Brent Barnhart
July 12, 2020

Building A Brand On Instagram

It's not too late to start building a brand on Instagram. This guide breaks down why Instagram is a priority for businesses and how to get your presence going.

Listen: Instagram’s status as a “secondary” social media channel is a thing of the past.
This is especially true if your audience consists of the younger crowd.
Now that Instagram’s no longer a shiny new toy, businesses have the platform pretty well figured out.
From eye-popping ad campaigns to engaging customers organically, Instagram’s momentum doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon.
Don't quite “get” the ‘gram, though? Still on the fence about getting started?
We’ve got you covered in our guide to building a brand on Instagram.

Why Build a Brand on Instagram, Though?

Fair question!
Sure, the social media landscape is constantly changing and new platforms are still emerging (think: TikTok).
That said, Instagram’s staying power is well-documented. Let’s look at some reasons why the ‘gram isn’t going anywhere.
For starters, the amount of Aussies active on Instagram is staggering. Like, ~9.7 million users (or nearly 40% of the population). Exceedingly popular with millennials, Gen Z and women, in particular, don’t let anyone tell you that Instagram is a dying platform.
Another positive for businesses is that Instagram is becoming more and more focused on products and services.
Fact: Instagram is the go-to source for younger consumers looking to research products. While it was once taboo to sell on Instagram, doing so has become the norm.
Oh, and piggybacking on the previous point, Instagram’s ad platform is growing rapidly.
As noted in our social media trends, Instagram has become a full-blown hub for shopping. Couple that with their use of Facebook’s robust ad-targeting and it’s no secret why ecommerce brands are flocking to the platform.

The Basics of Building a Brand on Instagram

For newcomers, the concept of building a brand on Instagram might be totally overwhelming.
Hey, we get it.
That’s why we’ve broken down step-by-step the specific features and functions of Instagram that brands should understand.

Come Up with Compelling Content That Captures Your Identity

The fact that Instagram is a platform that consists solely of visual content is what defines it.
Likewise, your company’s content defines your brand.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a compelling Instagram content strategy. That said, companies that grow their presence don’t just post haphazardly. Instead, they focus on putting out visual content that follows a particular style or theme such as:
  • Stunning, out-of-the-ordinary locations

  • “Aesthetic” snapshots (think: heavily filtered or stylized with color)

  • Scenes that make use of negative space

  • Authentic, “organic” photos in-the-wild
Let’s look at some examples!
Ovolo uses bold or exotics locations as a cornerstone of their content strategy:
Meanwhile, Beer Cartel’s minimalist yet colorful product photos make for a must-follow ‘gram:
Lastly, Precinct Skate Shop puts photos side-by-side in a series to create a sort of visual scene:
Instagram affords brands tons of opportunities to get creative and experiment. No matter what you’re selling, there’s an opportunity to put your visual content out there. 

Define Your Brand’s Voice (and How You Stand Out from the Crowd)

Beyond publishing visual content, finding your tone of voice is a priority on Instagram.
There’s no denying that the platform is crowded in terms of competition. Perhaps the best way to stand out from the crowd is to highlight your brand’s mission, values, and voice every chance you get.
For example, there are tons of beauty and haircare brands on Instagram. How does a company like evo make their mark?
Well, they make it loud and clear from their bio that they’re cruelty-free and health-conscious.
Meanwhile, the company’s captions are conversational and the brand isn’t one to shy away from diversity or social justice.
See how that works? You don’t necessarily need to adopt the same sort of tone yourself, but rather be aware that how you talk to your customers and audience speaks volumes about your brand. 

Engage with Your Community and Customers

Reality check: brands that flop on Instagram almost always fail to engage with customers.
On the surface, the function of Instagram might seem simple. You post content and your followers interact.
Easy, right? Not exactly. Engagement is far from automatic: it’s earned.
Brands are responsible for creating opportunities to interact with their followers. Rather than “spray and pray” when it comes to content, consider ways to go back-and-forth with your followers such as:
  • Asking your customers questions

  • Soliciting feedback

  • Sharing photos from customers who use your hashtags

  • Replying to comments asking for assistance or recommendations
Bellabox is a shining example of a brand that manages to do all of the above, frequently posing questions to followers and then making a point to respond in the comment section.
Meanwhile, the brand encourages followers to publish user-generated content (ex: customer photos) using their #bellabox hashtag. In turn, customers market on them on their behalf and the company  has a constant stream of promotional content coming through Instagram.

Tapping into Your Followers’ FOMO with Instagram Stories

Among the platform’s most popular features is Instagram Stories, time-sensitive posts that disappear after 24 hours.
These authentic, off-the-cuff snippets and videos are proven to grab peoples’ attention. They’re likewise a cinch to create and serve as an alternative to more polished content.
For example, companies like Original Mineral use their Stories to show off customer photos, promote new products and offer exclusive how-to-content to their beauty-focused followers.
Lick Your Phone frequently uses polls and playful content to drive engagement to their Instagram Stories.
Stories tap into your followers’ fear of missing out (FOMO). Regularly publishing Stories gives you an opportunity to let your fans see your human side beyond what your brand puts out on its Instagram feed.

Form Relationships with Relevant Influencers

Another unique aspect of Instagram is the popularity of influencer marketing on the platform.
The concept is simple: brands collaborate with influencers (think: users with dedicated followings) to promote products. The relationship represents a win-win as brands introduce themselves to new followers and influencers, in turn, get increased exposure for their own accounts.
The rise of influencers goes hand in hand with Instagram’s status as a shopping hub and the value of authenticity on the platform.
Although some might stereotype what an influencer looks like, the influencer crowd is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of industries and follower-count. Below’s a snapshot of popular influencer categories in Australia according to HypeAuditor.
Hint: you can read more about how to find influencers on Instagram and what influencer relationships look like.

Run Ads to Reach New (and Existing) Customers

The popularity of Instagram’s ad platform speaks for itself.
From raising awareness to retargeting leads and former customers, the creativity of Instagram translates into its ad network which provides plenty of options for advertisers. These options include:
  • Photo ads

  • Stories ads

  • Video ads

  • Carousel ads (think: swipeable and scroll-friendly)

  • Collection ads (think: allowing shoppers to browse a collection of products at once)
Relatively recent features such as Instagram shopping and shoppable posts signal the platform’s power for ecommerce brands. Below’s an example from Bellroy:
Organic or paid, Instagram manages to address each stage of the social media marketing funnel. How so? Consider how Instagram works for:
  • Awareness, enabling brands to establish their identity (think: tone of voice, trademark style)

  • Engagement, encouraging companies to ask questions, share user-generated content and funnel leads to their promotions

  • Consideration, allowing brands to show off products and customer success stories

  • Action, allowing customers to make purchases directly from Instagram
And with that, we wrap up our guide!

Ready to Build Your Brand on Instagram?

There’s obviously a lot that goes into building a brand on Instagram.
Even so, it’s totally worth it in the long-run if you’re willing to learn the ropes of the platform.
If you need help getting started or want to better understand what Instagram has to offer your business, make sure to get in contact with Hello Social to see how we can help.

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