Let me ask you a question. Do you wonder why your brand’s Instagram marketing is not giving you results? Does looking at your Instagram feed remind you of a dead horse. I mean literally – a dead horse. Well, this essay is for you. I will show you exactly how to not only put your dead horse back to life but also make it run faster than a Formula 1 racing car, and win.
Just stay with me and you might find yourself on your way to write the next social media success story. I will give you a roadmap and will shift your mindset coordinates to set you up for a big social media success. In fact, let me define the word success. Success here means that you can rapidly acquire new followers and a big fraction of these followers are buying customers who engage with every single post you publish. They might go crazy talking about your brand on social media.
Sounds good? Let me jump right in and go over the 6 Golden Rules of Social Media marketing that every brand should know.
Rule 1 – Don’t sell on Instagram, seduce
Let’s talk about intentions. If you look at the social media feed of a socially ‘unsuccessful’ brand, you will notice that 70-90% of their social media posts are product pictures. They are using Instagram for selling and it’s a bad approach especially when you haven’t built a sizable audience yet.
If you create a post to sell your product, your social media account will fall flat on its face. Why? Because people don’t go to Instagram to buy stuff. To buy, they go to places such as Amazon, eBay and other bigger ecommerce stores they already trust. They go to Instagram to kill their time getting entertained, seduced, inspired or educated. As a Fashion brand, you should be most interested in seduction, as your role is to seduce people on Instagram and not to sell them. I like to call this pre-selling, wherein you gently seduce your followers on Instagram and remind them to go and check out your website, so that when they land on the website they are ‘pre-sold’. This way, you can use Instagram to create a ‘want’ for your brand and products.
You pre-sell customers on your Social Media every day until they can’t resist going to your website and place an order. You use Social Media to ‘create’ interest and a website to ‘hold’ interest and facilitate the purchase.
Rule 2 – Treat each post like a campaign
There is a problem in calling Instagram post just a ‘post’. Why? Because the word post is too generic. It encourages people to post just for the heck of posting. They post just because they think that posting thrice in a day would give them more followers and more engagement.
There is a better word – CAMPAIGN! Why is campaign a better word? Because a campaign has a clear message and a defined objective. If you have any experience in creating Facebook ads, you will be able to relate with this. To create an ad, Facebook ad manager first asks you to create a campaign and select campaign objective – clicks, traffic, conversions, engagement, etc. It makes sense there because an advertiser spends money on those ads and an advertiser would only give your money to achieve a specific outcome. But then why do we call a free post a post? See it from this angle. When you or your social media team (in-house or outsourced), spends time on writing a post; that time has a direct or indirect cost or opportunity cost. These posts are actually paid and not free. Then why would you publish an objective-less post? Treat each post like a campaign and you will automatically start pushing for a better idea to achieve your o
Rule 3 – Do it like a stand-up comedian
As an agency, when we started calling our client’s Instagram post campaign, it completely shifted our mindset. The biggest shift was in terms of ideation. We stopped posting aimlessly and started working on ideas for our clients. Even if we had to wish followers Merry Christmas, we used to think of ideas to maximize engagement? Every post we publish now has an editorial idea and the objective is engagement.
To ensure engagement, we test different ideas. We constantly learn – what are people engaging with and what’s falling flat. Do they engage with topics related to breastfeeding or gay rights, or influencer stories? It’s like being a stand-up comedian. You learn from what makes people laugh and what falls flat so that when you go to your next show, you use your previous experience to land more punches and less misses.
Rule 4 – Use Instagram to build an image
The real power social media channel provides you is that it enables you to build an image, even if it’s currently far from reality. It enables you to build an image that people want to relate with. An image that people will take pride in associating. It’s what fashion and beauty brands such as Glossier and Revolve do. They use social media to build an image.
Now, let’s try to break down the key elements of a brand’s social media image.
- Social Media Identity – Doesn’t matter how good your brand logo is, if it doesn’t appeal people as your Instagram profile picture, you’ve already lost the biggest opportunity of making the good first impression. A good bio picture evokes curiosity in a new prospect.
- Product packaging – You will inevitably show your products in your social media posts, and how these products look in your Instagram visuals largely dictates whether users will go to your website and know more about the product. So if you want your followers to go to your website, you must make sure that your product is presented with nice packaging. A product that sets an expectation of an amazing experience.
- Lifestyle Visuals – Of course, the visuals including the pictures of the lifestyle that you’re trying to project in your Instagram feed, using your brand’s colors, the tone of voice and other branding elements.
Rule 5 – Follow a theme and be consistent
Anything and everything you post on your Instagram should belong to the same family. In the feed, a user should be able to recognize your post without even looking at your profile picture or name, because of its signature look and feel. While working with clients, we create a new theme every month mixing promotions with new editorial content ideas based on our audience study. So while we might have a new content theme, the visual consistency remains the same even if we’re talking about a different topic.
Rule 6 – Don’t outsource your Instagram to a pure marketing agency
We, the social media users have graduated from Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc) to Social Media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. Most of us, especially the skillful marketers, haven’t completely adopted this change yet. We’re struggling to understand that unlike Search Engines that run on the algorithm, a social media platform such as Instagram runs on human emotions. Not that Instagram doesn’t have an algorithm; but the algorithm of Instagram runs around the basic human emotions. When a marketer cracks a search algorithm and ranks a website high, the same marketer fails to crack the emotions to rank their post more exposure on Instagram. Why? Because most digital marketers don’t have the creative skills of an artist to create something that touches human emotions.
AND That’s why millennial influencers are more successful on Social Media. They didn’t have any old habits and they didn’t have to adapt the marketing style from the old to new. They are content focussed by-default.
Anyone or any team (in-house or offshore) who handles your Instagram should have skills and experience to produce creative content including graphics, captions, original photography, and short videos. They should be able to consistently come up with new ideas to create and maximize user engagement, backed by super content.
That’s it. These are the 6 golden rules you should keep in mind while creating your Instagram strategy. I hope you learned something new from this article and that you use it as a resource as you start or continue your journey as an online retailer. Don’t forget to give a shout out on Twitter @ilovefashionret (using the hashtag #ilovefashionretail) and share this resource with your friends and colleagues.
@ILoveFashionRetail we design & develop e-commerce websites & mobile apps for fashion retailers. We also help fashion brands grow their online sales & traffic. Our essays are featured in Forbes, Moz, Fairchild, FIT and more. Contact us.