Helpful Tips to Maximise Your Instagram Strategy

Helpful Tips to Maximise Your Instagram Strategy

Online Presence

Having a foolproof Instagram strategy is fast becoming an integral part of your brands online presence. Instagram is the second most used platform in Ireland, directly after Facebook, with 56% of Irish accounts browsing Instagram on a daily basis.

Instagram Strategy

Instagram has transformed a great deal since its inception back in 2010, from a run-of-the-mill social media platform to a major digital marketing channel. Updates to the app in the past few years have added several valuable tools for business accounts to improve their Instagram Strategy

Helpful Tips to Maximise Your Instagram Strategy

Instagram Stories

Following suit from the popularity of Snapchat, Instagram rolled out their own take on stories in 2016 and it has since become a much loved feature of the app by business and personal accounts alike. Stories provide a fun and engaging way to build awareness around your brand, drive traffic to your website and create relationships with your followers. Instagram stories can be created by tapping the camera icon on the top left corner of your home page or by tapping the add symbol on your profile picture from your profile. From there on, making your story is a similar process to posting an image on your profile, but with a number of additional features such as the ability to add interactive stickers, animated gifs and links, and don’t worry, you can still use your favourite photo filters on your stories!

Instagram Stickers

Adding stickers to your Instagram stories is a great way of creating engagement with your followers. Some notable ways to make use of stickers include:


• Starting a Q&A session with your audience using the question sticker

• Adding some humour to your story content with emojis and animated gifs

• Starting a conversation with your followers through polls


As is the nature of story based content, Instagram stories only remain live for 24 hours on the stories feed. However, you can pin your favourite stories to the highlights section of your profile, so you followers can view it indefinitely.

Instagram insights page
live video on instagram

Instagram Insights

Insights is Instagram’s native analytics feature that allows business accounts to see data on the performance of their account as well as the demographics and behaviour of the people interacting with their profile. Although at this time Instagram’s in-app analytical capabilities can be quite limited, it is an extremely useful tool for getting an overview into your account’s performance in order to adapt your current Instagram strategy.

There are three different ways you can use Insights:


• To see your profile’s Insights overall for the most recent period, tap the bar chart icon on the upper right corner of your Instagram profile. This provides you with a summary of the content you’ve posted, the number of followers you have gained, your total reach, your total impressions and your number profile views for the past 7 days. From here you can also see a break down of your audience demographic information in terms of age range, gender, top locations and the time at which they are most active.


• To look at statistics for individual images including its reach and impressions, tap the “View Insights” link in the bottom left corner of the relevant post.


• To view the performance of an active Story and to see the people that have watched it, open the Story and tap the profile pictures in the bottom left corner of the screen.


Instagram Product Tags

Instagram is fast becoming a key factor to E-Commerce success, with 30% of users purchasing a product after first spotting it on Instagram. From just a quick glance at your recommended posts feed, it’s evident that some of the top performing posts on the platform are product centred images.


Product tags are a particularly powerful tool for E-Commerce. They allow verified “Shoppable” accounts to add a shopping bag button to the corner of their images. Followers can tap these posts to reveal pop-ups with details about the products featured in the image. Tapping these pop-ups shows further details on the product with a Shop Now button, which brings your followers directly to the corresponding product page on your E-Commerce website, where they can add the item to their cart and check out.

Enable Product Tags

To enable Product Tags, your Instagram account first needs to meet certain criteria: 


• Your Instagram account must be converted into a business profile.


• Your Instagram must be connected to a Facebook page with a Shopping Catalogue, which can be created and managed using Catalog Manager or E-Commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce.


• You must comply with Instagram’s Merchant Agreement and Commerce Policies.


Previously, this feature was only available to accounts based in the US but as of this year, Irish accounts can also get in on the action. Now is a great time for Irish businesses to be early adopters of this powerful Instagram tool.



The popularity of the “Stories” format has shifted ideas of how people watch video. With the number of people watching videos on mobile increasing every year, 96% of mobile video consumption is now viewed vertically. Instagram reacted to this by releasing IGTV for longer form vertical video content last year. The length of your IGTV uploads depends on your number of followers, for most people this means 10 minutes but accounts with a large following can have episodes as long as one hour!


When creating content for IGTV, it is important to keep in mind what Instagram based this platform on – Television viewing. Viewers seek out content that provides entertainment or value to them on IGTV, just as they would while watching television. It is still early days for IGTV, and finding content that your audience will truly love will take some experimentation, but some content that has proved popular thus far include:


• Tutorials and product demonstrations

• Updates from company events such as conventions and social gatherings

• Interviews with experts and people of interest

• Giving in dept answers to queries that have been posed from a Q&A sticker on an Instagram story.

• Episodic sketches and shows


With Instagram’s current toolkit of business centred features, now is the perfect time to get your brand’s Instagram strategy in shape. If you’re looking for any further advice on improving your social media channels, our Digital Marketing Manger Jonathan is here to help.


Márla Communications are recognised as a top Email & Marketing Automation Company on DesignRush.

How to Improve your Digital Marketing Presence

How to Improve your Digital Marketing Presence

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you most likely are fully aware that the world of business has been revolutionised by the internet and the onset of digital marketing. Some businesses have seen this as a challenge or a negative development. The businesses that have thrived in recent years are the ones that have embraced the opportunities that come with an online audience.

The good news for a lot of businesses that have been slow to make it to the digital table is that it is still not too late! The cost for your business to get up to speed with effective digital marketing is much less expensive than the cost to your business if you don’t.

The biggest obstacle for many businesses is the time it takes to manage digital marketing channels such as social media. This is a very valid argument as everything you post on your social media channels reflects your business, so you need to take the time to make sure that your content positively reflects your business.

Like most things in life there is a trick to managing digital marketing effectively. The only challenge for small businesses is to learn the tricks on how to efficiently manage digital marketing to maximise the possibility of getting a return on the time and money invested.

Here are a few tips that will save you time with your digital marketing endeavours. These tips will also help you to support your offline marketing work which will increase revenue for your business.

1. Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy

This may sound easier said than done but this is not as hard as many business owners and managers think. A digital marketing strategy template will evolve overtime, you just have to see what works best for you and your business. Take an hour or two to sit down and look at what digital marketing channels are available to you. A lot of these channels are free to use such as social media and email marketing software. Just pick the channels that your target audience use and try not to spend precious time on channels that will yield very little exposure or interaction for your efforts. Identify your primary goals for digital marketing such as driving traffic to your website (especially if you sell products and services on your website), increase footfall to your physical business, increase online sales queries and/or maximise positive exposure for your business online. Now grab a cup of coffee and open up Microsoft Excel on your computer.

Make a list

Make a list of all the digital channels you plan to utilise on a piece of paper then plan out on the spreadsheet activities such as how many times a week you will post on Facebook and when to send out a newsletter to your database. Set objectives for each social media channel and allocate responsibilities with deadlines for team members. Allocating responsibilities is very important if you have staff members who have a lot of knowledge about your business and your customers.

High value traffic

Utilise their knowledge and their relationship with your customers for social media content and to highlight to your customers that you value your staff (most of your customers work for someone and will have a positive perception of your business if they think you treat your staff well). Digital marketing channels such as Google, social media and email marketing should primarily drive high value traffic towards your website which will ultimately increase sales through the online checkout or at your cash register.

2.  Set up Online Channels to Communicate to your Target Market

Now that you have your strategy in place and you have a good grasp of what you would like to achieve with your digital marketing work, it is time to set up and brand the online channels you would like to use. Some channels will be easier to set up than others. We would recommend that you get professional web design advice and help when setting up or redesigning a website. A website is extremely important for a business.

Index your website

A poorly designed website can cost you valuable online and offline sales. Websites that do not function properly with defective webpages and online checkout system can seriously damage the trust and patience a potential customer has with your business. It is essential to make sure that your website is optimised for strategic keywords. This is important as Google and other search engines will use this to index your website so that they know what search terms to show your website for when their users look for websites that sell or provide information about the products and services you provide. The better you optimise your site, the higher you will appear on the search engine rankings.

Try to appear above competitors!

Try to appear above competitors! Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are relatively straight forward to set up. Just make sure that you set these channels up correctly with good grammar on descriptions and posts. Always use high quality images that reflect the competitive advantages of your business or the benefits of using your products / services for banner images. Put yourself in the shoes of your target market when you post content on social media. Ask yourself is the content something that they are interested in and how could the post shape their perception of your business.

Social media advertising

Social media advertising is highly recommended as organic posts on Facebook will most likely reach less than 5% of the people who like your page. Use your digital marketing strategy to identify the target market you would like your social media ads to target. Articulate your target market for the products and services you wish to advertise. Other digital marketing channels to consider are email marketing, Google Ads and display advertising on third party websites. Mail Chimp offers free design templates for your email marketing efforts. These templates are basic and should be tested before sending out to your database. It is important to test email newsletters on different browsers and email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook. Google Ads and display advertising can cost a lot of money if not set up correctly and if you do not effectively target the right audience for the right products and services. Use these particular services with extreme care and undertake plenty of research before pressing the go button on any of these types of paid campaigns. Pay per click campaigns cost you money every time someone clicks your ads so make the clicks count!

3. Build online audience with target market for your products and services

One of the most challenging aspects of digital marketing is building the right audience for your website, social media channels and email marketing campaigns. Everything should evolve around your website and your website should also build your audience for your email marketing database and social media channels. As mentioned earlier, it is really important to get the SEO right for your website to attract the right audience to your website.

Social media channels

On your website, the social media channel icons for your business should be prevalent with links to these channels. This will encourage people who like your business and website to follow you on your social media accounts. It is also a good idea to ask website visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. On your social media channels, the best way to build your audience is to invite your network to follow your channels and to post interesting and relevant content for your target audience. People will like and share content that they like with their network on social media that have similar tastes to them. These shares are seen as endorsements by friends and family of the people that engage with your posts. This will build credibility for your business. It is also possible to set up advertising campaigns on social media channels such as Facebook that will help you build likes for your page.

Hold competitions

A lot of businesses also hold competitions where entrants have to share and engage with content to enter. These methods are very effective at building an audience relatively quickly on social media. Building your email marketing database can be supplemented by offline activities such as capturing contact details of customers who purchase in your shop. This can be done through running competitions, setting up loyalty clubs or offering to email customers their receipt rather than giving them a physical receipt. An emailed receipt is very beneficial to a customer as they are less likely to loss it. You can also capture email addresses when customers purchase from you through your website. Sharing a link to your email subscriber sign up form on social media is also very effective. Simply highlight the benefits of signing up for your email newsletter such as receiving exclusive offers or a discount on their next purchase.

Opt in

Always make sure that subscribers opt in to be added to your database to satisfy GDPR requirements. Having a big audience on social media and for your email marketing database is a fantastic benefit for your business as it drives traffic to your website and builds a relationship with your customers which encourages them to purchase from your business again and again. Keep in mind that you should not over promote your business on social media or send too many emails to your database. You don’t want your audience to think you are only after their business.

4. Measure your Results!

How will you know that your digital marketing efforts are bringing you a return on your time and budget investment? When you draft your digital marketing strategy you should outline your key performance indicators (KPI’s) for each digital marketing channel. Your KPI’s for social media could be to attract 150 visitors to your website every week and / or to receive over 20,000 impressions every month. To measure your results you should analyse Google Analytics for your website, social media insights, email marketing reports and Google Ads. These analytical tools will give you valuable data on how each digital marketing channel has played its part towards your overall digital objectives.

The beauty of digital marketing

The beauty of digital marketing is that every investment you make is trackable. Not everything you do will be a massive success but you will quickly identify what is working for your business and what is not. Don’t ever be afraid to stop a campaign and go back to the drawing board if you are not happy with the performance of your ad campaigns. Try different wording, call to actions and images to find the right mix that resonates best with your target market. You may not have the time or the technical expertise to carry out all of the outlined tasks for your business. It may be worth meeting with a web design and digital marketing agency to see which tasks you would like to outsource that may give you a better return on your investment. It is important to always present the best side of your business to your target market. Do not settle for any social media post or email newsletter being sent out on behalf of your business that does not give a positive reflection of your business.

Contact our Digital Marketing Manger Jonathan if you would like any further tips and advice on how to run an effective digital marketing campaign for your business. We would be happy to meet for a coffee and help you get the very most from you digital marketing efforts.


Márla Communications are recognised as a top Email & Marketing Automation Company on DesignRush.

Contact Jonathan

Márla Communications Banner - Successful Team

Keep your Team Motivated!

Márla Communications Banner - Motivated Team

Keep your Team Motivated!

Success won’t happen if your team are not part of it!

As a business owner and employer, I’ve no doubt I join millions of businesses worldwide in the quest to understand how to maximise employee team motivation and productivity…so I thought it might be useful to share my own experience in this month’s blog. In order to provide a totally transparent and representative viewpoint, I’ve written this with input from my team, so I’ve nowhere to hide! When you’ve had a chance to ponder the content, we’d love to hear your thoughts and your own experience in this area.

The simple fact is that happy employees make motivated, productive employees – this fact is universally accepted as one of the basic tenants of a successful business. But what does a happy employee mean? We would be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that financial remuneration is the primary factor to consider here; my own experience, and indeed the experience of our team, indicates that employee team motivation goes much deeper than this.

To add some context to this article, I’ve selected what I feel are the most important factors to consider, starting with the physical work environment.

The Physical Work Environment

The physical workspace includes everything – it’s the art that hangs on the walls, the office floor plan, the demographics of the people we work with, and any physical perks we might get such as wonderful coffee, or a lounge area that employees can use to unwind a bit.

When we moved into our existing offices some four years ago, we quickly assembled our desks, set up all our IT requirements, put some artwork on the walls, and got straight back to work. We were all quite happy with our new surroundings, but agreed we needed to add ‘something more’ to the studio at some point; however with a (thankfully) hefty workload, the studio environment became less of a priority list… until a few months ago.

We came to work one morning, looked around and thought – this needs to change! Within a few short weeks, we had a vision of a workspace that was bright, energetic, positive, creative – all the core values of our own business. Floors came up, new electronic desks were deemed a must have, paint colours were consulted, plants were discussed, and before long, we could see our new world coming together.

Motivated Team - New Studio Picture

And the difference is..?

Visually, we are delighted with our new surroundings – however the benefits of our new surroundings go much deeper than this…which is the main purpose of this blog. The following are just some of the immediate benefits we all agreed on:

• Pride in our surroundings – increased immeasurably!
• Spring in our step on the way to work
• Health & Wellness – our investment in electronic desks, bright colours and new lighting provides a much softer and inviting work environment
• And a nice and not to be dismissed addition for our return on investment – increased activity, motivation and monthly billing

Visually, we are delighted with our new surroundings

Other important factors include…

I will come to financial rewards later, but first want to touch on some of the softer measures that have created immense loyalty in our team; I think the caveat for all of these is that trust is key – and that this goes both ways.

Flexibility – Coming to work Monday to Friday, sitting at the same desk, drinking from the same cup, looking out the same window becomes monotonous very quickly; create an environment that allows team members to work at home, meet clients in their offices, or go to a coffee shop to get their work done. Breaking up the day or the week not only makes for happier employees, it allows for enhanced creative thinking and outside influence. I firmly believe it doesn’t matter where the work is done, as long as it’s done.

Part-Time/Full-time – I’m a strong believer in getting the work-life balance right. If this means some employees work a set number of days per week, but absolutely deliver in those days, go for it! By providing a less than conventional approach to the working week yields a considerable long-term return.

Communication – If you are running a relatively small operation as I am, you may make the mistake of assuming you know what your team are thinking. Don’t Assume! While informal communication is great as part of the day to day running of the business, I would highly recommend that all businesses (no matter what size) have a formal communication process. This includes an annual appraisal process that allows for objective feedback and discussion in a structured environment.

Formalise all Processes – As an extension of the above point, we all work better if guided by a formal, structured process of weekly meetings and project management processes.

Financial Involvement & Ownership – Why have I left financial reward to the end when most employees would suggest this is their most important consideration? I am not disputing this for one minute – if the financial rewards are not attractive, no amount of free coffee or flexible working hours will compensate for that. So yes, financial rewards must reflect the position, contribution and overall performance of each team member.

However, I would caution that financial reward in itself is not enough – if the ‘softer’ elements are not present, if your team do not enjoy coming to work, they will move. There is nothing more certain.

I’m a strong believer in getting the work-life balance right.

I have added ownership to this final point, as there is such a strong link between ownership and performance. This is not about giving employees company ownership, more about ownership of the overall business performance (and the part they play in achieving this). If employees can directly impact on the business performance, and be rewarded accordingly, their motivation, loyalty and output will be considerable and sustainable.

In summary: Employees who enjoy and like the environments they are a part of will be more engaged, productive, happy, and healthy. So check out your workspace, look at your team in an objective manner, ask yourself ‘am I a motivating influence?’ Invest in your people and their work environment, it will absolutely deliver a expediential return on investment. I promise you!

I’d love to hear from you so leave me a comment below.

How Digital Marketing Changed Branding

Digital Marketing and Branding

How Digital Marketing Transformed Branding

How Digital Marketing has Transformed How We Think about Branding

Branding and Advertising

Throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, the approach to branding and advertising was largely prescriptive – we agreed on brand positioning and target market, agreed budgets, developed a communication plan….and then rolled the campaign out to agreed platforms including TV, Radio, Outdoor and Print (newspapers, magazines, bus wraps). Digital Marketing wasn’t even a “thing” at this point.

What is so interesting looking back at this process, is that the ‘marketing communication’ work was more or less completed before even one consumer interacted with the brand. Certainly there would be follow up consumer feedback, brand awareness measures, readership and listenership figures review, but it is fair to say that once the campaign was launched, the input from marketing was minimal.

Old Marketing

I recently read an article which captured ‘old marketing’ very succinctly:

• The brand was developed

• The brand was prepared

• The brand was presented (to the market)

The control of the brand and the communication rested totally in the hands of the brand owner/agency. Potential consumers/users were ‘presented’ with the brand and could chose to accept or deny its proposition. But they could never really interact or engage with the brand in a meaningful way.

Vintage Coca Cola Newspaper Ad
Marketing done the old fashioned way!

The Onset of Web and SEO

Move forward five years to 2000; while the world of on-line communication was just beginning to be appreciated, no one had any real comprehension of the impending desruptive influence that that digital would bring to the world and branding. Companies were beginning to understand the importance of web and SEO to a lesser extent, but many wondered if it would ‘stick’.

Companies were beginning to understand the importance of web and SEO

SEO | Search Engine Optimisation Effectiveness
The onset of web and SEO

Integrated Digital Marketing

Enter the Integrated Digital Marketing sensation of today – the most revolutionary, consumer-centric, iterative marketing communication mechanism ever. Post 2004, with the advent of “proper” social media channels, better internet speeds and e-commerce, the digital age exploded.

From a branding perspective, the biggest impact was the change in brand ownership – this shifted from companies to consumers; a brand was no longer a visual entity with which we hoped the customer would connect, but a piece of their everyday lives that they could engage with at a much deeper level than ever before. Through social networks, with Facebook and Twitter taking the lead, ‘everyday consumers’ created a brand dialogue that was candid, fresh and like nothing the world had seen before. Suddenly the world had a platform to share their opinions and their brand experiences – both good and bad.

Suddenly the world had a platform to share their opinions and their brand experiences – both good and bad.

The World of Corporate Brand Engagement

The world of corporate brands responded to the world of digital a little more slowly than the general public, perhaps driven by the illusion that engaging meant loss of brand control; it didn’t take them long to realise that there really was no choice here; it was a matter of engaging or becoming irrelevant. Most prudent companies chose engagement.

The obvious next question is…”so if Digital Marketing is so powerful, how come so many companies don’t see the benefit of it?”

Integrated Digital Marketing
Enter the Integrated Digital Marketing sensation of today.

Marketing Communications Agency

As a marketing communications agency in business since 2006, we have worked with our clients through the transition from ‘traditional only’ marketing to digital marketing; we have seen what works and doesn’t work from a digital perspective. We have helped our clients get significant returns on their digital investment through a process of campaign development, implementation and adaptation. Two of the most important factors in understanding and maximising the investment from digital marketing are (1) Target Marketing Profiling and Segmentation and (2) Key Word research, analysis, understanding and application. Get those elements right, and the return on investment will follow.

Google Analytics and Keywords
Analytics and keywords

Where to go with Digital?

With so many companies unsure about where to go next in their digital journey, we have decided its time to dispel some of the digital myths, time to provide some insight and guidance to companies seeking to take the next step. Every month, we will take an important element of digital marketing, and explain how to approach this in a simple, yet effective way.

Next Month’s Feature: Profiling your Target Market

Márla Communications 10 year Competition Winner!

Competition Winner

Huge congratulations to Life Kitchen, the Márla competition winner of our €2,500 prize fund competition with over 47% of the total votes! Many thanks again to all who voted, entered the competition and to our 4 finalists Dessert First, Excel Promotions and Aoife Hearne Dietitian!


We look forward to starting work soon with Life Kitchen!

Life Kitchen Brand Design

Winners Podium

Márla Communications 10 year Competition Finalists

Márla Communications Competition Finalists

Márla Communications Competition Finalists have been chosen! We are delighted to announce that the four finalist include Aoife Hearne – Dietitian, Life Kitchen, Dessert First and Excel School Uniforms.

Thank You

Thank you again to all the businesses who entered and to our 10 year Competition Finalists. It was humbling to see the response to this endeavour online and by word of mouth. To say we have been 10 years as Márla is a pleasure. Working with amazing clients is a double pleasure!

Competition Finalists

You can read each finalists entry by clicking on the company’s logo, you can then vote for your favourite campaign. The company with the most votes will win a prize fund of €2,500!

Prize Fund

The overall winner will be treated to a €2,500 prize fund of our services, which could be a big help to their existing business plan.

Excel Promotions Brand Design