Instagram is a great way to introduce your followers to the lifestyle of your brand through a visual story. When done well, thousands of followers will deliver instant validation of your posts and feel connected to your products and services. The Instagram best practice tips below provide a guideline for utilizing this platform in the best possible way, while preserving your brand’s integrity and establishing trust and value with your followers.

1. First and foremost, post only quality photography.
Instagram is ALL about great photography. Posting pictures and short videos is what appeals to so many users who are tired of the political rants and web links you see on Facebook and other social media. Stick to only posting photography that best promotes your brand and stay away from blatant marketing. Post professional images if you can; amateurish images should not be included. Your images are your brand, so keep the photography looking similar across all your posts. Stick to a common filter and aesthetic so that when your image shows up in someone’s feed, they know it is from your brand.

2. Engage with your followers.
Instagram is a great way of getting your brand’s core values and message out. The majority of your Instagram posts should be about the lifestyle of your brand. Although occasional posts can be used to promote a sale or event, this is a slippery slope. Instagram followers do not want to feel marketed to because it is not the proper medium. In fact, there was a lot of backlash when Instagram introduced subtle ads into feeds, so they do it very seldom.

Use promotional posts sparingly, thinking about the value and alternatives before you make that post.

For example, if you are brewery and are trying to promote a new beer, just post a picture of the brew being tapped that day – your beer lover followers will rejoice! A company like Patagonia never markets the sale of their products on Instagram, rather showing their product ambassadors using their products in a great environment. Your eye will first look at the beautiful scenery, followed by the gear that got them there.

3. Use the web link in your bio as your call-to-action.
Unless you have an Instagram business account and are willing to pay for sponsored ads, Instagram is not the best platform for call-to-action click-through. Instagram does not allow website links in your posts, so your followers will not be able to click your promotional link. You can’t even copy it. Instead, reference the link within your bio profile as your call-to-action link. The only clickable link you can use within an Instagram post is a hashtag or user link (more on hashtags below).

4. Get more reach with appropriate #hashtag use.
Hashtags enable Instagram users to group events or topics using the hashtag # symbol. Pressing a hashtag link within a post will display a feed of posts related to that topic. Unless you are Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, this does not mean you should use a dozen hashtags to get your post on every search result. Studies show that using 5 hash tags is the best strategy for your posts. That does not mean you should embed all your hashtags within your post at the expense of readability.

A common mistake is using hashtags to add emphasis on a word, however it negatively affects the readability of the message.

Stay away from hashtagging general terms like “#performance” or “#best”, as those are not searched on or targeted. Try to use hashtags that relate to an event, trending topic, or common group. The more targeted your hashtag, the more likely your post will be seen. Instagram will show you a the number of times the hashtag has been used.

 

 

5. Add Instagram users to your post.
Instagram allows you to reference other users within your post by using the @ symbol in front of their user names. Instagram will even provide a nice inline search tool to make this easy. This is a great way to cross promote your posts with specific Instagram users as they will get a notification that they were a part of your post. It’s a good way to notify other Instagram users of your existence and gain them as a follower. You can also tag photos with other Instagram followers, however you can only see these tags when you tap the picture. It is not as discoverable.

6. Convert to a Business account.
Instagram provides the ability to convert your personal account to a business account. A business account provides a call-to-action contact button in your bio and also some nice analytics reporting. Of course, there is also the ability to run paid ads which can help increase your followers for a price.

7. Optimize your bio description for search.
Make sure you write your bio using keyword search terms to increase your SEO like you would on your webpage. The bio is limited to 150 characters, so be concise while not sacrificing readability. You may also use hashtags, however I would personally use them sparingly.

I hope these tips increase your Instagram range and help get your message out. While you’re at it, follow Galactic Ideas on Instagram.