Instagram has exploded in popularity since it first launched in 2010. Now with more than 500 million monthly active users, including both consumers and businesses, some 70 million photos are shared on the platform every day.
Marketers have been using Instagram for promotion from the get-go, but it wasn't until recently that the company rolled out a dedicated profile for businesses. And now that there are more features for business owners and marketers, as well as a new algorithm in effect, it'll become increasingly difficult for a business to stand out in coming months.
Similar to Facebook's algorithm, Instagram wants to present its users with more of what they find interesting and less stuff that would be considered intrusive, less relevant, or 'spammy,' such as business content and company posts.
But with a little creativity and the right tools, it is possible to maintain and build upon your Instagram growth - here are five things you can do to start making your brand more discoverable on photo-sharing platform.
1. Publish Higher Quality Images
Instagram is all about visual engagement, so the quality of your posts is extremely important. Your audience is used to seeing bright, colorful, and engaging images - if you're uploading dull and uninspiring content, then they're going to scroll right past without giving your updates a second look.
Your Facebook fans might forgive a boring post here and there, but your Instagram followers are less likely to forget your mishaps.
The good thing is, it doesn't take an expensive camera to take quality photographs for your Instagram. Above all else, this is a mobile application - if you have a newer smartphone, then your camera is probably capable of taking quality photos.
That's what you want to aim for, anyway: authentic, high-quality photos taken in the moment and shared by your brand.
Here are some basic tips for taking better Instagram photos with your smartphone:
- Get up close; new cameras can focus and capture amazing details. This is great for product photos
- Crop pictures instead of zooming, as this might make images grainy
- Don't apply a filter "just because"
- Don't add artificial blur; go with what your camera does
- Avoid using flash
- Try different angles
- Focus on one subject at a time
- Be interesting, funny, and sharable
You can also use tools like Canva to spice up your photos and add more depth to boost engagement.
2. Run with What's Trending
Pay attention to what's trending, both on Instagram and around the web. Hashtags sometimes carry over from one social channel to another. If you find a trending topic that is relevant to your industry or your audience in some way, then leverage it to get their attention.
If a trend features one or more hashtags, be sure to use those when you write captions for your posts or curate content. Fans use hashtags to follow discussions and see what posts other people have made on subjects that interest them. Including a relevant hashtag in your trend post will cast a wider net so new followers can discover you and your content.
To really expand the reach of your posts, consider using Instagram's ad platform - if you combine paid promotion with a popular hashtag, you could get your brand in front of a huge audience even on a modest budget.
But before paying for advertising, be sure to spend time carefully choosing the right audience. This ensures your promotion will get in front of the right people.
Bonus Tip: Research the most relevant hashtags and use several of them in your post. A TrackMaven study showed that interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags.
If you want more of your audience to discover your brand on Instagram, then make every effort to cross-promote it across other channels, both on and offline.
- Offer promotional stickers with products or include them in giveaways
- Host an Instagram account takeover with an influencer
- Share your images and videos on other social channels and point back to your Instagram account
- Include your Instagram account in email signatures with a call-to-action to follow
- Include calls-to-action in your content marketing
- Post printed badges or stickers around your location (if you're a brick and mortar business)
4. Swipe What Works
Smart marketers have a swipe file they refer to for headlines and other content ideas when the creative well dries up - you should do the same with Instagram.
Find out what's popular and what's most engaging for others, especially brands, and run with it.
You can find a ton of inspiration by following other brands on Instagram. While searching through other brands' images, pay attention to the posts that garnered the most engagement (likes and comments). Look for patterns in what audiences enjoy and try to leverage that insight with your own posts.
5. Engagement Matters
One of the most effective ways to get noticed on Instagram is to engage with people.
Browse your brand's followers on Instagram and start engaging the most relevant people, especially influencers. By responding to people and commenting on their images, you'll gain regular followers who appreciate your natural (non-promotional) engagement.