Instagram’s photo and video-sharing social network has recently (and according to many, finally) kicked off a new phase of Instagram for Business with carousel advertising.
Supplementing current abilities for advertisers to reach users with their brands, carousel ads will now allow interested users to swipe through a string, or “carousel”, of promotional images- much like mobile ads we see in Facebook.
While this may appear to be a fairly mundane development at first glance, it actually provides a substantial advantage to marketers who properly utilize Instagram for Business.
If you are not convinced this is good news for those of you promoting businesses on Instagram, perhaps we should look at the branding potential of Instagram first. The online and mobile platform is distributed by the biggest companies including Apple, Google and Windows, and is supported on a plethora of devices (e.g., iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.).
With almost a third of a billion active users, Instagram was the fastest growing social network in 2014 according to the Pew Reasearch Internet Project. Having increased the amount of adult users in 2013 by an unprecedented nine percent, Instagram can now boast that about one in every four American adults uses their app.
In addition to the fact that over half of young adults aged 18 to 29 are on Instagram, you are talking about massive sales potential for your business.
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Instagram for Business Tips
Whether you are a newbie to Instagram or are a photo-sharing pro with multiple accounts, keeping some of the following things in mind can really help you increase your amount of followers and disseminate your brand:
- Goals: You should moderate your account with a comprehensive plan in mind. Remaining active and interacting with others is key to reaching the goals you want. As a rule of thumb, try getting about 20 likes and comments per every 500 followers you have. This is an excellent Instagram presence that most of the Fortune 500 companies perform at.
- Hashtags: Expanding viewership and establishing popular marketing campaigns are what hashtags are made for. Allowing your photos to be seen by new users without them having to follow you means brand discovery. Be sure to keep up on relevant hashtag trends so you can create fresh opportunities to get viewer “runoff” or even twist existing strategies to your own advantage.
- Cross-Over: A critical technique to implement as social media becomes ubiquitous to businesses’ online stratagems is using all your social media symbiotically. This means promoting your other business accounts on different sites and platforms to cross-pollinate followings and maximize name recognition. If you are able to integrate Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest, you may likely draw strong new followings. Be careful, however, that you do not spread your following too thin or cause them to lose interest from your “self-promotion”.
- Analytics: As with any other social network it is imperative you study how your business fares by looking at your data. For Instagram, Totems Analytics is a great program that features a full suite of tools specifically for brands. From page statistics to hashtag monitoring, it is well worth its monthly price of $150. If you are in need of a free alternative, however, look no further than Iconosquare and its ability to articulate all the account interactions you want to know about. Using one of these will let you better understand what is and isn’t working so you can implement changes that are even more effective.
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Carousel ads’ clean and easy-to-use swipe-left interface not only provides increased user interaction for branding opportunities, but it also allows a brand to increase its flexibility for more impact on a viewer.
The best way to conceptualize this is to imagine your carousel as a digital multi-page print campaign. No longer are you risking product ambiguity or message obscurity with a single picture. Now you are able to tell a full story and properly capture the essence of your campaign with multiple pictures.
Whether you are a restaurateur enticing users with tasty meal choices off your latest menu, a fashion designer demonstrating the many applications of a handy new accessory, or even an engineering firm boasting past building projects, an advertiser can now showcase an entire campaign with maximum simplicity.
Additionally, carousel promoters may link their pictures to relay the view to the site of their choosing; be it their home page or a landing page of a partner. This makes consumer conversion another added benefit.
Although carousel advertising is far from a game-changer, it is certainly an excellent addition for those using Instagram for Business. It is important to keep in mind that carousel is an evolving format that will continue to be modified and made more effective as Instagram continues to grow. And that is the most paramount point; Instagram is just getting started with its business applications.
With video capabilities that compete with Snapchat and Vine, a selfie phenomenon that has already entered the cultural zeitgeist, and practically unlimited funding from its Facebook owner, Instagram will remain one of the most dominant social networks for the foreseeable future and continue to offer promising new ways for your business to expand.