Social media user trends are shifting, and instead of flocking to Facebook, millennials are choosing the image-based Instagram to document their lives. According to a blog post from the social network itself, Instagram had over 300 million users as of December 2014. Instead of focusing on text-heavy content, update your current content strategy, learn how to target your audience on Instagram, and let pictures do the talking for you. Here’s our step-by-step guide on using Instagram for business, and how to post like a pro:
Do your homework—research the market you’re targeting. Develop a theme and content strategy that remains consistent throughout your posting, and have a reason for posting it. Don’t post for the sake of posting; ensure that the content is compelling, engages the audience and has a call-to-action. Being relevant to your audience but staying aligned with the values of your brand is essential for any social media strategy.
The key to content curation is consistency. This doesn’t mean that you should be spamming your own account with a post every couple of hours, but don’t ever go dark on your social media networks. You can now use Hootsuite to schedule Instagram posts, so create an editorial calendar with daily posts and upload them to the social media management tool. Take into consideration what hashtags your audience is using—for example, #tbt, #instatravel #fbf, etc.—and partake. Using fewer hashtags is ideal for most social networks, but this isn’t the case with Instagram. To quickly grow your audience, the recommended number of relevant hashtags is 11+.
You can also include a link to your website in your Instagram bio and embed Instagram posts on your website. From the Instagram app, you can get an embed code to add specific images and videos to your company’s website. Use the embed code to post your Instagram posts on your website.
The only kind of content you should be posting to Instagram is quality content, meaning high-quality images with engaging captions that stay true to the message of your brand. Use your caption to tell a story. Create a trustworthy image that your audience can relate to, or give your audience a behind-the-scenes sneak peek into a day in the life of your office or work environment. The more personable it is, the more trustworthy you seem.
As with any marketing strategy, observe what works and doesn’t work for your brand. Reuse and recycle content that works, and reduce the content that doesn’t. Keep in mind that posting can be all about timing and relevance to what’s going on in the news—be flexible with your planning and posting so that you can jump in immediately in the event of breaking news in your industry.
Have some fun with filters and editing features in your posts. Instagram now allows for you to post full pictures in landscape and portrait mode without having to crop the picture, and the editing features allow you to adjust exposure, fade, shadows, highlights, etc. to create the best image possible. Using a filter can add dramatic contrast and enhance colors for better images.
Get out there and socialize on Instagram. Social media was intended for social interactions, so personalize your brand and get personal with your followers by sharing exclusive deals, sweepstakes and competitions that will encourage them to engage with you. Use geotagging on Instagram and have users “check-in” to specific locations, so you can gain some insight into the type of audience checking in as well as interact with their photos, i.e. liking, commenting, or sharing their image.
Instagram allows you to share posts to several other social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. This option saves you time and allows you to promote your other social media networks, however, it should be used in moderation. When sharing to your other accounts, keep in mind the audience for each network. For example, shorten captions when posting to Twitter, and take out hashtags when sharing on Facebook. You are given the option to edit captions every time you share to a social media network, so each caption can be unique.
Show some appreciation for your followers by personally thanking them if they tag you in a post, or repost it to your own account using the Repost for Instagram app. When your users like your pictures or comment, return the favor by going through and liking and commenting on a couple of their pictures that you find the most appealing. Be sure to answer comments and questions, start conversations, and be a little playful and not too self-promotional with your users to develop real relationships. Remember, your users are real people, so you should be, too.
You can also go through and explore the hashtags you use most frequently to see what others are posting, and grow your following by liking some of those images. Explore trending places and tags using the Search and Explore tool to get an idea of what the community is talking about, what they’re doing and what they find most interesting.
Keep up with the Instagram crowd by using the Search and Explore tool to see what places, events and tags are trending.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow industry leaders or influential Instagram users to seek out a collaboration. Offer a discount, a product to review, a giveaway, or any great incentive that allows them to push your brand and get the word out there for you. If they are interested, return the favor to build credibility with your own audience as well as theirs.
If you’re running a special promotion or have a direct webpage that you want your users to visit, be sure to change the link in your Instagram bio. Links in captions don’t work, so change the default link in your bio to drive traffic to specific pages to help with brand exposure and conversions.
Whether you’re a B2B, an ecommerce business or a 5-star hotel—there’s a place for you on Instagram. Don’t wait for your competitors to gain an edge; take control of your content curation and start planning, engaging and posting on Instagram today.