“Very soon we won’t have a choice on whether we do Instagram. The question will be – How well we do it?”
Whether you are a legacy Instagrammer, a recent convert or just starting, it’s now imperative to understand how this amazing platform is evolving. With information becoming ubiquitous, and attention spans shrinking faster than a melting ice-cream, Instagram offers us the advantage of visual content with minimal words.
Some Facts on Usage
Instagram is made for mobile, which is great as phones have literally become body extensions.
As a sophisticated platform, it is introducing new features at an astounding rate and now boasts a whopping 600 million active monthly users, (of which the last 100 million joined in just the past six months).
An average user spends 21 minutes on Instagram every day, which honestly is a good chunk of time to grab a share of, to put your message, product or service in front of your preferred audience. Instagram users enjoy consuming content in terms of great visuals, so make efforts to say your message visually, creatively and meaningfully.
“As with any other brand promotion, you need to have an Instagram Strategy or it could end up being a frustrating dance of assumptions.”
Stay ahead in the Game – Smart Tips for Instagram:
HANDLE with Care
A first step is to ensure an easy to find/remember username or handle so make sure it is as closely associated with your brand name as possible. For e.g: if you design modern graphics and your brand is CrazyKool and it seems to be taken already, then try CrazyKoolDesigns, CrazyKoolGraphicDesign or even an iteration with your name CrazykoolbyLisa or CrazyKooLLc.
A way to find your target audience is through exploring relevant hashtags. A quick search on a topic can show you the audience for it.
31% of American women and 24% of men use Instagram. (source)
What do you Post?
Million dollar question! Great visuals are a delight to post but choose content that ultimately aligns with your business. If healthy living is your business, then exercise, food, sleep are all related to it so you can go across the gamut but try and stay within these boundaries. Deliver a combination of inspirational quotes, your products, happy customers and a bit of yourself ( a personalized yet interesting share can be about your office space, morning read or a shot of you).
Whatever picture you choose, keep delivering value for your audience in mind. Also make sure you put some thought into the description of your post to provide additional value. Have a look here for some great tips on choice of photo and engagement ideas.
Post at the Right Time
Keeping time zones in mind, get inside the mind of your preferred audience and think about when they are likely to have some downtime to check their feeds. Most Instagram users login in the morning, and in the evening, on their way home from work or school.
Typically, SAHMs of elementary school kids will probably check after 8:30 am school drop-off vs. working moms who might prefer at 6 am before waking up kids and the morning rush. If your audience is school going or school teachers, then probably after 2:30pm. You get the picture.
Whether you choose to post once or more, space out your posts to get maximum mileage.
How does your feed look? This is probably the last thing on your mind when a million other things need to be looked at, but trust me, a good start with a well thought out feed is a winning strategy. When your audience checks you out, a snapshot of your feed is what they see.
Is it overall pleasing to the eye? Is there an element that ties all your photos together? For achieving some level of cohesiveness, view your Instagram as a whole rather than lots of diverse images. It’s a good idea to use a consistent filter for a homogenous look.
60% of the top brands on Instagram use a consistent filter (source)
Need ideas? A simple exercise to do is to take screenshots of feeds that call out to you and then devise your posts based on what you love. Read a quick guide here to understand feeds.
Do a combination of Audience related, what’s trending, content related and definite must hashtags. The ideal number is 10-12 hashtags or less. The goal is to also use the hashtags that your potential customer is browsing. E.g: For posting a new article on our blog on Wednesday, in honor of creativity month, here’s what I would use:
Audience: #Women Entrepreneurs #CareerWomen
What’s Trending: #CreativityMonth #WednesdayWisdom
Content Related: #Creativity #CreativeThinking
Must: #BlogPost #LinkInBio
Potential Customer hashtag: #Skills
Engagement is Everything!
With the recently updated algorithm, Comments on Instagram are now even more valuable than Likes. Commenting on other’s images with more than four words is a great way to boost their post with the algorithm. Intentional comments tailored to the image are always appreciated and this way you’ll earn a genuine connect! Some more creative ways to engage your audience:
- Engage as much as you seek: Seek out new followers by leaving thoughtful comments on their pictures. But old is always gold. Appreciate, Comment and Interact with your current followers as much as you seek out new followers.
- End your posts with a questions: E.g: “In the comments below share your favorite time of day to read a book.”
- Start a conversation: “Can you give an opinion on which logo do you prefer?”
- Tag People: Say if you attended an event presented by two other instagrammers, thank them and @mention their account in your post.
- Respond in a timely manner: Monitor your notifications to learn when other users comment or @mention you and share your gratitude with a like or comment of your own.
- Host a Contest or Promotion: Always offer a prize that your ideal customer would love to receive. A simple trick for people to enter the contest is to ask people to like the post and tag 2 friends.
Instagram’s new features include:
Instagram Stories that allow you to create a series of short videos and photos inside Instagram separate from your account feed that are only available to be viewed by your followers for 24 hours.
A feature similar to Snapchat that lets users send disappearing photos and videos to followers.
Boomerang lets users turn a burst of photos into a mini video of sorts. You can access it by swiping right from your feed on Instagram.
The ability to livestream video within its app. Quite like Facebook live, but it doesn’t allow you to save the footage post broadcast. Tapping the “Start Live Video” button in the camera viewer allows Instagrammers to stream live footage for up to an hour.
Remember, success requires sustained efforts to inform, delight, appreciate and collaborate. Instagram is big for business. Don’t ignore this elephant in the room.
Jump aboard, catch up or just have fun while you make sense of it. You will love it!
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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