Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking site, launched in October 2010, is fast becoming the next big thing. It allows the user to edit pictures and video files and share to other social network sites such as Facebook. By December 2010, the same year it was launched, Instagram gained 1 million users and by the end of 2016 Instagram proudly had more than 600 million users with added filters and functions for its users.
Today, Instagram poses to be a valuable asset to share a brands stories visually and help it engage and interact with potential customers if used the right way and consistently too.
Optimize your profile and business page
To get the best out of Instagram for your brand, you need to optimize both your profile and business page i.e username, business name, logo, etc. Ensure that the username on the profile is easily recognizable and the same with the brand name and also ensure that they are all the same thing on all social platforms.
For the business name, it is advisable to include the full business name on the profile, even if it is the same with the username and also include other methods of contact. The logo should be correctly sized, clear and not too cropped such that it cannot be recognized. Tip: make sure to use a square photo with an aspect ratio of 1:1 because images will appear in 110*110 pixels in a round crop.
Include who you are and what you do in Bio, give your followers reasons to follow you and add your brand personality, using the same tone of voice used in other communications. Bio has 150 characters so use it fully and wisely too, adding the relevant brand hashtag and CTA, such as ‘Pre-order today’. Make use of the hyperlink provided when setting up the account to drive traffic to your page because Instagram does not permit clickable links on individual content. Tip: you can change this from time to time to drive traffic to important content often referenced on individual images and videos i.e including ‘link in bio’ after a caption.
Managing and engaging your audience can be very tasking, especially when you have a large number of followers. Ensure that your notifications are enabled as push messages so you can receive a prompt alert on comments and likes as they happen, and respond promptly too.
Learn to post at the right time
Posting at the right time entails you knowing when your audience is most active in other to know the appropriate time to drive engagement. You can use Instagram insights to find out when your followers are most active and do a test post around these times if you are using Instagram for business.
Some useful tips in knowing the right time to post are considering time zones for your audience, reporting the minority engagements on posts so that you can access the most effective times to post, posting outside of ‘work hours’ using a scheduling tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite.
Effective Captioning and Useful Hashtag
Captions and hashtags are important of images and videos you share on Instagram. Don’t just leave the post empty without proper captions and information, or stuff it with every hashtag in the world. Use the caption to explain the content you shared and why you shared it. keep in mind that links don’t work on individual contents on Instagram so include ’ link in bio’ if you want to drive traffic to particular content.
Posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without any. Researching the hashtags that your audience are already familiar with will help you connect to them. Ensure that they are relevant to your market, product, and campaign. Hashtags help to organize and categorize content, so always us relevant hashtags to the image or video. Tip: Instagram has provision for up to 30 hashtags, but most brands use five to ten. Do a test using evergreen hashtags such as #TBT (ThrowbackThursday), #selfie, or #PhotoOfTheDay. Where relevant, add a location to your content to make it easier to find the people, places and tagged content.
Below is one of our posts where relevant hashtags and caption were used.
View this post on Instagram
Here’s all the motivation you need to take charge of the week. You’re a superhero 😉 . . Cinemagraph done for one of our clients @rexona_ng . . #VyrusDigital #govyral #digitalmarketing #MondayWisdom #MondayMotivation #MondayMornings #rexonang #itwontletyoudown #cinematography #motionpicture
Getting Content From Users
Instagram can help you generate a bank of visual content that shows your product or service in use, unlike other social media platforms that will help you generate a wealth of User Generated Content (UGC). By requesting for real stories on how users are engaging with your brand, you can create content that is both powerful and influential that you can re-share with your audience. Below are a few ways that you can do this:
- Promote the inclusion of a branded hashtag by asking your followers to upload their images including a specified hashtag.
- Offer something in return by running a contest with the inclusion of hashtags as an entry requirement and offer a prize in return.
- Engage key influencers on board and ask them to share content related to your brand. Note that this is often sponsored.
- You can also conduct regular searches on your brand name, branded keywords, and related phrases and report any existing content.
UGC can be gotten in the form of a contest, as seen above.
Using Instagram Stories
Part of the newly added features and functions on Instagram is the ability to share ‘Instagram stories’. This is content with a short lifespan as photos and videos shared on your story automatically disappear from the feed and profile after 24 hours. According to the Instagram blog, 1 out of 5 Instagram stories gets a direct message from the viewers and about 70% of Instagram stories are watched with sound on, letting us know that Instagram stories are an important engagement tool for audience. You can use Instagram stories to
- Tell a story. Link a selection of random content together and use pieces to tell a bigger story, don’t just share random content.
- Be real. Make the content more fun and engaging than ‘polished’.
- Add value. Outline what you want to say so that it is interesting to your audience, don’t just create a story for the sake of creating a story.
- Make Instagram stories different from other channels. Make Instagram stories about Instagram, don’t just import content from other social channels to Instagram stories.
- Instagram for business is also available for stories, use it.
Creative Tips for More Powerful Images
- Be consistent. Do not sell your brand values or share images that are not consistent, be mindful about your brand style and colour palette.
- Planning your posts to intentionally include products, workplaces, associated iconography, the inspiration behind your brand, etc, will create aspiration.
- Take pictures by a window with natural light and never share anything where there is bad or poor lighting.
- Doing your photography in sessions will ensure that you have a bank of readily available imagery that is consistent. Think about framing, backdrops, props, different light at different times of the day or year.
- For lack of expensive and professional equipment, use a good quality smartphone.
- Do not use the Instagram app camera to take pictures, take the photo and then use the app to edit it so that the resolution will not be reduced.
- If using an Apple device, tap on the phone screen, swipe up and you’ll brighten the image.