I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not a professional photographer. Not even close. Exposure, ISO, aperture, soft box, bokeh. These words might as well be in a different language because I have no idea what they mean.
But that’s why Instagram has become my favorite social media network. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or designer to do well on Instagram. “The gram” doesn’t judge you for posting low-quality, on-the-fly photos of your borking doggo. Yes, high-res, airbrushed, photoshopped photos do make an appearance on my Instagram feed. But more often, I see photos of corgi sploots, old-school pictures of people sporting questionable haircuts for #ThrowbackThursday and selfies with fun face filters.Most Instagrammers, or Igers for short, couldn’t care less if your photos are taken on an iPhone or Nikon. They’re looking for more than beautiful content (though stunning visuals definitely don't hurt your chances). They’re looking for authenticity, not perfection. They want to get to know your company, brand and employees.
You see Instagram is all about transparency and showcasing your brand’s personality. And with over 500 million active monthly users and 4.2 billion daily likes, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be posting on this hot platform. But, what do you need to know before you can be successful on Instagram?
If you’re looking to start posting on Instagram, or you want to take your social media marketing up a notch, we’re sharing tips for growing your brand and getting the most out of this thriving social media website. No fancy schmancy 📷 required.
1. Take advantage of Instagram tools
There’s more to succeeding on Instagram than posting pictures of coffee foam and cats (though I follow accounts that post both). If you want to see the best engagement on Instagram, you need the right tools.
There are so many free tools out there to help you better reach your target customers and be creative on Instagram. Here are some of our favorites to get you started:
- Repost - With the Repost app, Instagram users can quickly share anyone’s photo and give credit to the original poster. Did one of your employees post a photo from a company event or industry conference on their personal account? Ask them if you can repost it and spotlight your employee.
- Boomerang - Boomerang (my personal fave) allows Instagrammers to take a quick series of photos that will play like an animated GIF. You can post Boomerangs on Instagram stories or your feed. Everyone needs to take a break sometime. Use this time to take Boomerangs of your employees being silly and having fun together!
- Layout - Layout lets you combine multiple photos into a fun collage you can post on Instagram. Drag and drop photos to rearrange them, pinch to zoom or pull the borders to adjust the size of the photos.
- Hyperlapse - Hyperlapse allows you to create polished time lapse videos on your iPhone.
- Later - Later (formerly Latergram) lets you create your Instagram posts ahead of time and post them later. Because Instagram won’t open their API to third-party applications, it’s not as easy as scheduling to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. But it does let you visually plan and schedule your posts.
- PicMonkey - PicMonkey is great for touching up or resizing photos you want to post to Instagram. You can also add text to your pictures.
- Simply Measured - Simply Measured offers a free analytics report that gives you comprehensive insight into how well your posts are doing and which posts are the most popular.
When it comes to Instagram tools, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Download these apps, give them a try and see which ones work best for your business.
2. Promote your Instagram everywhere
This may seem obvious, but promoting your Instagram is critical to building a bigger following. Add an Instagram social icon to your marketing emails, website and anywhere you already have social icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. If you have a huge Facebook following, republish your Instagram posts to Facebook to maximize your reach and drive more people to your Instagram profile.
3. Use relevant hashtags
Choosing the right hashtags for your posts can make a big difference in how well you do on Instagram. Hashtags get your posts in front of more people and increase your brand exposure.
Use tools like Keyhole to track the engagement of hashtags and pick the best hashtags for targeting your ideal customers. Keyhole gives you real-time access to the following stats for individual hashtags:
- Number of posts
- Number of users
High-volume, popular hashtags are great for getting your posts seen and amplifying brand visibility. But, it’s easier to cut through the noise when you use low-volume, long-tail hashtags. Create the most effective Instagram marketing campaign by using a combination of both.
Be careful how many hashtags you use. Too many hashtags can make your Instagram posts look spammy or messy. Stick with 3-4 hashtags for a cleaner caption.
4. Don’t overpost
Don’t be that one obnoxious user who posts an entire Facebook album on Instagram and blows up everyone’s feed (we all know a person like this). Your followers don’t want to see 20 photos from your company picnic. If you clutter their feed, they’ll unfollow you so fast you’ll get whiplash. You should post enough to stay relevant, but not so much that your followers get sick of you.
So, how often should you post on Instagram? Everyone’s advice is different. Big brands post an average of 1.5 times per day, but what works for them may not work for your business. Test out different posting frequencies and see how it impacts your engagement rates. A tool like Simply Measured (mentioned above) can help you drill down into the analytics and find the best times for posting based on past performance.
5. Catch the eye with emoji
Instagram users are absolutely, 100% emoji-smitten. A month after emoji was introduced on iOS, 10% of text on Instagram was emoji. Emoji is a fun way to connect with your target customers and add personality to your posts. There are a few ways you can use emoji in your Instagram posts.
- Use emoji at a beginning of a post, so it stands out.
- Replace certain words with emoji and keep your captions short. For example, you could replace the word “love” with ❤️ or “coffee” with ☕.
- Add a few relevant emoji at the end of your caption for an entertaining post.
Be creative and have fun with these! But be careful not to go overboard. Too many emoji can be distracting and take attention away from your main message.
Instagram offers endless possibilities to showcase your company culture and humanize your brand. Your profile should tell a visual story of your brand and emotionally resonate with your audience. By using these tips, you can maximize your Instagram reach and tap into this platform's full marketing potential.
If you're already posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, adding yet another social media platform to the mix can seem overwhelming. Let us help you hit the ground running with your new Instagram account or make the most of your existing account. Talk to one of our social media and inbound marketing experts today.