“Why do I need to be on Instagram?”

It’s a question asked by businesses large and small, from start-ups to PLCs and even the tech-savvy. Surely, it’s just a social platform where people share selfies, pictures of their cats, or avocado on toast. Sometimes cats and avocado on toast… #Catvocado or #Advocats? Avocado Cat But how can this hugely popular social platform benefit your business? Here’s some tips and facts that will have you hashtagging your way to social stardom and success.

The Good

With 400 million daily active users around the world that spend on average 25 minutes per day on Instagram, it’s the perfect place to reach with your audience. In many ways it’s no surprise that an image-based social network has become so successful. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text, and people remember up to 80% of what they see (as opposed to 20% of what they read). It’s the perfect platform to get your brand and message across. You also have the Instagram Stories element to take advantage of. Content that disappears in 24 hours allows businesses to create more daring or enticing images and videos. One in five Instagram Stories receive a direct message. Why? Because you can’t like or comment on a Story like you can with a regular post, so if the viewer feels compelled to engage, they suddenly become a hot lead. And with Instagram Stories having 250 million average daily users…well, why wouldn’t you?

The Bad

On average, people miss over 70% of their Instagram feeds, so you need to post regularly to ensure your posts are seen. This can be seen as a negative because you have to spend so much time and resource posting on Instagram (it’s recommended that you post daily). Instagram has been designed to be used on Smartphones, so not all functionality is available on desktop. This could mean that your audience isn’t accessible all of the time. However, you could benefit from a useful tool like Schedugram which allows you to pre-schedule your Instagram posts for the evening when you’re more likely to engage your audience.

The Beautiful

The best images to share on Instagram can be beautifully artistic and alluring. Take Photoshop for example, who just share user generated content. Photoshop Their images are exceptional and showcase the skills of Photoshop users, which keeps their core audience engaged and also demonstrates the functionality and endless possibilities of using their software. Popular image categories are – Lifestyle : This could be brands you like, hobbies or even food (some people don’t like this…personally I LOVE seeing pictures of food) Celebrity : It may not be something that’s often possible, but if you happen to work with a celebrity at any point, make sure you get the opportunity to Instagram it. Because of our voyeuristic nature people love a celebrity! Aspirational images : We all aspire do to something, go somewhere, be someone. Posting aspirational images or quotes can make the viewer feel inspired to do something or take action. It could be to download a fitness app, apply for a job using your recruitment services, or sign up to a course. Inspire your audience to take action. Mercedes   Personality : Instagram gives you the perfect opportunity to show who you are as an individual or a business. People interact with people and not just faceless organisations. If you engage with your audience on a human level they are more likely to convert into leads. If you feel that as a business you’re philanthropic, fun (or even serious) show this in your personality posts. Tips/Actionable ideas : Only about 20% of your posts should be directly ‘selling’, so try posting useful tips and ideas. This could be CV writing tips if you were a recruitment agency, ‘how to’ guides for fitness exercises or even lifestyle hacks. When building our Instagram bank of images, try and remain consistent by using the same filters and similar colour schemes that complement each other so your Instagram style becomes synonymous with your brand. There may be a bit of trial and error to establish what your audience engages with, but don’t chop and change too much. If you’re building a brand you want people to trust, inconsistency will be your enemy. Setting up something like Hootsuite allows you to see your likes by filter, along with audience growth, gender of audience and other useful analytics.

Where do you start?

It’s as easy as 1,2,3:

  • Firstly, pick a good username and try to use the same name across all social platforms
  • Secondly, write a short but compelling bio with a link back to your site
  • From this point on, create high quality and consistent content using complementing colours and filters that make your brand easily identifiable.

Once you get the hang of it, you can begin using more advanced techniques. For example, using the right hashtags can help you expose your brand to large or targeted audiences. It’s useful to create a spreadsheet of hashtags that you’re planning on using. Start by looking at what hashtags your audience, competitors and industry leaders are already using. The narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users are. The optimum number of hashtags to use is 11 per post. Top brands tend to post daily, with the best times to post on Mondays and Thursdays at any time except between 3-4pm. Posts with a location tag have 79% higher engagement and images with faces receive 38% more likes. Always engage with your audience – if you want to find the right followers, you might have to look for them. Take note of their use of hashtags too. For example a coffee shop might engage with people that have used the hashtag #coffee. By following them or liking their images they’re much more likely to check out your profile and follow you back. Share user generated content. This means taking the best user content from around the web and featuring on your Instagram account but giving credit to the original creator. Another way to do this is to create your own brand hashtag, for this we’ll use the coffee shop example again. Coffee Create a hashtag like #essentialcoffee and ask your followers to share their own coffee images using this hashtag. You can then re-post this image, crediting them. Simple.

Post, follow and share – that’s the fundamental beauty of Instagram.