Instagram has more than 700 million active users and more than 80% of those users follow at least one business. Every month, over 120 million Instagrammers engage with brands in actionable ways by visiting their websites, messaging, calling or emailing.
Be Yourself. Brand Yourself.
Know who you are and define it for your audience. Your Instagram strategy needs to be rooted in your brand. If you’re just getting started, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions.
- Who are your customers?
- Who are your competitors? (Follow them!)
- Who do you want to reach?
- What is your style and brand personality?
- What sort of images best convey your brand story and personality?
Be consistent with your messaging, and use the best photographs you have or can find. The more compelling your content, the more followers you’ll gain. (And keep!)
Hashtags. Use ‘em!
You can use up to 30 hashtags in a single post. Posts that contain at least one hashtag average about 13% higher engagement than posts without any hashtags.
I recently tried an experiment with a social account that typically only uses 2-3 hashtags per post. I posted 20 hashtags in a single post and that image got about four times the engagement (likes and comments) as the other images that only had 2-3 hashtags. So I’ve seen how powerful relevant tagging can be.
The great thing about Instagram is that you don’t have to necessarily create your own photos internally. With user-generated content (content posted by other Instagram users), you can create dynamic posts with high-quality images that highlight or tie into your brand. Just be sure to assign photo credit to the photographer, otherwise it’s bad form to share. In some cases you may want to private message the user to ask to use their photo, or leave a comment on the photo you want to share, asking if you can share it with your audience in return for photo credit.
Search for hashtags related to your venture and curate the best photos you can find (and secure permission to share) to create the experience you want to showcase on your Instagram. Through your hashtag research, you can start building a repository of user-generated content by bookmarking the images you want to share. Encourage your followers to use your brand hashtag (such as a company name) in their relevant photos. The more people using your tag, the more photos you’ll have to choose from.
Each day, set aside some time (even 10-15 minutes) to follow other people and business accounts that you think will be interested in what you’re doing. If you want engagement, it’s important to engage with others by following, commenting, and liking their posts as well. The more time you can carve out to do that, the more people will start following and engaging with your Instagram account in return.
Use your Instagram Insights to inform posts to your followers. Figure out the language that will speak to them, at peak times of use, to maximize your reach. Take a look at the follower insights across gender, age range, top locations, and the days and times the followers are most active on your account, and then post accordingly.
You don’t have to have a huge following or even have your own in-house photo assets in order to have a really successful post with high user engagement. Remember that every post you build is one piece of your brand story, and over time, post by post, it will grow into a more fully realized narrative that your audience will start recognizing, connecting to, and interacting with.