I came across these simple, but spot on tips for using Instagram to grow your business on Social Media Today and I felt compelled to share it. The whole article paints a very clear picture of what Instagram is and why it is so powerful. Give it a quick read and take notes. Here are the 6 tips:
1. Use images to tell a story, not blast your branding
If you sell a product or service, make sure the images you use are about the experience of using the product or service, and not a product placement ad. Starbucks is an example of a big brand that does this well. Sure their photos show lots of Starbucks cups, but their photos also tell a story—the focus is always on what the person is doing while enjoying their coffee—on the beach, reading a book, etc.
There’s not a lot of tolerance for marketing that’s obviously marketing on social in general, and I would argue less so on Instagram. Keep it subtle and keep the focus on the experience or emotion your Instagrams project.
2. Most photos fall into two categories: beautiful imagery or humor
Make sure your Instagram photos fall into one of these categories. Generally a humorous photo needn’t be beautiful as well. Most users aren’t posting all their random party pics to their Instagram stream and brands should exercise similar constraint. Photo albums in that vein are for Facebook. Think of your Instagram photos as high value/low volume.
3. Don’t post too often
A general rule, don’t post more than three photos in a row or once every three hours. If you post more often than that, you run the risk of hogging your users’ feed. And don’t automatically share your Instagram photos to all your networks—editorially select and customize each one for the appropriate platform.
4. Choose an account name that’s the same as your Twitter handle
Having the same Instagram account name and Twitter handle serves two purposes. One—your profile will be easily recognizable and easy to find. And two—if you are tagged by another user in a caption and that photo is shared on Twitter, that tag will link to your Twitter profile. It ensures that tagging makes sense when an Instagram photo is shared on other networks.
5. Use hashtags, but don’t be creepy about it
Like on Twitter, hashtagging photos enables discovery of your profile by users outside of your primary connections. You can use the search functionality on the app to find out which hashtags are often used. Like on Twitter, hashtagging Instagram photos by event, geolocation, or subject matter is a good idea.
Other hashtags people tend to use on Instagram are filters and colors. Hashtags tend to be somewhat limited on Twitter due to the character length limitations. Because Instagram doesn’t have these limitations, this has encouraged some users and brands to stuff Instagram captions with every hashtag imaginable. Don’t do this—it looks like you’re trying too hard. Even worse, it makes you look like a spammer.
6. Set up an account on a web-based viewer
Instagram’s focus continues to be all about the mobile experience, but the app recently added the ability to view individual photos on the web through a shareable link. This feature allows your Instagram stream to not only be seen by those not using the app, but allows those who do have an account to like and comment on a shared photo right from the web. However, using a separate web-based viewer can help you manage your presence and track your progress.
Using Instagram’s API, these tools recreate your feed on a webpage, so you can view multiple photos at a time (without scrolling) on your computer. Most often you can make the same actions (liking, commenting, searching, tagging, etc.) on these web viewers that you can make on the mobile app. My favorite tool is Statigram—they even have a few basic metrics, comment notifications, and an Instagram campaign toolkit.
Hope this was helpful! Follow us on Instagram @SircleMedia