Since launching 8 years ago, Instagram has become the go-to place for people to share photos and videos. Largely popular with millennials the platform has changed the way brands and their customers share, engage, and even shop. Now with over 500 million daily users, it’s important that your business is making the right impression on the network and reaping the promotional benefits.
Where to start
As with most marketing activities, before you begin using Instagram you need to think about what the purpose of your account would be and what you would like to get out of the platform. Deciding on these can help you to create your style and content and give you more of a strategy rather than just sharing photos and videos and hoping to get engagement and sales.
A great place to begin with the platform is by researching what other users are doing. This can give you ideas for styles and learn more about all of the features Instagram has to offer. Then when you set up your business account we recommend using the same handle that is on your other social accounts and is easily identifiable as you and your brand. This will make it easier for your online audience to find your account and engage.
Your biography is where you can tell your audience all about your account. You can even include links to other accounts and clickable hashtags here, both great features if you’re linking your personal account to your company account, or for your business to share branded hashtags.
What images should you share?
When sharing content on Instagram’s mobile app, it is largely just a case of hitting the add button at the bottom of the screen, then picking an image or video from your gallery or taking a photo or video right there and then.
Your choices of imagery should, ultimately, be influenced by your brand identity. For example, if you’re selling a product, your images and videos should showcase your products in a positive way. You can share content about new product launches, the benefits of the products and how they can be used. Whereas if you sell a service you can share reviews and customer testimonials, benefits of your service and why people should use your service. However, it is worth emphasising that quotes and cute, funny content are well received on Instagram.
Make clever use of filters
When you make an in-app selection of an image to share on Instagram, you will see a new screen with options for aesthetically tailoring that image. These options include filters – and choosing the right one can deliver an improvement of up to 60% in average engagement.
However, even a great filter will not rescue a terrible image. We particularly like the retro filters, but if you are still struggling to decide, BuzzFeed lists apps for filtering images before you transfer them to Instagram.
Cap it all off with the right caption
You can accompany each image with a text caption, and this is where it can be worth using calls to action. However, whereas messaging left in the comments field can quickly disappear before the eyes of scrolling Instagram users, you could attract more attention by putting that text on the image.
Hashtag, you’re it – how to use hashtags well
On Instagram, hashtags work in the same way as they do on Facebook and Twitter, in that they let users quickly bring up an abundance of content on a specific subject with just a tap.
Still, you need to be careful which hashtags you use. For example, using hashtags that are popular across Instagram, like #selfie or #throwbackthursday, could attract only fleeting interest in your business. Instead, look at what hashtags other users and your audience are using, then add these to your posts. Be careful though as there is such a thing as too many hashtags.
Once you have the basics sorted then you can move onto more advanced features.
Instead of just sharing stand-alone images and content you can make the most of Instagram’s profile grid view and tie all your individual posts into one large piece of content. A good example of this is Aldi’s account. They share three themed images at a time so that the main view of their account shows the full image of their campaign at a time. An advantage of this is that it makes your account look more visually appealing and ties your content together. However, to do this you need to use high-resolution images in order to split them into individual posts, you also need to ensure you always have content ready to share in groups of 3 to keep the content in order.
Another way to share multiple content is by using carousels. This enables you to share content that users can swipe through to view. These can be stand-alone images and videos or they can overlap to generate more interest with your users and encourage them to engage. Examples of this style of content can be seen here.
Whilst Instagram was originally for sharing images and basic videos, the app itself has released lots of new features to create engaging content. Things such as Boomerang, Layout and Hyperlapse are built into the platform itself so you can make your content stand out more by adding other effects. Other apps you can use to personalise your content are:
This is an app that enables you to use templates or design bespoke images. It is especially good to create Instagram stories and view other examples other users have created.
This helps you to edit the size of your image to fit on Instagram. This is particularly good if you like to give your images a border or if you want to make sure you can fit the full image into the post.
This app enables you to make part of your still image move, which can help capture the attention of your audience.
There are many more and we’d love to hear if you use any others that might be beneficial to us and others. Feel free to comment them below and to get in touch to discuss your Instagram content further.