Before social media, the thought of looking at someone else’s pictures brought us pained memories of sitting, unwillingly, through the slideshow of our grandparents’ holiday to Rhodes.
Even after the launch of Facebook and Twitter, having a social media site dedicated just to the sharing of photos and videos seemed laughable.
But now, with 400 million active users and 30% of Internet users using the site, it seems Instagram is having the last laugh.
With the increasing popularity of visual marketing, it isn’t just (dare we say it) millennials using Instagram to share photos of the latte art on their morning coffee or their latest #selfie, but brands are getting in on the action too.
According to Brandwatch, 48.8% of brands are on Instagram, with this figure predicted to rise to 70.7% by 2017. And if you were to look solely at the top 100 brands in the world, 90% are active on Instagram.
And who can blame them when the latest statistics show that engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher when compared to Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter.
But with so many brands using the platform, how do you make sure you don’t get lost in the Instasphere? Here are a few tips to building your brand on Instagram:
Know your brand
Before you upload your first photo, you need to make sure you know what your brand is and what the goals are. It might seem silly – how would you not know your own brand? But you’d be surprised by how many people get swept up in producing content without thinking about their brand image.
When it comes to using Instagram, this doesn’t just mean thinking about what filter you’ll use. In order to use it effectively, you need to have worked out why you want to use this particular social media site. Are you trying to increase brand awareness or do you want to acquire new customers? The answer to these types of questions will help you have a clear Instagram strategy.
But that doesn’t mean the aesthetic isn’t important – this is a photo-sharing site we’re talking about. Your Instagram account should reflect the aesthetic of your brand so followers can identify your photos as your own, without needing to look at the name.
And don’t worry about creating perfect pictures; after all, consumers want authenticity.
Think outside the box
As we’ve already seen, Instagram has a lot of engagement; seriously, a lot. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with what you share. And this doesn’t just mean trying a new filter.
Known for its quirkiness, Old Spice brought its out-of-the-box thinking to Instagram by creating a choose-your-own-adventure social experience through the use of Instagram’s tagging feature.
As Marketing Land explains, a photo posted on the main Old Spice Instagram account allowed users to click on the image and select a tag to move forward with story. Each tag would lead to another account that was specifically created for the story. Some tags would lead to a dead end, while others would let you continue the journey.
This campaign is a great example of getting creative to generate even more engagement.
And speaking of engagement…
There is definitely such a thing as too many hashtags, and it certainly isn’t recommended that you use #hashtag… but using none at all can prove just as ineffective.
Using hashtags can seriously help improve the visibility of your posts and certain hashtags are more popular than others. Websites such as Websta can help you find and keep track of the popular hashtags. Getting involved in things like #throwbackthursday and #flashbackfriday are sure to get picked up.
You can also use hashtags to generate interactivity among your follows. Creating an Instagram contest is a great way to boost engagement. Simply think of a contest hashtag and ask your followers to upload images using the hashtag. The prizes could be anything from company branded coffee mugs or one of the products you sell.
It’s all about timing
You might have the best post in the world, but sharing it at the wrong time will result in low engagement.
So when exactly is the best time to post? Well, if you ever look up from your own phone while on your commute, you’ll already know the answer.
Posting between 8am and 9.30am will garner the attention of everyone trying to entertain themselves while on their way to work. Perhaps surprisingly, Sunday evenings are also a great time to post as you’ll catch people as they relax before the start of a new week.
Post something, anything!
Okay, there’s no need to be so desperate but it’s important you don’t just let your Instagram get forgotten.
If you need to post something but are having a creative block, just go for some known Instagram winners (as long as they are in line with your brand aesthetic, of course…)
Posts of flowers and animals are always sure to get a lot of love on Instagram, although there’s no guarantee you’ll have the same Instafame as Grumpy Cat.
It’s taken us a while to sign ourselves up to Instagram here at M2 Bespoke. For a long time we weren’t sure if the platform plays to our strengths, deciding our time would be better spent on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
However, Instagram is perfect for showing a more personable side to your business and proving your authenticity – something that is becoming more important in the eyes of both consumers and professionals.
It’s time to show a more human side to our brand, introducing you to the people behind it and the environment we work in. So, watch this space…Ben Hollom
October 24, 2016