Instagram is certainly not the new kid on the block anymore. With 400M-plus active users a month, it has established itself as a robust engagement platform and one of the most popular social media networking platforms out there, not far behind Tumblr and Facebook (its parent company).
In my experience, the personality and simplicity of Instagram allows for more ‘active’ engagement by users—getting more love and comments on Instagram than on Twitter is not uncommon. And yet with Instagram, you can’t link from a post to an article on your website. So how can your brand or organization amplify its PR and marketing efforts through this visual platform?
1. Decide if it’s the right fit
Millions of users doesn’t necessarily mean you need to jump on the bandwagon. Ask yourself the question: do your target audience or customers use Instagram? How will you engage that demographic? Just like other social platforms, Instagram requires a strategy.
According to Hubspot, where Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are for networking, sharing and promoting content, Instagram is the platform where a company can show its human side. Humanizing your brand through Instagram can facilitate the final stage in the buyer’s journey: delight.
So highlight the people behind your products or service, share your office celebrations, invite your audience into your company culture.
But before you start posting pictures of the office dog, determine your goals. Be specific: do you want to build brand awareness? Will Instagram be used for lead generation? Which metrics will dictate success? Followers? Likes? Comments? Establishing this criteria will help you create valuable content for your audience.
2. Grow your audience
Instagram currently uses a chronological algorithm, but like Facebook, it will be soon be adopting a new algorithm based on what you like. Furthermore, you can’t count on others to share your posts, because Instagram doesn’t have a share feature without a third-party app such as Repost. So how do you get more followers on Instagram?
Engage. Use Instagram’s powerful search feature to engage with influencers, affiliate brands and your audience. You can search by top posts, people, tags and places. If you have an event to promote in your city, search for places you know your audience frequents, double-tap their pictures or leave a nice comment—but be cool about it…nobody likes a spammer. Just like other social networking platforms, authenticity reigns on Instagram.
Use #allthehashtags. Ok, maybe not ALL of them. But hashtags are how your content is most likely to be found. The more relevant the hashtag, the closer you get to your target demographic. Use trending hashtags to launch contests or promote content.
Our newest destination Down Under is the feature of this month’s @enRoutemag! Read up on #Brisbane and the #Queensland Coast at the link in our bio. As we celebrate our daily service starting June 1, a special congratulations goes out to #BoardingBrisbane winner @melanietakesahike, who will soon be on her way there! Notre nouvelle destination australienne est en vedette ce mois-ci dans @enRoutemag! Découvrez-en plus sur Brisbane et la côte du Queensland, au lien inclus dans notre profil. En vue des célébrations entourant le lancement de notre service quotidien le 1er juin, nous tenons à féliciter la gagnante de #SurfezBrisbane, @melanietakesahike, qui aura la chance de s’envoler vers Brisbane!
A photo posted by Air Canada (@aircanada) on
Expert tip: Trying to remember every hashtag each time you post is a nuisance. Keep all your brand’s regular relevant hashtags in Notes (iPhone), so you can easily copy and paste into your caption. Also, change it up by adding new ones where applicable.
Connect your accounts. Let your other audiences know you’re on Instagram by connecting other accounts from different social platforms. This feature keeps changing its functionality as platforms compete for audiences, but currently you can connect with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
3. Instagram + Facebook advertising
Late last year Instagram advertising became available through its parent company Facebook. Instagram ads can now be bought and managed through Facebook’s Ads Manager and Power Editor. Brands can take advantage of this new alignment. Social Media Examiner has a very good guide on how to create instagram ads using Facebook ad manager.
4. Beyond the #selfie:
When I started using Instagram I had an iPhone 3GS. The image quality wasn’t amazing, so I loved using apps like Hipstamatic to mask the low quality. With newer devices image resolution is less of an issue, so I use filters less frequently (unless I’m posting a selfie…in which case filters are a perfectly acceptable way to make your skin look AMAZING).
600px of real estate: Get creative and give people a reason to follow your brand. Play to people’s emotions or provide takeaway. If you’re launching a new product, use the 15 second video feature give people ideas on how to use it.
It’s not about the filters: With thousands of images uploaded to Instagram every day, you need yours to somehow stand out. Make sure to crop your images to make them more impactful. Give viewers a focal point—and only use filters to enhance your post, not just because you can. Wow them with your thoughtful content first and foremost.
Graphics: Entertain your audience with quotes, statements and funny memes. Language and culture will keep your audience from unfollowing. Celebrity or relatable user-generated content.
Expert tip: Last week I texted a friend and asked him to check out my post on Instagram. This was met with silence. After a couple of minutes, I asked “Well?!” to which he replied, ‘I’m trying to zoom in to see what’s in your hand.’’
So I sent him this: