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2020 was a year full of surprises, with the biggest surprise focusing more on social media. That surprise – a pandemic that turned the year and the world upside down – has created a new urgency for a strong online presence and monetization strategy.
Before the pandemic, a committed social media audience was more of a “nice-to-have” than a “have-to-have” for many established medium-sized and large companies. Companies that used to rely almost entirely on traditional marketing and personal business have had to spin massively to survive.
If you are a business owner or marketer working with a company new to social media, Instagram is one of the best platforms to focus on. Why? When used properly, it's one of the best social media platforms to grow organically with.
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The first key to success is creativity and persistence
Creativity will always be the be-all and end-all on any social media platform, but it's especially relevant on Instagram. If you can't think outside the box and take five minutes to do something else, you might as well forget about trying. That doesn't mean you have to take extreme measures, like videotaping your teammates cycling from a rooftop in your branded colors (although I think there would be a lot of people who would love to see that), but it does post more than a one-line explanation of how great your company is, followed by a litany of endless unrelated hashtags.
On the other hand, consistency is crucial. If you're not established, a weekly release won't be enough. Neither of them will post three times a day for a month just to have a month off and jump back up once Christmas is over.
If you can commit to bringing creativity and persistence to your marketing, these three organic strategies will give you the visibility that will last beyond the pandemic:
Stories are powerful, especially stories that hit the key emotions that can influence buying decisions. Stories that are human, branded, and connected to your client's journey will win every time. On Instagram, this content can be included in both the feed and stories. When this type of content is well written, it can attract visitors to your product or service, stir their emotions, and get them to do exactly what you want them to do – without being spam. An example of a story-driven post starts with the story of the company's founder or talks about the company's growth and how customers are primarily responsible for that growth. An accompanying carousel picture showing the growth journey will make the Post burst and increase engagement.
Without great stories, the next two strategies will stall.
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With the introduction of Instagram Reels and the additional competition for TikTok, the focus this year was exclusively on videos. Short video, long video, and live video – everything wins in my book.
Video generally activates at a faster speed for good reason. People like exercise and Instagram has become a new form of television. Often times, content creators and companies rethink the approach to video, but it all relates to storytelling. As long as there is a motive behind the content and it is creative, it will get involved.
Instagram Live can act as an influencer outreach platform
Instagram lives can be spontaneous and also planned. Ideally, you'll use both approaches, but if you're intimidated by the prospect of standing in front of the camera, planning ahead is ideal. If you're running a business that could benefit from influencer marketing, using Lives as a frontrunner to real conversations with Instagram influencers or thought leaders on planned topics will inspire your audience while building authority.
Instagram stories can give insight into your business
While ideally your Instagram feed should have some curation to maintain a branded aesthetic, stories can be more spontaneous. Use stories as an opportunity to present your company history and your activities behind the scenes. Run a clothing line and just received a flood of orders? Show your team how to pack the orders and talk a little about their day. During the pandemic, people are seeking more human contact and authenticity than ever before. So keep it real in stories for your audience.
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Targeted hashtag engagement
The pandemic hasn't stopped marketers and companies from hastening their following using spammy and unsafe growth methods. If you're running a business that needs your audience to convert into customers, buying followers is never the answer. Fake followers are just a vanity, and the fake appeal subsides in seconds if you don't see comments on your posts and four likes. Instead, focus on targeted hashtags, both in your posts and in your interactions, and you will see results for the first time.
For example, imagine you're a San Diego-based company like me and your company is a restaurant in the Hillcrest neighborhood. Suppose both locals and visitors want to find a restaurant like yours in San Diego, and this neighborhood specifically. Use hashtags that act as indicators of your location, e.g. B. #hillcrestcoffee and #sandiegocoffeeshop. That sounds obvious, but there are many companies out there that use generic, non-targeted hashtags by default and believe that their ideal customer will discover them. Also, start getting hashtags by looking for people using hashtags who might connect with your ideal customer. For example #sandiegofoodie. People who use this hashtag probably live in San Diego and love to eat out. Start with their posts, leave comments and ask questions. Even choose specific accounts. This is a form of "targeted engagement" and is not a "mass persecution". Organic engagement is a strategy that will never die because it involves speaking to people who match your customer avatar rather than using desperate methods how to resort to buying followers.
The pandemic and its aftermath will not go away until the end of this year. It is likely that the problems companies are facing now will continue. However, by employing strategies that work, while maintaining creativity and persistence, you can prepare for long-term success that will continue beyond 2021.
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