Social media platforms have become a necessity in marketing plans for companies across the globe. We are living in a digitally fuelled and visually infused society, where connections are being made purely online. If you haven’t already established a social presence, it’s easy to understand how and why you might be missing out – and now, there’s no better time to get started.
Let’s look at Instagram, the well-known, visual content-driven platform which has more than 1 billion users worldwide, posting more than 95 million photos daily. With at least 80% of accounts following at least one business account, this is one of the best platforms for businesses to be on. By following best practices and posting quality content, you can make effective connections with this massive audience from your fingertips (these connections can turn into loyal and beneficial relationships, and sales, too!). If you’re looking to grow your presence and visibility online, this is a great place to start. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best practices when posting for businesses on Instagram.
Develop an Understanding of Your Audience
An important step in creating a strong and effective platform is knowing what to post. The content you post should always be useful, relatable, or engaging (bonus if you can hit all three!). The most efficient and accurate way to do this is by developing a deep understanding of who you’re talking to (this is your audience). Here, I’ve listed a few helpful tips.
- Start by getting to know your brand inside and out – the mission, goals, and vision of the company.
- Understand what your current audience likes about your brand.
- Ask yourself who exactly you’re trying to reach (a description of your ideal follower) and why.
- View additional profiles of followers you like and try to connect dots on what type of content they look for, as you will gain insight on what they want to see.
- Review your competitors and any brands you like – what are they doing right?
With all of this information, you will be able to develop a solid content strategy that will provide value to your audience, and additionally the occasional page viewers. It is also important to keep in mind the best posting times for your content. These change often but can be found in your profile insights panel. The Instagram insights provide you with information on when your audience is on the most, who they are, where they are, and more. I’ve also provided some great resources at the bottom that regularly highlight this.
Quality over Quantity
Not only should you be providing your viewers with insightful content, but the content posted needs to be of high quality too! Make sure your photos are good resolution, the correct sizes for Instagram, fit your brand, and complement the captions of the photos. Again, let’s take a look at some of your favourite brands – you’ll notice the photos follow a general filter and/or colour scheme.
Here are three local businesses that have really captured how to create great content showcasing their products, all while keeping it in line with the colours of their brand and profile!
Recent statistics from Shopify said that a whopping 93% of users strongly feel that the visual appearance of an Instagram profile plays a large role when deciding whether to purchase or not. If this still doesn’t convince you, 52% of users did not return to a store due to the overall aesthetic. Since your profile is the “store,”, and if you’re wanting viewers to return, make it easy to want to follow by making your overall Instagram grid appealing and rich in great content. My favourite tool for monitoring this is Preview (a free mobile app), but Pinterest is another great option to see what your overall profile could look like without having to publish first. Additionally, Later offers a large selection of great Instagram tools that can assist with Instagram optimization.
Your Captions Matter Too
The caption of the photo matters just as much as the photo itself if not even more – you want your message to fall in line with the brand and complement the photo to make it even more effective. Having a caption that is intriguing and engaging will help the post perform better and encourage your readers to interact with it. This is your chance to provide additional context and speak directly to your audience. Recent studies show that longer captions are “in”: Later highlights Instagram captions here and mentions that an average Instagram caption will fall between 65-70 words in 2020! If that seems overwhelming, don’t fret – simple, small captions can work too! With the longer caption trend, we are seeing posts becoming more authentic and friendly. Keep this rule of thumb no matter the length of the caption to give your brand an authentic feel.
Hashtagging is Still Trending
Additionally, adding relevant hashtags either at the bottom of the caption or in the comments will help your posts show up more frequently in the correct category (so make sure the hashtag makes sense!) If you create a post about shoes, don’t hashtag something completely unrelated just because that hashtag is trending. This also goes hand-in-hand with authenticity. You can also create your own hashtags that are strictly related to your brand (this is great for branding!) Your custom hashtag could be a play on words, something with your company name – anything you feel reflects the brand, the tone and what it stands for. Adespresso has highlighted a few brands that successfully and creatively executed their own custom hashtags here.
Instagram Stories: How and When to Use Them
Now that you’ve created your content for your feed, use the Instagram story feature to your advantage, too – share additional content on your stories that you may not be able to post on your feed. This can be additional relevant information, polls, questions to interact with your audience, quotes – again anything you feel is useful and falls in line with your overall brand and tone. Additionally, you can use it as a boost for your posts and have the option to add small graphic elements. It’s important to keep your stories simple and easy to digest while being intriguing. You want your viewers to click on your story as soon as it’s posted.
Here, I’ve highlighted a few brands and the different ways they’ve utilized the story feature:
Fox Sports created an interactive campaign that was both witty and engaging – search #kickbait Fox Sports to learn more.
Lowes took a completely different approach with a step by step guide fast-forwarded, that shows how to easily transform a space!
We then have PGA – they posted questions on their story where the user was able to respond and submit an answer. This kept users engaged throughout the whole story campaign in a fun and innovative way.
Understand the Algorithm
You now have all of your content and posting in place. How do you make sure it gets as much face time as possible with your audience? Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not post on the feed in chronological order. Later highlighted the factors that determine where, when and for how long your posts will be visible in the feed. In a nutshell, this is based on the relationship you have with your viewers. How useful they would find (and have found) your posts, if they often engage with your content, who is currently engaging with it, how long it’s been up, how many people your viewers follow (the higher the number of followers for the viewer, the less likely they will see your post), and lastly, the viewer usage on the app. If the user is on once a day for just a few minutes, they will be shown any highlights and well-performing posts. The longer your viewers are on, the better chance you have of the post being seen.
Bridging off of the Instagram algorithm, a great way to improve your post visibility, strengthen your connections with users, and keep your brand top of mind is engagement. Engage with your viewers – liking, commenting, and sharing their content builds a sense of trust and gives the viewers an opportunity of a “two-way street” communication with a brand. This is extremely valuable for both the brand and consumer, as you are showing that they aren’t just another sale – engagement will help you make loyal followers and customers.
Instagram is always updating and changing to provide users with the best experience possible. In saying this, it can be very difficult to keep on top of the best practices and current trends. Some great sites to watch or subscribe to include Later, Sprout Social, and Hubspot.
In closing, using Instagram is a strategic and cost-effective way to connect and develop relationships with not only potential customers but other companies, too! Implement these tips into your next Instagram strategy and reap the benefits.