Instagram: Because 150 Million people cant be wrong

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks. With 150Mil active users each month, and 1.2Billion “likes” per day, its safe to assume that your target market is not only using the platform, but is active on it regularly.

The question is, are you?

Prior to working in Social Media Management for business, I worked primarily as a professional photographer, so the power of a beautiful image is a concept I understand very well. Whether a new Bride & Groom, snapshots from your vacation or a puppy playing in a sunset, a beautiful image is a surefire way to get your customers/fans/clients involved.
Just check your facebook page. Which posts are the ones with the most engagement?
Everyone loves looking at a nice photo, and  Instagram is the perfect place to share them, so if you don’t already have an account, get one.
Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

So you have an Instagram account,

Now What?

The first thing you want to do when signing up for ANY social media account is fill out your profile. This includes your website URL, and any relevant business information. (Type of business, hours of operation, or whatever else your customers need to know at a glance). Keep in mind that as with most social networks this space is limited (I believe there is a 150 character limit for  profile information on Instagram), so chose your words carefully, and use only the most relevant information.
In addition to filling out your profile, you will want to connect Instagram to your other social networks.
In the options tab, you will find the “Sharing Settings”. This area allows you to connect your Instagram to your existing social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.  This will let you share your Instagram images to facebook/twitter in real time and extend the reach and engagement of those images.

Use The # Symbol

A word with the number/pound sign in front of it is known as a “Hashtag“.  Using a hashtag has many important functions, and while initially confusing and seemingly unnecessary or even annoying, are a key to your social media success ( Despite what Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon have to say about it).
On Instagram, using a Hashtag turns the word into a clickable link, which then takes you to a page that aggregates any image with the same hashtag. This is great for keeping track of relevant keywords, locations and categories.
For example, if you use #YourBusinessName, you can then click on that phrase, and it will show you anyone who is currently posting things about your business or product.
Check it out. Go on your new Instagram account and search for #redbull. See how many images come up (and majority of them from fans, rather than the company itself)

Post Often

One of the common theme among the top Instagram users is that they post regularly. Some once a week, others 5 times a week. I would suggest setting just a few minutes aside to post something relevant to your business every day.  It literally takes just a couple of minutes to snap a picture and post it to Instagram with a text caption and post it across your social networks.  Trust me, you can find 2 minutes in your day to do this.

“But what if I don’t have something to take a photo of every day”?

Valid question, person I just made up for this example. You’re in luck.
Instagram also allows you to upload photos you already have stored on your device. This means you can take a few photos at one time, and stockpile them.  Then release them daily, and replenish your stock as you use them. Whether at an event, around the office/store, or anywhere else you might find images relevant to your business. Simply pick up your phone and snap away. Post one now, and save the rest for later.

Keep Your Posts Relevant

This point speaks to a few key aspects of your Instagram marketing, but at the most basic level just keep in mind that your posts should always be relevant.
Post Punctual Content: For example, its Halloween. Did you post something Halloween related today?
Whether images from a live event, or an item that is on sale now, posting things in a timely manner is very important. It keeps your fans up to date with your brand, and helps build a stronger connection with your audience.
Post Brand Related Content: Sure, your dog IS cute, and your lunch WAS delicious. But what does that have to do with your brand?
Its great to add a human element to your Instagram feed, so it doesn’t look so corporate and automated, but unless you are selling them (or they are holding/wearing your product) keep your kids out of your Instagram images. Or better yet, create your own personal Instagram account to post those things on. A second/personal account can also be a great way to double post your business related content, while still sharing your families vacation pictures with your friends and loved ones.
Repurpose Other Content: Do you have a professional photographer who takes photos of your products or events? How about flyers/posters and other marketing materials? All of these things and more can be repurposed to post on your Instagram feed.  This is a great way to fill the gaps when you don’t actually have things to take photos of yourself.

Engage Your Audience

Keep in mind at all times, there is a person behind the screen name and images on Instagram. Its easy to get caught up in the content, but its the people you really want to reach. So the question becomes, how do you do that?

Drive them to engage: Every new image you post offers you a unique opportunity to reach your audience, and more importantly, to get them to reach back. So what are you doing to make sure its a 2 way street?
The caption area of your images should always be leveraged for engagement. Whether its with a clever caption, a call to action, or a simple question. If you ask, you may be surprised how people love to answer.
“Listen”, don’t just “talk”: One of the key things I tell all of my clients is this: “It may be your account, but its not about YOU. Its about your audience”.
This holds just as true on Instagram as it does on any other social platform. So rather than simply talking, take a minute to listen. What are your fans saying? What do they like? What gets them excited to engage? When you find out what makes them tick, its much easier to gear your message towards them. Do they post lots of pictures of food? Maybe make your company logo out of spaghetti and post it. Do they love pictures of pets? Get your furry friend to be a brand ambassador.
Do they like/comment on certain posts more than others? That’s a good indication of what is working on your feed and what is not. Pay attention to these cues, they are important.
Reward those who do engage: Do not discount the power of “Thank You”. One of the biggest benefits of social media (not just Instagram) is the real time engagement you get with your fans. You can quickly answer questions, address concerns, and give feedback all in real time.
“Make time for those who make time for you”
If a fan comments on one of your Instagram images, take a second to say thank you. This seemingly tiny act can have a huge impact. Suddenly you went from that brand that just posts about themselves, to a person who cares about what their fans have to say. Everyone likes a “thank you” once in a while. Even for something small.
Contests/Promotions/Giveaways: You can further drive engagement with incentives.
It can be something as simple as “everyone who likes this picture will be entered in a drawing to win a *enter prize here*“, or something more involved like “take a photo of yourself with *our product* at your favorite place to relax and tag it with #ourhashtag for a chance to win”. (Then simply track the hashtag as mentioned above so see how your fans are engaging)
The possibilities are endless, and limited only to your imagination.

…and we haven’t even gone into the video aspect of Instagram yet. But that’s for another post.

However you use it, Instagram is a powerful tool. Good luck out there, and happy see you on Instagram.

follow @darqlabs on Instagram


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