In this blog we explore how we can use Instagram to help achieve our business objectives and how we can address some of the challenges of measuring what impact our efforts are having.

Instagram_StatsOf all the social media channels that I cover during my training sessions and lectures, Instagram is the one that always seems to be dismissed or misunderstood. The fundamental point that causes this confusion is that Instagram will not be a direct traffic driver for your website as you can’t add clickable links to your posts or comments. This lack of ability to drive traffic means that its all too easy to dismiss Instagram as not being relevant to business and be purely seen as a personal use channel. This is absolutely wrong however, but there are some key challenges we need to address and some key tips that can make the difference between success and wasting your time.

Digital Branding

Instagram users are a positive and highly engaged bunch. They post a lot of pictures, like a lot of other people’s pictures and leave lots of comments. You can see this from the latest stats directly from Instagram but the main point is that its a highly engaged audience that shows its appreciation. This highly engaged audience gives us a great opportunity to build brand awareness and more importantly brand value. By posting the right kind of pictures you can demonstrate and reinforce what your brand really stands for. We’ll discuss things like content themes more in a moment, but you really need to be clear on what your brand stands for and what your value proposition is. Without this clarity you won’t know what you should be posting, and even with great photography, you’re not going to have much business impact.

This clear identification of what your brand stands for can challenge a lot of businesses, especially the Business to Business (B2B) organisations. When you ask people what their brand stands for you will very often get a reply along the lines of “We sell great products” or “We are the cheapest”. These aren’t value propositions and you aren’t going to be able to create much interesting themed content around these topics. Some better answers to this question might be “We help our customers get more from their budget” or “We have a absolute focus on quality and perfection”. These are topics we can start to theme content around. Lets take a look at a few examples.

Content Themes

Target Internet’s brand positioning is “Straight forward and hands on Digital Marketing advice” and we deliver a lot of digital marketing training online and globally. So what themes can we take from this that will help us create and group content to reinforce this brand positioning via Instagram?

IMG_3299Firstly, just like all social media, you need to start by thinking about people. We deliver a lot of training courses, so people learning and having fun work really well. If you post a picture of someone (having made sure they know it will be posted to Instagram), you are pretty likely to end up with them following you. It’s an effective way of building a following but always remember, a picture of people you don’t know that aren’t doing anything all that interesting wont get you very much engagement, so you need to maximise the interesting nature of these pictures and don’t do too many.





IMG_3300The next theme is that of travel. We work global which means there are lots of opportunities to document some of the travels we go on. Travel is a very popular topic within Instagram so it works well. It reinforces the global nature of our business and helps to demonstrate our knowledge of lots of different markets.

Our final theme is the behind the scenes creation process. Podcasts being recorded, video being filmed and behind the scenes at conferences and events. These allow us to demonstrate our passion for creating content and build a more human face to the business.

If we look at a brand of a completely different type and size, that really gets Instagram and social media generally, then Nike is a great example. Its not about displaying pictures of running shoes constantly. Their brand positioning is that they “help people achieve their athletic potential” which means their content themes will all be around motivation, inspiration and helping people achieve their goals.

Instagram Analytics

One of the great challenges of Instagram is the lack of data we initially have. We aren’t driving visits to our website, so we aren’t going to have any web analytics data. Instagram itself doesn’t provide much data either, so it can seem impossible to get any usable data other than just counting our likes or comments. Luckily there are a host of tools that will give us a bit more in depth analysis of our images and engagement. This means we can measure more easily how much engagement each picture gets but more importantly we can learn what works and what doesn’t. This allows us to iterate and improve our approach to get more positive engagement. My favourite of these is the easy to use

Measuring the Impact of Instagram on Business Objectives

So we’re posting content that is reinforcing our brand positioning and we’re getting loads of positive engagement. So now what? The biggest challenge is that unlike most other social channels, we are not going to be able to track visits to our websites from Instagram so we can’t analyse how much this contributes to our desired outcomes. If I want you to buy a product on my website, I can use a number of reports to see things like how much traffic I got from Twitter and whether it is part of the journey that eventually lead to a sale. It doesn’t work like this for Instagram however. Any positive impact we had on somebody that may have lead to someone buying out product won’t be immediately visible via web analytics.

For many years we have been happy to run TV and print campaigns that try to build brand awareness and reinforce what our brands stand for and we were pretty happy this had an impact on sales without much direct measurement. If we were smart we would have probably run some polling or questionnaires to try and work out what impact these channels were having. We now need to do the same for social media and Instagram in particular. Much of the engagement and interaction we have with or about brands in social media does not lead to a website visit. I might have a long and positive conversation about a brand on Facebook and the brand will have no idea as it didn’t end in a site visit. The actual impact that social is having is not always obvious unless we actually start speaking to our customers and find out what channels they are using and how impactful these channels are.