Marketing on Instagram – everything you need to know

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One second. That's how much time you need to catch someone's attention before your reader has scrolled by. Here is everything you need to know to communicate with your customers on Instagram – successfully.

Instagram users are fast scrollers. Compared to Facebook, where the text comes first, Instagram works the opposite way: the focus is on the visual. That’s why you need to treat your social media channels differently. What works on one platform might not work everywhere.  

But how does advertising on Instagram set itself apart from other platforms? What are the do’s and dont’s? We asked social media expert Cecilia Lyche Simonsson, CMO at Be Better Online:

– Don’t be afraid to experiment, and try things out when it comes to social media. It’s always better to do than don’t.  

But Instagram is not just a news feed – there are numerous functions to market yourself. Here are some tips for the different features to try on Instagram.  

Story 

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The story-function is superior on Instagram. Loosen up your tie and use Stories for a generous and more personal approach.  

– We’re not talking about non-personal, non-social media. Dare to show a glimpse of the person behind the company, give a little more of yourself.  

Tips to master Stories 

  • Make sure you use the right format (9:16). Cover the screen and maximise your impression.  
  • Post often – that will make you pop up in the story feed.  
  • Be up to date – talk about what’s happening right now. 
  • Recommend posts you’ve made in the news feed. Everyone hasn’t seen them.  
  • Build a story. Make the viewer curious about what’s happening in the next story and encourage them to move forward. 
  • Experiment! Since the story only has a 24-hour lifespan, there is a lot of room for trying out new ideas.  

Feed 

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When it comes to the feed, Cecila Lyche Simonsson recommends a variation between images and video to increase curiosity.  

– Video is great to increase engagement early in the buyer’s journey. When you post images, the gallery function is very attractive and it encourages the viewer to interact with your content. We want to know more and will swipe to see what’s on the next image.  

IGTV 

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IGTV has been a feature on Instagram since 2018. Here you can post longer videos, compared to the news feed, where you are limited to 60 seconds. 

– There are divided opinions on IGTV in the industry. Some are very positive, while others mean that the users aren’t there yet: The audience doesn’t go to Instagram to watch long videos, says Cecilia Lyche Simonsson.  

Here are her best tips for IGTV: 

  • Aim your content on IGTV to your loyal followers.  
  • Even if the limit is one hour – avoid making the video too long. Even 10 minutes is too much.

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3 common mistakes on Instagram 

All companies can thrive off Instagram marketing. You can push sales, build your brand image or attract new employers.  Many companies also audit Instagram – use it as a search engine for research. But a good presence requires an effort.  

To succeed, make sure you have time and money for advertising. When you’ve decided to use Instagram in your marketing there are some things you need to avoid.  

Here are Cecilia’s best advise to avoid common mistakes:  

1. You have multiple purposes with your post 

Are you expecting too much from one single post? If you want people to watch a video, while asking them a question and wanting them to click and convert – you can count on being disappointed.  

– Define your purpose. For example: “This post is to build loyalty with my existing followers”, and then you target it to a specific audience, says Lyche Simonsson.  

2. You’re not being specific

Social media is like a chat room where everyone is typing at the same time and you need to catch their attention. That won’t happen if you’re talking in general terms when you’re aiming towards your target audience. You need to adjust your tone of voice so that your audience identifies with you.  

– If I say a sentence and put your name first, you will listen, says Lyche Simonsson.  

3. You’re targeting the wrong audience 

Avoid selecting target audiences by demographics, like age, gender and area code. Use data and target users based on their behaviour. Create target audiences from your existing customers, people who have shown interest in your products and/or have visited your website, says Cecilia Lyche Simonsson.  

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Checklist for sponsored content on Instagram: 

  • Define your purpose. Limit yourself to one purpose per post. What do you want the viewer to do? 
  • Let the purpose guide your choice of channels and format – not the opposite.  
  • Create your video/image and copy – adjusted to your target audience, and keep your focus on your purpose. 
  • Before you publish – ask yourself if your post will add value to the audience. Don’t assume that your audience is interested in the same things as you are.  
  • Use the platform’s tools, like a pixel on your webpage, or look-alike-audiences, to optimize your targeting with data. 
  • If it’s possible – do A/B-testing, where you can try out different images or target audiences.  
  • Hitting “Publish” doesn’t mean that you’re done! Now the real work begins; optimizing your ad to increase effectiveness over time.

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