It's almost impossible to overstate the impact of Instagram and Instagram engagement on online marketing. About 83% of the app's estimated 1 billion users report buying products or services they find on Instagram, and around 71% of U.S. companies use the platform.

While many brands treat Facebook and Instagram as a single platform, engaging active Instagram users separately provides a fresh opportunity to connect and convert. Especially with the rise of social commerce, more on that later. Review this quick-start guide to make the most of your brand's Instagram account and harness the platform's value.

Best Practices When Using Instagram

A polished, professional profile puts your best foot forward on the platform. Start with a descriptive, intuitive username, an engaging bio, and a profile picture that aligns with your brand's aesthetic. Your business's biographical info should be concise while clarifying your company’s mission and vision. Your image should be recognizable and entice scrollers to stop for a second look.

Once you have those basics down, start strategizing about the best use of your company’s Instagram to meet your marketing goals. At Code3, we base our clients’ plans on these best practices:

  • Know your audience and create content that speaks to their needs. Delving into the demographics of your Instagram followers provides key insights about why they scroll—and what they're looking for that your business might be able to provide.
  • Set measurable objectives so you can track your progress and adjust accordingly. Instead of “I want more Instagram followers,” your goal should read, “I want to increase the brand's followers by 300% in the next six months.”
  • Share high-quality creatives with attention to lighting and composition. Then, go beyond the visual with a compelling story that drives Instagram engagement.

The Power of Instagram Stories

If you're not already using Instagram Stories to promote your brand, it's time to take advantage of this wildly popular feature. About 87% of Instagram users share photos and videos on Stories that disappear after 24 hours.

With Instagram Stories, you can instantly boost overall Instagram engagement with your followers in an organic way that highlights the authenticity of your brand. For example, you can use the platform's polling feature to encourage people to vote on your restaurant's next themed pop-up night.

When reflecting on the work Code3 has done for clients on Instagram,  Senior Account Manager Rachel Woolf said, “At Code3, Instagram and Instagram stories have been instrumental for our clients. When we use Stories in our clients’ advertising strategies, we almost immediately see an increase in engagement. In addition, polling units have been influential to success, as they have a very natural and organic feel. Finally, our clients are beginning to embrace Instagram's eCommerce capabilities. With IG shopping, clients have been leveraging product tagging in their ads. Doing so has created a shortened, seamless process for consumers to buy their products. We look forward to leaning further into Instagram's features and capabilities across media, creative, and commerce.”

Innovation That Stands Out From the Crowd

While Instagram gives marketers access to a massive pool of potential customers, users of the platform quickly tire of the same old content. A creative approach will help your brand stand out from the onslaught of social media messages, stories, and posts. Users see your paid Instagram advertising based on their engagement with various brands. The more people click on, read, and share your content, the more people will see your ads, translating to a lower rate per click and a higher return on investment.

To drive a meaningful connection with your audience, your social media needs to do more than sell. Strive to create stories with your online ads that solve problems, build emotional capital, or otherwise provide your readers with real value.

You can select from a range of metrics to see just how well your content engages your readership. Some of the most popular engagement measurements look at the rates of direct messages, link click-throughs, use of your branded hashtags, mentions by other users, saves, tags, shares, likes, and comments. Regardless of what metric you decide to use, social media data site Hootsuite reports that the average engagement rate for brands in 2020 was around 4.59%. Experts agree you should shoot for about 5% audience engagement.

Social Shopping as the Future of Commerce

Instagram revolutionized the eCommerce landscape when it rolled out Shopping in 2020. With this feature, your brand can tag products in your social media ads and posts, including Instagram Stories. Shoppers can buy with one click through a seamless process that appeals to modern audiences. They don't even leave the app to check out! You can also integrate data-rich features, such as targeting based on customer engagement levels.

According to consumer data firm Statista, 48% of U.S. internet users ages 18 to 34 reported making a purchase directly from social media in 2019, while another 5% said they planned to do so in the future. Your brand can take advantage of the fast-expanding interest in social commerce right from your Instagram business page.

Marketing professionals building an online brand must constantly evolve with new social platforms and features. Partnering with Code3 provides the support you need to cut through the static and truly optimize the power of your Instagram profile to engage your target audience and guide them through the marketing funnel.

Start with our Platform Planning Guide, updated for 2021 with new insights for top online marketing channels. For a personalized consultation, get in touch with the team at Code3 to learn how we simplify and streamline your commerce, creative, and media strategies.

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