Sarah Barnett works with small – but mighty – businesses who want to amplify their brands online. She heads up Brokermatch.com.au – a platform that helps brokers collect social proof, and SocialBroker.com.au – a content marketing agency for finance professionals.
Almost 2 in 5 Australians (and counting) scroll Instagram every month. Between March and April alone, an additional 321,000 Australians logged on to the world’s most visual and engaged social media platform, bringing Australia’s monthly user count up to 10.03M.
There has never been a better time to leverage Instagram to connect with a wider audience and ultimately grow your business. However, it requires a strategic approach to ensure your Instagram activity is enhancing your brand, communicating your value proposition, and cementing your trustworthiness.
Here, I give you my top tips to amplify your brand’s Instagram presence.
Before you get started, make sure you’ve set up an Instagram business profile and linked it to your Facebook business page. This gives you access to rich data insights and lets you instantly repost your Instagram content to Facebook.
Define your intent and set corresponding KPIs
Before you start posting, get clear on what you want to get out of it. Is it to stay top-of-mind with your current clients, attract future clients, keep in touch with referral partners, or simply to expand your digital footprint for when prospects look you up online (as they invariably will)? By defining what success looks like, you can monitor your progress and tweak your strategy if required.
Set corresponding KPIs, to then track ROI. These could be number of likes, reach (i.e. the number of accounts that have seen your post), quality inbound enquiries, or follows. Instagram is designed to be addictive, so while there’s significant opportunity for your business, it can also be a time-wasting black hole. I recommend monitoring your monthly usage – including time spent creating content – to judge whether it’s a sound investment.
As with any marketing or business-building activity, ‘everyone else is doing it’ is never a good reason to continue. There is significant opportunity for brokers to leverage Instagram, however, it requires consistently high-quality content and a few minutes most days to build engagement.
Communicate with empathy
You could amass a following of thousands and still not get any inbound enquiries if your content doesn’t resonate with your audience or inspire trust and credibility.
Most mortgage and finance brokers are customer-centric by default. However, translating this online is no easy feat. You need to be attuned to the experiences, beliefs and behaviours of the people you want to connect with. Consider:
- Who are the people in your Instagram target market? (these may be different to who you target via other channels)
- What challenges are they facing?
- What are their values?
- How do they make decisions?
- What type of content do they engage with?
Then make sure all your content is created with these people in mind. It’s easy to get caught up in the LinkedIn bubble and assume everyone’s as savvy in all things business, mortgage broking and real estate as we are, so it’s worth making sure we’re communicating in a way that’s relatable and jargon-free – just as you would if you were face-to-face with your customers. You want to make sure your captions sound like your brand, which helps create a seamless, cohesive customer experience.
Bring the ‘social’ back to social media
None of the social media channels were designed so that businesses could post ads for free and sit back and watch the leads roll in. The Instagram algorithm is smarter than ever. It rewards social behaviour, and penalises ‘spammy’ content. The goal is not to try game the system. Instead, we need to interact in a human way. Have you ever gone to a dinner party and complimented the host on their salad-making prowess, only to be greeted with silence? Nope, didn’t think so.
Like and comment on posts, follow accounts and send direct messages (DMs) to your target audience. These actions tell the algorithm you’d like to see more of their content, which makes it easier for you to engage with them in the future. It also helps keep you top-of-mind, builds positive sentiment for your brand and encourages reciprocal engagement. Plus, it’s more polite than lurking in the shadows.
We recently sent a portion of our Social Broker Instagram followers a DM to ask what content they’d like to see from us, and besides giving us lots of ideas, this exercise improved the connection with our audience. We saw our profile views, visits to our website and inbound enquiries jump exponentially.
Get the aesthetics right
Research confirms that we’re all a bit shallow, and we rush to judgment, making up our minds about a brand’s credibility within mere milliseconds. Think of the last business website you looked at and how quickly you made assumptions about the competence of the team. The content you post to Instagram needs to have a polished, distinctive visual identity to convey a positive impression.
You also want to make sure it doesn’t look as though you’re posting ad after ad – as this is a sure-fire way to repel potential followers. The brokers who are successful on Instagram are purposeful with the content they share with their audience, and do so knowing each post is either adding to or taking away from their perceived credibility.
And the golden rule…
If you’re not sure about whether to post that Tiger King meme or photo of your latest culinary masterpiece, ask yourself whether it brings your brand persona to life and enhances your credibility as trusted finance broker. If you’re not sure, then it’s usually best to err on the side of caution.
Follow @socialbroker.com.au on Instagram for more tips and insights.