Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service. It is increasingly being used by businesses as a marketing tool. Instagram allows you to take a photograph and record a video on your mobile device and instantly push the content out to other social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
Instagram was launched in October 2010 and now has over 800 million accounts that share more than 95 million photos and videos every day.
Set clear goals for Instagram
It is very important to consider how Instagram fits into your overall marketing strategy. Think about what your objectives are, do you want to:
- increase awareness
- change perception
- reach a new audience
Getting started with Instagram
To set up an Instagram account you need to complete two steps:
- Choose an account name – you should ideally use your business name, if it’s available.
- Upload a profile photo – it’s best to keep your profile photo simple. Instagram recommend using your brand's logo or a graphic symbol. Profile photos are cropped into a circle and show as a small 150 x 150 pixel image on most phones.
Instagram was launched as one of the first truly ‘mobile-first’ social media platforms. Once Facebook bought the company it launched a desktop photo stream, however you are still required to take and upload your photos and videos from your mobile device.
Images - It is essential that you use good quality images. You might want to consider mixing up the types of images you post. For example, you could post corporate images as well as more light-hearted images. If appropriate, you could use the built-in photographic filters on your photos.
Videos - Instagram allows you share short videos. You can apply filters the same way you can with photos. Instagram’s Boomerang app allows you to create short looping videos.
Captions - Keep captions short and interesting. A good way of encouraging engagement with your followers is to ask questions.
Hashtags - Adding hashtags to your photos will mean that people searching for these terms will come across your photos. This will help you to build up new followers and share your photos with more people. It is possible to use up to 30 hashtags on each photograph, but good practice suggests that you should use no more than five. Tags should be specific and relevant to the post - this way you are more likely to target like-minded followers. You might want to explore how businesses that are similar to you, and have a large following, successfully use hashtags. If appropriate, you could consider using popular hashtags such as #throwbackthursday or #eatingout – this will help you appear in the relevant search results.
Commenting and liking - You should engage with other relevant companies and brands by liking and commenting on their images on Instagram.
Tagging - Consider including the location of your photo or video if appropriate. This helps to promote the location of your business. You can also use the ‘Add People’ feature to tag accounts in your image when they will help you reach a broader audience.
Image tools – Edit your images with photographic filters and other image editing tools available in the Instagram app. These effects give images a distinct look that people often respond to. There are also a number of third party apps available that can add extra filters or create collages.
Stories – Instagram has a ‘story’ feature that allows you to upload temporary images and video that appear for 24 hours. There are a range of editing features you can add to your story such as geolocation tags, text, stickers and filters. You can also broadcast live videos. This feature could be used to share events in real-time.
Instagram direct – Instagram direct enables users to send private photos and videos directly to each other. It also allows users to respond to stories – this is an opportunity to engage with your audience.
Advertising on Instagram
Instagram has a community of over 800 million users and offers the chance to tap into one of the world’s largest mobile ads platforms. It is not necessary to have an Instagram account to run Instagram ads however you will need a Facebook page.