Social media advertising is on the rise, and more and more social media platforms are providing advertisers with the capability to advertise on each individual platform to best reach their target audience within a specific channel. Instagram has officially joined the game, and with an expected growth to hit over 100 million users by 2018, it's an obvious decision for relevant businesses to utilize the new advertising options that have been made available.

So, what kind of businesses should consider advertising on Instagram? Instagram is an incredibly visual-centric social platform, ultimately providing users with appealing imagery that is highly engaging and shareable. With the capabilities to Like, Comment, and Share the content posted by other users, your content's reach is organically extended to a large portion of the Instagram network. Businesses with captivating imagery, product photos, and lifestyle-based content (think company events, flowers in the office, happy hour) are able to give their target audience a glimpse inside the brand on the Instagram platform. This "point-of-view" strategy allows users to better understand the background of the business, get to know their employees, how their products are made, and obtain a behind the scenes look at the company - building trust and forging brand loyalty in the process. Fashion companies, lifestyle brands, bloggers, magazines, and other businesses with strong imagery to share tend to be the most successful on the Instagram platform. Instagram has made an atmosphere for marketers to create a close bond with consumers via mobile devices. With a less conventional content concept in comparison to other traditional advertisements, this form of social engagement can significantly increase digital visibility. The platform offers similar characteristics to Twitter and Facebook, yet the specific steps to connect with your audience are different. Follow these 5 tips to expand your brand reach and effectively advertise on Instagram:

1. Set Your Goals

For any social media advertising initiative, defining your goal should be the first step; followed by the strategy to reach these goals (targeting, content to be shared, brand voice, etc.), which should be built with these objectives top of mind. Is your brand interested in advertising on Instagram to build out their following? Is the business launching in the US market and seeking to expand brand awareness throughout the country? Is the company launching a new line and seeking to leverage the existing audience of their current, well-established line? Once the goals for your advertising efforts are identified, your business can move towards the execution of the advertising campaign.

2. Establish Your Point of View

With a strong visual presence on the platform, Instagram uses imagery (and the use of some text and hashtags as well) to deliver messaging to users. Businesses must create a brand strategy unique to each social platform, and specifically on Instagram, decide what specific "point of view" they would like to convey to their target audience. Think sneak peek into the showroom, the latest celebrity look from the brand, or a look inside the factory where products are manufactured. Once a brand's point of view strategy is established, the content strategy should be built to support it.

3. Create A Content Strategy

Supporting the goals and point of view previously established by your business, your content strategy should go hand in hand with the two. Within the content strategy, you'll want to tell a story to users on the platform. Keep in mind, users on each social media platform are unique, so the content strategy across social platforms should vary a bit, while aiming to maintain an overall consistent brand voice across all channels. By analyzing the success of each post, you will be able to best determine what works best in terms of content, and optimize your efforts accordingly.

4. Utilize Hashtags

Leverage the organic reach of your posts with the use of relevant and trending hashtags. Instagram's resources provide inspiration for ways to best use hashtags to connect with the community and extend your brand's reach.

5. Continue Improving

In both organic posts and advertising efforts, the success of each should be analyzed and reported on regularly to best determine what works best and what kind of posts don't perform as well for your specific brand. Maybe the use of a specific hashtag resulted in 30% more engagement on two similar posts, or maybe a specific image type generated noticeably higher results. By analyzing and understanding the success of your efforts, your brand is able to optimize posts accordingly to help foster the best results possible.

Instagram for Business

Instagram is a highly visual social media platform, and it provides brands with the ability to share their point of view with the world. With advertising capabilities being extended to more businesses, we expect to see immense growth on the platform. By following these 5 tips for effective Instagram advertising, your brand's content strategy and advertising efforts will boost the success of your social media efforts.
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