This post (along with other posts and pages on this site) may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Out of the big four social media platforms, Instagram is the most visual. In fact, when you check out your feed, Images are front and center with captions demoted to small text and truncated after three lines of text. (Readers can tap on “read more” If you’re more into taking beautiful images (or creating eye-catching graphics) than writing in-depth content, then Instagram may be the platform for you.
- Instagram has 1 billion active monthly users as of June 30, 2018. (That’s almost triple the number of active users on Twitter. (Source)
- Instagram posts allow up to 30 hashtags per post – but the optimal number for each post is 11. (Source)
- 80% of accounts follow a business on Instagram. (Source)
- Over 400 million accounts use Instagram stories every day. (Source)
- Instagram Photos generate 36% more likes than Instagram Videos. (Source)
- 70% of Instagram posts don’t get seen. Instagram’s algorithm (much like Facebook’s) focuses on past engagement when prioritizing what content people will see. (Source)
- 80% of Instagram users are outside of the US. (https://www.instagram.com/press/)
- Instagram appeals to a younger demographic – 53% of 18-29 year olds use Instagram, while only 11% of 50-64 year olds are active. (Source)
Keys to Success on Instagram
- Create a business profile. Creating a business profile (or converting a personal account to a business account) gives you access to additional features, including contact information and analytics (called Insights).
- Put that single bio link to good use. Instagram only allows one clickable link in your bio – and none in your photo captions. Rather than changing that link every time, create a mobile-optimized landing page that features links to your most recent posts or important related content. This extends your brand and makes all of your #linkinbio hashtags make sense!
- Don’t count on your captions to tell the story. I’ve actually tested this – posting captions that have nothing to do with the images. And less than 1% of the people who viewed the post noticed enough to comment.
- Use relevant hashtags (and create your own!). Instagram users can follow hashtags – not just the users who post using them. Using relevant hashtags on your posts will increase your visibility to those who are interested in your type of content. You should also create a brand-related hashtag so as your brand grows in popularity, your followers can post content that relates to you and tag it with your hashtag. Consider adding your brand hashtag to your bio to make it easily searchable and recognizable.
- Use all the features. Want to get even more visibility? Use a mix of all of the mediums available on Instagram – including photos, videos, stories, and IGTV.
- Give behind-the-scenes views. Instagram is a great platform to give a behind-the-scene glimpse of your business “in the wild.” For example, you can record short live videos for Instagram stories (which by default expire after 24-hours) to give a preview of a new product or run an Ask-Me-Anything series to gather content ideas for future Instagram stories.
- Leverage user-generated content. Got a raving fan or 12, or 12,000? Run contests and provide ongoing benefits to your users for sharing photos of them enjoying your products or the results of your services. Then re-share that content for higher engagement (and to fill up your queue!).
- Be consistent with your brand. While your entire feed (or grid, as some cool Instagrammers call it) doesn’t need to look alike, it’s good to create some consistency with the colors, fonts, and styles that you want to leverage. For example, pick 2-3 filters for photos and use them consistently rather than doing a different filter for every post.
As with any other social media platform, Instagram results thrive on the connections you make with followers. You need to spend time interacting with the people who follow, like and comment on your posts as well as other users and influencers in a similar market.
One tactic that is used often on Instagram to build followers is known as “Follow-Unfollow.” It’s pretty straight-forward, and also pretty underhanded. Essentially, you follow someone, and then unfollow them within a few hours. They will receive a notification that you followed them, but do not get any notification that you unfollowed. In most cases, they’ll follow you back, so you’ll gain a follower – but because you unfollowed them, they won’t. This will likely also be done to you, so before you decide to follow someone, take a look at their account and make sure that they’re an ideal customer, influencer, or complimentary brand that reaches your ideal customer that posts the type of content that you’d be want to comment on and potentially reshare with your audience. If not, there’s no harm in not following them, even if they do continue to follow you.
Since Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012, their ad options are very similar. You must have a Facebook business page and an Instagram Business Profile in order to run ads. Instagram ads can be photo, video, or carousel ads. You can also choose to simply boost existing Instagram posts from within the app to increase their reach.
Instagram Ad targeting includes location, interests, demographics, and behaviors on Facebook and Instagram. You can also leverage custom audiences from your uploaded list, look-alike audiences based on your custom audience, or even automated targeting based on the information that Instagram has already collected about your account and followers.
Instagram Ads can be used to boost awareness, increase consideration, or drive conversions. Ad pricing is based on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis. The placement is based on the same algorithm that Facebook uses.