It’s kind of the running joke about Instagram, isn’t it? That roughly 90 percent of the photos taken by users are narcissistic selfies, self-indulgent snaps of lunches or feet in the sand, and artistically-intentioned (but coma-inducing) shots of clouds.
Though cautious at first about using the photo-sharing platform, an increasing number of businesses are utilising Instagram as a creative means of engaging their target audiences. And those who are willing to inject personality into their photo-posts – and yes, that includes the occasional lunch or selfie – are leading the way in terms of followers and genuine conversation.
The thing about Instagram for business – and this can be true of any social media platform – is that, to build a genuine and engaged following, you need to have some kind of personality. If you don’t, very few people are going to take an interest. Simple as that. Because no one wants to get stuck talking to the dullest person at the party.
Social media for marketing and promotion is all about creating a dialogue and fostering audience engagement and loyalty. They key thing to remember in this is, people connect with people and personalities – far more so than faceless, keep-you-at-arms-length brands.
This is especially important for solopreneurs, for whom personal branding is so closely linked with business, but even the biggest, most powerful brands (who are among the very few that could probably rest on their laurels and still gain followers) understand the importance of injecting personality into their social media posts and updates. Consider the likes of Coca Cola and Starbucks and Marc Jacobs, who are all incredibly popular and successful brands. Their Insta-feeds showcase posts that not only offer beautifully curated product images, but also illustrate the personality behind the brand.
It can be a delicate balance – constructing a social media presence that offers personality, but also maintains professionalism. I’m by no means suggesting you Instagram every meal and call it social media marketing. But posting photos from the team bowling tournament or taking a snap of the fancy latte you’re enjoying from your remote office gives you customers a peek behind the proverbial velvet rope. It gives them a glimpse of the people behind the brand.
If you’re unsure how to find that personality/professionalism balance, the key is to be yourself, but not to over share… and avoid posting anything that could alienate your audience or negatively impact your reputation. For example, it’s probably fine to Instagram a macaroon taken at an office morning tea – but maybe not so much to take a snap of a line of tequila shots taken at a company merger celebration. Use common sense. If you wouldn’t share it in a real-world setting, you probably shouldn’t share it on Instagram or other social media platforms.
Don’t alienate them. Do be yourself.
Make Them Love You, and Your Brand
Be genuine, be relatable, and aim to keep your posts and photos relevant to your business, or at least your audience, in some way or another.
For ultimate engagement points, always keep your audience at the forefront of your mind. Remind them that the people behind your brand are real people, just like them, and make them fall in love with you – even if that does mean appealing to a shared penchant for spicy sesame tofu salad (or a humble steak and cheese pie) once in a while.