How Startups Can Use Instagram to Brand, Sell, and Grow

How Startups Can Use Instagram to Brand, Sell, and Grow

by Kylie Ora Lobell, February 2020

Instagram marketing is a crucial part of any marketing strategy for startups. Not only can the platform help businesses build their brand and sell products and services, but it also allows you to authentically connect with your audience, showcase your unique brand voice, and grow your following.

How Startups Can Use Instagram to Brand Sell and Grow

With 1 billion active monthly users, according to Sprout Social, Instagram is one of the largest social networks in the world and can place your brand in front of a vast audience.

"Instagram is a great platform for reaching current and potential customers," said Eric Rutin, director of marketing at Kids Dental Brands. "As with most social media, Instagram is a great vehicle to help a startup grow brand awareness and drive customers into the sales process."

You may have heard of influencer marketing as one of the main sales tactics on Instagram, but it's not the only way a business can get ahead on the platform. Read on to learn how to use Instagram for marketing from the experts, as well as what you can do to ensure your startup is successful on the platform.

How to Win on Instagram

To thrive on any social platform, you need to post consistently. In terms of Instagram marketing, this may mean posting every day or three times a week. There is no set formula; what matters is that you choose a posting schedule and stick to it.

"Post often and consistently, and make sure to use all of Instagram's features, such as Stories, filters, and polls to boost engagement," said Kara Crail, marketing copywriter and social media coordinator for Maniology.

Crail warned against spamming users' feeds with too much content, however. Instead, engage with your followers by responding to their comments and messages and showing that you care about what they have to say.

Collaborate With Micro-Influencers

While it seems like influencers with millions of followers dominate Instagram, there are plenty of micro-influencers out there with 30,000 or fewer followers who are worth collaborating with on Instagram marketing campaigns. Look for micro-influencers who will help you reach your audience, spread your message, and instill trust in your brand.

"The key is to find a person who posts engaging content that aligns with your company's brand or vision on a regular basis," said Rutin. "By checking the engagement they get from their followers such as likes, comments, and shares, you can see the type of influence they have."

Create Video Content

Instagram may be known for images, but the fact is that video has been taking over. From Instagram Stories to IGTV, video is quickly becoming the medium of choice on the platform.

Brian Glassman, marketing director at Solid Digital said, "Challenge yourself to produce and publish more video content. While producing video content requires a bit more time and energy (and confidence) than image content, video posts receive 38% more engagement on average than their static counterparts."

Measure and Test

Marketing yourself on Instagram requires that you look at how your posts perform and that you test your campaigns. According to Rutin, you can do this through Instagram Insights, which will provide you with valuable feedback.

You'll be able to see how a post performed based on shares, saves, likes, and reach and see your audience's demographic information such as age, gender, and location. Also, you can view what days and times your audience is active on the platform, giving you a good idea of when you should post.

Grow Your Following Organically

It can be extremely tough to stand out on Instagram since you're facing so much competition. Because of this, it can be tempting to buy followers, pay for comments on your posts, and follow random people as part of your Instagram marketing strategy. These are not best practices.

Instead, focus on growing organically, according to Sonya Gankina, internal marketing coordinator of seoplus+. "Find ways that will authentically intrigue and entice your target audience to follow your account and to engage with your content," she says.

For instance, after looking at your Instagram Insights, you might find that your followers respond best to content about your company's employees. They may like photos of your products or your Instagram Stories. Figure out which content performs best and post consistently, and you can grow your following in no time.

Work Around the Challenges of Instagram Marketing

While Instagram marketing has many upsides, there are a few downsides you'll have to workaround. For instance, according to Rutin, the overall audience is limited because users can only post through the mobile app. Also, you can't put active links in posts unless you're paying for a sponsored post. And let's not forget that the platform has an algorithm that is continually shifting, which decreases organic reach and forces you to pay if you want your audience to see you. Don't let this discourage you, though.

One of the platform's main advantages? "Its advertising costs provide a low barrier to entry," said Rutin. "A company can promote a post for a few bucks." And these low costs allow startups to develop an Instagram marketing strategy that will help them compete with bigger brands for space on potential customers' feeds.