From influencer marketing to video-sharing, Instagram now offers marketers creative space to grow brand awareness on a channel their audience already loves.
90% of brands have a business account on Instagram, which means that this platform is really the center for building a successful brand. If you’re one of those brands, you’re already reaching out to the majority of your followers, because more than 50% of users look for new products on Instagram, according to Hootsuite.
So how do you stand out from the competition in an online space saturated with brands posting content daily? With these innovative techniques, you can go beyond simple stories and posts to reach your target audience in a new way.
1. Feature User-Generated Content (UGC) Creatively
People love sharing brand feedback on social media. In return, brands love getting mentioned by users as it allows more exposure and recognition. In fact, 55% of users trust user-generated content more than any other type of marketing.
The reason why good user-generated content works better is that people love seeing original and trustful experiences with brands rather than a list of promotional Instagram posts. Be on the lookout for posts mentioning your brand or industry-related hashtags, identify your existing fans within your follower base, or use a UGC platform like Pixlee to automatically pull in high-quality content from your community.
Once you have UGC you’re ready to share, there are a variety of ways you can showcase it beyond a static post. Start with these ideas:
- Story Highlights: One way to maintain your brand style and tone is to break up UGC into story highlights. For example, focus on one product or theme per day on your brand’s Instagram story, then create corresponding highlights so users can easily sift through the content on your profile.
- Reels and IGTV: Encourage users to share videos of how they use your products, unboxing videos, and tutorials, then edit them into Instagram Reels or IGTV videos specific to certain products or campaigns.
- Shoppable Instagram: Create “shop-the-look” posts and carousels tagging your products so users can purchase your products without leaving the app.
Bluetooth tracker brand Tile’s Community highlight on the brand’s Instagram profile showcases how customers use their tiles in everyday life. This provides inspiration to potential buyers and valuable social proof.
2. Run an Interactive Social Media Contest
Contests usually aim to provide a loyal customer base for your brand, increase brand awareness, engage more people, and provide an easy way to encourage UGC from your fans that you can repurpose and share later on.
As statistics show, on average, brands gain 34% of their new customers with the help of giveaways and contests. To make your contest stand out, engage with as many submissions as you can and promote buzz around your brand by coining a unique hashtag that participants can use when they upload a photo or video. Sharing posts around your contest in a story highlight is a great tactic, as it won’t get bogged down by newer content like simple posts might in your feed.
Jones Soda recently launched its Reel Labels campaign, encouraging fans to share Instagram Reel videos for the chance to be featured on the brand’s bottle labels. This contest stands out from the crowd because the brand uses augmented reality to make the labels come to life with a free app.
3. Use Hashtags to Encourage UGC and Feedback
Hashtags go beyond social contests; practice social listening by creating and sharing your brand’s unique hashtag and encourage your followers to use it as well. This ensures you’ll have easy access to engaging with relevant posts and the most passionate customers in your online community. You can also promote product feedback from those using your hashtag.
Cosmetics brand Morphe coined the hashtag #MorpheBabe that fans can use when sharing photos and videos featuring Morphe products.
4. Be Transparent about Your Brand’s Values
As you’re competing with other brands on Instagram, sharing your company values gives you an advantageous point. In fact, 94% of users are more likely to stay loyal to a transparent and open brand.
With this mind, build brand values you stand for and share them throughout the content you publish. This is a part of expressing your inner company culture as well allowing you to form brand loyalty, trust, and stronger relationships with consumers. Is your brand passionate about sustainability? Do you prioritize diversity in your marketing campaigns? Tell your followers!
One way to do this well is by showcasing employee-generated content on your Instagram profile. Share what your team is doing internally to support your brand’s values, and tell the genuine stories of your employees in behind-the-scenes posts.
Boise State University’s ran an employee appreciation campaign to share the stories of university employees with its community, and show potential team members an inside look into what it means to be a part of Boise State’s team.
5. Embrace Both Micro-Influencers & Creators
People trust each other more than brands, so partnering with an influencer aligning with your industry is a powerful move.
Finding the right influencer-brand fit is crucial to campaign success, so consider scoping out influencers with smaller fan bases that may align more closely with your brand values. Micro-influencers are people who have a comparatively smaller follower count (typically 1,00-100,000) than more well-known content creators. Brands may choose to collaborate with them to promote products via authentic posts rather than paid ads. Because of their expertise in focused areas, micro-influencers tend to have a very responsive and targeted follower base.
Micro-influencer @nailsby__tessa frequently shares nail looks using Revel Nail products, which the brand then reshares on Instagram.
Instagram can be used in various ways and for different features depending on your industry, brand mission, and goals. All you have to do is make those options customized and unique to your business to help stand out from the competition.