The fact is people love Instagram. It is visually pleasing to the brain, with its clean, full-screen images. Users are passionate and interactive on their platforms. And businesses have a fantastic way to connect with other businesses and users (B2B & B2C) on a one-to-one level. With 300 million active users, 70 million new photos per day, and 5 BILLION photo likes daily (according to Instagram business resources data), it may seem probable that your business Instagram marketing efforts could get lost… Not so! We have laid out 7 best practices for Instagram marketing so that you are knowledgeable and equipped to deliver eye-candy photos, attract engaged users and leads, and provide quality, noticeable content.
1. Use High-Quality Images
We have purposely put this as number one because of its importance. Instagram is set up for quick, easily-accessible viewing. In a feed, a single thread of photos appears in a stream as a userslides photos up and out of the screen on their phone. To capture the viewer’s attention, that photo must be eye-catching. Clean and clear quality with visual content that is worth looking at – that’s the goal. There are numerous apps for editing photos – you don’t have to be a Photoshop wizard – and these help adjust photos to appear clearer, colorful and more visually pleasing. Here’s a list of our favorites:
They all have something to offer. Check out which ones work best for you. Each one is linked above, so click on them and explore at your leisure.
Also, we can’t pass up sharing this great fact about photos and color. Shopify lists some profound data: “93% of purchasing decisions are based on visual appearance and 85% of consumers cite color as the primary reason for why they purchase a product”. Very interesting! Read about why color matters here on Shopify: www.shopify.com and make your next post a colorful one!
2. Post at Optimal Times
We’ve mentioned this before in a previous blog post (Social Media for Startups), and its worthy of making this a best practice for Instagram marketing too. Because of ever-changing algorithms, Instagram posts have a rather short lifespan. If you post it now, in a few hours your followers may not even see it on their feed. So, you want to be posting when your audience is active.
There is great research out there for you to utilize to help you reach more of your target audience. An important question to understand when doing your research is what times of day are the best time to post? Maybe you haven’t thought of this before, and if you haven’t, no worries because now you know. The goal is to create engaging posts at the most engaging times …Check out this data we love from Sprout Social: www.sproutsocial.com/insights
Here’s a graphic from their blog:
So essentially, Wednesday’s at 3 pm, Thursday’s at 5 am, 11 am, 3pm and 4pm and Friday’s at 5 am. Overall, As you can see, Thursday’s tend to be the best day to post to Instagram. But on the whole, Tuesday through Friday 9 am to 6 pm are pretty good options for posting on Instagram…according to this data.
Keep in mind these are not hard and fast “rules.” You should also utilize the dataunder the ‘Insights’ tab on your Instagram account to see specifically when your users are active. It is ok to experiment too. Posting at different times may broaden your exposure. All good thoughts to keep in mind.
3. Be a Storyteller
Social storytelling is how Instagram marketing really makes you stand out from competitors. It will keep them coming back for more of the story. For example, if you have an event or campaign, don’t just post a photo of when it is all said and done. Build excitement in your audience with a first glimpse post of the prep work. Show them behind the scenes shots on your Instagram story. Then, maybe host a LIVE video during your event for users to tune in and get involved. Lastly, post beautiful photos that encapsulate the success of the event itself.
Show your product or service in use and be sure to spend time crafting a human caption of your post. Visual storytelling is powerful.
4. Engage with your Audience
Engage on your own platform, but also on theirs.
It’s not all about posting. Make sure you carve out time to like and comment on user’s posts. Even share their post, (Try it using the Repost app. Click for link.) as long as it is relevant to your brand and it is content your users want to see. If someone has mentioned you or tagged you, that is something you definitely do not want to overlook. We are in an age where people want to be treated as people on the other end of the screen. Not just a number in your follower count. And rightfully so.
Ask them questions, hold contests, or take a poll for votes. Find creative ways to involve your followers. Successful Instagram marketing is not just about delivering good content, but about making the experience human and interactive. You can even hold a contest and ask followers to post photos of them using their products with the winner receiving a prize such as a free product or exclusive offer. This segues (Read seg-ways. That’s how its spelled as a verb?! You learn something new everyday, yep everyday…) into our fifth best practice for instagram marketing…
5. Encourage User-generated Content
This is a great way to grow your instagram marketing efforts. User-generated content allows a broader audience and can save you time. Asking followers to post a photo of them using your product or service, as we mentioned before, engages them but they will also love the opportunity to share their experience and be acknowledged. And with those uploaded user photos, you then have a bundle of content to feature on your page. It’s a win win!
6. Use Hashtags
You probably already know how and why to use hashtags, but maybe you didn’t realize their affect and, you know what, we’re going to review it all anyways. Hashtags connect users to photos they may be interested in. They are a great way to further your Instagram exposure and target the right audience. You can use them to include yourself in a trend or campaign such as the classic #throwbackthursday. But, you can also create your own hashtags that pertain to your brand like the famous Red Bull campaign, #PutACanOnIt. Red Bull asked users to post photos of a Red Bull can and use the hashtag #PutACanOnIt. The campaign exploded so much that even Pepsi got involved! Fans participated in a fun way and spread exposure and love for Red Bull. There are limitless possibilities.
7. Stay Alert to new trends, changes and tools.
As with anything, Instagram is constantly changing. The app itself has received numerous updates. There are constantly new trends. Staying on top of these trends, tools and campaigns shows your followers that you are in the know and able to adapt to change and use that change for your benefit.
All of these practices should drive solid followers to your account. And with these practices you maintain quality engaged users, resulting in happy Instagram marketing leads. And who doesn’t want that? Happy posting!