Maintaining a presence on Instagram can seem like a full time job. But there are ways to work smarter as you select and curate content for posts. You can increase engagement, sharing, and the number of followers you have by posting more creative and captivating content.
Develop a Personal Style
Your Instagram account should mirror the brand style and tone you’ve established on your website. They should feature the same color palette, angles, and framing. Beyond that, stay true to the feel of your brand and be so consistent that a regular viewer will know from a quick glance at a post that it is from your profile. Consistency in style and tone are paramount to maintaining a successful Instagram page.
Less is More
We agree that there are some nifty filters available on Instagram and we love to use them. That being said, unless a filter adds to the meaning of your picture or helps communicate your message, leave it out. Simplify your posts and let the images do the talking. Eliminate distractions in your photos by focusing only on the subject matter. Extra busyness in a photo can hurt your efforts to capture your viewers’ attention and focus it on the intended content.
Find ways to keep your profile photographs innovative and interesting. Yes, your audience wants to see the face behind the brand but go light on the selfies. Too much of the same thing will create a stuffy and boring stream. Featuring your products in use or a client utilizing a service make for great pictures and videos. Show your value proposition. Promote your brand and show off what you offer the public but not in a sales-pitchy type of way. Post a mixture of content that speaks to the interests and creative tastes of your audience.
Edit Like a Pro
The editing options within Instagram are limited which makes it less than ideal to take your photos directly in the app. Use a more advanced photography app to give yourself more control over how your pictures look. Great photos don’t just happen, they are crafted with the use of advanced tools. Find a photography app to get comfortable with and edit your pictures like a pro before you upload them to the Instagram platform.
Hashtags are brief, searchable terms that begin with a pound sign (#). They typically consist of single words like #Labradors or short phrases like #dogslobberrules. The cleverer the better when it comes to hashtag phrases.
Hashtags should be included when you post on Instagram. People not familiar with your brand can find you in a #search. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag had 12.6% more engagement than posts without hashtags. Use hashtags related to your industry and products. Create a brand-specific hashtag that can be added to every social media post your company puts out regardless of the platform. Encourage your followers to use your branded hashtag when posting about your company, products, or services.
There is an art to choosing hashtags. You want to use hashtags that are popular, but not overdone, unique, but not so obscure no one would think to search using that word or phrase. Instagram provides a search tool that you can use to gain an understanding of the popularity of a potential hashtag. Just type in the word or phrase and Instagram will tell you how many posts have used that specific hashtag. There are also a number of third-party analytics tools like CriticalMention and Keyhole that serve the same purpose.
Video is King
Instagram jumped into the world of video sharing in June 2013. Since that time, the popularity of video has increased at an unbelievable rate. Approximately 1 out of every 4 Instagram ads is a video so if you haven’t tried it yet, you are behind the curve! Instagram offers the ability to integrate video into your regular feed, or timeline, and a second option called Insta Stories. They both play different roles.
Your Instagram feed is the starting point and how people first find your account. Feed posts are permanent unless they are purposefully deleted. Your feed is the place to display polished, planned images and videos. Showcase the spirit of your business and what you are trying to accomplish. Post high-quality videos that are consistent with your brand. Pictures and videos of people interacting with your brand are excellent content choices. Videos are 60 seconds long or less and play automatically.
Ways to make videos work for you on your timeline:
Highlight products, show them in use when possible.
Produce a “how-to” video (YES, it can be done in 60 seconds!)
Create mini-commercials – show not only your products or services, let people see the personalities behind the brand.
Add to the video with text overlay or subtitles to tell a fuller story (remember that many viewers keep the sound off).
Include a curiosity sparking caption – be descriptive but concise.
Use specific and relevant hashtags to make it easier for your target audience to find your posts.
Instagram Stories are completely different. One of the biggest differences is that the stories disappear after 24 hours. Know that the people watching your Insta Stories are most likely people who already follow you. Stories are an informal way to capture moments of your day while staying true to your brand’s personality. They are a fun way to show behind the scenes activities, communicate news, and stay in touch with your followers.
Ways to make videos work for you on your Insta Stories:
Share current sales, discounts and limited time offers
Post information about new products or services
Show your products being used or services being provided
Give a sneak peek prior to a release date
Show behind the scenes videos of your workplace
Post interviews with executives and other personnel to show the people behind the brand
In short, your Instagram feed comes first, and your Insta Stories support and complement your feed. Remember that what works for one brand may not work for another. Collect data on your video posts as you would with any other social media effort. Review the engagement data and look for the strategies and tactics people most respond to. Then use that information to create more engaging and successful Instagram videos.
What is the Deal with the Instagram Shopping Bag?
Instagram shopping was historically time-consuming and, sometimes, frustrating as the consumer would have to click a link to the external website and search through all of the company’s offerings in order to find the product that had been presented in their Instagram feed. Instagram has become an intermediary between brands and consumers by integrating a feature helps businesses market their products in a more authentic way by allowing for direct contact between brands and consumers.
In 2016, Instagram started a pilot program for a select group of brands. In the pilot, shopping tag links were displayed on posts within Instagram Stories made it possible for in-app purchases. June 2018 saw the Instagram Shopping Bag put into play full force. The ability to utilize the shopping tags to directly link products in Instagram Stories to a purchasing opportunity is available to any retailer that meets established requirements.
Clickable links are still not allowed to be included in captions but brands can now add shoppable tags within Instagram posts and can tag up to five products per post. Thumbnail pictures display the shopping bag icon and hovering over it will show consumers details like pricing. Full product details and descriptions are available by clicking on the shopping bag icon. From there, a “Shop Now” link seamlessly takes the consumer to a brand’s product page to allow the item to be purchased. For now, Instagram’s shoppable tags are offered for free. Instagram will, instead, realize revenue as brands advertise their shoppable posts in order to insert those posts into the feeds of non-followers.
Consumers may not purchase featured products without leaving the Instagram app. Traffic flows straightaway from Instagram to e-commerce sites offering a smooth user experience even when consumers are moving between parts of the process. This new feature brings to light the importance of establishing and utilizing a brand identity so that the Instagram account matches the look and feel of the company’s website and product landing pages. Mismatched or seemingly unrelated pages will confuse customers and make them think they have been redirected to the wrong site.
The Instagram Shopping Bag is available in a number of countries. That being said, U.S. based businesses are directed to use English language settings and accept only U.S. currency. It should also be noted that there is an approval process during which Instagram ensures that there are no violations of their policies. Each tagged product is approved separately but the process should not take an overwhelming amount of time so long as businesses adhere to the Instagram policies.
Analytics regarding impressions and click-through-rates are available for Instagram Shopping tags giving brands access to data such as which posts have the most product clicks and which tags are most popular. More powerful information regarding the performance of the Instagram platform as a marketing tool will be available as a result of the direct path from Instagram to a business’ e-commerce page.
Develop and consistently use a brand style that makes you recognizable.
Don’t try to be too fancy with filters and busy images – less is more, focus the viewer on what is important.
High-quality content is key. Keep it creative, varied, and engaging.
Don’t rely on the editing available in the platform – look for a third-party app that will let you create amazing Instagram posts.
Embrace hashtags. Do a little research for each post to make sure you are using relevant and effective hashtags.
Integrate video as much as possible. You don’t have to be a professional videographer, just be interesting!
If you have an online store – take advantage of Instagram Shopping Tags to increase user experience and grow your reach.
Contact Strategy Driven Marketing to learn more about how you can leverage your Instagram company profile to give your customers a new and exciting way to interact with your brand. We are here to help with all of your social media, website, e-commerce and marketing needs.