Instagram Best Practices For Businesses

Instagram is a force to be reckoned with considering they have 600 million users, 400 million of which are daily active users. Instagram is growing rapidly, as 100 million of those users joined in just the last 6 months of 2016, according to Instagram. Instagram users are very committed and engaged, presenting the perfect opportunity for businesses to tap into a new audience, especially if their product and services appeals to millennials, 40% of which follow brands on Instagram. Whether you're new to Instagram or have been using the platform for some time, here are some best practices to follow to ensure you're tapping into all of the potential Instagram has to offer.

1. Optimize Your Business Instagram Account. You should, of course, have separate personal and business Instagram accounts. Your business Instagram account should have the same name, if possible, as all of your other social media accounts for brand recognition. Your profile photo should also match profile photos being used on your other social media accounts and your website. Instagram gives you a single opportunity to include a link on your account, so take full advantage of it. The link should be placed in your bio, as that is the only location on your account where it will be clickable. The content within your bio should include the name of your business and a brief description of what your business does, as people will have the chance to read it before following you.

2. Post High Quality, Relevant Images. There is nothing worse than seeing a fuzzy image on Instagram. Now that Instagram allows you to post full-size portrait and landscape images, take full advantage of the real estate available to you. AdParlor provides a great example of a brand posting the same image, but in different sizes, and look at the difference in likes between the two:

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Color is incredibly important when posting to Instagram. According to Shopify, when people buy a product, 93% of them look at visual appearance, and for 84.7% of people, color is the primary reason they will purchase a product. With millions of images being posted to Instagram on a daily basis, color is incredibly important in making yours stand out.

3. Use Visual Content To Tell Great Stories. When it comes to marketing, regardless of the platform, storytelling is an extremely important piece of the puzzle, and even more so when talking about Instagram. Instead of just posting an image of your product, post an image showing the product actually being used. Do you sell backpacks? Share an image of someone wearing the backpack while going for a hike.

You can also take your customers behind the scenes by showing them how or where your products are make. Instagram is the perfect platform to show true creativity, as that is what your customers will respond best to. Also take full advantage of the carousel ads feature as that gives your customers the ability to swipe left to see multiple images as part of the storytelling experience. Here is a short video from Instagram on carousel ads:

A New Way for Brands to Tell Stories on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

4. Engage With Your Followers. Instagram is all about engagement and it's a two-way street. You don't want to just post your photos on Instagram and end it there. Instead, engage with your followers and take the time to like their photos, leave comments, and follow them back. This holds especially true if one of your followers has tagged you in their post - that's definitely something you don't want to ignore.

Also pay attention to the feedback you are getting on the content you're posting. Monitor feedback from customers as you may be able to turn that into content you can post on other social media networks, such as blog posts, FAQs, tutorials, or Q&A's. If you have been followed by an influencer or established follower, take the time to track them down on other social media networks and follow them there. Your goal on Instagram is not to judge post visual content, but to cultivate an audience.

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5. Use Hashtags To Your Advantage. Hashtags are an extremely important component of Instagram you don't want to leave out. Using hashtags is the perfect way for you to extend your reach on Instagram. The goal here is using hashtags that are relevant to your niche, otherwise you're just spitting in the wind. According to Search Engine Journal, you should use hashtags related to your brand, event, products, or promotion. They provide a great example of how National Geographic used the hashtag #MyAWAY for a contest where people could tag photos of locations that are an escape to them:

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Not sure how to pick the right hashtags for Instagram? SEEN provides 4 helpful tips (additional tips can be found here related specifically to Instagram hashtags for contests):

  • Do some basic research. Check to see if anyone else has used the hashtag you're considering, and if they have, see if the visual content associated with that hashtag works against the purpose you're using the hashtag for.
  • Consider the purpose of the hashtag. They suggest using a date or year in the hashtag if it is only going to be used for a short duration.
  • Don't put too much focus on centering the hashtag around your brand. Instead focus on how your product or service benefits your customers and focus the hashtag around that purpose.
  • Use a mix of both branded hashtags and campaign hashtags when sharing content. They suggest you anchor a couple of tags and build a community around them.

To learn more about how Instagram integrates with Social Report, you can visit: http://www.socialreport.com/features/instagram.html