With over 500 unique monthly users, Instagram is an increasingly powerful PR tool if used correctly. The social media channel is used by around 50% of brands and that number is expected to rise to 70.7% in 2017. Here are six ways you can enhance your brand’s presence on Instagram:
1. Content is key
It’s important to carefully consider what type of original content you’d like to share on behalf of your brand. Of course, you want Instagram to be a (subtle) sales tool, but also an inspiring and interesting channel that fans of your industry want to follow. For example, it might be that you wish to showcase your work, team, client testimonials, press coverage, and general inspiration and news related to your industry. If you’re going to be sharing a lot of your own arty photography, you might decide upon a colour scheme, or if you’re planning to share graphics, you’ll want to aim to use a consistent design. As well as creating your own content, be sure to monitor and re-purpose positive posts that other users share about your brand (download and use the Repost app as an easy way to share other people’s content and credit them).
2. Be consistent
You must post regularly and consistently if you want to grow your Instagram audience. A study by Forester in 2016 found that the top brands on Instagram posted 4.9 times per week. I always aim to share at least five posts a week on behalf of the brands that I work with. I find it saves time to schedule posts via Hootsuite and this is especially useful if I’m away on holiday but still want to share client content during this time. It allows me to schedule posts in advance, although I still need to manually share posts to Instagram.
3. Think beyond images
Images are still powerful, but video is now huge on Instagram, along with timely content through its Instagram Stories (where content disappears after 24 hours) and Instagram Live (live-streaming) features. I work with numerous tour operators, and video content, as well as the Stories and Live features, are enabling users to ‘experience’ their holidays in a way that wasn’t possible before. As a consumer, it’s exciting to watch and feel part of something that’s happening right now anywhere in the world. I recently joined one of my client’s group holidays in Norway to share videos and live-streaming, and this content saw a significantly higher level of audience reach and engagement.
Instagram posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than those without, according to a study by Simply Measured. It’s important to use relevant hashtags, especially in the beginning when you’re building your audience. I also recommend monitoring relevant hashtags to find, follow and engage with your customers and potential customers. It might be that you wish to establish and use a hashtag specific to your brand too, and encourage your customers to share it.
5. Have conversations
Social media isn’t called ‘social’ for a reason. Make sure you’re not simply posting, then thinking that’s your job done. You must engage with your audience by responding to all appropriate questions and comments about your brand. You may wish to take it a step further, and comment (appropriately!) on anything relevant. For example, you’re a florist so you engage with a user who is planning her wedding by commenting on her engagement ring photo (and thus, bring her attention to your florist expertise and she may use you as a supplier). You may think this approach doesn’t lead to sales, but believe me it can. When I was planning my own wedding, I found most of my suppliers on Instagram.
6. Look at your insights
Instagram introduced insights for businesses a while ago and it provides a useful analysis of your top posts, as well as the number of website clicks, views, audience reach and post impressions that your profile is receiving on a weekly basis. You can also see when your audience is most likely to be logged into Instagram (I find it’s around 9pm for all my clients) and what day is the most popular, so you know the best time to post.
I manage professional social media channels for an array of businesses, including travel brands. My activity includes daily management of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube on behalf of businesses, using the channels to generate more buzz and sales for them. If you’re interested in my support, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.