Internet marketing is not a new industry and has been around for a few decades. Over that period, many fads, trends , and marketing styles have come and gone, some proving more sustainable than others. Presently, Instagram spearheads much of this online activity, and while no one can truly be certain of the platforms shelf life, it surely seems that this reign is going to be long-running.
The hype isn’t enough to truly solidify just how impactful Instagram has been in the business world, which is why exact statistics are large and in charge. The monumental platform, which is now home to over 25 million businesses worldwide, is slated to reach $6.8 billion in ad revenue in Q4-2020. This metric accounting only for paid ads run through the platform itself, and not including the hundreds of thousands of influencer marketing exchanges taking place every month.
While often, the most spoken about businesses on Instagram are well-known brands with already established reputations, though startups account for a large majority of the platforms’ business community. Intimate companies who contribute time and energy to solving real-life problems, with little to no upfront payoff is the unspoken bread and butter of Instagram. These companies, while underdogs have become quite a momentous buzz topic in recent years as they’ve seen themselves more successfully represented and exemplified. Instagram has played a huge role in this. By providing otherwise unknown creators and visionaries a voice, greater visibility, and a more accessible chance at true success.
Instagram For Startups: Why it Works for Brands
Startups begin humbly, as just an idea, and require innovation and dedication to gain momentum and ultimately, hopefully, see success. Thus, what’s most often required in a company early life are interested people willing to invest and contribute? The biggest obstacle in which being for many, a lack of visibility. It’s understandably challenging to get people interested and engaged if they have no way of being introduced to a concept in the first place. The question then becomes: With little access to new companies’ content and ideas, what is the easiest way to get a startup in front of a large number of curious eyes?Instagram answers this question quite effortlessly and it’s no surprise, why.? Over 1 billion people use the Instagram app, making the potential to be seen unfathomably high. And not only that, but the strategy to being seen and the various roadblocks which come up along the way have been extensively researched and strategized, making the platform a relatively easy code to crack.
Many companies started small and have now successfully learned to leverage Instagram for their success. One impressive example of this is the beauty brand Glossier. Through their primarily two a day posting schedule, excellently devised messaging, and immense clarity on who their customer is and what they want, they’ve amassed over $100 million in revenue.
Glossier is certainly not the only company to have seen such staggering success, but what you may find even more inspiring are the thousands of smaller, more local companies presently on the road to Instagram success.
Film startup, Camp4Collective, actively incorporates Instagram into their marketing strategy too, often sharing the story behind why they started and why they will never stop.
As proven by an endless list of startups, relying on Instagram as a pertinent channel to tell your story and allows you to tap into entire new communities and open up previously unavailable doors for yourself.
Planning Your Instagram Content Strategy
One of the first steps to growing an Instagram account, and certainly a business Instagram account is crafting a strategy for what and how you’re going to share. There are no rules to the content you are allowed to share, except for of course Instagram’s guidelines, meaning it’s completely up to you to decide how you’re going to tell the story of your startup.
Regardless of niche and application, a strategy is the biggest commonality between most, if not all, business Instagram accounts. This outline for your company helps you distinguish who you are amongst a sea of others like you, and hopefully, compliments the arc of your brand. Thus, your Instagram strategy fits into your business strategy as a whole.
As a startup, you may want to consider the key components for why you’re using Instagram in the first place and work to incorporate those into your strategy. Visibility and brand awareness are a couple of high-value examples to take into account.
Messaging: Getting clear on your message and how exactly you communicate it is one thing that occurs naturally when you begin sharing Instagram content. It is difficult to sell others on something when you’re not even sure what you’re selling yourself. Needing to put out high-quality content which gets the viewer engaged causes you to ask the necessary questions about your brand. Who are we? What are we doing? How can others get involved?
Visibility: It’s already been established that Instagram provides high visibility for personalities, productions , and businesses that would otherwise remain in the dark. While just sharing content would seem to be enough, there are various actual Instagram features you can use to increase the traffic to what you share. For example: adding relevant Hashtags and Geotags to your posts is a great place to start. While utilizing Instagram Stories, IGTV and Highlights may come as a later addition to the strategy.
Consistency: Your priority according to the Instagram algorithm is a direct reflection of how consistent and valuable your content output is. If you lack inconsistency, so too will you lack invisibility? This is the circle of Instagram’s life. This process can help you not only stay committed to the cause at hand but also get into your rhythm and flow with promoting your work.
How to Create an Engaging Instagram Content Feed
One of the startup’s main focuses, aside from developing their product or vision, is often learning how to effectively detail out their brand. Learning to message, especially in such a visual space like Instagram can be a challenge. And when you’re dealing with something as important as displaying the purpose of and intention behind what you’re doing, the burden can feel heavy. In addition to that, a business owner is considering the aesthetic value of their content, ensuring that they stick to what’s of value to their audience, as well as working to more effectively engage with their followers. There are many things to juggle in the Instagram space, beyond what you’re already dealing with as founder. This can be understandably overwhelming. Thankfully though, this is not uncharted territory. Many startups have put themselves through the Instagram machine, and successfully come out the other side more polished and more professional. Taking a look at how they have and continue to exist and engage on Instagram, is an easy way to gain inspiration and greater clarity for your content strategy.
GoDaddy has mastered the art of showcasing stories from real customers and representing various examples of what’s possible to achieve through their company.
Google keeps their audience updated and informed about what’s going on behind the scenes of their company. Getting the community excited about what’s to come, moved by stories of what has been, and ready to purchase and use what’s available now.
HubSpot gives their consumers exactly what they want: information and education. This company keeps its Instagram strategy simple and clear cut, delivering only what’s necessary and desired, and nothing more.
Facebook shows how they prioritize what’s at the core of its brand by focusing on community building and preservation.
Apple shares primarily user-generated content which highlights their product capabilities without spotlighting them directly. This indirect marketing keeps its audience emotionally involved rather than just financially.
Dollar Shave Club
This company utilizes graphic art and humor to keep their customers engaged, with the occasional product photos dispersed in between.
DoorDash’s Instagram plays on the viewer’s appetite by creating a sort of digital food heaven.
Spotify highlights musical creators through interviews and varied features, sharing behind the scenes of the music production which can be seen consumed through their platform.
The Types of Content Every Startup Brand Should be Posting
It’s easy to look at the unique and distinguishable content other brands are putting out and believe the content similar stature to be easy to replicate. However, after establishing the baseline for your content and beginning to watch your Instagram strategy take shape, you might be wondering what exactly does this all look like in action? In other words, you might now know what you’re trying to convey, but now how do you communicate it?
Below, are 6 examples of different types of content you might be compelled to share through feed posts, Stories, Highlights, or even IGTV!
- Origination Story - Tell your audience about how your company conspired, who was involved, and what the driving forces are behind all that you do.
- Behind the Scenes - Give your audience an intimate look at your company and make them feel like part of the community.
- Team Awareness - Introduce your viewers to the real people and real names behind your company
- Startup Progression & Small Wins - Keep your audience emotionally involved with your journey to greater success.
- Details About Your Product / Movement - Share what you have to give or sell, or which projects you’re actively working on.
- Reviews / User Generated Content - Showcase your community members and how their lives have been positively affected by your company.
10 Tips for Creating Instagram Stories for Startup Brands
Stories, which were initially introduced as a way to compete with Snapchat, have quickly claimed their domain over the Instagram app and reign as one of the top content channels on the platform. So much so, that 500 million Instagram users are utilizing the Story feature every day. Learning how Stories work, what their benefits are, and how to leverage Stories to your advantage is all pursuits of high value. Below are 120 tips to utilize the feature to best scale the visibility, engagement, and success of your startup.
- Include Hashtags – Here are 30 of the top Hashtags for startups: #startup , #startupbusiness, #onlinebusiness, #beyourownboss, #entrepreneur, #startupstory, #digitalmarketing, #internetmarketing, #digitalbusiness, #growthhacking, #socialmarketing, #startuptips, #learnfromthebest, #communityovercompetition, #startupnation, #startuplifestyle, #networker, #stayfocused, #hardworker, #businesspassion, #startupideas, #businesspartner, #startupgrind, #startupteam, #mentorship, #successmindset, #startuplife, #businesslife, #creativepreneur, #businessopportunity, #businessstrategy, #startupworld, #startupcommunity
- Utilize Geotags - Using Geotags allows you to be featured in the location’s Story, and can generate more traffic to your account.
- Tag People – Tagging people usually will get them to share your story with their followers.
- Use Engagement Stickers - Polls, Q&A’s, and Emoji Sliders are available in the Story menu.
- Share Graphics - Animations, quotes, or any digital art can all support you in keeping your Instagram Story strategy fresh and interesting.
- Repost Audience Stories - Sharing testimonials and reviews, or even UGC is a great way to keep your community involved and encourage them to promote your startup for you.
- Run Story Series - Maintaining themes through your Stories keeps your audience engaged and excited for what’s next to come. These can be long or short running and can be centered on any relevant topic for your startup company.
- Use Stories Shopping - Connect your Stories to your Instagram Shopping to connect viewers directly to your catalog.
- Swipe Up / Call To Action - Instagram accounts with over 10k followers have access to a Story Call To Action often referred to as the “swipe up” feature. This allows the user to attach an external link directly into their Instagram Story.
- Share with Highlights in Mind – Featured profile highlights can only be created from previous 24-hour Stories. Keep this in mind to stay on top of your Highlight game.
Using Instagram Stories Highlights to Showcase Your Startup Brand
Highlights reserve a highly influential space on your Instagram profile, at the very top just below your bio. Not only are they the main component in selling potential new followers on why they should follow you, but the myriad other things you can accomplish in the space are pivotal for growth. Succinctly, Highlights allow you to deliver all the information your audience needs to get fully informed about your new company.
An example of great Highlight feature usage comes from the rideshare app Uber. Uber keeps their Highlight game incredibly simple with just three separate Highlight threads. One sharing tips to maintain safety within their platform, one detailing out potential rewards, and another to share their fun new Instagram Story stickers. This gives their audience what they need, what they want, and nothing unnecessary in between.
On the opposite end of the scale, Squarespace has an eclectic Highlight strategy and shares a plethora of things through the feature. Each Highlight is unique in its way, however, some common themes include Q&As, varied Stories, Illustrations in process, and mini B-School’s.
Design company Canva takes a very organized approach to Instagram Highlights by creating folders - each with their topic. This method is a happy medium between the first two examples, opting to deliver information logically and without overwhelming the viewer.
How Startup Brands are Using IGTV
You can think of the IGTV space as Instagram’s version of an infomercial. While this space can be utilized in many ways, one of the most prevalent for startups is sharing in-depth details about the who, what, when, where, why, and how’s of your company.
Your audience can dive into this section on their own time, rather than happening upon your more time-sensitive content. And, because it’s a less heavily populated content arena than the feed or Instagram Stories, you have a higher chance of being seen by browsing viewers. If you can perfect your IGTV presence, you may even be a leading pioneer within the feature. Sleep brand Casper creates and shares podcast-like sleep audios for their IGTV, to listen to dozing viewers as they drift to sleep. This incredibly on-brand idea is innovative and is one way the company offers up free value to its clientele.
Warby Parker, one of the internet’s leading eyewear brands utilizes the IGTV feature to share overviews of their latest collections, as well as catch up with members of their community. They strike a balance with their strategy, creating inclusion amongst their viewers, all the while keeping they informed.
Monetizing Your Startup Instagram Account
In its early stages, chances are a startup is not generating much, if any, revenue, meaning the demand for income is high amongst these dedicated businesses. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make your Instagram account monetizable from both within the platform itself.
One of the primary ways to monetize your account is through Instagram’s shoppable feature, which allows you to connect your account to a Facebook catalog. From here, you can sell items to your audience directly from your Instagram content. Nearly every business which sells a product is utilizing this feature on Instagram as it’s one of the most effective and direct strategies for Instagram sales.
There are a few indicators of a solid Instagram strategy amongst startup businesses. One, an account who utilizes every feature available to them. Two, an account who’s every Instagram detail has purpose and intention. And three, an account who spends just as much time engaging with their audience, and adapting to better meet the needs of their audience, as they do formulate plans and strategize. With all of these at play, a startup business is bound to see growth overtime on the Instagram app.