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How to Get the Most Out of Instagram

by Danielle Duggan on April 7, 2017

how to instagram sprk'dIn a world driven by the power of the internet, it’s easy for businesses to buy into the promise of social media as a godsent answer to all your problems. Though it’s tempting to immediately dive your business into every social platform out there, it’s better to invest your finite time and resources into only a few accounts.

We constantly hear praise about platforms like Facebook which have dominated the industry for so long, but depending on context, Facebook may not always be the best choice. With more than 300 million active users, Instagram may be the better call.

Before you create an account, you should assess your business’ target audience to see if it’s a good fit.

Instagram is a great platform for businesses that targets a younger demographic and is most popular amongst audiences between the ages of 18 and 29.

Image-friendly businesses, such as restaurants, clothing stores, architecture firms, interior designers, etc., are able to best utilize the site.

If your company checks that box, check out these tips to get the most out of Instagram:

Locating Your Target Audience

You've just created your account, uploaded a profile picture and completed your bio — now what? The next step is to find followers, namely those in your target market.

The easiest step to take is to check out who’s following your competition. This is a quick, simple way to find people interested in products like yours all in one place.

Scroll through their profile and find posts that are relevant to your company to engage with. Complement the photo, take part in the discussion in the comments, anything to integrate yourself in the community.

Posting the Right Kind of Content

With any kind of inbound marketing, it’s not enough to just post sub-par content. Even if you’re constantly delivering exceptional content, it’s useless if it’s not what your audience wants to see.

Hootsuite offers five of the best Instagram content ideas to get you started:
  • Behind the scenes content - The main purpose of this kind of content is to humanize your business. Introduce your follows to employees and show them your workplace, how your products are made, etc.
  • Product Features - Showcasing your products is the main goal of your Instagram account. Keep in mind that most of your followers also follow many other accounts. That’s why it’s important to make these shots interesting and aesthetically pleasing, in order to stand out on their feed.
  • Lifestyle shots - These photos showcase your product and how it can be used in the real world. This will have a much greater impact than an object simply propped against a wall. Think of your target market’s “best life” and recreate that in a photo.
  • Quotes and Text Based - These work well in moderation. Your audience will have days when they need a pick-me-up; that’s what these occasional motivational quote posts are for.
  • User Generated - This is a great way to get your audience directly involved in your brand. They will feel appreciated by the recognition and think positively of your brand in turn. It’s also an easy way to give your account fresh, unique material.

Mastering the Art of Hashtags

Hashtags are exactly that: an art.

On one hand, they can lead to dramatically increased engagement for your posts, but on the other hand, they can easily come off as “spammy.” That’s what it’s important to use them correctly.

Posts with at least one Instagram hashtag had 12.6% more engagement than those without.

We advise using much more than that, though. Hashtags are a great, organic way for people to discover content through topics that interest them.

Though it may be tempting to use the most popular, generic hashtags, such as “pretty” or “beautiful”, remember that everyone else is using these as well. With so many posts with this tag, your photo will quickly sink to the bottom and will rarely be able to stand out among the huge crowd.

Instead, find hashtags that are specific to your audience. The easiest way to do this is to see what hashtags your audience is already using. Think about the interests of your target market. What would they be doing on a Friday night? What do they enjoy learning about? Where are their favorite spots to visit?

You’ll be able to only target those interested in the topic of your content and will have an easier time competing with other posts.

Once you’ve found hashtags worth using, 11 tags is the magic number for the best engagement. Even still, this may be perceived as too promotional.

A great way to hide your hashtags is to post them as the first comment.

Create a caption, then after your photos has been posted, comment five periods and then add your hashtags. Those who view your photos will just see [....] unless they click to view the comment thread.

Tagging Other Accounts Correctly

Tagging other accounts in your posts is another great way to boost engagement. If you do it correctly, you can create a community within your industry and with your customers.

Customers are more likely to purchase from a brand they trust, and communicating and interacting with them over Instagram is an excellent way to build relationships.

Running Instagram contests is a great way to do this. Use your account to advertise a competition you’re doing on the platform. For example, if you’re a clothing store that has just launched a new line, ask your followers to share photos of themselves in their favorite look and tag your account in it. You can then choose your favorite.

You can “regram” their photo using the app “Repost for Instagram” on your account and tag the user in it as well. This will give users an incentive to follow your page and post content related to yours.

You should also tag other employees at your company when they’re featured in a photo, as well as your business partners or affiliates. It’s important to give recognition to anyone involved in your work and it’ll make your collaboration run even more smoothly.

Finally, if you’re interacting with customers or using another company’s product or service, tag them. At the very least, they may like your photo and appreciate the acknowledgement. In the best case scenario, they will regram your photo  on their own page. This will help to grow your network and spread your name.

But don’t go overboard in tagging people. Only tag someone if it’s relevant. Also don’t tag the same person all the time. This can come off as desperate and annoying.

Posting Just Enough Content

Don’t overload your followers’ feeds with your work, hoping they’ll engage with at least one of your posts. At the same time, don’t post once a week and expect to be bombarded with likes when you do.

The key is consistency.

If you know you don’t have time to post every day, don’t. It’s better to post three times a week, every week, than to post twice every day for a week, then only once the following week.

Once you’ve decided how often to post, test out what times work best and use trial and error to see when you get the most engagement. Track information about your social media account with analytics to help you refine your strategy on the platform to drive more engagement.

Some find success  between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, but it varies depending on your business.

Conclusion

Even if you follow all of these tips, the best advice to take away is that everything requires trial and error. Test things out. See what your audience responds to best.

Don’t forget to comment and let us know what worked best!

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