There are over one billion monthly Instagram users, which makes it one of the most popular social platforms in the world. Instagram is behind only Facebook and YouTube in terms of active users, and most users log in at least once every day. This makes it a goldmine for businesses looking to market themselves, especially when it comes to reaching the younger crowd.
Instagram is the perfect place to reach young consumers and turn them into life-long clients, but it’s still underutilized. Some business owners avoid the platform because they aren’t sure how to use it. Luckily, there are many simple, actionable ways to create a strong Instagram presence. Here are 19 of our favorites:
Regular posts are a key to staying top-of-mind, and long gaps between updates can let your followers forget about you. On the other hand, overwhelming your followers with excessive Instagram posts will make them unfollow you. Your Instagram presence should be like your perfume or cologne: noticeable, but not overpowering.
One or two posts a day is the sweet spot for most brands. Experiment with different frequencies and analyze your results to find your balance. For example, start doing two posts a day for a while and monitor your engagement. Then switch things up by posting more or less, and see how your followers respond. You can also try posting at different times of the day to see when your followers are most active.
Understandably, most marketers and business owners don’t have time to log into Instagram then sit and watch the clock all day. If this tip sounds like too much to handle, your remedy is in point 18 below.
There is no doubt about the benefits of using Hashtags on Instagram. Hashtags are perhaps the best way to expand your reach, because they expose you to users who are already interested in those specific tags. A good hashtag should be specific to your industry to make sure you’re reaching the right people. Don’t get too specific, though, because it still needs to be something users will actually look for.
Some brands work their hashtags into the caption itself, while others just put all their hashtags after the caption. Either option (or a mix of both) is totally fine. The most important thing is that you include hashtags somewhere. Don’t forget to make one for your brand, too!
If the thought of coming up with new Instagram posts every day is too daunting, this is the strategy for you. Use content from a relevant account—just make sure you give them credit by tagging their profile in your caption.
There are ways to download and save Instagram photos on your computer, iPhone, or Android. After you save the photo, re-upload it with the appropriate credit given to the original account. Giving credit where credit is due is important for two reasons:
At least one study has shown that people are more likely to support a brand after interacting with them on social media. Interacting with your followers turns them from passive consumers into active advocates.
When someone comments on your Instagram post, take the time to respond to them. This can be as simple as thanking them for their feedback. It’s important to respond (professionally) even to negative comments.
Responding to comments goes a long way, and you can do even more by using mentions to give shout-outs to other accounts. Your clients will be flattered by the special attention, and some individuals or brands might return the favor. It’s a great way to gain access to other channels and increase your reach.
Share your Instagram posts across other social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. This directs your existing followers on other platforms to your Instagram feed. When interested parties connect to you in multiple places it strengthens your relationship.
Don’t overdo this one. Cross-promote your social accounts occasionally, but don’t make all your feeds look exactly the same.
Instagram offers awesome free tools to business accounts. If you’re currently set up as a personal profile, consider converting it to a business profile. Doing so offers valuable benefits including the following:
Get as much of your personality as you can into the limited space in your bio. Talk about your mission, your exciting new product, or your next big event. Use the clickable link to direct users to your website. Most brands just link it to their homepage, but don’t be afraid to change this up often, especially when you want to drive traffic to a timely opportunity you mentioned in your bio.
Instagram Stories can get a lot of attention. They’re positioned right at the top of the timeline, so stories are one of the first things users see upon opening Instagram. Further, since Instagram Stories expire, there is a sense of urgency that compels some users to make sure they don’t miss anything.
Stories only last 24 hours, so don’t feel like you have to make your updates here as refined as your normal posts. This is an ideal opportunity to experiment with new kinds of content like live video, backwards video, or anything else you’ve been nervous to try.
Using Stories is also a perfect way to give users a sneak peek and…
People love feeling as if they’re in on a secret or other privileged information. Give your fans a behind-the-scenes tour of your brand to create a deep, conspiratorial bond. There’s a sense of vulnerability and openness that helps your followers know you’re connected.
Let them see parts of your business they might not think about otherwise, because your products and services mean more when customers see the source. Expose your followers to the human side of your business to create a longer-lasting relationship.
This incentivizes your followers to stay up to date with your brand on Instagram, and incentivizes others to follow you. It’s a free way to create a sort of loyalty program. Your current clients will want to follow you on Instagram if it helps them be the first to know about new product offerings. A prospect who’s on the fence may give you a follow if there’s a chance they can find a 10% off promotion that makes your product or service more accessible. The potential to receive insider information will keep them coming back for more.
Use humor. Tell a story. Reveal something your followers might not know. There are all kinds of ways to enhance your photo or video with the caption, and it’s important to get the most out of every word.
This applies to every part of your Instagram strategy. Be on a consistent schedule. Use consistent hashtags. Refine the voice you use for your captions. Commit to certain themes for your photos. Your followers are there because they like what you’ve done in the past. It’s ok to change and evolve, but stay true to your brand.
A Georgia Tech study found that users get more engagement on Instagram posts when they include faces. Additional research has found that photos with a single dominant hue do best, and that calming blue colors are especially popular. Shadows and ridges create a textured image that will generate more likes. Low saturation, high natural light, and deep backgrounds also score more likes on average. There are exceptions to every rule, though, so the most important thing is to take beautiful photos or find someone who can.
The potential to win a prize can convince followers to interact with your brand and share it with their friends. Share a picture of your product, and announce that you’re giving one away for free. Ask your followers to enter the contest by commenting on your post or tagging the friend they’d share this free product with.
Join the conversation surrounding national holidays and other buzz-worthy events. Even obscure ‘holidays’ like Star Wars Day on May 4th can make a big splash on social media. To run with that example, a landscaping business could post a Star Wars-inspired picture with their work, and use a caption like this:
“May the fourth be with you! If you’re Yoda, you already have a green thumb. The rest of you may need help from our lawn Jedi to get your yard in perfect summer condition.”
Sometimes the best ideas are the scariest, so don’t be afraid to try new things. Show off your product or service in a unique way by sharing real world uses, demonstrations, and individual customer highlights.
One of our favorite examples of this is Dr. Pimple Popper (warning- don’t click this link if you’re eating lunch right now). Dermatology probably wouldn’t crack any top 10 lists for most exciting professions, but Dr. Sandra Lee has amassed nearly 3 million Instagram followers with her cringe-worthy videos. (She's also capitalizing on tip #9 here.)
We can’t all be creative geniuses all the time. Follow artists, designers, and other businesses in your industry to get a steady stream of new inspiration. You can even check out Instagram’s business blog for new information about updates and best practices.
People come up with creative new ideas for Instagram posts every day, so don’t be afraid to learn from others! Keeping up with great Instagram accounts will help you stay sharp, and you can even repurpose their content (see tip #3) when you’re really in a creative rut!
In early 2018, we received a new Instagram feature that has been on the wish list for a long time. Business profiles can now schedule single-photo posts to be published later. This is great for marketers and business owners who don’t have time to open Instagram every day and make their posts.
Post scheduling also makes it easier to experiment with posting at different times of the day. In addition to this new Instagram feature, there are several third-party Instagram post scheduling tools worth a look. Try Later and Hootsuite for starters.
Since Instagram is owned by Facebook (and has access to all of that data), it allows for awesome targeting if you know who you’re trying to reach. Sponsored posts are also relatively inconspicuous, so they’re less likely to be ignored than a typical online banner ad.
Sponsored Instagram ads can have a massive impact when they’re well-targeted and take advantage of Instagram being a visual medium. Make sure your sponsored posts are some of your most visually appealing work.
All of the tips in this article have worked to create a profitable social presence for countless brands, and we’re only scratching the surface of rewarding Instagram strategies. At the end of the day, the best practices for Instagram are the ones you remember to use.
Learning a new medium can be daunting, so try introducing one or two of these strategies at a time. Feel free to bookmark this article, and you can use it as a reference later.
If you’ve already mastered these 19 steps, contact us to talk about some fresh tips. We'd love to hear what works for you. We might even update this list to include your ideas and give you a shout-out!
Want to take social media off your plate all together? Give us a shout, and we'll see if our services are a good match for your brand.
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