Don’t let all the hype about emerging new platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse blind you to the power of Instagram. It’s still a highly popular channel with a massive following, and it’s still one of the five most downloaded apps worldwide.
Instagram passed the 1 billion global user mark at the end of 2020, and what’s even more important is that Instagram users are highly engaged, with the average Instagrammer spending at least seven hours per week on the platform.
Instagram has earned its place in every marketer’s toolkit, for B2C, DTC, and even B2B brands, but it’s more than just a distribution platform. When you use Instagram, it’s not just about what you say, but also about how you listen. After all, you can only call it a conversation if the communication goes both ways.
So beyond posting your own images, sharing discounts and promoting your brand, you should also use it to learn more about your target audience. Instagram is a rich mine of customer and market data which you can harvest and use to refine your marketing and sales funnels and further drive sales.
Use Ads to Test Copy for Other Marketing Assets
Thanks to the sheer number of active users on Instagram, it’s a great place to float ad copy and video content ideas, and to see how your audience reacts. Even B2B brands can gain from testing and tracking user responses to their posts.
For example, IBM regularly posts video and photo posts on Instagram, even though they’re probably not what you might think of as the typical Insta-brand. This post, about their latest CPU, sparked thousands of reactions and over 150 comments, helping them to test the impact of the image and the copy.
ASUS France is another B2B company that used Instagram data to refine its campaigns. The company used a combination of influencer content, paid ads, and organic posts to examine how different content performs at different stages of the funnel.
You can use Instagram for A/B testing, monitor the responses, and then use the ones that performed the best for your landing pages and paid ads. It’s a fast and low-cost way to try out market opinion. Instagram Stories is another format that you can use for trialling topics and scripts for podcasts or videos, and if you use a great pre-built template, it might be easier than you think.
Find New Audiences to Contact on Other Channels
Use hashtags related to your vertical or niche to look for Instagram accounts that might be interested in your brand, then build lists of local niche microinfluencers and other relevant enthusiasts.
For example, a restaurant franchise that’s thinking of opening a branch in Detroit could use local food-related hashtags to seek out Detroit foodies who might be interested in their brand.
When you find popular accounts that use these hashtags, you can even scrape their follower lists to harvest new leads. You could also use this tactic for accounts that already follow you on Instagram.
There are two main ways to scrape Instagram followers. If you’re tech-minded, you can use Python and Github to write your own scraper. But if you’re not, which is a lot more likely, you can use one of the many Instagram scraper tools that offer to do the hard work for you.
Your work isn’t done once you’ve scraped a follower list, though. You can’t just blindly add the data you get to your Facebook Ad Audiences, not least because you’d probably raise red flags at Facebook and get your account banned. You need to clean it, to filter out fake accounts and profiles that wouldn’t be relevant for your brand. You can also use it to identify prospects for social selling.
But you should also examine the data to look for trends among the accounts, because you might find new key traits that identify future customers and which you may have otherwise never considered for interest-based ad targeting or co-marketing purposes – for example, if many of the new followers are around the same age, or all of them enjoy long-distance running, or they all live in the center of busy metropolises.
Spot New Trends and Changing Consumer Demands
Instagram data can give you new insights into consumer demands, emerging trends, and ways to improve and develop your product further.
The ecommerce wine club Winc used this tactic to test drive new digital wine club lines when the pandemic began.
It ran a series of video ads that promoted its wine delivery service, along with a 6-question quiz about the user’s wine preferences. Winc then used quiz reponses to refine the wines it offered to different audiences, and video reactions and comments to judge the popularity of different wine delivery models.
The more Instagram data you plug in, the better the results. Consider reactions and comments on your own posts, insights from discussions on your competitors’ posts or those hosted by your biggest and most engaged followers, and shares and mentions elsewhere on the platform too.
You can also use Instagram listening tools to see which trends are appearing among your target audience and keep tabs on your competition.
Mine IGTV Views to Build New Ad Audiences
You can use Instagram video views to build a custom ad audience on Facebook, according to the length of video view. This is a great way to set up a segment that’s pre-qualified to be highly interested in what you’re offering, so you can serve up sales-oriented ad creative, like discounted offers, to these people.
You can set up the whole thing within the Facebook Ad Manager. Just go to your account, select Audiences >> Create Audience >> Custom Audience. You’ll see an option to select Video as a source for the audience.
Then you can choose the video view length that defines your audience, selecting “People who viewed at least [however many] seconds of your video” or “People who have watched [whatever]% of your video.”
Next, you’ll be invited to select one or more videos to use for this audience. You can select videos from your Facebook or your linked Instagram Business account. Click Confirm when you’ve added all the videos you want, set a duration for this audience, and then click Create Audience to save the whole thing.
You can build multiple video view audiences, based on different view lengths and/or different videos, and then use them together or separately to refine your Facebook campaigns.
Instagram Data Can Go Way Beyond Instagram
There are many ways to use Instagram to drive sales revenue without selling directly through the channel. By applying data insights to uncover new trends, build new ad audiences, test your marketing copy and concepts, and refine existing or reveal new target markets, you can drive profitability across channels.