Instagram, founded in 2010 and acquired by Facebook in 2012, is a highly visual medium. Used correctly, the platform can be instrumental in the development of your business. Independent research firm Forrester has hailed Instagram as “the king of social engagement,” noting that it delivers brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Read on for a few tips on how to use Instagram to generate user engagement and build a loyal following for your brand.
Effective hashtag usage is one of the most critical components of using Instagram to promote your business. Although they may seem mystifying at first, these links preceded by the pound sign (#) are a helpful tool for online communication.
Using the pound sign at the beginning of a word or phrase turns that word or phrase into an indexed and easily searchable term on the platform that you are using (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and several other major sites support hashtags).
When incorporated into your image captions, hashtags can make it easy for other users to find your shared photos based on their platform searches. Be sure to tag your images with relevant search terms: For example, an independent clothing business might tag a picture of pants from their summer collection with terms such as #clothing, #apparel, #pants, #summer, #fashion, #style, and #summerfashion. Pinpoint the content of the image specifically (pants), as well as the larger topics associated with your brand (in this case, fashion).
Online programs such as Iconosquare and Webstagram can help to identify popular hashtags that are well-suited to a certain subject matter. For instance, a Webstagram search of the hashtag “#fashion” resulted in a list of the most popularly-used fashion-related hashtags.
Some brands opt to cast a wide net by employing a range of general, widely-used Instagram hashtags (see a list of the most popular tags over on Top-Hashtags.com). Although more generalized tags may gain you additional likes or follows in the short-term, Shopify points out that such usage will not yield much long-term engagement.
Hashtags are just one piece of the puzzle, however. Because Instagram is a highly visual medium, creating aesthetically stimulating and memorable content is vital to driving consumer engagement. Populagram offers a ranking of each Instagram filter by frequency of use, but photo layout is just as important as coloration. Consult these nine tips for photo composition, courtesy of FastCoCreate, to create a polished and artistic look for your brand.
Once you’ve got hashtags and visuals down to a T, timing your posts can be another important aspect in attracting an audience. One way to pinpoint the best times and days to post on behalf of your brand is to investigate what has worked for you in the past. Iconosquare’s optimization service can illustrate which posts (on which dates, at which times) have gained the most traction among consumers. Additionally, sources such as the Huffington Post have reported on which times gather the most likes, comments, and follows on each day of the week (information courtesy of Instagram scheduling service Latergramme).
After getting the basics down and establishing a consistent Instagram presence, you can start thinking on an even larger scale. One such method is to launch contests with prizes to promote community involvement. For optimal results, spread your contest over the span of a few months. This will allow word to proliferate organically among your user base and beyond, and will continually increase engagement in the weeks leading up to a prize drawing.
If you’re offering up a prize that people truly want, it won’t take much to ignite support within the community. If you’re looking to increase active participation, offer rewards for best user pictures tagged with a specific hashtag. Instagram’s official blog offers further guidelines on how to use such competitions to your advantage.
For information on how EVLiO can help you navigate the world of social media, including Instagram, visit our website. In the mean time, check out our blog to keep up to date on trends in web design, online marketing, social media, and other topics. If you like what you’re learning and would like to see these practices and others working for your business, contact us for a free consultation.