Author bio – Lilach Bullock
Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. She is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers, named one of 10 top digital marketers by Brand24 and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business
So you’ve just bought a new business and started the rebranding process – now what?
How do you brand your new business online and promote it effectively?
Great branding is essential to building up a successful business and there are few platforms more effective than Instagram at showcasing your branding and aesthetic, your brand’s core values and your business, as a whole.
In this blog post, discover how to build up your new businesses’ brand on Instagram.
Instagram is a highly visual social network – and that’s a huge bonus from a branding perspective. There is so much potential for being creative, from the images, videos and Stories you post to the colours you use in your content and to how you arrange your Instagram grid.
But, of course, numbers are very important as well; as per Instagram’s own statistics, the platform has:
- 1 billion+ accounts that are active on a monthly basis
- Out of those, at least half of them (500 million+) are active Every. Single. Day.
- Just as many people (500 million+) use the Instagram Stories feature every day
- 80% of Instagrammers follow at least one business on the platform
- 200 million Instagrammers visit at last one business profile daily
- A staggering one third of the most viewed Stories on Instagram are from businesses
- 60% of people say that they discover new products on Instagram
Not only is Instagram an incredibly popular platform – and still growing in popularity – but it’s also one of the few platforms where brands and consumers have a very close relationship. People will follow and interact with a food brand that regularly shares delicious-looking recipes. They will engage with clothing brands that showcase cool new outfits. And they will follow their favourite brands to be the one of the first to know about their latest products and releases.
So, where do you get started?
Get yourself an Instagram business account
Setting up a business account is essential as it will give you a bunch of extra features:
- Real-time metrics on your Instagram analytics, such as the performance of your Stories and of your promoted posts, as well as insights into your followers and your engagement
- You can add important contact information to your profile: business hours, location and phone number
To create a business account, you’ll first need to download the Instagram app and create a regular user account; once that’s sorted, you can set up your business account following the instructions here.
Put together an Instagram marketing strategy
Before you start posting anything to your Instagram account, you need a strategy. That involves:
- Setting up your Instagram marketing objectives
- Performing competitive research
- Establishing your brand’s look and content theme for Instagram and develop your brand guidelines for Instagram
- Establishing your social media calendar
- Analysing and optimizing your strategy
Setting up your Instagram marketing objectives
Since you’re here reading this article, it’s easy to assume that one of your main goals is to build up your brand and your brand awareness.
That said, there are other business goals you can achieve with Instagram, together with your branding goals; these are:
- Drive traffic to your business website, business blog, landing pages and product/landing pages
- Increase your engagement
- Showcase your team and business, along with your company culture (which also helps with branding your business)
- Generate more sales for your new business
- Connect with relevant social influencers on Instagram
Once you’re very clear on what your objectives are, you can finally start putting together your strategy in terms of your approach to reaching those objectives and the content you’re going to post.
Perform competitive research
Understanding who your competitors are and how they’re using Instagram to brand themselves – and grow their businesses – is an important part of the process. It can help inform your strategy, particularly because it helps you understand:
- What types of content would work best for your Instagram target audience
- What your top performing competitors are doing that gets them results
- Which hashtags you should use
If you already know who some of your competitors are, then start looking up their profiles to understand what their strategy is and how they’re performing.
To find more of your competitors on Instagram, you can also use a tool like Combin; you can search for content in specific areas, using certain hashtags:
The tool will then pull any relevant posts from those areas, using the hashtags you specified – it’s a quick and effective way to find more local competitors for your business.
Next, to analyse their profiles in more detail and understand their insights and analytics, you can use a tool like Metricool, which allows you to monitor your competitors’ analytics:
Establishing your brand’s look and content theme for Instagram
The visual nature of Instagram means that each piece of content you post will showcase your branding and your brand’s personality. Each new image or video you add to your grid is part of a larger story: the story of your brand.
In order to properly brand your business on Instagram, you need to be very clear about your content theme and Instagram posting guidelines:
- What is the mood/vibe that you want your profile to express? For example, if you look at Califia Farm’s Instagram profile, you immediately get a certain vibe from all the earthy colours they use in their content:
- What types of visual content will you use? i.e. your products, people, beautiful sceneries and so on. Plus, will you be funny? Cute? Interesting and educational? Inspirational?
- What will your Instagram grid layout look like? I.e. what will your profile look like? A great grid layout will not only help with branding, but it will also entice Instagrammers who visit your profile to scroll down and see more.
There are so many routes you can take here; for example:
- Use the same filter throughout all your Instagram content
- Use the same colour scheme, like Canva does (and changes regularly, so they flow from one colour to another as you scroll down their feed):
- White or black boarders, like Beautiful & Yummy:
- The “line down the middle” feed is an easy, yet visually striking option; here’s how Bake Mixes does it:
- The Puzzle feed: definitely the most difficult one to achieve, but the results can be absolutely stunning. The puzzle feed essentially means that all of the updates in your feed connect with each other and create a much bigger picture (literally); here’s an example from Simply Whyte Design:
Building up your Instagram social media calendar
Now you know who you want to be on Instagram. What vibe you want to express. What goals you absolutely have to reach. What next?
Putting together your social media calendar, of course. Because the only way to achieve your goals – and create quality content consistently – is to be very clear about what your approach is and what content you’re going to create and post in the future.
When you put together your calendar ahead of time, you have the possibility to ask yourself one important question (and answer it):
Will this post help me reach my objective?
And if the answer is NO, you’ll then have enough time to come up with alternative ideas. Plus, this gives you enough time to create your content in advance and ensure it’s not only the right approach but also that it looks great.
That’s not to say you can’t occasionally post something that wasn’t necessarily in your schedule – or constantly revise your calendar as you go along – but that, generally, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time, for the reasons I listed just before.
At this stage, you’ll need to decide:
- How often you’re going to post new content on Instagram; ideally, you should post new content daily, but it’s up to you to decide how much more frequently than that. As you’ll start gaining metrics and insights from the content you post, you’ll be able to optimize your posting schedule for better reach (i.e. posting at the times when your audience is most active)
- What your content mix will be like; ideally, post a number of different types of updates, not just in terms of content formats (images, short and long-form videos, Stories) but also in terms of the actual content of your updates (check out content ideas just below)
You should leverage all of these different types of content formats, not just images, as at least half of Instagrammers use Stories every day and video consumption is growing at a very fast rate, which is likely one of the main reasons why Instagram introduced IGTV, their own platform for long-form video content – video marketing is certainly booming right now.
To put together your social media calendar, you can use a tool like Agorapulse to fully manage your account, as well as schedule your updates directly (not just by sending notifications so you can post manually from your phone!).
You can use their social media calendar as a team to add your content ideas, as well as directly post and schedule your updates:
This is essential if you’re going to use Instagram consistently, as otherwise it would simply take up too much of your time. It’s not just about the ability to schedule content (which is certainly a great bonus) but also all the other extra features, such as geotagging for your posts, the ability to save groups of hashtags to use in your updates and the ability to monitor hashtags and keywords for more content ideas (and for discovering great user generated content, for that matter).
Back to Instagram content, here are the different types of content that you can create for your profile that will help you achieve the results you want:
- Behind the scenes: showcase your brand, your team and your company culture by sharing photos, videos and Stories of your business and team (anything from “a day at the office” to behind-the-scenes at industry or company events)
- Brand photos, videos and Stories: highlight your brand and branding in different types of content to showcase your business, what type of business it is and what you can do for your customers
- Your product: showcase your products and their uses in images, videos and Stories
- User generated content: leverage content created by other Instagrammers, especially using your products or interacting with your brand in any way
These types of updates are great for branding your business on Instagram; some other types of content that you can create are:
- Educational/how-to content, to help provide value to your audience and keep them coming back for more
- Quotes: just add text overlay over beautiful visual content to help engage your audience
- Useful tips: as with educational content, this type of content provides a lot of value to your target audience
Conclusion: analyse and optimize your Instagram strategy
A great social media strategy – as this is true of all social networks, not just Instagram – requires constant monitoring, analysis and optimization.
As you leverage Instagram to grow and brand your new business, make sure to keep a close eye on your insights to understand how you’re performing – and why. This isn’t so you can pride yourself in how many likes an image received or how many views a Story had; rather, it’s about understanding what works and what doesn’t so that you can improve your Instagram strategy, time and time again.