If you’re reading this, chances are you are aware of the bonuses that a well managed Instagram can bring to a business. On the other hand, maybe you’re one of the over 5000 people this month that will Google “How to be Instagram famous”. Between you and me, I hope it’s the former.
The app itself has evolved from its early stages of a simple image sharing platform to become this immense opportunity for businesses to cement a brand image. It has become a hub where millions of people discover and judge a business’s visual identity.
Just for clarification, when I say millions, I mean over 600 million users. According to a November 2015 user survey, Instagram found that 60% of users said they discovered a new brand on Instagram and that nearly half of all its active users follow at least one business on the platform.
These aren’t the only huge stats that the app churns out either. A 2014 Forrester study found that the average engagement rate for a brand on Instagram was 58 times higher than that on Facebook. In terms of social standing and recognition, Instagram is one of the most important platforms to get yourself on.
There’s not a whole lot of new ideas to learn when it comes to Instagram. Obviously social platforms have allowed users to upload pictures for years. The content itself needs to be of a generally higher quality, as your audience and the users of Instagram already have a set expectation when it comes to posts.
As with anything, it’s important to have a clear idea or message that your account will represent. Your whole brand needs to be recognisable from these images and hashtags. Keep your posts related to you, but don’t forget to mix it up. Interlaced images of products with quotes or areas of beauty in the local area. Everything you post needs to be linked back to you. Your brand isn’t just a product and your account needs to reflect this. Your brand is the people you employ, the people you work with, the area you’re based and the blog posts you write.
You don’t need to try and become a professional photographer but try and master the basics. Work on your shot composition and lighting. Take other massive brands posts as inspiration and mix it together with your own creativity. It may help to find a sturdy photo editing app to help you along; there are plenty to choose from to add that much-needed filter or frame to really tie together a shot.
Your brand’s first impression will more than likely be made from your bio. This little introductory section lets you get the attention of all your visitors. Keep it light and to the point, and obviously link to your business site. Mix it up every so often by linking to new content or to an older but more popular page. This gives you a semi-constant supply of content as with each change you can have a post to go along with it and make more people aware that your brand and site isn’t just a homepage.
Instagram’s primary focus in terms of communication is the Hashtag. This is your way of getting into everyone’s view. Through the search function within the app users can search keywords and be fed a stream of images and videos using that keyword.
The recurring theme throughout all these sections is relatable and creative. Your one-word, obvious hashtags will more than likely get you in front of the largest audience, but longer more specific ones will help people pick you out of the crowd. Be ironic or ridiculous, anything extra to get yourself noticed or to get your brand viewed by a specific target group.
Make sure to be using your hashtag in the offline world to get more recognition and more traffic. Perhaps choose a Hashtag that best represents your brand to go along with every post and to be added to receipts or radio adverts. Add it to all of your other social profiles and even to the end of emails. The more places you can cross-promote, the easier it is for more people to find you.
People say pictures are worth a thousand words. Now in general yes that may be true, but without words, chances are, you’re not going to be able to effectively communicate with your following. At first, it might feel odd but over time your writing will improve and you’re bound to see a more receptive and interactive crowd following along. It’s also important to note that links don’t work within Instagram captions so make sure that bio is updated regularly to direct people towards your site.
Following closely behind the purveyors of the platform, Instagram has introduced a “visible for 24 hours only” video platform. This is the perfect opportunity for your brand to keep itself in people’s minds in the downtimes between regular, scheduled posts. Consisting of shorter videos or images, several can be posted together in a short time to document a story, product release or just some ‘behind the scenes’ of your brand. Once started Instagram offers several editing tools including the option to add overlay captions or writing.
Like many other social media platforms, Instagram has the ability to tag and sort images by location. This means that on top of keywords in your captions you can gain brand visibility by area. Tap on a location tagged in an image and it brings up of a list of associated posts with the same Geotag. This means that as well as associating your brand with a place or area, you can encourage clients or visitors to interact by posting their own pictures at your brand locations. Using this feature to your advantage and teaming up with other local brands can allow you to reach an even wider audience and maybe groups your brand may not normally attract. This can be even more of an advantage if your brand has a large online presence of which other businesses and brands turn to to help them.
Interaction and regularity is an important aspect of building a social identity to your brand. Thankfully Instagram gives you the perfect tool to do so. Turning on post notifications for your most influential pages lets you know when they update their profile and allows you to build a rapport with influential and dominant pages. Using third party apps you can also repost other pages images to your own page, especially useful when it comes to showing off other people’s creative additions or interactions with your brand. As with all social media, a lot of importance comes down to cross-platform advertising. Embedding Instagram posts within blogs or other social updates the perfect way to get more people to your profile. Include badges and usernames on all your social profiles on web pages, flyers or adverts. The more you connect across different platforms, the larger the web you can catch people in.
It may seem like a lot to master, but when you can find the right posts to get the most out of your brand and increase it’s following, you’re on your way to becoming an influential member of one the most prized social media platforms.