Instagram, the online photo and video sharing and social network platform made its debut in 2010. Purchased by Facebook in April 2012—Instagram is perhaps every developers dream come true.
Over the years the platform’s popularity has continued to grow exponetially with milestone additions such as hashtags, filters, profile pages for mobile and Web, expansion of languages, videos, sponsored photos and videos, live video, and the ability to post up to ten pictures or videos at the same time, Instagram stories, business profiles and the ability to turn Instagram posts into ads directly from the Instagram app itself. (source).
I’ve returned to using Instagram more frequently myself and was overdue to revisit the platform. (My last article about Instagram was in 2013. Eons ago on the socialsphere!)
In this article I’ll discuss a number of tips and strategies for getting the most bang for your buck on Instagram with examples from Instagram profiles for retailers, H&M and TopShop, and one Instagram influencer, Steven Fingar.
Special thanks to JustMetrics who generously provided access to their software for this article. As a result, I was able to easily pull-up invaluable analytics and insights about profiles: number of followers, likes, comments and published posts. Including time of day, top hashtags, top tagged users, top filters used, post type-photo or video and the posts lifespan.
Why Use Instagram?
Instagram offers businesses a creative communications strategy to drive users to their landing pages. It’s not too surprising but like all social media platforms, some businesses do a better job than others.
A recent article by Karen McCandless provides noteworthy insights for utilizing effective techniques on Instagram:
- know your audience;
- connect with other brands, products, people, places and businesses relevant to your company and start liking and commenting on their content;
- offer exclusive incentives;
- test calls to action;
- make your hashtags memorable;
- stop selling so hard;
- use multiple photos (clickable) to send followers to your landing page;
- measure your efforts;
- and explore third-party social media marketing apps to help drive conversion from Instagram to your landing pages. (e.g. four sixty.com, soldier, social rank, and repost.
In addition to Instagram’s popularity with individuals and businesses, other observations about the platform have been made—most notably, the quality of the photos, composition, precision and editing have come a long way. (source)
Beautiful photos of all subject matters can be found on Instagram making it a great place to find inspiration of all kinds.
Instagram’s Learning Curve
Staying on top of announcements, updates, and best practices via regular reading of Instagram’s business blog can further one’s knowledge of Instagram and lead to better engagement.
For instance, one recent article describes a study around biometrics that shows how people react physiologically to ads on Instagram finding that respondents focused their attention more on the image portion of the ad than on the other parts, such as the text associated with the ad. This information supports the importance of sharing quality, artistic photos.
Building an Instagram Strategy
An Instagram strategy that includes detailed information about what, when, and how-to’s for your posts will also go a long way. Think hashtags, captions, choice of photos and videos, number of posts published per day, and mentions.
Strategic use of niche influencer-generated hashtags will foster better user engagement (source).
Avoid hashtags that contain over five million posts or so. That way your image will not be bogged down within seconds to a “black hole” of no return on that hashtag feed, because many users are posting that same hashtag at the same time as you. (source)
Create a hashtag with your brand name to leverage visibility and uniqueness.
For example, retailer TopShop uses #topshopstyle vs. #style. H&M uses #HMLovesCoachella vs. #Coachella. Steven Fingar used #jcrewdenim which demonstrates how the right hashtag will get a brand’s attention. In the example below, you can see how @jcrew saw the post and reached out to Fingar about using the photo in their marketing efforts.
Writing a good Instagram caption is key– one that provides context, adds personality, and inspires your followers to take action.
Good Instagram captions can be a short and sweet caption to a longer, in-depth storytelling post (up to 2200 characters.) (source)
One statistic by Simply Measured finds that posts that mention other users in the caption average 37% higher engagement.
Finding your posting sweet spot will go a long way.
*Data on JustMetrics showed that TopShop, H&M, and Steven Fingar all met or exceeded the 4.9 times per week.
Bios and Usernames
Your username and bio are the first thing visitors will see when they land on your profile—they’re important and should be crafted carefully. (source)
Two things that are often forgotten: email and location. Depending on your type of business you may want to include your email to show potential clients and peers where they can contact you (for work or collaborations), and add a location so they know where you’re based. (source)
Keep in mind when you build an audience that the majority of it will expect you to keep posting the same kind of images. You shouldn’t restrict yourself in posting only one genre, but try to be consistent in your posts. This will ensure that your images always reach the optimum number of people. (source)
Evaluating your business and businesses in your industry use of Instagram can help provide a competitive edge—noting what’s working, what’s not, and building those findings into your approach. Using an analytics program like JustMetric’s will help make you explore the territory more deeply.
Here are a few examples from retailer H&M’s analytics:
Instagram is an active, dynamic social media platform that can be adapted by businesses of all types, sizes and industries.
Run your Instagram profile like a well-oiled machine and you’ll be way ahead of the game–with successful posts, hashtags and engagement!
What ways can you improve your presence on Instagram? What steps will you take next? Leave your thoughts and comments in the space below.