Instagram has become an absolute beast in the marketing world, with entrepreneurs now realising it’s real potential for business growth. There are now over 7 billion users on Instagram. Around two thirds of those users are logging in every day and around one third are logging into the app more than once a day. That’s a remarkable amount of potential to reach out to a massive audience.

So how can you make the most of your business posting?

People like to see people

By it’s very nature Instagram is all about visuals. Popular channels spend a lot of effort creating awesome looking photos that are arguably very staged, but we can’t get enough. But social media is all about people at the end of the day, so it’s no surprise that posts that include people are more successful.

On Instagram, photos showing faces get 38% more Likes than photos not showing faces. (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2014)

Indeed in our own experience across a broad range of clients we create digital marketing campaigns for, photos with products, locations or offers don’t perform nearly as well as a simple photo or video of someone’s face. It might be intimidating at first to throw yourself in front of the camera, but once you get over that mental hurdle you will see a notable increase in post engagement. Failing this, throw someone else in front of the camera.

Four hours until burial

When you add a hashtag to your post, your post is linked to a feed that users can find. Some hashtags are more popular than others, but hashtags are a great way to explore new audiences and attract new fans and potential customers.

When you do add a hashtag your post goes to the top of ‘latest posts’ for that hashtag feed. Straight away your post might get a lot of interest. If you use a more popular, global hashtag you might get lots of likes and comments from strange accounts. It seems great, but you quickly realise that they are just fishing for you to like them back. Don’t get sucked in, but take advantage of some extra likes on your posts for credibility.

This initial interest from your hashtag drops off after around four hours. It’s essentially ‘buried’ amongst all the other posts using that hashtag. For that reason try to plan your ‘four hour window’ for when your audience is likely to be around. Statistically the best time of the week is Wednesday at 5pm. The 5pm-9pm must be the most active time for users on Instagram.

Don’t make your post at 11pm and have your four hour window extend to 3 in the morning. Think about when your audience is online. If you want to get really serious about measuring your Instagram posts performance you could use something like Iconosquare to get some in depth analytics.

Filters filters filters

Statistically Mayfair is the filter that attracts the most engagement. But don’t get hung up on that. We’re only talking a very minor advantage. What the most popular channels do though is use one filter consistently. When someone is exploring your channel for the first time and viewing your images in grid view, your posts will look more appealing if there isn’t a mix of image styles that clash with each other.

I myself am guilty of straying to other filters if I think the image will look better, but when we are demonstrating our design work for example, I keep the images the same.

Always post natively in social media apps, except…

Ordinarily the advice is to create and post content that is relative to the social media channel you are using. Posting Youtube links on Facebook fails. Using a video from Snapchat on Instagram fails. Instagram was bought by Facebook around 2012. So it’s natural that Facebook wants Instagram to succeed. The Instagram to Facebook combo is the only exception to the rule. When you post to Instagram and select to also send the post to Facebook, it gets an extra boost in reach on Facebook than normal posts. Take advantage of this, but after around the fourth post for the week, the magic boost seems to drop off.

Don’t use the selfie camera

Selfie culture is completely normal these days, however most phones don’t have an amazing quality camera on the front of the device. It’s deliberately a smaller resolution camera.

It might be harder to take that perfect picture but using the rear camera on your phone will provide a much higher resolution and less grainy picture. Getting someone to take that photo for you is a much better solution and typically make your images look less ‘solopreneur’ish than a selfie anyway.

Here’s a pro tip though. If you plug your headphones into your iPhone you can trigger the camera in Instagram with the + volume control. Set yourself up with a tripod or lean your phone against something then remotely take the shot.

Hmmm, giving away all my secrets here……

Make interesting content with Instagram’s apps

Instagram have a few apps that make creating interesting content a little bit easier. Search for them on the app store, they are all free.

  • ‘Layout’ is the simplest. It allows you to take multiple photos and lay them out in a collage style picture. Great if no individual picture stands out for you, but a series of pics might tell a story. Play around with different configurations and borders.
  • ‘Boomerang’ is very popular. It records a 1-2 second video then creates a loop of that recording playing backwards and forwards. I have no idea why it’s so popular or effective, but people seem to do fun things with it like dancing or some kind of movement that I think they typically wouldn’t do in a recorded video. Give it a try and gauge the engagement you get.
  • ‘Hyperlapse’ lets you record a really long video then speed it right up like a time lapse video but it has some kind of smoothing algorithm that makes it look great. You might be able to demonstrate something about your business you wouldn’t ordinarily get people to sit and watch for long enough. Condense it down to a few seconds and you have a riveting little post.

Trial and error

Don’t forget, these tips are great but you need to work out what works best for your business and your audience. Never take a statistic as the only way forward. I can’t see Instagram slowing down any time soon, and businesses that are jumping on board in a big way are definitely reaping the rewards.

If you’d like any help with creating campaigns for your business on Instagram, Facebook or any digital marketing channel, check out our Digital Marketing Wingman service.

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