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The marketing landscape has shifted dramatically over the last thirty years. For three decades since the dawn of the internet, marketers have been adapting to innovations to reach their intended audiences. In 2018, that basically means social media.

But not all social networks are created equal. First, dig around and see where your target audience is active. For example, some brands can achieve monumental success on Facebook while having virtually no presence on Twitter.

Enter Instagram. It’s pretty hard to imagine that eight years is all it took for Instagram to transform from a minor photo-sharing app into a bona fide marketing strategy. It seems everyone is on the app, from the biggest celebrities to the next startup for every industry imaginable to your grandparents —and their dogs too!

To help imagine Instagram’s insane reach, just picture this: at this point in time, there are already 800 million people scrolling through their IG feeds. Of that number, a cool 500 million of them (or should I say us?) are on the platform every single day. And it’s not just the US either. Statista noted that a vast majority to the tune of 80% of these daily users are found outside the United States.

But so what if 500 million people are daily users of Instagram? Let’s put this into perspective. A quick Google search reveals that the entire population of the European Union stands at 508 million individuals. That’s a LOT of people who represent a wealth of real-world potential.

For marketers, these numbers mean one simple thing: for anyone selling anything, Instagram is the go-to resource to engage, sell, and develop a lasting relationship with the people who buy anything and everything online.

But it’s likely that you already know this. Perhaps you already know the inner workings of Instagram for Business and even built a comfortable following of loyal customers. At this point, maybe you’re prepared to take your business to the next level. But what exactly comes next? Summed up in a single word, it’s called diversification.

Why diversify?

Startups who have limited capital and manpower know the perils of marketing firsthand. It’s much more doable to focus on just one or two marketing channels to get a project off the ground and start making sales.

Instagram is great, there’s no doubt about it. But having the sole focus on it as your entire marketing strategy is dangerous. For one, Instagram algorithms change all the time. Who knows if you hit the sweet spot today but, after a minor algorithm change that happened overnight, your targeting gets all out of whack?

An extreme example is Frank Body. The body scrub brand amassed 10,000 followers in a single month from its launch. Frank Body quickly made a name for themselves as a cheeky brand that wasn’t afraid to show skin in their posts.

Until catastrophe struck. One day, the page simply wasn’t there anymore. All the aggressive marketing, the hour by hour posts, all the half-naked digital assets, all gone in the blink of an eye due to Instagram’s strict censorship on nudity.

While the experience was unsavoury, the founders say it turned out for the better and forced them to become very creative with the new account. They have proven to be resilient and currently, @frank_bod has 686k followers on Instagram.

Let’s all take a page from Frank Body’s book since getting our accounts deleted is simply less than ideal. Instagram marketing is awesome but we can’t rely on follower counts to power a brand’s success from start to finish. Also, respect Instagram censors or face the consequences. But now comes the nitty-gritty.

How can your business diversify Instagram marketing?

Meet the people in your niche

Setting up posts, crafting witty captions, and analyzing statistics. These are just the very tip of the Instagram marketing iceberg. Have you heard of micro-influencers and brand ambassadors?

Influencers have developed a kind of reputation in the past years. But it’s the rise of a specific type, the micro influencer, which has brands talking.

These account types typically have less than 10,000 followers which makes tapping into their influence much more affordable. Another curious thing is that micro influencers generally have higher account engagement, delivering a high return on investment (ROI), compared to macro influencers.

Another type of people you want to meet are your brand ambassadors. These folks are typically unpaid and real users of your product or service. Unlike influencers who you might tap for a one-off sponsored Instagram post or story, brand ambassadors will continuously post about you simply because they love your brand.

Start with these guys. Reach out to these existing customers and have a chat on how you can turn their positive comments into a long-term relationship.

Another aspect of diversification involves the actual channels used by micro influencers and brand ambassadors. Some folks command a huge Youtube following while remaining okay on Instagram. Depending on your brand, you may want to try this cross-channel promotion.

This decision also largely falls on the influencers you’re dealing with. Where can they enjoy the best results? From the brand side, remain open to suggestions and avoid shutting off channels outside of Instagram.

Explore paid advertising

So Instagram is your primary source of traffic and sales. Great! Paid social is the natural next step for a diversified marketing strategy. For starters, tap into ad retargeting, a nifty service that goes after users who have already shown interest in your product. An audience of at least 1,000 people is needed to start serving them ads.

One real-world way to use this is to check how long it takes a user to convert. Forbes noted an example where 80% of people who visited your site have not made purchases within eight days. Make the most of this opportunity and retarget ads to put yourself in front of these users once more. Retargeting ads are basically reminding an already interested audience why they want to buy from you in the first place.

Try out different ad types too. There are lots to choose from like video ads, product carousels, and even customer testimonials. Keep an eye out for which ad types proved to be most compelling to conversion. For sponsored Instagram Stories, use a photo editing app to customize your visuals and attract your target audience. Successful ads give an ROI of at least three times based on experience.
Foster organic search traffic

No matter your industry, you must invest in your own e-commerce website and blog. If you’re thinking of immediate sales, then sorry, this step doesn’t promise anything like that. As for your blog, what you’re creating is content that answers the questions of your customers. Do this enough times and be genuinely helpful and organic search rankings will increase in time.

If you have a new product that requires research before a customer buys, then you need content that assists in product research. If your product is something more mainstream, then focus should be on brand awareness. These blog posts don’t sell your product directly. Instead, they engage your customer base and answer questions they may have—questions that they didn’t know they even wanted answers to.

Instagram marketing has proven to be extremely successful for brands of all sizes. But to keep things moving forward, you must make sure you build a brand that can adapt to the future by diversifying your Instagram marketing plan.

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Natasha PonomaroffNatasha PonomaroffNatasha Ponomaroff is the Senior Marketing Director of Instasize – a content creating toolkit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. A weekly contributor on the site’s blog, Natasha tracks social media trends and updates the millions of “creatives” who are currently using Instasize to curate awesome online content. When she isn’t writing up the latest trend, Natasha is overseeing a team of 10 over at the Instasize HQ – ensuring that the marketing content on the apps various social platforms is ready to go.View all posts by Natasha Ponomaroff