Tips for Running a Successful Instagram Account

instagram-1474231_1920So your business has a Facebook and Twitter account, but what about Instagram? Many businesses feel like they can’t benefit from the photo-sharing platform when in reality Instagram can lend a helping hand in your business’ success. Instagram is growing by the minute, and is second behind Facebook in terms of user count. All it takes is a little content strategy and quality photos to get your account up and running.

Why Instagram?

First off, Instagram is incredibly easy to use, and quick. You upload a photo, choose a filter, and then post. That’s it! You also won’t see as many ads on Instagram, which is good news for a business who is putting their ad funding into other bigger platforms, such as Facebook.

Instagram is also completely visual, meaning the engagement factor is much higher than other platforms out there. According to Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., Instagram drives 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more than Twitter. For anyone who likes numbers, that is huge!

When it comes to usage, Instagram is second to Facebook. PEW Research Center states that roughly half (51 percent) of Instagram users access the platform on a daily basis, with 35 percent saying they do several times a day. With the majority of users accessing the platform daily, it’s a guarantee your posts won’t go unnoticed.

Crafting Your Insta-Strategy

The thing about Instagram is that it doesn’t guarantee instantaneous success, contrary to the platform’s name. As with all of your marketing efforts, there should be a strategy or plan in place. One thing you shouldn’t do is to create an Instagram account, post once, and let it become stagnant. Have a plan and embrace the potential of your new social media platform!

Know the Purpose of Your Account

Your business is creating an Instagram for a reason, so what is it? Write it down. Think about what you want this platform to do for you. First, think about your target audience for your business as a whole, and then think about which ones are active on Instagram. What will your Instagram account do that your other social media accounts don’t? Sprout Social, a social media management platform, gives some objective ideas that every business should have in mind when drafting up their new account.

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Demonstrate your company culture
  • Showcase your team and recruit new talent
  • Increase customer engagement
  • Increase customer loyalty
  • Showcase products and services
  • Share company and customer events

Instagram is purely visual, so your graphic content will need to up it’s game in order to stand out amongst the crowd.

Developing a Content Strategy

As with any other marketing strategy, content is king. For Instagram, this is especially true because you can literally only post something visual with a short description. Depending on if your company is B2B or B2C, your content’s focus might shift. For example, a B2C company will make products the focus, while B2B companies will focus on company culture and events. Based on your business’ target audience, you’ll need to craft up a plan and decide what content you want to feature and post it on a consistent basis.

What Should I Post?

Successful Instagram accounts all share one thing: a theme that is consistent with your branding. When people go to your account and follow you, they’ll know what to expect each day they see a post. Your theme can be based around your business’ core message, values, or another topic you’re promoting. Whatever it is, keep it consistent.

Another thing to keep consistent? Your posting! This is crucial for growing and retaining your followers.

“The more you post, the faster you’ll grow,” explains Penny C. Sansevieri. “Some of the biggest accounts post four to 10 times every day. That may be out of reach for you, but, at minimum aim for once a day.”

The last thing you want to do is to post once, and then not post again for days, weeks, or worse, months. If this is the case, there’s no way your following will grow.

The new algorithm has shifted the order or way posts show up in each user’s feed. Now, Instagram shows us the posts that they think we’ll be the most interested in. This change means photos from friends will be at the top, while photos from companies and brands will be harder to find when you scroll. You might think this is bad news for businesses, but that’s not technically the case.

Publisher of Foundr Magazine Nathan Chan states that the key for any business to reach its audience on Instagram is to simply post high-quality content that its audience will want to engage with. This strategy is the main way your brand’s posts will be shown at the top of each individual user’s feed.

Hashtags are just as important on Instagram as they are on Twitter or Facebook. With the new algorithm, hashtags will become incredibly useful when trying to launch your brand’s photo at the top of a user’s feed. You can use up to 30 hashtags. A good rule of thumb is to use more than a few, because the more you use the more likely it’ll get thrown into the mix of other photos that used the same hashtag. Also, don’t put hashtags up in the description of the photo – this drains out your message. After you’ve typed everything up that you want to say, hit return a few times and put the hashtags in the spaces below. This way, they’ll still technically be there but the user won’t see them originally unless they click on “more”.

Posting times are a critical element, too. Because Instagram is a mobile app, studies show that users are consistently active on the app because of it’s mobility. This is why the very best times to post are Mondays and Thursdays at any time except between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. for the time zone of your target audience.

Finally, a great photo is the ultimate necessity of Instagram because the app is made for sharing photos. If you have a eye-catching photo, it will be hard for any user to not engage, tag someone else to look at it, or repost it. Great captions come into play as well. The worst thing you could do is to rush and post a caption underneath your photo that’s filled with errors, is boring, or doesn’t make sense. Take some time to think about what you’re going to say. Have a second pair of eyes look over it to make sure everything looks and sounds clear. Once you’ve done this, post it along with hashtags like we mentioned before.

“A witty or thoughtful caption will absolutely help you earn a like or comment because it evokes an emotional reaction,” Chan adds. “Additionally, comments that include a question in them will not only encourage user engagement but it will prompt it.”

Instagram is an excellent addition to your arsenal of social media accounts. It’s user-friendly, eye-catching, and quick to use. The Instagram audience is only growing by the minute, so it’s time to hop on board. By doing a little planning ahead and taking some great photos, Instagram can increase your brand awareness and marketing efforts.

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