Instagram Marketing 101: Messaging
Do you remember the last time you saw a small airplane pull a banner across the sky? You were at the beach enjoying the sun, on an afternoon date or simply pulling some weeds in your garden. Suddenly you heard a loud airplane engine or an indistinct image pulled up in the corner of one your eyes. Then, by reflex, you looked up. There it was, streaming across the broad, expansive sky, slowly, fluttering, prominent: the message. You can see it now. It’s branded on the flesh of your imagination.
In my case, the image I remember belongs to an automobile insurance company. I may never buy their service, because my home and auto insurance package is simply too good. However, I know who they are and, were I to lose the aforementioned discount that company would be on my reference list of organizations to contact immediately.
Any company that announces their name on a banner across the sky is also announcing that they are powerful and larger-than-life because they are showcasing themselves on one of the largest stages of the human imagination: the sky. Those are powerful and effective ideas to associate to your brand.
This example is highly relevant to the Instagram platform because it’s based on the image, not on language. While Facebook and Twitter can display images as well, text is their dominant language. Image differs from words as a carrier of message because it’s immediate. You don’t need to know how to read to be affected by an image. This makes Instagram a very powerful marketing tool. As a corollary, it can super magnify your brand if you nail your message.
1. You must have a strategy to message effectively on Instagram
This goes for all marketing on any platform. By “strategy,” I mean a long-term plan and a vision for your brand. Without a strategy, your Instagram marketing campaign will immediately express that your brand is amateurish and irrelevant because your images will lack cohesion. In other words, an Instagram marketing strategy is not just taking and posting pictures. It’s doing that with the purpose of telling your customers something specific about your brand: your message.
2. Your viewers must look at any photo on your Instagram feed and be able to articulate a positive message about your brand as close as possible to your intended one.
Go look at a few Instagram galleries. Often you will find galleries that will tell you nothing about the person or the brand. Who are they? What do they do? What do they stand for? What are they all about? In a serious, or thoughtful, Instagram feed these types of questions are answered at least generally. These kinds of feeds drive traffic because since they are meaningful, the viewer bonds to them.
3. Do your homework
Here are 4 questions, in no particular order of importance—start with your favorite one—to get you started on articulating your message or to revise your current one.
What’s your brand voice?
What’s your brand’s story?
What’s your brand’s culture?
What’s your product or service?
4. Post around your message
Quick, what’s your brand, or company, centered around? What causes you to gloat with pride when you think about your business? Is it the way you treat your workers? Then your posts should show them. Does your business contribute in a big way to its community through volunteering efforts, community outreach or charity? Then your posts need to reflect this. Post photos or your products or of your services in action.
5. Don’t be overwhelmed
Don’t be discouraged if you’ve suddenly realized that your Instagram marketing campaign is diffuse and inarticulate. Messaging evolves, just as businesses do. Mature Instagram marketing campaigns, if analyzed over time, will show an evolution from disparity to cohesiveness or from message A to message B. Likewise, don’t be frustrated if you’ve suddenly realized that your message is outdated. Just go to work.
6. Parts to a whole
As you begin to post photos with a newly crafted, or revised, message in mind, don’t lose the forest for the trees. Stay consistent. In the world of Instagram marketing, the single photograph must tell the same story as the whole gallery.
Related Story: Instagram Marketing 101: The Hashtag
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”