Instagram remains one of the fastest growing social media platforms with over 700 million active users. With its ever-changing features, it’s difficult to remain up-to-date on how to effectively use Instagram to complement your business’s overall marketing strategy.

At its core, Instagram is a visual platform. It offers your business an opportunity to present itself in a purely visual manner. Yes, the platform offers captions, hashtags (more on how to use those later), and tags but they are in place to support the photographic message.

When using Instagram, use the following:

A consistent, brand voice is essential for using Instagram. Your audience, especially on Instagram, seeks an understanding of your business’s “personality.” Develop content reflective of your business, but also specific to the platform. Your followers on Instagram will likely vary from those on LinkedIn. With that said, don’t shy away from distributing the same content across several platforms, but give each one its own voice.
Hashtags serve as a great way to reach more people with your content. Instagram users frequently search trending hashtags to discover new content so sprinkle a few hashtags in your posts. While sometimes overused, we recommend, based on our own success rates, between four and seven hashtags. Ultimately, let the content of the post dictate the type and number of hashtags.
Your Photo Feed
Good quality photos make all the difference on Instagram. It’s the platform for beautiful photos, and users know it. That said, while most businesses may not have a professional photographer at their disposal 24/7, it’s still possible to create a compelling Instagram feed. Take photos that represent the brand best and keep it consistent. Make sure all of your photos, professional or amateur, have a cohesive look by using a uniform filter on all of your photos. There is nothing more beautiful than a consistent feed! Case and point: @laurenconrad.
Also, check out Eric Bach’s blog, The Language of Light: How Light Alters Perception, for some tips on how to improve those Instagram photos!

Use stories to share in-the-moment and behind-the-scenes content. This strategy provides another opportunity for your followers to get to know your company’s personality and day-to-day. Get creative with your stories – post a series of videos to create a short storyline or a fun boomerang.
The discover tab gives users, and your potential followers, access to a pool of relevant content based on their existing followers and other Instagram activity. On the flip side, the discover tab provides a resource for your business. Scroll through this panel to see what competitors do on Instagram, and how your followers engage with other accounts to tweak your approach. The discover tab also allows you to find and engage with people who don’t follow your brand. By searching hashtags relevant to your business, you can find users and engage with them.
Carousel Photos
As one of Instagram’s newer features, the carousel photo feature allows users to post multiple images in one post. Strategically order your photos; display your strongest, most compelling photo first, followed by supporting images. Or, use the left/right swipes to create a larger, continuous image, like @subway.

Jump-start your business’ Instagram presence by following some of these tips and tricks. Stay tuned to the A. Bright Idea blog for more advice on how to keep your social media presence on brand, relevant and an integral part of your overall communications strategy.

Businesses constantly test new ways to connect with their customers. Traditionally, surveys, newsletters and courtesy follow-up calls served as key methods for businesses to connect with customers. While these strategies still hold value, new outreach methods now take center stage thanks to social media. According to Statista.com, 81% of the U.S. population uses social media in some form.

Smart, social-savvy businesses are now using the power of one social media feature, direct messaging, to connect more efficiently with their current and potential customers by breaking through the clutter.

Direct messaging, or DM as it’s commonly referred to, is available on all major social media platforms. Similar to sending a text message to a friend, a direct message allows you to send a private message to a person directly to their inbox, instead of posting on their social feed. DM achieves most of its popularity on Twitter and Instagram.

Businesses use DM to:

  • Connect with new followers and point them to the content or a product on their website
  • Ask questions about buying experience or quality of service
  • Answer questions customers ask on social media
  • Handle negative feedback or complaints privately instead of in the public feed
  • Send targeted messages to different types of followers
  • Request user-generated content for social media feeds

To add to the DM experience, personalize messages using the customer’s name or handle. Also, if you have a large audience list to reach with the same message, create a document with consistent messages you can easily transfer into a DM to help save time and maximize efficiency.
The images below illustrate a few sample implementation strategies for using DM.

Relationship building with new followers
To begin the relationship with a new follower, depending on the platform, a DM may take the form of something like the photo to the right.


Handling negative feedback
To handle a negative comment or feedback, acknowledge the communication and direct the conversation off of social media with a DM like this:
ABI: “We appreciate your feedback and want to learn more about the issue to discuss how we can help ensure the best service possible. Let’s set up a time we can discuss over the phone.”


Soliciting user-generated content
If your fans post great photos of your product and tag your company, use DM to ask for permission to use their photos on your feed. Engaging in this way creates customer loyalty and allows you to harness the power user-generated content. That DM might read something like the photo to the right.
[Pro-tip: If they say “yes,” thank them and make sure to give them credit for the photo in your post, e.g., (?: @TomEdison96)]


Direct Messages serve as a great way to personally reach customers on social media. While some may scoff at the idea saying, “It’s too intrusive,” DM allows you to speak directly to your target audience. If your business would like to initiate conversations and build relationships with current and potential customers, DM provides a simple, personal touch-point that can lead to new followers, customers or clients.

Test out your DM skills with us! Send us a message via Twitter DM or any other social platform. Let’s start the conversation!
Twitter: @aBrightIdea96
Instagram: @abrightidea
Facebook: A. Bright Idea Advertising & Public Relations @abrightidea
Happy messaging!

Marketing businesses using Facebook and Twitter has become a growing tactic in marketing plans across all industries. Social media platforms serve as an effective tool for circulating branded messaging, but Internet usage and trends continue to change every day.
In a recent article, Bulldog Reporter found that 90% of all Internet traffic and 50% of mobile traffic is now made up of photos and video. For growing visual media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, this means an opportunity for continued expansion. Instagram’s more than 200 million users make up an attractive market of young people for PR and marketers. Digital media reporting site Mashable has also found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults are now using Pinterest. These large groups of users of both platforms are at the ready to receive visual content that could ultimately lead to better connecting and capitalizing on consumer and brand relationships.
With the expanding use of visual media, it is more important than ever to control your brand’s messaging. People make decisions based on trust and brand promise. Using photos and visuals helps create another tangible connection to brands. As we can see from these recent statistics, it is becoming a greater means of communication – that old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Having a strategic presence in visual media can serve as a key tool to further brand development as part of an integrated marketing approach. Everything you do or say influences what people think about your brand, so providing them with a visual example of what your brand promises also helps demonstrate that your brand delivers on this promise.
No matter the medium, the ability to connect users with your brand is crucial to developing brand loyalty, and will ultimately lead to a better consumer experience. It’s important to assess your own brand strategy as it compares to trends, as not all trends serve brands equally. With the expanding use of visual media, now is an opportune time to analyze your own brand and consider the most strategic uses of visual media and how it can potentially become part of your integrated marketing approach.