About two years ago I wrote a short primer on beginning your Instagram strategy and since then Instagram has taken the world by storm. Today, I present to you and updated version of that post. If you want to read the original, for fun, you can here.
Before we get started, let’s look at the stats now:
- 800 million monthly users
- More than 800 million daily active users
- 8 million business Instagram accounts
- 72% of Instagram users have bought a product they saw on the platform
- Over 50% over businesses are posting Instagram Stories
Sprout Social mentioned in one of their Instagram marketing guides, “As people join Instagram in droves, brands have a unique opportunity for engagement with their fans: Instagram posts generate a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%, which is 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.”
Before you jump headfirst into using this platform (or if you are already there but needing a bit of guidance), there are some basic elements to consider when crafting your plan for your business. Let’s take a look…
Why are You Using it?
Like anything you do for your business, you have to know why you are using it. Are you trying Instagram because you are tired of Facebook? Maybe you want to be your competition to the punch? Before taking on more than you can chew, make sure you have the time, energy and resources to dedicate to doing this right. Once you have, start crafting your Instagram strategy. To save time and not reinvent the wheel, I’m going to recommend you bookmark Sprout Social’s Instagram Strategy Guide (it’s linked at the end of the article).
Which Photos Will You Use?
Photos are the backbone of this platform – without them, Instagram simply wouldn’t exist. Choosing what graphic to post is very important. Here are some simple things to keep in mind:
- Optimal photo size is 1080px x 1080px; for Stories, 1080px x 1920px
- Will your photo be landscape or portrait?
- Filter or no filter?
- Does it match the message you are wanting to convey?
- Is it appropriate?
- If I’m sharing someone else’s content, do I have permission?
- Photos with faces get 38% more likes.
Unfortunately still at this time, there is not a direct way to upload a photo via your computer. I’m sure one day we may have this option, but right now, there’s not. Here are the most common ways to post your photo to Instagram:
- Take a photo on your smartphone or tablet and direct upload from the device.
- Create a DropBox folder or a folder in Google Drive and upload the photos you’d like to use and sync it with your smartphone or tablet. You’d then download the image from the cloud onto your device and post from there.
- Repost App. This is an app that allows you to share other people’s Instagram photos. When you open it, it brings up the feed of who you follow and you just tap the photo you want to share and it allows you to open it up in your Instagram account to post.
What About Hashtags?
Hashtags are very important when using this platform for your business. 70% of hashtags on Instagram are branded. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without. Like Twitter, these allow you to be found when someone searches. Instagram’s guidelines on hashtags can be found here. Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends is one of the top Instagram strategy people I know. She wrote an article about using hashtags on Instagram and here’s what she says (and I suggest as well) –
- Use relevant keyword hashtags
- Don’t use too many hashtags
- Use industry related hashtags
- Keep your audience in mind
- Don’t hijack hashtags (basically using a popular hashtag to butt in on a trend or conversation)
One of her best suggestions on using hashtags was to create a list of hashtags and save them on your mobile device, “On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram. Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It’ll also make sure you don’t leave any out!”
How About Following People and Having Them Follow Me?
On Instagram, in your feed you will only see the posts from those you follow. If you click on eyeglass at the bottom, it pulls up the search where you see photos from people based on the people you follow. You can also search people and hashtags as well. To be found and get followers, it’s important for you to use hashtags (see above). Most people you follow will follow you back, however here are some tips when you follow people and getting people to follow you back:
- Have your bio completely filled out and include a link to your website. Also, make sure you have a legit and professional-looking profile photo (read: no bikini pictures or topless (if you are a guy), no vulgar expressions, etc.).
- Post relevant content. Your stream should not be a collection of selfies.
- When you do follow someone and they follow you back, do not immediately unfollow them. This is my biggest pet peeve. I’ll have people follow me and I’ll follow them back if I like their content and 2 days later, I’m scrolling through my followers and see they are not following me anymore. Talk about rude. Beware of those who follow you who are following A LOT less than follow them.
- Check out who is following your competitor and follow those people. Keep in mind to only follow quality people.
- Comment on other people’s posts. If someone comments on mine and I’m not following them, more often than not, I’ll follow them. Of course, look at their bio and what they’ve posted first.
- Use relevant hashtags.
Promoting Across the Web?
Of course you’ll want everyone to know you are on Instagram now. When you launch your account, make sure you have your Instagram link on your website. Also, post a status update with your link on your other social accounts. I have several I follow on different social media platforms and their Instagram posts are much different (for the better) than their Facebook updates. Here are some ideas to promote your Instagram account across the web:
- Status update on your social platforms.
- Link on your website.
- Write a blog post about why you’re using it.
- Share your Instagram photos to Twitter and Facebook.
How Often Do I Need to Post?
Like any other social media platform, you have to use it regularly to benefit from it. Posting once per week is not going to do it. Plan on posting 2-3 times per day. The more active you are, the more your account with grow. As of January 2018, you can now schedule and post directly to Instagram through the major social management programs, such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Buffer, etc. Another option is Schedugram. Of course, Instagram allows you to share your photos to other platforms, but if you do choose to go that route, I would only recommend sharing the photo to Facebook. Twitter only show the link and caption, not the image.
Last but not least, you need to be able to track and measure your Instagram efforts. Fortunately there are two options – Iconosquare and Sprout Social – to help! Both programs let you manage comments on your Instagram photos and gives you analytics on your accounts. Sprout’s Instagram services are included in their social management software while Iconosquare is a stand-alone program.
All of this can be applied to Stories as well. And videos.
Using Instagram can be A LOT of fun. It’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the daily lives of business and individuals. If you use it the right way, you’ll see your presence grow.
What are you doing with your Instagram strategy?
Follow me on Instagram –
Personal Account – @mandyedwards0821
Business Account – @memarketingservices
Instagram Resources I Recommend:
Sprout Social (Link takes you to a free 30-day trial and is my referral link).