With more than 500 million active monthly users, Instagram has become a powerhouse social media platform in just a few short years. This photo-sharing app is a way for users to share their lives and tell visual stories—and the range of flattering filters don’t hurt, either! But a newsfeed full of baby pictures and food porn doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for businesses to participate—or does it?
As Instagram has grown in popularity, it has caught the attention of marketing professionals and social media specialists everywhere. The efforts of these companies have yielded real results: According to surveys, at least half of Instagram users follow at least one brand, and around 75% of those take action (like visiting the website) after seeing an ad in their feed. In 2017, it’s expected that 70.7% of American brands will be using Instagram as part of their social media marketing. We know you don’t want to be left behind.
As a platform primarily powered by photos, a lot of Instagram content is pretty spontaneous—after all, you can’t plan a gorgeous sunset any time you need something to post. This spontaneity can make it seem daunting to put together a marketing plan for your agency. However, that’s one of the things that makes Instagram such a successful marketing platform: When the content feels organic, followers are more likely to respond positively. Below, we’ve outlined a few steps to help your agency get started on Instagram.
1) Create a profile that is faithful to your brand
Get started by creating a business account. Because Facebook owns Instagram, it’s easy to link the two and give yourself the capability to share your Instagram posts on both platforms simultaneously. Your username should be the name of your agency (or as close as you can get if your agency name is taken). Be sure to choose something easily-recognizable that will allow clients or potential clients to find you easily. Next, fill out your profile information to include an informative bio and a link to your website. Finally, choose a high-quality branded photo and set it as your profile picture. After those few quick steps, you’re ready to start posting content!
2) Outline your strategy
Before you begin posting, it’s good to have a plan. How often will you post? What kind of content will you be posting? What hashtags will you use? (More on that later.) Knowing all of this ahead of time will cut out the guesswork later.
The most successful brands on Instagram tend to post at least 4 times a week, with the average being 4.9. Therefore, you should plan to post on most business days—and twice a day is okay, too, as long as the posts are spaced out. To this end, having weekly themes or hashtags is a good idea. For instance, you may post a photo of one of your employees every Thursday, or have a weekly photo contest for your followers (this can actually be two posts—one when you announce the contest, and one when you share the winner’s photo). Posts with tips are great, too—you can create them for anything your clients might be insuring with you. If you supplement these planned posts with spontaneous photo opportunities, you should have no problem having a healthy weekly post count.
Additionally, remember to keep a consistent look. Instagram offers a wide range of filters you can use for your photos. To keep all your content looking like it belongs together, choose no more than two or three filters to use for your agency (we suggest one warm filter, one cool, and one black-and-white).
One way to help people find your content is to use hashtags. When an Instagram user browses by hashtag, they can see all content posted with that hashtag, even from accounts that they don’t currently follow. It’s a good idea to keep up with trending and popular hashtags, and use them wherever possible. This is a great way to attract more followers and gain more likes on your posts.
You should also have hashtags that are unique to your brand. Remember that weekly photo contest we mentioned earlier? Make up a hashtag that your followers can add to their posts. This makes it easy to see who is responding and engaging. Brainstorm some other hashtags you can use, such as your agency’s name, specific types of coverage, or something like #InsuranceTipTuesdays.
One last tip: Remember not to clutter your posts with too many hashtags! One or two are fine, but too many can be overwhelming. You can always comment on your own photo with any additional hashtags you want to add.
4) Engaging with your audience
You can post photos all day, but it doesn’t mean much if you’re not interacting with your followers! An agency that cares is more likely to get positive responses than one that is impersonal. One good rule of thumb is to always respond to comments on your posts, especially if they’re making a complaint or answering a question. The quicker you respond to these, the better.
Spend a little time each day (it only takes a couple minutes) liking and commenting on the posts of accounts you follow. Following an account and liking their posts is a great way to get follows and likes in return, so don’t be shy.
If you see a post that really stands out, or if someone responds to one of your hashtags with a really great post, repost it on your own account. Just remember to ask for permission first—it’s polite, and most accounts will be happy to have the extra exposure. Instagram also lets you embed Instagram photos on your website, so you might consider creating a section on your site for great follower photos.
@Mentions are another great tool to engage with your Instagram community. If sharing a user’s or a company’s post or giving them a shoutout, be sure to include their username with the @ symbol in front of it. This is also great if you’re sharing a photo from a local business or event with an Instagram account, and it gives your post a higher chance of being reposted.
5) Create compelling content
Of course, the driving force behind your Instagram account is going to be your content. Photos of office events, your morning coffee, your community or your employees are all great candidates. If you are traveling for work, especially if attending a conference or convention, that’s a perfect opportunity to share photos highlighting your experience.
But your content doesn’t have to be limited to photos. Instagram also allows you to post short videos, creating a great opportunity to show your agency in motion. You can also create posts with inspirational quotes or quick graphics featuring customer testimonials. Those are just a couple ideas to get you going. You can even use Instagram to tease new insurance products before they launch, and announce launches live to your followers.
The most important rule of having an Instagram business account is to be true to your brand. Choose content that reflects your company’s personality. When you do, your followers will recognize your content as authentic, relatable and (perhaps most importantly) trustworthy.
Venturing into a brand new social media platform can be intimidating, but we’re confident that this advice can help you succeed in this exciting community. Will your agency have the next trending Instagram account? We’re rooting for you!
–By Mallory DuPuy