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Instagram has been around for a number of years now and while it might have started off as a platform for sharing personal pictures, it quickly evolved into a highly effective branding tool.

Engagement rates on Instagram are higher on average than they are on Twitter or Facebook, and with over 500 million active users per month if you aren’t already on Instagram, you could well be missing out.

Like any other social media marketing platform, attaining a high level of success on Instagram requires a strategic approach. Without a clear strategy in place you can very quickly find yourself losing money and wasting time without getting the results you want for your business.

Instagram is a highly visual social network, so whatever content you post, it should tell your brand’s story in a visual way if it’s going to be effective.

If you’re new to Instagram here are a few suggestions to help you get started creating a strategy that will deliver the results you’re looking for:

Create clear goals

Before you create your first post or even think about following anyone on Instagram, you need to sit down and set some goals for your social media marketing. Think about what you want out of your Instagram marketing and how you can align your social media goals with your business strategy overall. Some possible goals include getting more traffic to your website, improving brand awareness and visibility or further boosting existing marketing campaigns.

Humanise your brand

Instagram is the ideal platform to let your followers see the faces and people behind your brand. This can be done with behind the scenes footage of your products, employee stories or by showing images or videos of your customers enjoying your products or services.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell products or services, virtually every business can find a way to humanise their brand visually if they think about it. Decide on the story you want your brand to tell, and then work out how you can go about telling it using photographs.

Competitor research

Instagram is a fantastic place to get the inside track on what your competitors are doing and this is a great way to refine your own marketing strategy. If you are new to Instagram your competitor activity and number of followers they have can give you a realistic idea of what you can expect. Monitoring what your competitors are posting about can also give you some insight into what types of content are the most effective.

By starting off the right way on Instagram you can harness the potential of this powerful social media platform and use it to grow your business effectively. Take some time to create a solid strategy and you can benefit from better results in a shorter time frame than you would with a more haphazard approach.