Instagram enjoys in excess of 500 million active users each month, who collectively “like” over 4.2 billion posts every day. That’s an unfathomable amount of content that is being given the thumbs up and shared around the world with every passing minute.
However, many marketers are missing out, saying they simply do not have the time to take photos, write labels and hashtag about their firm’s activities, day in, day out. By spending just five minutes each day on Instagram marketing, executives can begin to harness the extraordinary power of this quirky social media platform.
One of Instagram’s main strengths is simplicity – no advertisements, restrained colours and only being allowed one photo on the screen at one time, mean users can focus on what they want to communicate.
Businesses often feel they do not have an identity to transmit in the way that an individual user does, but this is not the case. Instagram is fantastic for marketers because it connects users so well, and it’s this fluidity of communication that is priceless to brands.
1. Getting started
It is important to note that Instagram accounts are all the same, unlike Facebook and Pinterest which makes the distinction between personal and business accounts. Once you have chosen your account name, choose a suitable image that represents your brand or company and complete a 150-word blurb to go with it. The first step you need to take is also the simplest.
2. Maximising content
Your reach on Instagram depends on knowing how to engage Instagram users, so that you can build a presence and an effective identity. The best place to start is to check out similar accounts within your industry to see how competitors are making waves with the images that they upload.
Boasting 6.7m followers, Armani is a corporate powerhouse in the world of online images. But other, less image-centric corporates can be equally effective on Instagram, such as Intel or American Express which both get very creative in a bid to reach out to audiences old and new.
Many of these companies subcontract to have their accounts curated professionally, so try to look beyond the cutting-edge photo technology to the techniques these accounts are using to engage their users.
3. Posting content
Tweets can be scheduled on Twitter using tools such as TweetDeck, but there is no free technology for Instagram. However, in order to make the most of Instagram's platform, it's worth thinking carefully about your content in order to maximize the outcome. Construct a detailed calendar showing what material needs to go out and when.
Information contained in the document would include the post’s date and time and the image you want to upload. While there is no limit to what kinds of images can be posted, it is best to stay fresh and light-hearted, and avoid posting too many ads.
Funny and relevant memes can also help to engage followers, while Instagram has 17 in-built filters which can be used to improve the quality of images. When describing images, there is no limit to the number of characters that can be used, freeing copywriting teams up to write as little or as much as they see fit.
Videos can also be uploaded and these have huge reach potential. Each one can be up to 15 seconds in length and are at their best when mixed with image uploads. Videos on their own tend to attract around half as much engagement as images.
It is important to remember that any audience will turn off if they are bombarded by too many posts, so ensure your calendar or posting schedule accommodates this. A basic A/B test can be used to gauge the reaction of followers, available through free online platforms such as Iconosquare (formerly Statigram), Simply Measured and Instafollow (iOS app).
Each of these social media management platforms will help you track which posts garner the most engagement, giving insight into the best things to post and when.
A signature of the modern age, social media is the domain of the hashtag and Instagram is no exception.
Using the correct hashtags can be critical to the reach of your posts, as they allow your photos to be found by users searching for ‘hashtagged’ terms. Just like Twitter and other sites, Instagram has its favourite hashtags; for instance, #love is Instagram’s preferred tag with nearly 500 million posts, while #instagood and #me follow with 250 million and 240 million posts respectively.
Businesses need to see beyond popular tags, however, to focus on the right tags which will promote long-term engagement and boost new follower numbers. Keyword research will allow you to find out the most appropriate tags to your photos, terms that describe your brand in an Instagram-friendly way.
Handily, Instagram permits up to 30 hashtags to be used for each post, but even with this range, keywords will still change over time. Revisiting your keywords every few months will ensure your posts remain current.
In 2017, 70.7% of US companies will be marketing through Instagram, a figure that is set to overshadow even the mighty Twitter. The statistic demonstrates just how powerful the tool has become in its ability to connect and engage users.
It is easy to be put off by a medium of such potential, especially for teams with little or no experience in social media marketing. However, as soon as executives take that simple first step, just five minutes per day can access new global audiences and unprecedented levels of Instagram-inspired engagement.