Instagram is exploding, with 700 million active users a month using the platform. A far lower user base than Facebook, Instagram has a reputation of being more engaging with consumers and has less competition which means it’s perfect for your business to thrive and really build your social following.
Now, let’s all take one deep breath. We know that starting a new social media platform can be daunting. It’s time consuming and can take a lot of creativity. That’s why we’ve compiled a few of our best practice tips to get you started and thinking through your own Instagram strategy.
1. The photo is the most important part. I see a lot of companies sharing quotes on pictures and that’s great, but the whole point of Instagram from the beginning has been to share those stunning visuals. You don’t have to be a professional photographer; either take a few snaps and choose the best or find that amateur photog on your staff if you’ve got one. If you have the resources, you can invest in a photo session of your products or menu items with a pro. Have them help you create a bank of photos that you love to use for your posts throughout the month and year and that’ll make staying on top of it all a little easier, too.
2. Think about the grid. Instagram is a bit unique in that when someone visits your profile, they can see all your posts in a 3-across grid layout. The best Instagram accounts match their overall look to their branding colors. Alaska Airlines does a great job with this for instance. If you look at the screenshot to your right, you can see that their images have a largely green and blue tone that make you feel like all the pictures belong. This helps you extend your branding and let users know that they are on your account.
3. Encourage engagement. Whether you choose to hold contests (hey, people will do a lot for $10 to Starbucks or 15% off at your new location) or even regram their content, users love it when they feel a personal connection to that business and are acknowledged. For regramming, direct message the user and ask their permission to reshare their post on your account. Then, use Repost or a similar app to publish their post to your account. Not only did you make that user happy, but you show your audience that you engage with customers on a regular basis.
4. Give Instagram Stories a go. These are especially great for those posts that you don’t care if they “live” for longer than 24 hours and fit great with behind the scenes. Social media is all about being social and Instagram has a more casual audience. Go ahead and show your staff bonding over lunch or celebrating that birthday. Catch an employee doing a great job. These can be great sprinkled in as regular posts, too, but Instagram Stories can allow you to really show the personality behind your business.
5. Hashtags are your friends, but don’t invite them all to the party. I’ve read a lot of articles that say 3-5 is optimal or that working hashtags organically into your picture description is best. The truth is as long as you’re not crossing the line into annoying and all the hashtags make sense for your post you should be good to go. Personally we like to weave a couple into the post, then add hashtags a few lines below. This helps our posts get found by those interested in the topics that are relevant to them and feels a bit more organic.
Now, you are ready to fly! Ok, of course you should sit down and plan out your social media posts using a calendar, and then adjust as needed, but the most important thing is to just get started.
(Worried about getting those first few followers? Encourage people to come find you on Instagram by sharing your profile on your other social media accounts, advertise it in your physical locations, and include a link to your account on your website. And we’d love to chat if you have any other questions about how to get started!)