Insta-success

In this blog post we’re talking Instagram – the fastest ever growing mobile social network. We’ve come up with some handy hints and tips we think small businesses ought to know – we hope it’s useful!

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Instagram has become an extraordinary social, visual space. With over 300 million active users per month globally on the mobile app, it’s hard to comprehend that the platform operates solely from the palm of our hands. But with the mobile age upon us, and with such small screens and limited time in the day for social media activity, it’s worth being Insta-savvy.

What?

The key to content success is to be consistently pleasing on the eye-buds, as Instagram is a highly visual platform. The best Instagram channels have very carefully curated content with a clear visual aesthetic. Think of your feed like a mood board – what is the visual thread? Bold colours work brilliantly along with prints and anything colour coordinated.

Check out Burberry, Air B n B or National Geographic for inspiration.

Use your Instagram account to demonstrate your company’s values, passions and hobbies. Do you have a staff yoga session #FitnessFriday, a subject to discuss #ThursdayThoughts or a morning #coffeebreak? Consider getting your brand involved with popular trends or events that are appropriate for you and for your audiences – they’ll respond positively if they feel a connection with your brand.

The video feature allows for extra creativity on the channel. Think about slow motion or behind the scenes videos – give your audience an insight into the workings of your business. Short videos work best as users have a very short attention span – they have a lot of content to scroll through! You can gain more visibility through clever hashtag use (more on this later).

When?

As both its name and USP suggests, we ought to be Instagramming, well, instantly, but with more than 80 million photos uploaded every day, it’s worth considering when your audience will be looking at their feeds.

Weekday mornings are a good time to post. Not only are users having their pre-breakfast, pre-work scroll, but posting volume is relatively low in the early hours, so your posts have less competition and a substantial audience looking for their early morning Insta-fix. More recommended times from us include Wednesdays at 5pm and weekdays between 6am and 12pm – avoid evenings and weekends for important posts. Having said this, it’s important to consider your current and target audiences. Think about a day in the life of a potential follower and try to post accordingly – when do they wake up? Do they commute? When are they taking a break? But again, do remember audiences value the liveness of the platform and the instant connection with your activity, so be mindful of when and what you’re posting – is it time and place appropriate? In the same vein, Insta-advertising is a turn-off for your audiences who want to see real, organic content. Promoted posts are indicated by Instagram, so if you are spending money on a post, make sure the content is sweet and the advertising is subtle. The less emotional and more commercial your promoted posts appear, the less of an emotional connection you’ll establish with your audience.  Topshop are the Queens of Instagram advertising, with posts that don’t appear staged or constructed for a camera – so the audience feels a direct relationship with the brand, as if they could’ve taken the images themselves.

Why?

Why use Instagram? You may already be active on the platform, or alternatively you may be questioning whether Instagram is an appropriate platform for you – and this is a valuable question to ask before embarking on any new social media platform. What are your goals? What audiences are you trying to reach? And for Instagram specifically, do you have mouth-watering visual content? Will your photos represent your brand well and engage your target audience? Instagram’s users are predominantly 18-35 year olds – will this work for you?

Instagram presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality and inspire your audiences to act – whether this be attending a show, buying a product or using a service – by placing you literally before their eyes. Research shows that audiences are young and relatively affluent, making for a highly attractive demographic for businesses looking to promote products. Instagram is owned by Facebook, meaning ads are easy to create and benefit from Facebook’s detailed audience targeting. You can target exactly who sees them, depending on location, age interests, even the last time they used Facebook. You can set the budget to suit your business and Facebook estimates the reach of your posts, and you can launch, pause or delete ads in real time (more on Instagram advertising in a later post).

… and #hashtag?

Hashtags are a common conundrum – how many and what to hashtag? Well, unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram’s social etiquette allows for more hashtags per post – you may find they’re less annoying and more useful. Our advice with hashtags is to be specific, relevant and observant. Being specific will help you reach like-minded audiences by occupying a highly targeted tag page. For example, the hashtag #dance will fall into a pool of 31 million posts, while #danceshoes or #dancestudio will be more like 100,000. Being relevant will help you attract new followers who are more engaged in your content, because your hashtag accurately describes your content. And being observant means paying close attention to your hashtags – who else is using your it? Another tip is to identify influencers – what hashtags do they use? You may discover a more popular or more specialised hashtag to tap into. (You can set up notifications for particular accounts by clicking on the three dots in the top right hand corner of the account and selecting ‘Turn on Post Notifications’).

Our favourite popular hashtags include #ootd (outfit of the day), #thingsorganizedneatly (self-explanatory and surprisingly popular) and #flatlay (items photographed aerially – simple yet so aesthetically pleasing).

That’s it from us folks! More to come on Instagram later – but for now: don’t make ads look like ads, be hashtag-savvy and remember, keep it real!