instagram should be part of your social media mix. It builds relationships, creates product and brand awareness, humanizes your brand, and drives foot traffic to your store.
Before you jump on the Instagram platform, ask yourself what you want to achieve, what your business objectives are and how will Instagram help deliver. “Social media loves process,” he said. He suggested taking a great Instagram photo when a new product arrives. You can post it later, but build that process into your new-product arrivals. Or, whenever you have an in-store event, take a photo of everyone present to post to Instagram.
Here are the five things you need to know about Instagram to help achieve business success.
1. Links. There are no links. As a user, you don’t have to put up with ads. No clickable links keeps it pure.
2. Not shareable. Instagram is not an amplification platform. You can use third party apps, but it’s too complicated.
3. Discoverable. Users love discovering new content. There are very few other platforms you can do that on. You can get new likes with the right hashtags, location tagging and tagging other users. The more you’re engaging with people, the more you’ll show up on a search page, making you more discoverable.
Hashtags, such as #guitar or #NAMM, are what let other people discover you—just as they would on Twitter. Blakesley recommended using seven to nine hashtags if they’re relevant. You can tag a location, such as, “I’m at the NAMM Show” (under your photo). You can also tag a person—if they have a social following, they’ll want to follow your content. Blakesley advised that Instagram users tag with genuineness, such as tagging Fender if you’re posting a photo of a Fender guitar.
“Don’t be a content-generating, marketing-pushing robot, putting something out and walking away,” he said. “When someone comments on your post, comment back. Be a real person. Make them like you.”
4. Interaction. Find people who are interested in the same things you are, at the same location you are. Share your social media with neighbor businesses, and build relationships.
“Social media is the process of taking people from strangers to friends, friends to customers and customers to advocates by being someone who connects with them on more than just a product level,” Blakesley said. “Go out there and be social and interact with people.”
5. Mobile only. You have to post through the Instagram app on a mobile device. This keeps the marketing riffraff out and is real-time. That said, it also means you can’t schedule posts. Make sure photos are high-quality.
Blakesley offered a final takeaway: People want beautiful images, and the music products industry has perfect opportunities for beauty, photography and passion. Make sure your photos are a square format.