Social Media Management

September 1, 2017

Up Your Insta-Game: Instagram Branding 101

Alright, so in the past few weeks we’ve talked about what PR actually is, what an influencer is, and how to work with them effectively. All super valuable topics for brands both big AND small, but I think I might have jumped the gun a little bit (so to speak) because I have been FLOODED questions about Instagram since.

I recently got a question from a reader who, while they thanked me for all the lovely advice, took it WAY back to the basics and asked how they should build their Instagram following as a brand.

Okay, word. Very good point.

What’s the point of reaching out to influencers or even pitching yourself if your social presence isn’t established? 

As much as we all hate to admit it, your social channels say a lot about who you are as a company. Think of it from the customer perspective.

Let’s say you’re comparing a product that is available from two online retailers. Retailer A has an established social presence with an excellent customer service track record. Their CS team constantly monitors Instagram DMs and interacts with customers via Twitter whenever a fulfillment problem arises.

Retailer B has a virtually nonexistent social presence. I’m 100% going to choose Retailer A even if the product is slightly more expensive, just for the peace of mind that if the item arrives damaged/late/ or with any issues at all I know that my CS experience won’t be totally shit.

Bottom line? Social media matters.

When it comes to retail, Instagram has risen to the top of the social media pack for being one of the primary ways that customers engage and interact with brands. That’s why I recommend that if you don’t have time/resources/energy to devote to ALL social platforms…at least get yourself an Instagram.

Next the question always comes (see above) as to WHAT brands should post to their page in order to build a legitimate and relevant following.

The basics:

  • Post consistently, every single day
  • Keep a consistent theme (color-scheme), it’s pleasing to the eye
  • Abide by the 65% / 35% rule

Consistency is KEY when it comes to social media. If you aren’t posting consistent content, you’re going to get lost in the algorithm and you might as well not be posting at all.

When it comes to your Instagram “theme,” I mostly am referring to how you edit your photos. Whether you have the capabilities to retouch through Photoshop or if you’re simply throwing a filter on your content (would recommend the VSCO and Afterlight apps) you should always attempt to edit each photo more or less the same way.

Instagram is all about creating visually compelling content. The easiest way to do that is to edit your photos so that when you look at them from in a holistic view, they LOOK like they should be a part of the same account.

Finally, the 65% / 35% rule. 65% of the content that you push out on Instagram should be user-generated content and 35% should be owned content.

What is “user-generated content”?

Well… it’s content generated by the consumers who buy your product and share it on social media. I don’t care if you sell tires or if you sell lipstick. Every time you mail out and fulfill an order, you should include a small collateral card that features your social media handles and encourages the customer to share their loot and TAG you in it.

Then, you can filter through the content that you’re tagged in and choose the best of the best to “regram” and share on your page.

This is where working with influencers can be super helpful. Any time an influencer uses or features your product, I heavily recommend re-gramming them on your page. Obviously make sure that their content aligns with your theme, but re-gramming is the easiest way to say THANK YOU to the influencer who just shouted you and your brand out to their thousands of followers for free.

What is “owned” content?

Owned content is the stuff you take pictures of yourself. Flatlays, memes, GIFs…if you create it yourself versus stealing it from somewhere on the Internet, that’s considered “owned.”

This percentage can absolutely change based on social media platform as well as based on how your customer responds to the content. If you notice that your “owned” content is performing super shitty, try and identify why.

Are your photography skills garbage? Consider asking a friend who knows their way around a DSLR to help.

Can’t edit worth shit? Hire someone from Craigslist.

Once you start to build a following on Instagram, it’s important that you keep mental (or real, whatever) notes of what the shopper on your page likes to see. Compare the number of likes from picture to picture and see if you can identify any patterns. If you notice that straight up bland product photography doesn’t do well (surprise, it never does) then stop doing that and instead focus more on taking lifestyle shots where the product is creatively incorporated with an interesting background.

Social media is an ever-changing beast. If one thing isn’t working for you, try something else.

The one thing that should be absolutely consistent though is your ENGAGEMENT. ALWAYS respond when people take the time to leave a comment on your stuff. Makes ya look like you have your shit together and further legitimizes that your company is run by real people.

Obviously just a top-level approach to branding on IG, but hit me with your questions.

Happy to answer!


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