Instagram is one of the most creative social media outlets we have access to today. In our technologically dependent lives, imagery is becoming the quick and easy way to gather and scan for information. How can you stand out as a brand or business and make the most of this increasingly busy channel? Here are a few tips to help your business get ahead on Instagram.
1. Find your niche with content
Instagram has 200 million monthly active users, of which an estimated 1.95 million are in Australia. Finding your strategy about how to connect with this audience is a similar approach to your marketing strategy: how do you want your audience to view your brand? What would they like to see and interact with? What can you do to make your content shareable with this audience? It's about taking this large number of users and finding your niche. Sometimes it’s the quirky things behind-the-scenes that capture the imagination. One of our popular Instagram posts was this hyperlapse of a Loves Data team member completing a Rubix’s Cube – in 2 minutes!
2. Visual Identity
Instagram is a great tool for business, but to make it successful it’s important to develop a style that's consistent with your brand. For some businesses, content is a little more tricky to come by if you don’t have products and/or services that are typically exciting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t frame them in a new light. @generalelectric is an excellent example of making a seemingly ordinary product into something spectacular through the use of beautiful photography, careful cropping and a set style guideline.
Curating and planning is a big factor which contributes to visual success. Part of your visual identity is thinking about how your feed will look as a whole. Instagram is aimed at capturing the instant (as the name suggests) and isn’t currently designed to allow for scheduling, or updating your gallery once published. We’ve got a few easy tips to help you get around this:
- Keep the image style visually uniform, by including a similar amount of negative space, colour scheme, subject matter and overall tone. Over time, the effect will become clearer in your gallery.
- Avoid repeatedly uploading too many visually similar images, and make sure your gallery has some variety.
- Plan upcoming Instagram posts by including them in Dropbox (or other cloud storage) that you can access with your phone. Number each image based on your chosen order, and remember to allow for unscheduled images too.
Make your captions stand out on Instagram by adding context, personality and voice to your images. On the @Lovesdata_ Instagram we add /* around the caption */ – to reference the way you add comments to code and it speaks to our brand personality.
What could you add to your feed that can make your brand personality stand out?
Made a mistake in your caption? You’ll be happy to know that there was also a recent update, allowing you to edit your captions after publishing.
5. Tagging, hashtagging and geotagging
Adding tags to your captions (whether they are user tags, hashtags or geotags) can help with your visibility and audience engagement. Don’t go overboard though – make sure you use your tags sparingly, to get you the best results. Here are a few of our top tips:
- Including punctuation in the hashtag will break the tag. For example #chef’sspecial will become #chef.
- We can't say this one enough: don’t use too many hashtags – no one wants to see a caption full of tags! Use hashtags that are relevant to that post, and that will help you reach out to the Instagram community.
- To make your image more visible, you can use the relevant brand name as a hashtag (for example: #hashtag), in conjunction with tagging the Instagram user name (for example @user_name). It’s important to note that @tagging a user (@user_name or @lovesdata_) alerts the user that you’re reaching out to, while hashtagging (#hashtag or #lovesdata) also makes your image searchable. Tagging other relevant Instagram users will notify that user, and encourages a conversation with your community, which in turn helps with your brand’s visibility.
- Use geotagging for unique photos. To do this select ‘Add Photo to Map’ during the caption edit stage. This will mean the picture will appear whenever someone searches for that location.
- Remember to give credit where it’s due. If you’ve reshared or borrowed an image, always credit the image owner – via a tag, hashtag, or simply text in caption.
6. Keep up with your community
As with any social network, you should be an active part of your community by listening, commenting and resharing. This is where your hashtags and user tags for your brand name come in handy! Monitor your interactions and the conversations around your brand, and remember to reach out if someone in your community has mentioned you. A quick ‘like’ or comment goes a long way in building your relationships and growing your engagement.
You can also view your Instagram feed on your desktop, but the notifications and search options are more limited. Log in by going to your profile page (eg. instagram.com/[username] http://instagram.com/lovesdata_) and clicking ‘Login’ at the top right. If you juggle more than one Instagram account, don’t forget that you can also log into your account from a desktop to monitor your activity feed. Try the Instagram Chrome add-on, which allows you log in, scroll through your home feed, search users and hashtags and even interact with them.
A great way to gain traction on your Instagram account is to hold a competition – it can increase your visibility across different networks, improve engagement levels with your current networks, and increase your follower count You could ask users to get creative and respond to a question visually, reshare images, and hashtag their conversations. A good example of brands doing this well is @nikerunning who have set up their hashtag #NikeFree which gets users sharing what they’re doing with Nike products.
8. Getting insights from your Instagram
There is no inbuilt reporting feature for Instagram just yet, but if you’re like us and want to track exactly how many people have come to your website through that particular channel, it is possible. A quick way to do this is by using a tagged URL on the Instagram profile bio to track Instagram users on your website. The data will show up as a custom campaign in your Analytics account.
For regular insights and day-to-day monitoring, we use a third-party solution Iconosquare. It provides some great summaries of your community, trends, statistics, and recommendations for filters, hashtagging and posting times to boot. You can also interact with your community directly within the Iconosquare interface. Better yet: it’s a free service.
How have you fared on Instagram? Do you have your own tips and hacks to help get the most out of this platform?