The Educated Marketer

 

2017 Instagram Essentials

by Vicky Lynch | Oct 11, 2017

 |  college recruitment, inbound marketing

 | 0 comments

There is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. And in today’s world of nonstop photos and content being delivered every second, it rings even more true. While many social media networks these days deliver visual content and videos, Instagram cuts through the clutter and focuses solely on high quality pictures and videos.

Instagram.png

There is some method to the madness. Our brains love images. SearchEngineJournal reports 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and those visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

If you’re skeptical, you’re not alone. According to a 2015 Social Media Trends Study, 38% of marketers found Instagram to be unimportant.

Big mistake. Huge.

Instagram, with more than 700 million monthly users--up from 500 million in June of 2016 (Techcrunch)--is one of the fastest growing social media sites today. Read on to learn how your company can harness the power of Instagram.

Overview:

Instagram was launched as an iOS app in 2010 and is the home for creative, visual storytelling online. Instagram was the first social media platform to focus on pictures as the main way to communicate on the network. The photo editing capabilities are greater on Instagram than any other social media site, allowing users to add digital filters to their images and share their location through geotags.

Users can also send private messages through Instagram Direct, and use Instagram Stories, where posts expire 24 hours after being posted. None of this sounds that different from what you can do on Facebook and Twitter, right? So, why Instagram in 2017?

As we mentioned earlier, Instagram has 700 million active monthly users (Expandedramblings.com). Guess what? That’s more than twice the amount of Twitter’s 328 monthly users. And nearly 80 million of those users reside in the United States.

According to a Pew Research study, 27% of U.S. adults use Instagram. The platform demographic does skew younger though, with nearly 60% of 18-29 year-olds using the app, and women are slightly more likely to use the site than men.

Instagram says 60% of users discover new products on the site, and 75% of those users report taking action after being inspired by a post. There are 15 million Instagram business profiles across the globe and one million of those advertise on the platform as well. A third of the most viewed stories by users are created by businesses.

What to Post:

Users can post photos or short videos. What you’re really offering is a snapshot of your products versus a longer message. And the more professional the photo or video is, the better.

When to Post:

According to the Huffington Post, a Latergramme study found that 2:00 am and 5:00 pm ET are the best times to post. And if you can do it on a Wednesday, that’s the best day to post. Avoid posting at 9:00 am and 6:00 pm ET if you can.

Length of Posts:

Instagram provides snapshots of life and they really are just that, snapshots. The maximum length of a video is 60 seconds.

Instagram is a visual site, but sometimes it is necessary to include a text caption to explain context of your photo, or offer a link to your website. Hubspot suggests keeping that caption to 125 characters. While you can write a longer description, only the first three lines will show up in a feed. The experts say if you need to make it longer, front load the important details.

Frequency of Posts:

Apparently 1-2 times a day is a sweet spot. Buffer say most major brands post 1.5 times a day but that there is no drop-off point for those that post more.

Forbes says that what is more important than the frequency of your posts is the consistency of that frequency. So, if you are used to posting 20x a day, that’s fine. But if you happen to slow down to 5x a day, you may lose engagement and followers. If you always post 5x a day and continue to, you’re doing great.

Common Fails:

  • Don’t forget to use hashtags

With less text to search, the use of hashtags on Instagram is extremely important. SearchEngineJournal suggests companies should create their own brand specific hashtags to promote products, events or promotions. Creating your own hashtags also provides a great way to measure ROI.

Hubspot reports that posts with 11 hashtags or more (Instagram sets a maximum of 30 per post), received 80% interaction, compared with 22% when one less.

  • Don’t be overly promotional

This is another rule that reigns supreme across multiple social networks. But it’s easy to lose sight of how to tactfully promote your product without being too salesy. Take Ben & Jerry’s. Hubspot shares a campaign they launched where they didn’t just post pictures of their ice cream every day, they posted fan photos of their ice cream. So, not only are they sharing their product, but they are engaging with their followers in a genuine way.

  • Don’t shy away from paid advertisements

When you’re looking to build your brand authentically on a social media platform, sometimes the idea of paying for advertisements that will show up as “sponsored” seems counterintuitive. However, on Instagram, paid advertisements can make a lot of sense.

ReadyArtWork says advertisers have 5 seconds to grab someone’s attention. It’s a no-brainer then to grab that attention with one glance at a high quality image. Ben & Jerry’s ran an 8-day ad campaign with four images promoting a new flavor to their target audience of the 18-35 age demographic. The result? 9.8 million people saw the ad, and 33% of those people who saw more than one picture remembered seeing it.

Best Practices:

  • Do use high quality images

Although Instagram is designed to work seamlessly with your phone, some companies find that using a DSLR camera or other professional equipment makes all the difference. Although this does entail a few extra steps, as you need to then download that image to a mobile device or use a PC application, SearchEngineJournal reports the companies with the greatest success go the extra mile.

Bottom line, there is a lot of competition in a feed and if you want people to stop and engage with your brand, you need to stun them.

  • Do use your followers to expand your reach

The power of social media is it’s potential to produce user-generated content. Kickstagram points out that given Instagram’s visual aspect, there are unique opportunities to engage with your followers and have them share your brand with their followers. Great ways to expand your reach are to implement branded hashtags (discussed above) and to run photo contests.

  • Do weigh the pros and cons of Instagram Storytelling

Instagram storytelling is a great way to provide behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, event promotion, special sales and broadcasts to your followers. That said, they aren’t for everyone. Forbes suggests making sure you have the right demographic (think singles without kids), and a wide-reaching appeal before you invest too much time and energy creating your story.

Other Tools for Posting and Measuring:

Latergramme helps you organize, plan and schedule your Instagram posts. It also has analytics data to help you learn how to make Instagram work for your company. Better yet, it’s 100% free.

To be clear, Hyperlapse is an Instagram app, but its separate from the actual app so you will need to download it as well. The app promises to shoot polished time-lapse videos that in the past were only able to be done with a tripod and expensive equipment.

Snapseed is a complete and professional photo editor from Google. It gives you more editing capability than just Instagram filters in an easy to use app.

Are you sold on Instagram yet? Like any social media network, practice makes perfect. Take our tips, start playing around and see what the platform can do for you.

This blog post is part of our Social Media Essentials Series 2017, an 8-part blog series aimed at demystifying social media promotion, one platform at a time. Each post will focus on a separate social media application offering the skinny on updated ways to best use each site for promotion. We’ll let you know about who you will reach, what to post, when to post, examples of best practices and more. We will feature a new post every two weeks. Follow the Educated Marketer to stay up to date on our series.

It's a social world and you can’t afford not to be active on social media -- it’s where your prospective customers are. Download our Social Media guide to learn more.

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This blog post is part of our Social Media Essentials Series 2017, an 8-part blog series aimed at demystifying social media promotion, one platform at a time. Each post will focus on a separate social media application offering the skinny on updated ways to best use each site for promotion. We’ll let you know about who you will reach, what to post, when to post, examples of best practices and more. We will feature a new post every two weeks. Follow the Educated Marketer to stay up to date on our series.

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