Meet Instagram expert Jenn Herman.
Jenn has a three-year streak winning “Top 10 Blog” recognition by Social Media Examiner. More than 100 of her posts are dedicated to delivering marketing insights specifically about Instagram.
I devoured her Kindle booklets on Instagram and social media strategy and learned she’s co-authored Instagram for Dummies, due out in early 2018. Naturally, when I wanted to present you with effective marketing tactics for Instagram, I thought it’d be wise to ask Jenn to speak with me and was thrilled when she accepted.
You can watch our 28-minute interview in its entirety or read highlights from it below. Jenn and I talked about:
- Instagram’s hottest new trends
- Tips for getting started
- Ways to expand your reach
- Tips for conducting contests
- The potential to gather user-generated content and do influencer marketing on Instagram
Barry: What’s going on with Instagram? Can it be compared to any other media in terms of its explosive growth?
Jenn: It really can’t. They just hit 800-million users and they’re going to break through the 1-billion mark in early 2018. It’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Barry: What are some of the hot trends?
Jenn: The big thing is Instagram Stories, which is the Snapchat knockoff. It’s fun and whimsical and is where the younger demographic is hanging out.
They’ve also added the ability to do albums (or carousels), so you can do up to 10 photos or videos in one post.
They’ve added nested comments, which has been awesome. People can follow a thread of conversation a little bit easier.
They just released polls, so now you poll your audience.
You can do Instagram Live, which is live streaming, like on Facebook Live or Periscope.
There’s more coming out in the future with shoppable posts. They’re rolling that out to select big brands now where you can tag products in the post and then users literally click and buy right from within Instagram.”
Barry: Do social media marketers understand the true demographics of Instagram? Is it fair to say that it’s for youngsters?
Jenn: Most people who use the platform realize it’s not just for the youngsters. If you actually look at the demographic distribution, there are more people over the age of 45 using Instagram than there are people of the same demographic using Twitter. It’s definitely more popular with younger users, but that does not mean it’s excluding anybody over the age of 35.
Barry: Do brands get it or are they making all kinds of mistakes at this early stage?
Jenn: It’s hard to generalize because some brands really don’t get it, but there are plenty that do. The reality is, when it comes to Instagram, you just need to remember that it’s about visual content.
Whether you’re doing photos or videos or Instagram stories, it’s about creating visual content. But you still need to use your captions; you still need to be creating a story and creating a community and creating content your audience wants to interact with.”
Brands definitely struggle with the strategic application of Instagram and figuring out how to get the traffic conversion and the ROI they see on other platforms. But if you do focus on it and make a commitment to it, it can be rewarding.
Barry: If I am a small business and want to get started, what are some tips you’d give me?
Jenn: First of all, you need to make sure you are taking photos that represent your brand, that stay true to your brand voice.
I always tell people every post should be with purpose. If your purpose is to grow your brand awareness, if your purpose is to get more opt-ins to your email list, if your purpose is to sell more products… Whatever your purpose is, every post should in some way augment that.
Then you want to make sure your captions say something of value to your audience. Make sure you are telling a story. Are you providing a tip? A tutorial? Talking about your product? Including calls-to-action is key. “Click on the link in my bio” or you can say something like, “tag two people in the comments below you think would find this tip valuable.”
And, finally, you want to set up a good bio. The first time people come and check out your account, they’re looking at your bio. That is your first impression. That is what people are going to remember and decide if they want to follow you based on.
You need a great profile photo. You need a great bio that talks about who you are and what you do. That’s your 30-second elevator pitch. Why should they follow you? Why should they care?
Barry: How do you gain traction such that you are exposed to more and more people on the platform?
Jenn: One of the ways we just talked about is to say “Tag two people in the comments below who might find this tip helpful.”
Those people get tagged. They see your content. They go look at your profile. They follow you. So that’s a great way to build traction. You’re building it on the back of your existing audience.
Then, of course, we love a good contest. Contests are great for building your audience, a great way to build excitement. The criteria could be that they have to follow your account and tag people or whatever. Again, they’re spreading the reach for you.
If the people who get tagged want to participate in the contest they may have to follow your account as part of the criteria to enter. So you build your audience much more quickly.
Of course there’s lots of things to think about. Using tools like ShortStack will be helpful with the process. But making sure that you find the right way to run a contest is a huge value to building an audience.
Barry: It feels like an Instagram contest or promotion takes the edge off of marketing such that as a user I might not even suspect I’m being marketed to.
Jenn: Absolutely. Contests on Instagram are fun. You should be encouraging your audience to have fun, whether they’re creating content for you or engaging with your content.
If it’s boring, no one’s going to want to participate. And, like you said, you’re hiding your marketing in there. You’re having them create user-generated content on your behalf. You’re having them promote content on your behalf. All these things work out beneficially for you as the business.”
Barry: You brought up user-generated content. That’s a big thing now for marketers, isn’t it, using Instagram or any social media to inspire people to create content?
Jenn: Absolutely. It’s the testimonial perspective—the influencer marketing perspective. Everybody’s an influencer in some capacity, even if you don’t have a big following, even if it’s only friends and family who are following you on Instagram.
If you take a product you love and post a photo about it and talk about it, your friends and family are saying, “Well, if you’re posting about it you must really like it.” That makes you an influencer. That is free marketing you are literally not paying for.
Someone is showcasing your products for you in a very authentic way.
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