Instagram is fast becoming one of the most effective and interesting ways for brands to engage with customers, especially younger target markets.
A study by Forrester found leading brands’ Instagram posts generate a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%. That’s 58-times higher than Facebook, and 120-times higher than Twitter.
One of the reasons for people actively seeking out brands on Instagram is that the channel is less about following friends, and more about following interests. Runners follow Nike, for instance, while foodies will follow Jamie Oliver.
In fact, 70% of users in an Iconosquare study said they had already sought out their favourite brands on Instagram.
Here are a few tips to help you make sure your Instagram posts make the most of this active audience...
1. Pick the right image
Nowhere on social media is image more important than on Instagram. But you’ve got to balance your company’s style with the need to appeal to Instagram users.
Research shows the most popular types of Instagrams are selfies, pictures of friends and photos of activities.
While you might not want to be posting selfies as a business, you can invite your followers to post their selfies and link them to your brand. For example, if you’re a travel firm see if you can get the best ‘duck face’ selfie at an iconic site.
Or create a place where followers can post themselves using your brand.
Curalate looked in more detail at what types of Instagram images get the most engagement. These are:
- light and bright – lighter images got 24% more likes than dark ones
- big backgrounds – images with more background space, possibly for adding text to, got 29% more likes
- just one colour – pictures with one dominant colour got 17% more likes
- blue not red – images with blue as the dominant colour received 24% more likes
- textured – photos showing texture, like shots of materials and nature, received 79% more likes
2. Use the caption space
Instagram lets users combine images and lots of text, allowing you considerable freedom to tell a story.
Rather than the minimalist 140 characters of Twitter, you get a massive 2,200 characters. And – unlike other social platforms – there doesn’t seem to be any drop-off in engagement rates for longer captions, according to Simply Measured. So captions can be as long as you need them to be.
You can use captions to:
- provide background information
- include quotes from members of staff
- ask questions
- post product descriptions
- launch campaigns
- provide interesting facts
For inspiring captions, visit General Electric’s feed. The account tells the history of the company through the various crazy and innovative prototypes it has created.
3. Be personal
Not only should your images and captions be fun and friendly, they should also have a personal connection. The best ways to achieve this are to:
- Tag someone. Simply Measured discovered posts with someone tagged in them got 56% more engagement. It could be someone else in your industry, a key influencer or even one of your active customers.
- Tag your location. Many people search Instagram by location. Posts tagged with a location get 79% more engagement, according to Simply Measured
4. Know your audience
For more engagement, try tailoring your feed and captions to these audiences. Ask questions about their lives, try and discover their interests and engage with their feeds.
GoPro uses the amazing images its users capture to fill its feed. It often urges users to do things like ‘share your sunrise’ or seeks out the #dogsofinstagram.
5. Embrace the hashtag
Browse through an Instagram feed, and you’ll quickly notice the huge number of hashtags people use. Some hashtag every word, while others list the various filters (or lack of – #nofilter is a favourite).
Buffer says interactions are highest on posts with 11+ hashtags. These get 79.5% more interactions than those without, while using 10 hashtags only gets you a 22% boost.
Look for trending topics and see whether any of these are relevant to your post. Use hashtags to highlight keywords, actions and locations.
6. Make it actionable
Having a great story or funny anecdote is great for your caption, but if you want people to interact beyond a ‘like’ you need to make your captions actionable. To do this, you could:
- Ask a question. It could be something simple like ‘how’s your day?’, or a more specific question about how followers enjoyed your product.
- Set followers an interesting challenge or task. Nike has had great success with #chooseyourwinter and #runfree, where user post images of themselves using Nike products in winter scenes or out running.
- Be bold. You don’t get anything without asking. Ask your followers to ‘regram’ your posts, maybe offering rewards or prizes for those that do.
7. Include an emoji
Emojis are fast becoming part of the language, so embracing them is a great way to target Instagram’s younger audience. In fact, according to Instagram’s own figures, nearly half of all posts include some form of emoji.
There is such a huge variety of emojis now that you can use them tell a whole story, change tone or convey a sentiment – all while keeping your word count down.
Mashable’s founder Peter Cashmore knows how to use emojis well, often ditching the words completely and just backing up his image with a few complementary symbols.
8. Think about videos
If you’re just getting started on Instagram, you may want to stick with images supported by captions – but as you become more familiar with the platform, you might want to consider using the channel’s new video feature.
It will open up a whole new world of options, but that’s for another post…