Created in 2010, Instagram turns seven years old this year. During that time, the image-sharing platform has undergone a ton of changes. If you’re using Instagram to promote your brand online, you want to make sure what you’re doing is still relevant.
Interested in making the most out of Instagram in 2017? Our complete guide to Instagram has all the current strategies you need to know:
The Current State of Instagram
Instagram started out as a simple photo-sharing mobile app. When it first launched, Instagram was just one of many photo apps coming into fruition. Instagram quickly outgrew the competition, so much so that Facebook bought the company for $1 billion in April 2012.
Last year, Instagram had more than 500 million users each month. Not too bad for a simple photo-sharing app! Of course, today Instagram has a whole host of features such as:
- Live video broadcasting
- Stories (24-hour timed photos)
- Photo editing including filters
The Instagram of 2017 is far different from Instagram back in 2012. Today you can use the platform to connect with your audience in a deep, meaningful way. Here’s how:
Design a Great Profile
Your Instagram profile is where people will learn about your business. Make sure your contact information is correct. The URL you provide will be the only clickable link you can enter into your profile. Also, make sure your profile and username are the same as your brand name.
Use Original Photos
Stock photos aren’t likely to attract much of an audience. You’ll also want to avoid reposted viral photos, which will quickly appear dated.
Post your own original photos. If you’re not much of a shutterbug yourself, you’ll likely want to hire a professional. You can also try these Image Resources to find high-quality, relatively unique images (not as good as original photos but still worth a look if you’re just getting started).
Post Action Shots
Do you sell a product? That’s great! Instagram is a great way to showcase physical objects, but services are a bit tougher. You have to show your service in action. For services that aren’t particularly exciting to see, try cartoons or other illustrations. If showcasing your service seems near impossible, consider showcasing your employees, your brand or the sentiment your services create.
You’re not going for the hard sell here. Don’t make every post about your products or services. Instagram is less about direct advertising and more about building a relationship with your customers.
Connect with Your Audience
Your followers have Instagram pages of their own. Check in with your audience and see what trends you can discover. What are some of their other common interests?
This will give you a guideline for what content you should post on your page. Most of your content will likely be related to your industry in general. But you might find your customers have interests unrelated to your product or service, too.
Location, Location, Location
Add a location to every photo you post. It’s easy – simply tap the “Add Location” button. Adding a location will help increase the visibility of every post.
People don’t just search by topic; they also search by area. Adding a location includes your photos into relevant location-based search results.
Create Long Captions
Here’s an Instagram secret many people overlook. You can add a ton of text to your posts! Each photo caption allows up to 2,200 characters. That’s roughly 38% of the characters in this entire post!
The first three lines of text are visible in user feeds. So you’ll need to be engaging and get right to the point. But if you can grab the reader’s attention, you have a ton of space to elaborate on your message. This could be additional info about your product, brand and more.
Note that you’ll want to write your posts ahead of time in any standard word processing program. Instagram has some weird issues with line breaks. Writing original text actually in the photo is usually a hassle; you’ll want to paste your content in from elsewhere.
Instagram users are known to “hashtag hop.” This is when the user simply clicks from hashtag to hashtag, similar to channel surfing. Because of this user behavior, you’ll want to include hashtags with every post. This helps you land some of those hashtag hops!
Avoid hashtags that are too general, such as #selfie, #wow and #business. Instead, target your customer base more specifically. Fortunately, you don’t have to guess what hashtags to use. Instagram will help. Enter a broad hashtag related to your industry, and Instagram will show you a list of related hashtags already trending.
Add as many of these relevant hashtags as you can (between five and 30). Place them in the comments of the photo, not within the photo itself. After all, hashtags don’t really need to be read. They’re just a way for people to find your content.
For more info, check out Instagram’s Hashtag help page here.
Shoot for posting two or three photos or videos each day. Post at the same time each day, too. Instagram videos are only visible when live, so you’ll have more viewers if they know when to watch.
You’ll also want to post anywhere from five to 30 Instagram Stories a day. While that probably sounds like a lot, it’s actually very manageable. Each story is just 15 seconds, and cycles automatically in a playlist. Stories are a great way to stay at the top of your followers’ news feeds.
The right business can find a lot of success with Instagram. If you sell a product (or even a service) that is visual, Instagram is a great place to reach new customers.
Instagram has come a long way over the years. There’s a bit more to this photo-sharing app than first meets the eye. Have questions about how Instagram can help your business? Ask them in the comments below!