Sunday, May 15, 2016

Content Creators: 3 Ways to Develop an Instagram Community Around Your Brand

Instagram has become one of the most popular platforms for creating and sharing branded content. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University studying Communication Studies, I have found two articles that highlight the importance of engaging customers on popular social media channels, namely Instagram. 

In her article Using Instagram to Build Brand Awareness, Amanda Clark highlights three main ways to build brand awareness on Instagram: encourage engagement, include customers as parts of the stories, and call users to action. Brands can encourage engagement with photo contests, include users in their stories by reposting and sharing their photos related to a branded product, and utilize many hashtags to call users to action and increase brand awareness.  

Hashtags for Major Sports Brands

Instagram recently updated the look of its icon and inner app design. A more major change involving an algorithm, however, is in the works. Mike Isaac in his article, Instagram May Change Your Feed, Personalizing It With an Algorithm, discusses the potential results of this new algorithm. Instagram will be implementing a new algorithm that pushes the moments it believes the user cares about the most to the front of their feeds. The order will be changed based on ‘likelihood of interest’ and relationship the user has with the person posting. The goal is to increase the personalization and engagement of Instagram. As a result, brands must find even more powerful ways to stand our from other content posters and enhance their relationships with followers.
Instagram User Feed

Based on my review of the these two articles and my work with content creators at Northwestern, here are three actions items I recommend you consider:  
  1. Engage your followers: To ensure you don't get lost in the cloud of content, focus on engaging loyal customers by pushing them content that prompts them to act (ex. hashtags, reposting for prizes, social mentions). Just as valuable is reaching a wide enough group to hold onto a more diverse audience. 
  2. Share your stories: Not only engage your followers to be active, but also engage directly with them. Share personal brand stories, create brand narratives, and allow users to tell their own stories. Listen, but be heard, and the connection will form.  
  3. Show you care: Show customers that you are seeing their personal stories and that you appreciate them. Comment on and like users photos, give special shout outs, and highlight loyal customers. This will increase their relationship with the branded content and the likelihood for followers to see the brand’s content. 

Social media use will continue to increase, and content will continue to be moved on to user-curated platforms. With over 400 million users on Instagram, instead of just selling a brand, we should think about forming relationships with followers. Instagram is not only a platform to send creative messages, but has become a place for conversation and connection. 

Helen Chen is a undergraduate studying Communications and International Studies at Northwestern University. She is currently completing the Integrated Marketing Communications certificate, and is interested in a future in creative advertising, nonprofit work, as well as starting her own small business. She is also very passionate about education and is involved in a student-run nonprofit called Supplies for Dreams. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.


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  2. Hi Helen I am putting your bullet points on wall in my work space. They sound great for increasing engagement on Instagram. I have Arts account on insta, gain two or three followers daily but they are not really engaged with my content. Just passive likes and follows. I ll use your points to see if it increases engagement. Thanks for posting you are doing great work 😊