You are probably well aware by now that as a business it is imperative to have some kind of social media presence. And, while what platforms your business uses will vary based on industry, target market, digital marketing strategy and growth goals — as a general rule of thumb, it’s safe to say you should have a presence with the three major players: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Instagram is a social media platform and mobile app that allows users to share photos and videos to their followers and social network. For consumer-based businesses, using Instagram is a no-brainer: it is an excellent tool to showcase new products in a visually appealing way. For service-based companies, Instagram is still a heavy-hitter in the marketing game because it offers opportunities to showcase the tangible results of your intangible service offerings. For all industries, Instagram is a way to become relatable, humanize your brand and “lift the curtain” so to speak.
Check out our 10 tips to improve your business’ Instagram presence:
1. Make sure your username is consistent across all channels.
If you are @VDGATL on Twitter and Facebook, then name your account @VDGATL on Instagram as well. We also recommend creating a domain name and e-mail address with that username as well to further promote your brand.
2. Cross-promote on your other social channels.
If your priority for this quarter is increasing Instagram engagement, then it’s important to drive people to your Instagram page whenever you can. If you’re hosting a social media contest, promote it on Facebook and Twitter with a link to your Instagram page, prompting people to follow you on Instagram to enter. You could also post a video on Instagram and promote it with your other accounts, making the user navigate to Instagram to view the video. Be sure to also include links to your Instagram account in your bios on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail marketing campaigns.
3. Make your post captions short and concise.
Instagram has a character limit of 2,200 characters, which is approximately 300+ words…aka, way more than you should ever use. Every photo and video you post should include a caption describing the image, but keep those captions short and concise. If you must post more information, it is better to drive people to your blog to learn more.
4. Use 4-5 #hashtags per post.
Hashtags are important to aggregate content and to help your post be found by the community you’re targeting, but reports have shown that Instagram’s algorithms lessen the possibility of your post showing up on followers’ feeds and on the Instagram “discover page” if you use more than five at once. We recommend having one hashtag that you use on everything (ie: your company name) and then choosing the other 4 most popular and recently used hashtags that relate to the content of your post. Hashtagify.me is a great, free tool to search for hashtag popularity and trends.
5. Create a coherent layout, look and feel for your page.
Plan a specific color palette each month or use the same filters and editing tools on all photos to create a consistent look for your brand. We’re not saying that all photos need to look exactly the same, but the goal is for people to go to your page and recognize your brand. Check out these 14 brands that are killing it on Instagram.
6. Think about having weekly or monthly “themes” or “series.”
Developing a weekly or monthly theme gives your fans something to look forward to and count on. You can build off of already-popular social media trends, such as #throwbackThursday or #motivationalMonday, or you could create your own series, like “behind the scenes” or “client spotlight.”
7. Reply to comments and engage with fans.
Reply to all comments in a timely manner, we recommend within 24 hours. If somebody tags your page or uses one of your hashtags, you should comment on their post too. People love seeing brands engage with them on Instagram. For example, our Jr. Art Director, Shay Harbaugh, did a hand-lettering post on her personal Instagram page and tagged Sharpie. When they commented on her post and then asked her if they could share it on their business page, she was ecstatic. This is a simple way to connect with your fans and increase brand loyalty, creating customers for life.
8. Ask questions.
Another simple way to encourage engagement is by asking a question in your post. Just make sure that when your fans answer your question that you reply or “like” their response by clicking the heart next to the comment. Social media is all about sparking conversation and prompting further discussion, so don’t just post and walk away.
9. Use emojis (sparingly).
Adweek reports that emojis lead to higher engagement on Instagram. Emojis help your brand come across as more personable and friendly; but, there is a fine line between looking like an excited 12 year old who just got her first phone and a professional business that people want to talk to. Stick to just 1-4 appropriate emojis per post and don’t make your fans try to decode or translate what you’re saying. You can even reply to your fans with an emoji, for instance a “fist bump” or “thumbs up” when they compliment one of your products.
10. Post multiple photos at once.
The Instagram carousel feature allows users to publish up to 10 photos in one post. This is a great way to showcase a line of products, multiple photos from one event or before and after pictures. We do recommend, however, that if you are applying filters to the photos, then use the same filters and photo-editing techniques to all photos within the post.
Bonus Tip: Post at the optimum times when your followers are most likely to be actively using Instagram.
In the top right corner of your Instagram profile you will see a bar graph icon, which will lead you to Instagram Insights. Once there, go to “Followers” and “see more.” This will break down the demographics of your fans, such as gender, age range and locations. It will also show you what days of the week and times of day your followers are most active on Instagram. In our experience, the best times of day are weekdays around noon-1pm, when people are scrolling through their phones during their lunch breaks and evenings around 8-9pm when people have settled down for the evening, finished dinner and are vegging out before bedtime.
We hope these tips help boost your brand on Instagram. For more insight on your company’s social media pages, schedule a free marketing consultation with our team.