It seems as if every few years another new social media channel comes along. Instagram isn’t exactly new but it was long seen as a place just for young people to swap photos. But if you haven’t looked at this channel for a while, you might be surprised at how much it has grown.
HubSpot reports that there are 700 million users on the service and that 70% of those users are using Instagram to look up brands. Instagram also has a huge international audience. Around 75% of those users come from outside the US (which still leaves hundreds of millions here). It also generates an astounding number of images and video to the tune of 95 million pieces of content per day!
But can it really be used for business? It can. Here are a few examples of major financial institutions on Instagram that are successfully using the channel:
- Barclays UK uses it to show people who have used the bank to create successful businesses. Despite having only 99 postings since June 2015, it has 11.4k followers.
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A post shared by Barclays UK (@barclaysuk) on
- Mastercard has a mix of photos showing off events and people that have been helped by using lines of credit from the company. There are also several posts promoting particular products using humor. Its efforts have earned 83.9k followers.
- BMO (Bank of Montreal) has a little over 4.4k followers on its account, which shows off sponsored sports events, charity events, volunteer days, and other employee activities.
Even traditional businesses like these can find a niche of followers in the huge Instagram audience. The question is: How can you attract them to follow your posts? Here is a basic strategy for building an Instagram following for your brand.
Instagram has its own culture that must be understood before it can be used effectively for marketing. Quality photography and videography is a must, but there is more to a popular account than just that. Taking a few weeks to study Instagram’s culture, the technical aspects of the content types, and how your competitors are using it is smarter than just jumping in blindly.
One key thing to notice is that Instagram content is heavily people-focused. While it is possible to use it for product promotion or teaser reveals, the overwhelming number of popular photos and videos are of people enjoying themselves. And if there isn’t enjoyment in the photo it’ll be in the description. Instagram is not a billboard!
Frequency of Posting
There is a paradox with Instagram posting. Yes, posting more often does move the needle more (up to a point). Six times a week is a recommended amount. However, this assumes that every single posting is a quality post. If your goal is to build brand perception, it’s better to take your time and post only high-quality photos and video to build up a foundation and improve your skills before posting that fast. Unlike Facebook or Twitter where a poor post will soon get swept away, Instagram pictures can be found in many different ways. An old bad pic can come to haunt you.
Descriptions and Hashtags
The description is where you can tie your posts into the rest of your funnel and where you can put in hashtags. The limit for Instagram descriptions is around 2,200 characters, so there’s a lot of room in there to put stuff. Treat it like a really long meta description where you put the most important information up-front. This is where you can put a link (use a URL shortener) to a landing page to entice people toward conversion.
Hashtagging is even more important for Instagram than it is for Twitter. It’s the main way people find other photos. Part of your research should be finding out which hashtags your audience and competition are using and how popular they are. That will help you decide which ones to use. All pics should have a hashtag, but limit the number no more than four per piece of content. While using tons of tags for humor is common, it’s more professional to target just a few important ones.
There are other Instagram features like Instagram ads, but these work best once you have the basics solid. Start with these tips and start growing a following before exploring these other features. For now, brush off that camera and start taking some pictures!
If you are looking for more ways to attract people to your content, why not check our Ideation eBook which focuses on how to engage and cater for the interests and expectations of your audience? Learn more by clicking the link below.