Instagram is a great tool for businesses. As today’s consumers become more and more visually minded, it’s a social media channel that could take a brand to the next level. Part of its influence stems from the sheer number of active users: more than 1 billion people worldwide and roughly 120 million monthly users in the US, alone. Unlike Facebook, which uses obscure and ever-changing algorithms to determine who will and will not see your posts, if someone follows you on Instagram, the chance of that person seeing your content is significantly higher. Instagram’s Search & Explore feature makes it easier for people to find interesting content from all over the world—by location, tag, photographer or subject matter. Posting the right kind of content could increase your engagement and brand influence tenfold.
But that’s just it: you need to post the right content. Instagram success could be yours, if you take the initiative to avoid the missteps and shortcomings in the following list that often prevent brands from reaching their fullest potential.
Post Your Website Link In Your Bio
This is the one thing that should be stressed over and over again. Your profile’s bio is the only place, on all of Instagram, where you can add a clickable link to your website. Unfortunately, many accounts still neglect to do so, missing huge opportunities to build brand awareness and engage a potential customer base further.
Post High-Quality Images
This one’s simple, really. Instagram is a visual tool, so posting unattractive or boring photos will not create the kind of engagement that really drives brand success. In fact, doing so is more likely to deter new followers and scare away the ones that you do have. Now, that doesn’t mean that every photo you upload needs to be taken with a DSLR. As Instagram is primarily a mobile tool, it’s understood (and encouraged!) that the majority of photos will be taken and uploaded with a smartphone. However, some simple photography principles and the countless editing/photography apps available for most iOS and Android devices mean there’s no excuse for lackluster images. We recommend using VSCOcam to elevate your mobile photography.
Don’t Misuse Hashtags
Over 91% of all images posted on Instagram contain one or more hashtags. The main function of a hashtag is to open content up for discovery, by allowing others to find images and other users of interest, via relevant keywords. If you fail to use a hashtag or two that could be relevant to your brand’s content, you miss an opportunity to be discovered and engaged with. But on the flip side, if you spam your posts with too many irrelevant hashtags, you devalue your account and run the risk of losing brand credibility.
It can all be a little confusing, so check out this great Hootsuite post if you still need help understanding hashtags.
Engage With Others
Instagram is a great social media platform and it’s cultivated a fiercely loyal community of users who want to interact with relevant content. To get the most out of this interaction, you can’t just treat your account as some kind of “set it and forget it” tool. If you want to become a leader in your brand’s industry, follow other relevant users within that industry and engage with them. Don’t go on liking sprees, which can come off as desperate, but definitely like and comment on their photos when appropriate. Doing this, and doing it authentically, will associate your brand with theirs and do more to position your brand as an industry influencer. Likewise, if somebody leaves a comment on one of your photos, take the time to respond. It takes five seconds. Building a successful brand has a lot to do with building meaningful relationships with your consumers, so it would make the most sense to actually take part in conversations with your Instagram community.
If you’d like to see some small businesses who have taken their brands’ to the next level by doing all of the above, and doing it really well, check out 33 Acres Brewing Company, Brunette Wine Bar or Glen Edith Coffee.