Businesses are always being told to incorporate social media into their marketing strategies, and for good reason. People of all ages are spending lots of time on social networks. Of course, there are a few social networks that are bigger than others, and one of the most popular right now is Instagram. Instagram can be difficult, though, for businesses that don’t fall into obviously visual categories like fashion, home renovation and décor, or gardening. If you’ve been struggling with how to incorporate Instagram into your company’s marketing strategy, you’ve come to the right place!

Show Your Culture

Many businesses make the mistake of trying to use their social media posts like traditional ads. They show their products, promote sales, and basically try to push conversion. Instagram is not the place for this. Instagram is the place for lifestyle content marketing. This means showing fun things happening in your office. It means showing your values and what you’re interested in. It means piquing the interest of your potential customers and showing them what you have in common. This is social media. Be social, not promotional.

Building a fun culture that you can show off on Instagram has benefits outside of marketing. Creating an environment that promotes culture and collaboration can increase employee productivity and overall company success.

How to Incorporate into Your Overall Marketing: Always take photos at events, meetings, and other company activities. Question how those photos can be used in social media as well as traditional advertising. Post images of your advertising to Instagram as well, but not too often, and only in a “see what we’re doing!” sort of way.

Optimize Your Photos

Photos are a vital aspect of social media posts. The most successful posts on any platform include images. But you can’t just use stock photos or generic shots all the time. You need a steady supply of unique, engaging images. This means smiling employees. It means pictures of the breakfast spread. It means photos of the office mascot and desk pranks and new features.

Your photos also need to be pleasant to look at. This means paying attention to lighting and framing. Make sure there’s no clutter and that it looks good. Use social media posting apps to easily add filters and designer fonts. Make sure people in your photos look like they want to be photographed, and of course, make sure you have permission to use and post their likeness.

How to Incorporate into Your Overall Marketing: If you use an app to streamline your social media, it will be easier to see all of your posts at once and have access to both the edited and unedited photos. This allows you to use successful images in your traditional marketing and build cohesive brand imaging.

Create Your Own Hashtag, But Utilize Others Too

When you create a hashtag that represents your business, you’re showing people how you see yourself. You want your hashtag to represent the majority of the posts your company will be making, so think about your social media goals. If your goals are to show the culture of your workplace, you could include words like culture, life, and style in your hashtag, along with your business name. If you want to establish yourself in your industry, be sure to use industry specific terms.

It’s important to use other hashtags, especially if you’ve only just recently created your own. This is because your hashtag won’t have an audience following it yet. By using trending hashtags, you put your posts in front of more people. By using hashtags related to your industry and field, you bring in people who are more likely to relate to your products and business.

How to Incorporate into Your Overall Marketing: Put your company hashtag on all advertising you create. Invite people participating in business functions or using your product to utilize your hashtag.

Reach Out to Your Community

Even though you do want to stay away from being overly promotional on social media, at the end of the day, it’s a marketing strategy. The point of marketing strategies is to generate leads. So reach out to your community and engage with others. That’s the only way to bring others to your account. Once they get to your profile, the goal is to make them want to go to your website. Then your website can convert them. So like and comment on other people’s posts. Post images that are in response to other posts and tag the original poster in them. The only way to bring people in is to reach out.

When you’re at events like trade shows and conferences, be sure to utilize Instagram. Post pictures of keynote speakers with the conference hashtag. Show your booth. Encourage visitors to post on Instagram with your hashtag in order to win a prize. Tag and mention people you interact with. These are just a few ways you can stand out at trade shows and bring your community in through social media.

How to Incorporate into Your Overall Marketing: Create contests inviting people to use your hashtag. If your hashtag is industry specific, utilize it in conversations with other industry professionals.

Track and Learn

Social Media, like all marketing, is useless without analytics. You must track the effectiveness of your campaigns in order to improve them. You need to know who saw them and what their reaction was. With Instagram, this is easy. You can track likes and shares, and compare how different types of posts perform. There’s a lot of debate about the ethics of big data, but when using third-party sites like Instagram and other third-party analytics, any information you have access to will already be in compliance with the terms and conditions that Instagram users agree to and any laws affecting data usage.

How to Incorporate into Your Overall Marketing:  Follow the same analytics protocol for your Instagram marketing as you do for all your marketing campaigns. Make sure the data is compiled with your annual marketing report and that you track how Instagram is performing alone and compared to other social media and traditional media strategies.

These are just some of the ways you can incorporate Instagram into your overall marketing strategy. Have other ideas? Share them in the comments!