We have seen Instagram grow in user base and capabilities tremendously over the past year. If your brand has any sort of visual element or component, Instagram can increase your brand’s presence and be a lead generation tool for your business. Much like its owner Facebook, Instagram has made a hard and fast shift from being a social media channel focused solely on consumers to being a big piece of the marketing mix brands cannot go without. Instagram has even started a website dedicated to Instagram for Businesses. Like all rented media, we are always at the mercy of Instagram’s algorithm but I wanted to share with you the five Instagram strategies to increase your brand’s presence we are seeing work today.
1. Create a business profile
Converting your Instagram profile to a business account gives you power. Why does that little switch give you so much power? Data – there is always power in data. Instagram reveals more data about your posts, stories and your audience. You can begin to understand with a business account which content is resonating best, what time your followers are most active and the best days to post.
Another important feature of Instagram business accounts are the call-to-action option. Instagram now has several “Action Button” options to choose from to showcase on the top of your profile page. A business account allows you to track lead generation direction from your Instagram profile from clicking your featured link to choosing one of the calls-to-action listed.
2. Use high-quality visuals
Using high-quality visuals does not mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on a professional photoshoot. Although many Instagram influencers and brands do this, many are reporting more engagement on photos taken on an iPhone or less photoshop.
I’m a big advocate of using the tools you have such as your phone for Instagram, but making content high quality with the content of the photo, natural lighting and slight editing. There are many apps that work great for quick photo editing such as VSCO, but my favorite photo editing tool is the custom editing feature in Instagram. With Instagram’s custom editing tool you are able to enhance the photo, get rid of shadows and keep your profile aesthetic without losing the authenticity of the photo.
3. Master the hashtag game
It’s no secret hashtags continue to drive Instagram’s algorithm. The trick is to be able to play the hashtag game to increase your brand’s presence. Our research tells us the sweet spot for hashtags per post are 10 to 12, but we are seeing the sweet spot with our clients around 12 to 20. If used strategically, hashtags can drive campaigns and get your brand discovered by your indirect (people you don’t know but could benefit from your brand message or product) target audience.
Instagram now allows users to follow hashtags which is the key to increasing your engagement. The way Instagram’s algorithm is built, the best way to grow your discoverability and engagement is to put in how much you want to get out. Following hashtags gives you an easier way to identify the people and profiles you need to be building relationships and engaging with.
4. Incorporate Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories has taken over the 24-hour content space and continues to prove it’s value to consumers and brands. It also provides the true interactive element Instagram was missing with features such as polls. My favorite thing about Stories is Instagram prioritizes the placement of this feature in the top of the app and in the middle of your newsfeed to scroll down. It also populates the most recent stories from your followers first so frequency is key! The best strategy is to use your insights on the days and times your audience is most active and utilize the Stories feature then so your brand is the first thing they see when they open the Instagram app.
If you have a presence on Instagram and are currently not utilizing Stories, you are making it hard for your audience to see your content. To learn more about the Instagram Stories features, read our Digital Marketing Strategist Nichole Williamson’s blog on Five ways to leverage Stories for your brand.
5. Utilize the power of Instagram live
Instagram’s live capability allows you to take engagement with your target audience one step further. As far as interactive content, live is your best tool for real-time engagement. When going live on your profile, Instagram sends out a push notification to all of your followers alerting them to tune it! Best practice for live is to test your audio and visual on your phone’s video recorder to ensure your in business then have a thought out monologue for the first three minutes to give users time to tune in. Once you begin the content of your live you can conduct a Q&A with followers, get opinions on a product or reveal a new product. Once your live is complete, you have the option to save it to your story so it continues to live for 24 hours.