Anyone can use Instagram. In fact, it’s the second-most downloaded app in the Apple store. It’s intuitive and addicting, both for creators and casual scrollers. But if you’re a business, how do you engage with your audience there? In order to reap the benefits of this ever-changing, trendsetting app, you’ll have to experiment and get your hands dirty.
Ready to get creative? We have some tips to help you visualize success on this visual app!
Behind the Camera
We’ll start with some affirmation: if you’re trying to build an online presence, you’re in the right place. According to Instagram’s own statistics, there are over one billion accounts active every month. Hootsuite’s research indicates that in the average of 28 minutes that each user spends on the app each day, 200 million of them will visit at least one business. People come to Instagram to shop: 60 percent of users say they discover new products on the app.
Before you begin posting, get acquainted with the app and a couple of features that will help you strategize your posts. The first is post scheduling, a tool that lets you set up a post to go live at a later point. You can schedule posts through the Facebook Creator Studio or third-party managers like Later or Hootsuite. Scheduling your posts will help you maintain consistency without being repetitive.
The second is the Audience tab of the Insights menu. Once you’ve started posting content, this menu will show you the times your audiences are most active and give you some demographic information. It may take some trial and error, but this feature can help you build an effective post schedule and engage with your audience when they’re active.
And don’t forget about your bio! It’s the only part of your page where you can post a clickable link – in other words, the only way users can directly access your website from the app. Point your followers to it in your post captions.
Learn the Tools
There are two basic kinds of content on Instagram: photos and videos. Photos are the platform’s mainstay, but time spent watching videos has increased by 80 percent year by year. The app offers intuitive ways to capture and edit content, featuring excellent editing tools that make it easy to put your best foot forward. You can get even more creative with tools like Boomerang, which creates looping mini-videos, and Hyperlapse, a timelapse tool that smooths your video capture with Instagram’s in-house stabilization. Layout lets you combine images into collages or mirror pieces.
You’ll also want to check out Instagram Stories. These posts live at the top of the main Instagram page for 24 hours. They’re customizable, clickable, and can be interactive, making them a great form of engagement. Once their 24 hours are up, you can post them to the Story Highlights section of your page permanently. 500 million users view Stories every day and one third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses, so they should be an integral part of your strategy.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional photographer or videographer to use Instagram. You can create content that pops by following three basic photography rules:
- Set up your shots. Use the rule of thirds to position your subject and build an artistic picture.
- Experiment with angles, and find the one that gives you the most interesting photo.
- Make use of lighting. Yes, your phone has a flash, but natural lighting is almost always a better option if you can use it. If you’re shooting outside, do it in the afternoon or on a cloudy day. You want to avoid harsh light or shadows on the subject’s face.
Your brand’s existing marketing is a great starting point as you plan content. Find an aesthetic that compliments your branding and use consistent fonts and color palettes to build a distinctive, professional style. When you can, include people in your photos. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs found that photos featuring human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes and 32 percent more likely to be commented on than those without.
Instagram is a great place to advertise your products and post company news and updates, but it’s also where you can make your brand relatable and exciting. Teasers of upcoming products, peeks behind the scenes, and showcases of company values and culture can boost your engagement. And remember, interaction is a two-way street: don’t be afraid to engage in fun dialogue with commenters or repost pictures your followers tag you in when it’s appropriate.
Instagram is always evolving, and to use it successfully you’ll have to experiment with what your followers engage with. That engagement is earned, but it’s also rewarding. Flex your company’s creative muscles and give it a try!
What kind of Instagram content is your company putting out? What content do you personally like to see from brands? Share with us in the comments.