By Andrew Poulsen, PR Technician
In less than 10 years, social media has evolved from a fun distraction to keep in touch with college friends and distant relatives, to an essential tool needed by any brand looking to engage with its customers or maintain relevance amongst its competitors. Regardless of how millennials feel about the Baconator® or Moons Over My Hammy®, brands like Wendy’s and Denny’s are winning over young people more and more every day with their funny and relatable social media presence. While not every company needs to adopt to the latest meme or pop culture phenomenon to have a healthy online presence, social media has opened the door for brands to be transparent and relatable in new and exciting ways.
By now, companies from international brands to local muffler shops are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to engage and share company news, updates, sales, etc. But over the past few years, we’ve seen more brands incorporating Instagram into their social media plan. What was once considered a platform exclusive to tech-savvy young people with smartphones, Instagram is now just ubiquitous across all demographics as Facebook and Twitter. And businesses across all industries are starting to take notice. That’s because, if used correctly, the app’s photo and video features allow a new way for brands to give their audience a peek behind the curtain. Here are five ways your company can take advantage of the unique features Instagram has to offer.
Give Your Audience Something Different
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all bring something different to table, otherwise we wouldn’t need to be on so many different social media platforms. While this seems obvious, companies often make the mistake of letting their social media content be too similar across all platforms. Instead, companies should reward their audience for following all their pages by giving them content exclusive from the other platforms. For Instagram, this can be a fun look behind the scenes of your office, documenting a company picnic, making a short how-to video or hosting some sort of fan-generated photo contest. Just make sure it is unique to the platform in some way.
Create a Business Profile
By creating a business profileon Instagram, companies have access to all kinds of analytics and insights regarding posts, stories and followers. With a business account, users see real-time metrics on how stories perform throughout the day and how your followers interact with your posts and stories. Also, a business profile allows companies to add information like business hours, location and phone number.
Build a Following through Hashtags, Interaction and More
One of the easiest ways to build a following on Instagram is by connecting with other social channels like Facebook. Syncing with these accounts will instantly provide a list of relevant accounts to follow. Another popular way to gain followers is through the use of hashtags. While many are familiar with “Throwback Thursday” (#tbt) or #Instagood, try to explore and use hashtags that are more relevant to your industry and audience. Not only will this put you in touch with accounts you should be following, but it will also give you a stronger sense of how competitors, influencers and customers use the app. Similar to Twitter, hashtags for Instagram can also be very helpful for specific campaigns or events. Another easy way to strengthen your following is through liking and engaging with the posts of other accounts. There are tools like Instagram Analytics and Minter.io for finding brands and hashtags that relate to your account.
Create a Content Calendar
Like all social media channels, feeding the content beast is the best solution for staying relevant. But not all platforms necessarily need to follow the same posting regimen. Unlike the fleeting, “news ticker” atmosphere of Twitter and Facebook, most will tell you the “feed speed” of Instagram is much slower and too many posts per day or week can actually oversaturate your followers’ feeds. Rather than upset your followers with a dozen consecutive posts about a new product or photos of the office dog (I mean, who could hate that?), try to make a flexible content calendar to remind yourself to post a couple times per week. Track your engagement and add or subtract the number of posts at your own discretion.
Keep Your Posts Short and Engaging
While Instagram might be extending the length of its videos, the soul of the platform has always been about brevity. What makes people gravitate to Instagram is the ability to scroll without being bogged down by too much text or clutter. So, when writing captions for your posts, try to keep them as brief and concise as possible. Think of when you’re visiting an art museum. Next to a painting is a small placard explaining the artist, the title, the year, the medium, etc. By keeping the captions short, you’re letting the photos do the talking.