The Luxury Brand’s Guide To Instagram

Instagram’s explosive growth has been faster than any social network so far. With this growth, it’s being recognized as the next big thing in content marketing, especially within the luxury sector. A lot of luxury brands refused to adapt Twitter in its early stages and it definitely has affected some brands potential reach. Instagram is going to play an important role for luxury brands because it’s a fully visual medium. While a tweet about a nice car or nice handbag won’t register with you on your Twitter feed, a slick photo in Instagram can stop you in your tracks.  So it’s obvious luxury goods and items are best showcased in video and pictures if the real life version isn’t available, and you should be taking full advantage of this.

This post will give you insight as to how we help our clients with their Instagram marketing, as well what we’ve been trying to do ourselves. You will also get a kickstart lesson on how to use Hashtags properly and showcase how to network with influencers within this world of images.

The best aspect of Instagram? You’re building social followers that sought out what you offer!

luxury marketing on instagram

Instagram

As you can see from our Instagram account(@LuxuryBranded) we’ve only just begun on our behalf and we’re taking it slow. We don’t have the brand reach like Rolex, so we’re building our profile with the brand fan in mind. The one pet peeve we have with building an audience through social media, is that you should not rush to pad your numbers so you look big. You want to focus on building loyal brand fans that are going to act as ambassadors on your behalf.

Our new account started to pick up when Simon Gerard, our editor and official globetrotter, started a extended trip in the Mayan Riviera. Building the right follower based revolves around hashtags and great content. Putting the two together is a sure fire way to build the right audience and keep them interested. And what really keeps people interested is personality. While we, other agencies and luxury brands showcase their work or products through Instagram. Posting something personal, like some behind-the-scenes shots or on-location shots, make it special with your audience.

 

Success Depends On Your Content:

#GetReal

While you want to curate your Instagram like an art gallery, you have to embrace the real-time, real-life aspect of Instagram that keeps it fresh and original. And note that doesn’t mean post low-quality or boring photos. If you’re a fan of luxury watches, you’ve probably seen @WatchAnish and his crew on Instagram (and all other social networks). They’re team of  sartorial globetrotters and horological aficionados who document their travels, work and play. Following Watch Anish and his team, you feel like you’re personally join them on their journey, checking out all the awesome watches and fashion they encounter.  And just as importantly, their photography is above amazing. They never post stock photos, only original or the best submitted shots from their fans. While they are newer to the scene, they have clearly made an impression on social media, dwarfing older and bigger watch blogs and journalists with their followings (including his team teammates on instagram @whatchs and @wristi, they hold around 90,000 followers). We can’t get enough of these guys so they get our full recommendation for a follow.

watch anish instagram

As you can see the portfolio of pictures represents the Watch Anish team and it has built them a loyal following. I also recommend studying how they cross promote their pictures on Facebook and Twitter, as well as their blog. It works both ways as well! You get amazing content on Instagram, and next you can blog about it, share it on Twitter and as well with your Facebook audience. It’s a great way to keep the user interactivity going on strong.

 

#GetPersonal

Getting personal on Instagram is a big part of its appeal. People love to see behind-the-scenes at their favourite brands or what their favourite celeb is up to on their free time. If just wanted their professional content, we’d see it on their websites, blogs and in advertising. One big fashion brand that really stands out is Paul Smith. The acclaimed British designer has been in the business for over 40 years and is up there with the world’s best designers. And at age 66, he’s not only still busy in the fashion world, he’s happy to personally share it on Instagram with @PaulSmithDesign, marked with his hashtag #TakenbyPaul.

PaulSmithDesign on Instagram

He almost never instagrams his own fashion or brand, he mainly shares his journey and what he finds interesting along the way. And they’re all great shots, which is no surprise from a designer like himself. I’ve been a fan of his brand prior to following him on Instagram, but the fact that I’m following ‘him’ and not his ‘brand’ really adds to his appeal. While he is an exception of founders, ceo’s or head designers of big luxury brands, I know the millions of luxury followers would enjoy just a little of the personality Paul Smith puts into his account. Just check out his selfie and dog photo. Both are  typical instagrams in theory, but they are also fantastic photos that share his actual life.

Paul Smith UK Instagram

 

Find Your Audience

Once you have the content, the next logical step is getting it out there in front of the right eyes. There are a few ways to accelerate your accounts follower base comprised of people who like your work. To cut right to the point, there are two ways to boost targeted followers that work every time.

#Hashtags

I shouldn’t have to explain what these are, I however urge you to look for trends that fit your brand. You will find them for events, products, brands and news. You can inject your brand’s content into these streams and if that content is great, will do wonders for your sales. We’ve especially seen the luxury travel and real estate industries response to Instagram and its very fruitful.

A great example of breaking into a hashtag with spot on content is done by @Fairmonthotels and #dogs.

Vancouver Fairmont Ambassador Beau
Photo Credit: @FairmontHotels

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Beau before, have you? What a smart way to showcase something unique not only to the Fairmont Hotel chain, but specifically Hotel Vancouver. This is the kind of marketing that sparks emotions in people and that will lead to a long lasting brand impression on the brain. Not only that but they allow guests to take both of their canine ambassadors out for walks. This is another great way to get their guests to share and promote their dog walk with their social feeds.

With that being said, I should also mention how there was no use of gimmicky sales ads or anything that would be consider “hashtag pollution“. I would recommend getting your team together and brainstorming on what makes your brand unique. Afterwards go out and snap that!

 

#Influencers

Do you know who’s who within your vertical on Instagram? Identifying the key players here will lead to a larger brand exposure and the building of a relationship with someone worth it. Just like in the blogosphere, certain users are building up a following and their reach is at your grasp. Say you were a superyacht charter or broker and you wanted to showcase the latest vessel in your fleet. You coud reach out to #superyacht influencer @TheYachtGuy and get your image shared to his thirty thousand plus followers.

theyachtguy instagram

Their also tools for finding influencers within the social media landscape and they can be costly. Perhaps one of the most well known pieces of software to get the job done is Traackr. This is a very well designed piece of software that literally helps make your social media marketing efforts pay off. We’ve help integrate this in with a few of our clients and they’re heavily engaging in social media strategies on a daily basis.

Make Friends With The Cool Kids.

traackr influencers

This is a powerful tool suite, for those with the funds, to totally dominate their social media vertical. If you do not want to waste any time marketing socially, as well figure out which networks are going to bring home the bacon, do yourself a favor and grab this for at least one month. By now it sounds like an advertisement for Traackr but I assure you I have no affiliations with the company, nor do they even know who I am.

traackr
Click Image To View Full Size

Tumblr Blogs

While I could have mentioned blogs in general, Tumblr still has a massive social sharing community and if you hit the right blog, you’re in for a ton of exposure. If you spend any amount of time trying to find influencers in your vertical then you will have stumbled back to a few Tumblr blogs. They usually have a submission form and all you have to do is produce amazing content and let the marketing take care of itself.

There are dozens of luxury based Tumblr blogs as well as ones for yachts, real estate, watches and fashion. Making friends here will definitely help spread your brand awareness and pull people back into your Instagram feed with all that lovely content. Here is one of the more popular ones and you can message the owner effortlessly and get your amazing pictures shared.

#ProTip – Make sure to include a link back to your blog, social profiles other than Instagram and get credit with your image submission.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 10.55.39 AM

There are so many Tumblr’s to sort through so I recommend using the tagged pages and searching for the popular posts and start from there. You will soon see if it is a fruitful experience for your brand, but just be prepared to find out that it may not work as well as I hyped.

Widgets, Your Blog & Instagram Plugins

Your website is another great jumping off point in harnessing targeted Instagram followers. Lets take a look at what we do and since most every client website we have today is based on WordPress, we can showcase some very useful plugins. The number one problem we see with our clients is that they don’t actively promote their social media profiles heavily enough. Lets change this and make sure people are seeing the great work you’re putting into your Instagram feed.

Make it known on your website – The bulk of your traffic is on your website, and guess what? Those people are into your brand! These people will want to follow you on Instagram so make it easy for them to know you’re on there. We use a simple plugin you can see on the right of this website which showcases the latest and greatest from our feed.

Cross marketing through Facebook + Twitter – You’d be surprised how many clients we work with at the beginning did not hook Instagram into both of these social networks. You can add the Facebook/Instagram App to display your pictures in a nice gallery. As for Twitter, just make sure you click on the Twitter button under share after uploading a picture.

WordPress has widgets galore – As I previously mentioned, most clients we come across these days are on the WordPress platform. Since there are so many others you will find an abundance of awesome plugins. Here at Luxury Branded we utilize Instagrabber which pulls images right into a blog post automatically for any user, hashtag or keyword. We’re also big fans of Instagram Image Gallery which does exactly what it says in a nice and pretty way.

Instagram Analytics & Statistics

Whether you’re working on a client or heading social media for your own brand, analytics always plays an important role. Google Analytics and most other programs like it just won’t cut it when it comes to Instagram. I recently have found and been utilizing a very cool web app called Nitrogr.am to handle my Instagram statistics and beyond.

nitrogram analytics

Instagram is a social network that’s easy to just let go and not pay attention to, but as it gets even more popular, your competition will be gaming it aggressively. I strongly believe that luxury brands should take a serious look at this photo sharing platform as a legit way to drive real business.

Being informed about your users and how they’re interacting is absolutely important and Nitrogr.am does a bang up job with those details. The image just above showcases the dashboard once you’ve sync’d your account with the app. Doing so is free although the upgraded features are definitely worth getting if you’re going to be marketing on Instagram a lot.

5 reasons why team #LuxuryBranded is hooked on Nitrogr.am >>

1) You can track competitors and keep tabs on how they’re doing including Followers growth the number of likes and comments received, their top photos by likes and comments and other posting habits they have.

2) You can monitor your top hashtags for the number of photos taken, top contributors by likes generated and potential impressions, the number of likes and comments received, the top photos by likes and comments and by hashtag context around the photos. Know who the influencers are and start building relationships.

3) Two words – Velocity Insights. Nitrogram Velocity Insights are detailed reports for each of your posts. They tell you which posts perform the most, what the engagement progress is over time and what is the most optimal hour/ day to publish a new photo.

4) Nitrogram Insights include a complete history of stats for users and hashtags.

5) Its interface is so straightforward and simple it makes anyone an Instagram analytics nerd within an hours use.

Overall the app is just a delight and I don’t expect anyone to even come close to competing with what the team at Nitrogr.am has done. The free version alone is worth it 10x over, even just to see what type of content is best performing with your audience. As you can see from our list, bikini bound ladies and luxury watches are a top hit for us.

instagram stats luxurybranded

Driving Leads With Instagram

The one major question asked by our clients is “does all this Instagram marketing bring in an ROI”. That’s a good question as it really does vary depending on what you sell. Sadly there are no age demographics we can get at, so you’ll have to rely on your own analytics.

Since you rely on your content to urge a user to come to your website through your bio link, you better make sure that content is spot on.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 10.31.09 AM

The quality of user that does decide to come visit your site will be extremely high targeted. We’ve seen impressive stats like this across a lot of our clients. It doesn’t take much time and effort to add content to Instagram so test it out and see if it responds well to the market.

Instagram is not only great for showcasing your product, it can also show the people and atmosphere behind the scenes. The followers that come to your website are going to be the ones you want to sign up to a newsletter and follow you on Facebook. Make every visit count!

So to help lure followers to your online store, blog or other social accounts. You got to tease them, like by posting only one item from a sale or a close up shot, so they have to head to your site to find out more. Or posting a shot setting up for a supercar and model photo shoot and saying to head to your blog for the full gallery. Then stagger posting other sale item or supercar/model shots to remind or reach other followers.

If any of you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments. We’re happy to hear your tips, experiences or if you’d like to chat personally about Instagram marketing, fire us an email!

Ryan Clark
ryan@luxurybranded.com

Ryan is the founder of Luxury Branded and is a branding and marketing strategist for our clients. If you'd like to schedule an hour long free consultation on how and what we can do for your brand then please get in touch.   Follow him on Twitter: @LuxuryBranded Google+: +Ryan Clark as well read his personal blog Luxury BC.

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