The following post is a guest post written by a featured contributor
Now proudly boasting over 500 million users worldwide as of June 2016, Instagram is taking the digital world by storm, and integrating this platform into a social media marketing strategy requires a degree of planning and execution.
Here are 10 essential tips for webmasters and brands that can help you achieve success and reach your target audience by leveraging one of the fastest growing social platforms in the world – Instagram.
Intro to Instagram
Inspired by a love of photography, Instagram was born with the mission of transforming mediocre phone-photos to works of art with easy filtering and bulk-less sharing. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has become one of the largest communities of creative individuals sharing moments of their lives in picture-perfect posts.
With the tremendous growth can an onslaught of opportunities for marketers to play a role in showcasing products or services while connecting directly with their target audience. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
With a platform flooded with 80 million photos published per day, leveraging the industries latest tips and tricks to be seen isn’t an option, it’s essential.
10 Essential Tips for Brand Owners and Webmasters
Decoding Instagram success may not be an exact formula, but these tips certainly get you well on the way to achieving more impressions, higher engagement, and creating an extension of your brand identity.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead and Follow a Schedule
Before you start going post-crazy uploading all your favorite pics – consider first that a strategy must be in place to achieve success.
Find the time that your target audience most often uses the app, and post accordingly. This will maximize exposure and engagement. And don’t get carried away.
While posting regularly keeps your followers engaged and active, posting too frequently will result in followers lost. Posting 1X a day is the key to a balanced schedule.
Tip #2: Be Consistent
This applies not only to the frequency of your posts, but also the theme or story behind your imagery. Posting a great image is sure to bring in some likes, but being consistent with your branded message attracts similarly minded users to follow. Know who you are, who your audience is, and let the storytelling begin.
Want to use filters? Using the same filter is a quick-solution to giving your images a cohesive feel. Can’t decide on which to use? Mayfair receives the most likes.
Tip #3: Think Young
90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35. If your target audience is much higher, Instagram may not be the best platform for you – no matter what your agency is telling you. If your target audience is 35 and under, you’ve hit the jackpot. When posting, consider the demographic and communicate accordingly.
Tip #4: Leverage Hashtags
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of hashtags. How many should you use? What hashtags do you use? How often should you incorporate them? A simple answer: hashtags drive traffic to your profile and photos that you may not have received otherwise. It’s a great form of discovery for reaching new potential fans. Use them.
Instagram allows a maximum of 30 #’s per post. For starter-companies – use them. A great way to disguise them is placing them in the comments section rather than the image caption itself. For more established brands, 2-3 well targeted hashtags will do the trick.
While there are methods of “cheating” the system and refreshing those hashtags to get past 30 – it’s not recommended. Unless you want to risk the chance of being banned from the platform all together. Be honest; be concise, and use hashtags that relate with the image your posting and the individuals you’re trying to reach.
Tip #5: Post Highest Quality Photos
Pay special attention to the word highest… not just high. 80 million photos are published per day. Part of being seen is achieving placement in one of the “top posts” featured at the top of the hashtag search window. If you want your post to compete for that placement, they cannot be good or even great – they have to be the best.
Tips for the best photos: Consider your top 10 shots, ditch the bottom half, and post only the best of the best. Pay special attention that all aspects of the post are perfected to the best of your capabilities.
Points to Consider:
Tip #6: Leave Whitespace
Another interesting fact about Instagram – photos with white space receive higher engagement and more likes. Don’t stuff your photos. Be tasteful and master the art of dynamic placement in space.
Tip #7: Use Catchy Descriptions
Though Instagram is primarily a visual platform, users do read the caption. And showing a bit of humor or relative thoughts can attain likes and attraction on its own. Consider your target audience and adopt their voice. Featuring surf gear and suits? You better brush up on your slang. Promoting technology? Know the facts and include some stats.
Receive the highest engagement rate with captions that are 20-49 characters long.
Tip #8: Play Nice with Others
Remember, Instagram is a community made of people – and actually quite supportive, constantly seeking love (in form of heart-likes, comments and follows). Do your share, and love will be reciprocated. Instagram has limits on these actions per day and hour (which they choose to keep quite discreet) but you should near these limits in order to connect with similar minded users that may be a good match.
Sound like spamming? Not really. As long as your seeking out targeted users who would genuinely like to be introduced to your products or services, they’ll be thankful for the love – and for being friends with you for the long haul.
Tip #9: Use Geo Tags
Because why not. Geo tags are one more way for users to find your photos in Instagram search. Take advantage of the pain-free boost.
Tip #10: Be Authentic
If anyone can tell when you’re being fake – it’s on Instagram by your closest friends and followers. When considering all of the tips and tricks for Instagram success, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of strategy and loose sight of passion.
Instead, remain true to yourself and your brand identity, tell a story that matters, and never lose sight of the heritage of what your products or services is about and how they can benefit your target audience.
Additional Resources and Instagram Tips for Brand Owners
Want more? Here are a few tips, tricks and fun facts that can help you further develop your Instagram social media marketing strategy.
• Post on Sunday’s – your photos will have the strongest impact
• Be blue. Images with blue as the dominant color perform 24% better than other colors
• Post fashion (if it applies to your industry). Fashion is the most engaged industry on Instagram more than doubling it’s nearest industry competitor, Beauty
• Research the best hashtags in your industry. All-Hashtag is a great generator if you’re looking for ideas
• Track your success and build off of it. If you notice a trend in your most engaged photos, repeat.
• Share on Twitter. Tweets including Instagram links are 42% less likely to be ReTweeted
• Use hashtags that don’t apply to the photo – you’re wasting your time
• Use stock photos or images that don’t belong to you. If you want real connections, you need to be real yourself
• Ask users to follow you, it looks desperate
• Reach an unbalanced follow-to-follower ratio. Follow too many people and (again)… you look desperate. Your reputation matters, don’t ruin it
• Forget to have fun! It’s social media after all, enjoy the real relationships and connections you can make through this fast-growing community
Users spending an average of 21 minutes per day on Instagram. Leverage these essential tips and connect directly with your target audience through passion, imagery and a storytelling experience that can’t be missed.
The following is a guest post written by a featured contributor…
Kristina Petrick is passionate about creating real relationships and storytelling experiences through creative writing and rich media; she is working for NYC Based Digital Marketing Agency. Her years of experience working in the industries of fashion and social media marketing stem from both branded and agency industries, alongside her own successful lifestyle blog.