More and more people are using Instagram daily and many have gathered an active group of followers. As a result, businesses have also started embracing this network.
However, the problem is that most of them seem to crave instant results without any homework from their side. They don't really know the community. Neither have they defined a consistent style for their brand nor the objectives they want to meet with Instagram.
Lately I’ve been learning a lot from instagrammers who I follow. Observing their profiles and posts makes me realize that when using Instagram, a brand can evolve into something more, stagnate for a long time, or even vanish into oblivion.
So in this post, I’d suggest some best practices to really make a difference on Instagram.
Obsess Over The Quality Of Your Visuals
Successful instagrammers leave no stone unturned to make sure their images are as clear and beautiful as possible, even if it's something as small as cleaning the camera lens.
They focus on capturing beauty and positivity around them.
Watch an Instagram influencer edit a photo and you'll know what I mean. A little contrast here, a little light there, adjusting the crop … and the list goes on.
The little details may seem trivial to you but many successful instagrammers sometimes even spend up to an hour editing a single image before they upload on Instagram.
Have A Consistent Brand Identity
Do you follow any person on brand on Instagram whose posts are instantly identifiable? You didn't even see the profile name yet but you knew who it was.
May be it's the way the brand edits every image, continues a story from previous image, a unique hashtag, color tone, or something else.
Every time you see a picture from that brand, you strengthen its presence in your mind. That's how powerful an impact a consistent branding can have.
As you are trying to establish your business on Instagram, it's obvious that you'll try out and experiment with new techniques and content. And you'll keep changing certain aspects depending on what works better.
But whatever you do, define certain elements which will remain constant. Every image that you post will adhere to that criteria, and tell a story which sticks in consumers' minds.
Understand What's Different About Instagram
Instagram isn't a kind of network that can be managed by anyone. If you want to be successful at Instagram, then think hard about who'll be in charge.
What has been working well for you on Facebook or elsewhere won't necessarily replicate on Instagram. Instagram is not Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Instagram is not Reddit, Tumblr or Snapchat. Instagram is Instagram.
As a result, succeeding on Instagram will require separate time, strategy, creativity, attention to detail and an eye for aesthetics and community.
If your plan is to publish the same content on all social networks, it's not going to work. On whichever network you are, you need to respect that particular community and give them what they want. Not what you have ready.
Identify what it is that can make you stand out on Instagram and use it to your advantage.
Invest Adequately In Instagram
Playing to win on Instagram means being open to put in the time and resources to:
- buy editing software and learn how to properly edit photos
- follow what's happening with fellow instagrammers
- invest in a good phone/camera and learn how to click stunning images
- interact and build an active community
If you're fired up about doing these things, only then it makes sense to jump on Instagram. With Instagram, you reap only what you sow.
If you go in there with a lousy execution, then that's the kind of outcome you'll get. And if you give your serious effort, you'll get the return you deserve.
Identify & Follow Influential Instagrammers
To every parent, their child is the prettiest. Same is the case with most businesses. Every marketer and business owner thinks their product is the best. But it's not necessary that every instagrammer will see it that way.
You need to find the ones likely to be interested in promoting businesses and who have a good number of followers.
And before you contact them, it's important to take a close look at their profile and feed to know as much as you possibly can about them.
Try to gauge their interests and present goals. What type of photos they post? How often? Which hashtags they use and how often do they respond to comments. The list goes on.
Even better if you have been following them for a few days and have had a few positive interactions.
Collaborate With Serious Instagrammers
Broadly speaking, Instagram users can be divided into two categories.
- 1st category is of people who have an Instagram account, but that's that. The use their account and post photos often, but the content isn't really great.
- 2nd category is of instagrammers who put effort in maintaining a stunning feed, and spend time and resources in creating relevant posts for their community.
A close look at a profile and it's easy to tell which category the account belongs to. As a business, your goal is to use Instagram to build a following and grow sales.
But serious instagrammers don't have the same goal. Some may be professional photographers, and others amateurs. But regardless of that, their goal is to explore the world around them and give their followers a stunning visual experience.
So to collaborate with them successfully, you'll have to find a way for both to achieve their goals. Only then you'll be ready to approach them.
For example, look at how GoPro collaborated with Travis Fisher, an influencer who's popular among people interested in adventure and sports, to create holiday-themed posts.
Solid relationships with instagrammers can't be built overnight. It'll take time, effort, and most importantly, trust.
Identify & Engage Your Audience
If you are an established brand elsewhere, then you may already find some users and photos on Instagram mentioning your business. Do a search for keywords and hashtags related to your business and see what people have to say about you.
If you don't find anything, that means you'll have to give more effort to build a brand from scratch.
This means posting compelling photos, launching unique contests and making your audience feel like part of a community.
The major problem with most of contests on Instagram is lack of creativity. All have the same format which goes like this:
“Click a photo using our product or service, and post it with blah blah hashtags. The photo with most likes will get blah blah discount coupon."
So make sure you don't fall in the same trap. Think of something more unique and interesting.
Research & Analyze Competitors
Have you checked out what your competition is doing on Instagram? A thorough analysis of related businesses can give you a lot of ideas and inspiration for your own Instagram efforts.
Keep a watch on what they post, how they interact with their followers and other users, what type of and how many hashtags they use and more.
For instance, if they launched a contest some time back, what was it like? When did they launch and what were the rules and rewards? Does it seem like it was a success? If yes, what are the factors that got the positive outcome? If not, what went wrong?
All this data will help you learn from their mistakes and do things right in your Instagram campaigns.
Be Creative With Your Offering
No matter what product, service or person you're promoting on Instagram, you've got to come up with new ideas and posts consistently to keep things interesting.
If it's a product, think of all the situations, ways and angles from which it can be used. Show your audience why you created it and what the product can do for them.
Warby Parker, for instance, does a great job of promoting on Instagram.
The company is demonstrating to their audience what a great fir their product is for various kind of situations, despite the fact that it's just an eyeglass.
The more you know about your product and target audience, the better for your Instagram feed. Who are the guys behind the scene of the product? What moments add a human touch to this product? What does your audience feel after using the product?
Use all these moments and experiences to create content that resonates with your Instagram audience.
Have Fun While You're At It
Last but not the least, enjoy the ride. Instagram is an exciting and fresh network which makes people happy.
And it connects users to a brand that makes them have a good time. And you can only give others a good time when you're having a good time. The positive vibe is contagious.
It's about finding pleasure in the moments that you capture and share on Instagram. If you don’t enjoy Instagram, and you can't find someone who does and put him in charge of your account, then there is no point in doing it.
Not everyone can be an Instagrammer. Not everyone will have the eye to capture and share the beauty around them and connect with fellow users. But only those who do can reap the real benefits of Instagram.