Instagram may be one of the newest social media platforms – but with around 500 million monthly users and counting it’s also one of the fastest-growing. Every day the Instagram audience grows, as users from a broad global demographic discover the fun of photo-sharing. And of course, the top brands are all getting in on the action – so why not join them?
Every business needs a visual identity. Creating an Instagram account for your business is a fantastic way to tell the story of your brand and engage with your audience – two key parts of any good marketing strategy. The visual nature of Instagram lets you get creative as you ‘sell’ your brand using photos and videos, rather than tired old sales techniques. And with Instagram’s engagement stats easily topping some of the larger social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, it’s the smart choice for building a tribe of devoted followers for your brand.
Setting up your Instagram account from scratch? Or looking for new ideas to take your campaign to the next level?
Make nailing your Instagram campaign your New Year’s resolution with these ten great ways to raise your Instagram game in 2017…
First things first, your profile needs to look great.
Get Instagram for Business
You can use a standard Instagram account for your business, but if you get Instagram for Business you get some great extra features at no extra cost. You’ll be able to add information, such as your business phone number or email address, to your account to make it easier for people to contact to you. You’ll also be able to analyse your campaign with Instagram Insights, which gives you those all-important stats about your followers and the success of your content.
When it comes to writing your Instagram bio, you need to give people the key information about your brand in a short and snappy way. This should include:
- What you do
- What makes you special
- Your website URL – you can link to your homepage or your latest blog post
- Your other social media platforms if you have them
- Your hashtags if you have them (more on this later)
Using URL shorteners, such as tiny.cc, is a great way of keeping your bio looking concise. They can also help you track how much of your website traffic is coming in through Instagram. Take a look at how other brands, such as Traveling Vineyard, do it if you’re in need of inspiration.
Now you’re ready to get posting – this is the fun part!
Take the best photos you can
Over 80 million photos are shared on Instagram every single day. So yours need to stand out! Luckily Instagram has some fantastic photo filters and in-app editing features for you to play around with, but it also pays to learn about the photography basics. A little know-how goes along way – composition, lighting and contrast can all mean the difference between an average photo and a beautiful one! Get into the habit of taking loads of photos to give yourself plenty of options and try not to go too overboard with the filters. You need to experiment with your style in the early stages but your eventual aim is to find a consistent aesthetic that works for your brand.
Get into videos
Instagram’s video feature is a brilliant way of sparking engagement with your followers as they tend to be more popular than photos. Videos really take your storytelling to the next level and allow you to share the personal side of your brand so try to shake off any camera-shyness (or be honest and own your awkwardness for a nice authentic touch). If you’re not keen to get in front of the camera, remember your video can feature anything you like – it doesn’t have to be your face!
Get creative with apps
There are a growing number of Instagram apps for you to play around with. They have everything you could need to make your content unique to your brand. Options you can try include airbrushing, making funny gifs, filming short-loop videos, creating photo collages and customising your photos with doodles and words. There is also some great free editing software, such as Snapseed, you can download to give your photos are more professional finish.
Once you’re creating great content, you need to share it right? Here’s how…
Spend some time on your descriptions
Posting descriptions alongside your photos and videos should be a key part of your campaign. Not only do your descriptions help tell your story, they also help make your Instagram more visible. You can go for funny captions or heartfelt stories but keep it genuine and consistent with your brand.
You also need to include some hashtags to allow users to find you. There’s some debate here about whether long lists of similar hashtags are the best way to make your account visible or make you seem amateurish. Some brands get around this by sticking to a few key hashtags in their description and then posting a comment afterwards with an additional list of hashtags. Either way, it’s crucial that you do some research to find the top hashtags in the areas that are relevant to your business – and use them! You can also tag other brands or users in your description to draw people into a conversation or build a relationship.
Grow your tribe
Instagram is one of the best platforms for building up a community of followers. But you need to put it in the work. This means taking the time to follow and comment on other accounts, like and share other people’s photos and videos, reply to everyone’s comments on your posts, big up your partners and build those relationships. This won’t happen overnight but it can be one of the most rewarding things about Instagram. Don’t feel you have to play it cool – get stuck in, be enthusiastic and share your passion. Ask your followers questions, get them to share their stories and try running the odd giveaway competition.
Again, it’s worth doing research and finding out who the big influencers are in the areas relevant to your business and building a relationship with them. Done right, this can give your brand massive boost and tap into thousands of potential followers.
Ready to take things to the next level? Keep reading…
Create a content calendar
Once you are regularly posting on Instagram, creating a content calendar is a great way of bringing an overarching strategy to your campaign. Plus, it saves you the (sometimes agonising) daily decision of what to post as you’ll have it all planned out in advance! Plan ways to tie in your content with holidays and events that are likely to be trending – as well as big milestones in your business. Make sure you leave room to be flexible as well. Things change, new trends emerge and you want to be able to take advantage of that.
Put together a style guide
To give your Instagram account a consistent aesthetic it can be really helpful to put together a style guide, especially if you are part of a team. Freedom to be creative is important but having pre-agreed preferences will help your account to stay cohesive with your brand’s look. Agree on style choices, such as colour palettes, composition and filters, as well as guidance for subjects, themes, descriptions and tags.
Consider curating content
The ultimate goal to your Instagram campaign is, of course, to share quality content that your followers will love. But the creation of 100% of that content doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders. Curating content that has been shared by your followers as a fantastic way to engage them in your community and get fresh content for your account. Some successful accounts, such as Lush Hair Extensions, ‘regram’ photos from their followers and influencers. This works particularly well if they are using your product, just make sure you get permission and always give them credit! You can also create a hashtag for your brand, which your followers can use to share content with you for the chance of a feature on your account.
And your final bonus tip?
Have fun with it!
Instagram is all about being creative and building communities, both of which only work if you’re having fun. Allow yourself to experiment. Build in time to monitor and evaluate your account. If something doesn’t work you learn from it, and if it does work you can build on that success. It’s all part of evolving and being responsive to your tribe’s needs.
Remember, this is your chance to share your passion for what you do – be authentic about that (and follow the tips in this post) and people will love what you do!