Navigating the digital space is no easy feat for today’s food brands. There’s information overload for those who go looking for advice, touting the importance of being active on every social network, using all the hashtags, and offering “influencers” free product or service in hopes of generating online buzz. All of this information can often have an adverse effect, causing overload which leads to paralysis, and nobody has time for that.
It isn’t necessary for food and beverage brands to be active on every single social platform. Nor is it wise, for most companies. Choosing where to focus your social media efforts should take your audience, product/service, and goals into mind, but for the majority of brands in the world of food and beverage, Instagram is the place to be.
In food and beverage, Instagram has become the top social platform where users engage with brands, and it’s an essential channel for brands who want to engage with Millennials, who now make up 25 percent of the US population.
As referenced in our previous post, Younger Generations Are Changing How We Eat, Forbes states that Millennials represented more than $200 billion in buying power in 2017 and will surpass all other generations this year. So there’s good reason to pay attention to where they’re hanging out online. A recent report by eMarketer estimates that this year, there will be 48.2 million millennial Instagram users in the US.
By 2019, nearly two-thirds of all Millennial smartphone users will use Instagram.
Interesting stats/tips to keep in mind (from our friends at Brandwatch):
Over a third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online– making them 70% more likely to do so than non-users.
Posts that include another handle gain 56% more engagement.
Posts with at least one hashtag gain 12.6% more engagement.
Posts with a location receive 79% more engagement.
Ok, so you have a somewhat active Instagram account for your brand or plan to start one. What now?
Create an Instagram Strategy
Don’t just post random photos that “look good.” Take the time to plan ahead, considering your product/service, differentiators between your brand and others, how to best tell your story in an engaging way, and what your target customer might be interested in. Even better, create a content calendar and plan what type of post goes out on which day. It will keep you organized and maintain brand consistency, yet will allow you or your social media manager to mix things up without going insane.
Be Smart about Your Profile Description
Craft an informative “bio” that encapsulates what your company is all about. If you have an official brand hashtag (and you should) include it in this section and encourage followers to use it.
Use High-resolution photos and videos
The days of subpar, dimly lit images are long gone. Whether it’s a food shot, behind the scenes, or executive headshot, photos/videos should be aesthetically appealing. Rule #1 for an eye-catching image is good lighting. Check out this list of great photo editing apps by Hubspot.
Just do it. 64% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video about it.
Research Relevant Hashtags
In addition to creating an official brand hashtag, research relevant hashtags to see which ones are most popular. You can include this in your post caption or even as a comment to increase your post reach, which can lead to higher engagement levels.
Incorporate Paid into Your Strategy
It’s 2018. You’ve got to pay to play. Make a reasonable monthly budget and target posts depending on content.
Make your followers raving fans
User engagement and brand advocacy is a key piece in growing followers and getting the word out about your brand! The more fans and followers talk about your brand, the better. How to encourage posts? Make your product/service Instagrammable AKA pretty, aesthetically pleasing. People are “doing it for the ‘gram” these days. If you have a brick and mortar space, try to make sure you have good lighting, if you’re a product make the packaging snazzy and clean. Run regular contests for the best post using your brand hashtag and give away free lunch, a month’s worth of your product, or tickets to a cool event if you have a local following.
Use Instagram Stories/Live Features
Some would argue that the Stories and Live features on Instagram have become more important than actual posts. One thing’s for sure if you’re not using these functionalities your brand is missing out on fans, engagement, and potentially, sales! Here’s a great article from Instapage on best practices.
In closing, the best way to get started is to just do it. Create or optimize your profile, start working on a simple strategy, and begin engaging with the audiences who matter most to your brand. The fastest way to learn is to jump right in.