Three secrets to killing it on Instagram for brands / by Rachel Ford

Make your brand a part of the bigger picture for social media success. Image: Kyle Ford/Ford Marketing Lab.

Make your brand a part of the bigger picture for social media success. Image: Kyle Ford/Ford Marketing Lab.

Unlike traditional advertising, Instagram gives brands the ability to immerse an audience in their world; however, the mistake many brands make is treating social media the same as they would traditional advertising.

Posting what appears to be an ad (or worse, an afterthought) can leave your brand vulnerable to competitors. Many companies do not yet understand the importance of social media outreach, but they'll soon learn as their competitors attain relevancy and gain market share by dominating in this rising space.

By posting effectively on Instagram, your brand is creating a virtual look-book with the powerful ability to position your product in any way you choose.

So just how do you kill it on Instagram? Here are three secrets to social success:

1) Get your product out of the picture (yes, really).  In the world of traditional advertising, every shot in an ad campaign would most certainly feature the product, but your Instagram outreach will be most successful if it creates a story of how your product fits into your target consumer's best life. Take a hint from the influencers for this one and position your brand into a bigger picture; in this case, your product is the Influencer. 

Need some convincing? Think of your favorite product. Got it? Now, ask yourself if you want to see photos of it repeatedly in your feed. We didn't think so. In this example, you're thinking of something you already know and love; imagine how annoying and irrelevant the image overload would seem it you weren't a loyal fan. But posting new and exciting ways to think about the product you love? That's Insta-gold.

2) Be authentic. Over-produced studio shots look like over-produced studio shots. Today's consumer is discerning and seeks authenticity; your glossy, staged image is not fooling anyone. Photoshopping your packaging into a studio shot not only misses the mark, but conveys to the consumer that you just don't get it. The most compelling shots tell the brand story in a way that is interesting, relatable, and creates interest in being a part of the brand's story.

3) Showcase a lifestyle. Marketing companies love to throw around the word 'aspirational,' but how do you position your brand to be desired? Often, products are cool because they are associated with other cool products. Whether it's marketing to millennials, Gen-Xers, hipsters, Wall Street guys or suburban housewives, demonstrating how your product fits with things they value is what will ultimately drive interest and sales. Paint the picture and insert your brand into it.