5 Marketing Principles I (re)Learned From Instagram

Illustration of woman watering social media channels in flower pots

I launched my @goodeggmarketing Instagram feed a few months ago and…crickets. Okay, not actually so quiet that you can hear crickets chirp, but, as of today, I’ve only got 88 followers. The number of likes per post are scaling up, but it’s still really hard to get a conversation going.

Although Instagram has a few unique quirks and restrictions, it’s really no different from any other marketing platform. Social media may be relatively new, but the basic principles of marketing still apply. Here are some marketing ABCs that I (re)learned from using Instagram.

  1. Reciprocity works. You know Instagram feed for @goodeggmarketinghow charities send you those free mailing labels, notepads, pens, etc. when they’re trying to get you to donate? They’re relying on the principle of reciprocity. When someone receives an unsolicited gift, they’re twice as likely to donate. So when you follow a like-minded Instagram account, they’re highly likely to follow you back (unless they’re an influencer with a zillion followers). I follow food-marketing hashtags to scope out other accounts whenever I can.
  2. We eat with our eyes. I’m getting more likes for posts of people and food than for inspiring quotes or food factoids. In Instagram, as in all marketing, appealing to someone’s heart or their senses works faster than appealing to their intellect. It takes longer for our brains to process text than images. We buy feelings, not things. While I’m still planning to include food trends, quotes, and comments in my feed, I’ve added more food images and pictures and people to the mix.
  3. It takes a lot of effort to look effortless. Your Instagram feed should look like naturally curly hair, not a perm. Creating a nice balance of images and content in your feed is like playing chess. You have to plan several moves ahead in order to anticipate how your opponent might act. My goal is to create a great looking feed that reflects Good Egg Marketing’s brand and values, not to “beat” other accounts, but I do need to anticipate what each new post will look like next to, above, and below the previous posts. I made several embarrassingly bad placements before I realized that I couldn’t just post on a whim. Later, a freemium Instagram marketing app, lets me see how my images will look in the Instagram grid before I post them. If you want your feed to look effortless, find an app that helps you visualize how your account will look before you post.
  4. The 80/20 rule applies. According to the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto Principle), approximately 80 percent of your sales will come from the top 20 percent of your customers. When it comes to social media, only a few of your fans are likely to like, share, or comment. Put most of your effort into making sure that the 20 percent who deliver for you feel honored and appreciated. You can cultivate some of the other 80 percent by providing additional incentives or inspiration, but few are likely to become superfans. Try to expand the size of your customer pool instead.
  5. Social media can still be a power for good! In this depressing time of trolling and Russian disinformation campaigns, it’s nice to see how social media can still be a positive force. Launching my Instagram feed has helped deepen relationships with existing food colleagues and clients. And it’s helped me connect with some great new people in the food and marketing worlds. Even with my small following, I feel like I’m helping other businesses and causes when I feature them in a post, or even just like or comment on their posts. It reminds me that we’re all in this together. We can do this!

If you’re on Instagram, please follow @goodeggmarketing.com. If you’re part of my 20 percent, I promise to reciprocate!

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