Instagram Tips from the Experts
Instagram is the social media sweetheart of 2017. Now that it has more than 800 million users, marketers are turning to Instagram to increase brand awareness, showcase brand personality, and create meaningful interactions with their followers from all over the globe. In fact, here is the list of Instagram’s ten most-Instagrammed cities from around the world.
Instagram Stories is also taking the social media scene by storm, as marketers are now able to poll their audiences, share links to product and landing pages, and add some flair with filters, stickers, and more.
I mostly use Instagram to showcase both my professional (social media, content) and personal (content, mobile photography) work, passion projects, and interests (arts, design, music). I treat it as an extension of my portfolio, all while adding glimpses to my process, what inspires me, and what I’m up to. It’s technically not an easy job, as you also have to set an inspiring and creative look for your feed. Effective profiles will have a theme; just don’t make it seem like you are trying too hard.
Tip: Use High-Quality Images
A no-brainer for me is that you must always take high-quality images. I don’t have a camera, but smartphones nowadays take decent imagery. I’m also not savvy with editing software like Adobe CC, so the majority of my posts—including post-editing— happens on my phone. This leads me to my next tip.
Tip: Always Post-Process Your Photos
There are so many editing apps, like VSCO or the default presets on your iPhone’s camera, that can really help you create those attractive, eye-catching images. You can also use editing capabilities to establish the “theme” of your feed, using filters, fonts, and everything in between. Try to stick to 1-2 presets (for your colored and monochromatic setups) to set the mood for your images. Doing so also helps tell your brand story.
As for the captions, it’s always good to keep your captions short and catchy. I would suggest making them longer if you’re featuring a person, his/her work, and their process. Other than that, try not to include more than 2 sentences. If you can make it shorter—around 80-90 characters—that’s even better.
Tip: Develop a Strategy
It’s also a must to have a content strategy to determine which type of posts or Stories you will deliver, based on audience insights. This is where data can be your best friend. You’ll probably discover some trends in your audience’s behaviors, including when, where, and how they consume your content. Be sure to take that into account when you start scheduling your posts.
Images/Videos: Post at least five times per day. The reason being, with the algorithm of the app, it’s becoming harder to have your posts seen, especially if you’re just starting out or your following’s not particularly developed. The chances of your audience actually seeing your posts are way greater with a higher frequency of posts, rather than sticking to just 1-2 posts per day.
Instagram Stories: Keep it under 10 stories. Your goal here is to have all your stories seen and finished by as many people as possible. If you are posting beyond 10 stories at a time, I guarantee your Stories will not have very many finished views.
I mainly use Instagram to support my personal brand – which is NOT all business. (I also have a private Instagram that I’ve had for years, but at this point, that’s mostly my kids.) My public Instagram is technically set up as a business profile, but I don’t use it as much to promote my business as I do to simply present my more public goings-on—which heavily include frequenting small, local businesses, the primary market demographic I work with.
I walk the talk by showing myself to be a devoted small business superfan and Rockland County expert, as well as a supporter of local nonprofits and artists. There’s a slight food theme as well, as I mainly came to local prominence as a food writer, and still enjoy working with food—besides, food is KING on Instagram! I also include a lot of selfies, not because I’m vain, but because it’s important to me that when people who follow my feed see me out and about, they know who I am and feel like they can approach me. Overall, I simply share organic snapshots of my real life, but it helps build up the true story that I want to present to the world—and to potential clients—in an engaging, accessible way.
Tip: Showcase YOUR Business
I hate, hate, hate when people use stock imagery on a regular basis. I want to see YOUR products, business, or self. There are a few small boutiques locally who show and style their merchandise themselves in all of their Instagram content, instead of using manufacturer shots. I think this is really effective because they’ve given it a bit of their business’s flavor.
Tip: When You Can, Show Me Food
Speaking of flavor: beautiful, natural-lit, from-above food photos are a dime a dozen on Instagram. Show me a video (even a Boomerang) of the food either being prepared or enjoyed, and it makes the hunger so much more visceral.
Right now our main focus on Instagram is to increase brand awareness. By focusing our content on promoting our business culture, we have been successful in raising brand awareness. We have beautifully crafted split-image videos with our ampersand and product/thought leadership content. Instagram Stories and Live have been a newer part of our strategy, but they have been successful, especially for events!
Tip: Be Frequent and Visually Appealing
Instagram marketing needs to be frequent and visually appealing. With social algorithms constantly updating, Instagram posts need to be “thumb-stopping” and should entice users to engage further—either through sharing, commenting, or simply liking. From a B2C standpoint, La Croix has a great Instagram account. They’ve established such a strong brand personality and they use Stories in creative ways—not only to showcase their products, but to also engage their audiences.
For B2B, I like General Electric. Their images are stunning and they showcase so many aspects of the company, from design to engineering to manufacturing. The images they share are always from unique angles and different points of view. Be sure to check them out for some extra inspiration.
Which Metrics Do the Experts Measure?
Christine Gritmon: For now, the most effective metrics to track are reach and Likes. These metrics allow you to see how many people can potentially interact with your content, and if they click and like your content, you can identify which types of content are actually driving engagement.
Cath Pascual: I’ve recently started to appreciate the bookmark feature of the app, and it has become an archive app for me, too. There are literally millions of posts per day; you might see something you like, but sometimes you just don’t want to consume a large amount of content within a short timeframe. So why not save it for later? I think bookmarking is a good metric to look at. There’s recall in that, and for people to save your posts means a win for you. It’s like bingeing, but for images and bite-sized videos.
Katelyn Brower: Instagram is a little different when it comes to measurement because there is no “Share” option. Regular posts should have high “like” and “video view” counts to be successful. Stories should have at least 75% swipe-throughs. Drop-offs and swipe-ups must be calculated as well.
If you are considering Instagram for your social strategy, be sure to check out our blog post, 6 Reasons Why Your Brand Should Be on Instagram.
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Bryan is the Content Marketing Manager at Simply Measured. He spoils his dog, is a fitness fanatic, and loves research and writing.