How to Use InstagramBy Angelina Burkholder
Instagram is singlehandedly the coolest player in the social media club.
It’s the perfect outlet for all photographers and visual imagery junkies. From breathtaking nature shots and craftsmanship highlights to city exploration and foodie photos, it’s the one stop shop where you can feed and completely satisfy your visual appetite.
Instagram hasn’t always been known as a profitable player in the social media space for the business community. However, with recent changes, it’s ramping up to be another great opportunity for all brands to engage further with their audiences and hit home through great imagery and compelling marketing.
So if you haven’t already, take the first step—dive in and make a profile.
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, what your mission is, or what industry you’re in, Instagram is a place where any organization or brand can start reaching people in a more unique and provoking way that leads to an increased brand loyalty.
After you’ve created your profile, choose what you want to promote in the space. If you’re selling or promoting a product or service, figure out whether your audience responds best to examples and showcases of it or if they interact better with posts that are centered on the results and benefits of the product. Try out different approaches over the course of several weeks to see what results in the highest engagement.
You can also play around with behind-the-scenes shots of your organization and test them against more photos that focus on what the organization actually does. Depending on your mission, your audience may feel more compelled by seeing your people in action versus preferring to see the result and the impact of your work.
After your profile is set up and ready to go, start interacting with your audience.
Instagram is a place where it’s absolutely imperative that you interact with your audience on a daily basis, no matter what industry you’re in. Followers will flock to your profile because you’ve already made them feel valued and important through your interactions on their accounts.
Identify key people in your industry that could become fruitful brand ambassadors or advocates for you and start showing them some love. You can also benefit from networking with other business and organizations like your own. Analyze their audiences and follow key people in their following to pull that demographic to your own profile. Once users start noticing you, make sure that your profile is set up to impress them.
As with Twitter, don’t underestimate the power of the hashtag. With Instagram being the hot thing that it is, more and more people are turning to it as a discovery tool, following their favorite hashtags to find photos of all their favorite things. And unlike Twitter with its limited character counts, you can use multiple hashtags on Instagram to cover all your bases.
Invest in useful tools to stay on top of your Insta game.
Because Instagram is so mobile focused, it can be hard to find really deep analytics on your audience habits, optimization rates, and engagement trends. For now, check out Iconosquare. Through Iconosquare, you can see exactly when your audience is on Instagram and compare it with your posting habits. The results may surprise you! Adjust your posting strategy to coincide with times when your audience is guaranteed to be on the platform.
You can even review your growth patterns, analyze your community and manage your profile through Iconosquare.
Instagram also recently partnered with Hootsuite to allow for integration in the popular social media manager. Since Instagram continues to fight a strong battle to stay strictly mobile, the integration isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Hootsuite works almost identically to Latergram.me.
After scheduling a photo, Hootsuite or Latergram.me, whichever you prefer, will send you a push notification through the mobile app at the scheduled post time. You’ll have to open the app and hit “post” on the specific scheduled photo. Doing so will open the photo in Instagram, but you’ll still have to paste the caption in.
The benefit? You get a mobile reminder and you don’t have to type in the caption. The downfall? You still have to pause in your workday and complete the post manually. Plus, you have to make sure that you’re logged into the correct account before you hit post in Hootsuite or Latergram.me. If you’re more of a simplistic soul, stick with Latergram.me—it’s easy, straightforward and simple. If you prefer to have more functionality and think you could potentially have scheduling needs for other platforms, try out Hootsuite.
At its core, Instagram is a glorified bragging platform. It’s the perfect place for you to brag on your employees in creative ways or show the impact of your organization through stunning art and photographs. No matter what age or demographic your audience is on Instagram, they are there for one purpose—to get a visual art high.
But the benefit of having a stunning Instagram account doesn’t stop there—if done well, your posts will lead to people feeling inspired and awed by the beauty and impact of your work or life. That awed and inspired feeling leads to engagement and advocacy. Those coveted actions lead to brand loyalty and that’s when you know you’ve hit the jackpot.