Instagram has become one of the most popular forms of social media and one of the most popular ways for social media users to share photos and short videos with their followers since its launch in October of 2010. Instagram is about engaging followers. Instagram allows companies, individuals, non-profits, etc to share their stories in a creative way through imagery.
There are now over 300 million users on Instagram, which allows a larger audience for brands to engage with, share their stories, and promote their products according to the Instagram for Business blog.
5 ways NOT to use Instagram for Business
- Post too often
Do NOT post too many Instagram posts in one day.
When a business posts more than 2-3 instagram posts per day within a short time frame they are risking the loss of followers. Your followers are probably following hundreds of other people and businesses on Instagram and they don’t want their newsfeed to be overwhelmed with posts just from your company.
Instagram doesn’t move as fast as Twitter does, so this is something to keep in mind as the posts are not near as frequent.
- Use more than two hashtags
Relevance is key.
Realistically there are only so many hashtags that are truly relevant to your specific brand or the content you are posting. Make sure you are choosing hashtags wisely. The maximum number of hashtags that you can place on a post is 30 – but you should not get too close to that number. 11 is supposedly the golden number when it comes to instagram hashtags without overloading your post too much and staying relevant.
- Neglect your account
Make sure you don’t post a few photos one day and then forget about your account for a week or two. Keep your followers engaged and excited to see your posts every week.
In order to do this you should at least be posting one photo per week and/or just make sure you are being consistent. Similar to with blogging – if you are blogging for your company you want to be consistent about it or people won’t read your blog and will forget about it. There are so many blogs and Instagram accounts out there in the crazy Internet world and it is easy to get lost in the mix.
- Pass off someone else’s photos as your own
Make sure you are NOT reposting other people’s content or any copyrighted photos while trying to claim ownership of them. It’s just not cool. There are very strict copyright laws, it is unethical, and your followers will most likely rip you apart if you end up getting caught for it.
Just say NO!
5. Forget about your community
Not only do you need to stay on top of your own posts – but you also need to make sure you are actively liking and commenting on other users content as well. With all of your companies’ social network accounts engaging with others is key to gain and keep followers.
Think about what types of posts your community would enjoy seeing that would tell the story of your company/brand while also staying visually pleasing.
5 ways to use Instagram for your Business
- Be relevant
Make sure the photos you post are relevant to your brand. Have a good balance of fun images, while also showcasing your company.
Black Swan Yoga, a yoga studio based in Austin, TX does a great job of posting photos relevant to their brand, as well as fun and inspirational posts. Yoga is supposed to be healing and cleansing for the soul in the form of meditation — as well as a great workout — so their inspirational posts go wonderfully with their business model.
- Create a Following
Businesses can create a following by integrating multiple social media accounts.
On Instagram you have the option of uploading your instagram photo or video to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, foursquare, and Mixi. This can be a great way to gain more instagram followers by posting to other social media sites at the same time because you may have followers on Facebook that don’t follow your Instagram account yet or vice versa.
Make sure to follow your followers back, use relevant and popular hashtags so that new users can find you, and like your followers photos.
- Engage your followers
One way of engaging your followers would be to create a photo contest and integrate the contest with Facebook. Businesses can use a specific #hashtag to organize photos for the contest and utilize an RSS feed to see each new photo submission as it comes in.
For example – Charlotte Russe, a women’s clothing store, recently created a contest to engage their followers and enticed them by offering a $150 gift card for the winner of the contest. This is an excellent example of how to engage followers by having them like and comment on your posts.
Credit: @charlotterusse (Instagram + Facebook)
- Be visual
Instagram is made for this. Give your followers a unique visual experience of how they can use your products/service.
A great example of a company that does this is Patagonia. They post photos from their followers in their Patagonia gear in places around the world. Each photo is unique and visually pleasing to the eye. The photos make you want to be where that person is – hiking the same mountains, biking the same trails, camping in the same national parks, and all while wearing your Patagonia gear.
- Be smart about hashtags
What is a hashtag? Hashtags are used on popular social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. They are words preceded by a pound sign or a hash(#) and are used to identify messages, photos, or videos on a distinct topic.
If your company holds an event – you can create a relevant hashtag for your attendees to tag on their photos so that you can see all the photos later and attendees can find them.
One way to track the relevance of your hashtags is by using an online service called Totems. Totems can track the analytics of your Instagram account. It also shows key metrics of your hashtags, including contributors, context, content, and engagement. There is also another online platform you can use for your business called Iconosquare, which allows your company to find brands and hashtags that relate to the content you want to post if you are unsure of what types of hashtags to use.
Iconosquare example – If you own a travel company and are unsure of what hashtags to use you can type in ‘travel’ in the search bar and it will come up with all the relevant hashtags related to whatever word you typed that other instagrammers are using. This will allow more engagement with followers.
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