So you’ve decided to embark on the exciting journey of using Instagram for your business – and, ultimately, drive traffic to your website – but need a little help in figuring things out…
Well, this list of 30 simple and easy-to-implement tips is certainly going to help you on your way to Instagram success! Just work your way through each of the points and apply the ones which make most sense to you (or all of them, if you’re feeling adventurous).
Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at some interesting stats about Instagram to clarify what all the fuss is about and why you should concentrate your efforts on this popular visual platform.
Instagram’s growth is astounding. With over 400 million active users on the social network, per-follower engagement rates for top brands 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter, you’d be crazy to ignore the power of Instagram. According to recognized Instagram expert, Sue B. Zimmerman, Facebook (who bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars in 2013) predicts 1 million users in the next 3 years! Wow!
So let’s dig in and see how we can give your Instagram account a good boost with these …. Tips.
#1: Create a Bio that stands out
Here are the main points to keep in mind when you create a Bio for your Instagram account:
- Make sure you pick a username that is easily recognized as your brand; don’t try to be clever with your name, a simple name, preferably, your exact company name will work a lot better.
- Share your personality and give people a reason to want to follow you. You could tell a short story that depicts what your company stands for and what makes you unique. Think of the 5 or 6 words your clients use to search for your business and include them in your Bio.
- A lot of the Instagram Pros recommend using Emoji’s to help define your brand identity; it’s a little different and the colorful images help stand out.
- Don’t forget to include a Call-to-action at the end of your Bio. Tell readers what you want them to do.
- Upload a photo or logo to your profile so that people can recognize your business when they see your thumbnail photo next to your posts and comments.
- Lead followers to where you do business by adding your website URL . It’s a good idea to shorten the link to your site using a service like Bitly so that you can track traffic coming from Instagram.
#2: Don’t just upload your photos and videos to Instagram and then forget about them
People are going to start liking and commenting on your work and it’s important that you interact with them. So make a point of reviewing the daily activity on your account and acknowledging ‘Likes’ and ‘Comments’. It’s also a great way to gage what people think of your photos and videos allowing you to tweak your posting strategy; just post more of the images and videos that people are liking!
Tap on the second button from you right on the bottom of your home screen (see image), the one which is a chat bubble with a heart in. From there you’ll be able to see all the interactions people are having with your account: Follows, Likes and Comments.
#3: Start following new accounts
The activity section of the Instagram app is also a great place to start following new people or finding new content to Like and Comment on. Just click on the tab at the top of the screen which says ‘Following’ and you’ll see the activity of the people you follow on Instagram. Scroll through the results and discover new photos and people you can follow.
#4: Brand your Instagram content
The easiest way to do this is by adding a watermark of your logo to all your images (Try iWatermark for iOS and Android). But creating great branded content isn’t just about adding your fancy logo to your photos and images. Make sure you’re posting content which is relevant to your brand and is easily recognizable by your followers; using the same filter on all your photos is one way to achieve this uniqueness.
#5: Link other social networks to your Instagram account
So that you can easily share your photos and videos to those other accounts if you wish. It’s a useful way to spread the word that you are on Instagram and increase your follower count.
I wouldn’t recommend you share everything you post to Instagram to your other social media accounts as you may have people following you on these accounts already and posting the same content on all three can get a little boring for your followers. Use this feature sparingly.
#6: Include another user handle in the photo caption
Simply mentioning another user in the caption area of your post can result in 56% more engagement for that post. (Source)
#7: Embed photos onto your blog or website
Instagram makes it easy for you to embed a photo into a blog post or website for increased reach. Here’s a quick gif showing you how to do it.
#8: Repost Photos from other users
A great way to add new content to your Instagram feed is to repost photos from other users and accounts. The benefits are twofold: You get to post great content without having to go out and shoot your own photos and you can make new contacts and gain new followers as you will be tagging the original photographer in your photo caption giving them credit. They will see this and hopefully follow you back as a sign of gratitude for sharing their work; it’s definitely a win-win! 🙂
Instagram doesn’t have a built in share button like other social networks so you’ll either have to go the manual route and copy the image you want to repost by taking a screenshot and then posting to your Instagram account. The other option is to use one of the many ‘Reposting’ apps available for this function. The only downside is that these are separate apps which you have to open outside of Instagram. Here are some of the most popular free apps for reposting Instagram photos:
- Repost for Instagram – Available for iOS and Android
- Insta Repost – Only on Android
- Repost Whiz – Available on iOS and Android
#9: Use Iconosquare
This useful tool will allow you to establish the best times for posting to your followers. It’s free to sign up and you’ll be able to monitor lots of other great data about your account including average number of likes, follower growth, most popular posts, and much more! (Update: This is now a paid service but you can still sign up for a free 7 day trial and see the best times to post).
#10: Start Advertising on Instagram
Instagram recently opened up its paid advertising functionality to all users and, although relatively new, many brands and businesses are seeing great results with increased awareness and a high level of ad recall.
Advertising on Instagram allows you to get your photos out to the entire community of Instagram users, not just your followers. Targeting options are similar to Facebook and you actually manage your ads through the Facebook ads interface.
For an in-depth guide to advertising on Instagram I recommend you take a look at this article on the State of Digital website.
Taking Photos & Improving Your Images
Without decent photos, you’re Instagram journey us doomed from the start. There are a few things you can do to ensure your photos get maximum exposure… I’ve included a few tips which will help you take better photos and get them seen by more people.
#11: The composition of your photos plays a big role in the success of your account
I recommend you use the grid feature on your camera to help you compose your shots. On the iphone, I just go to Settings, select Photos & Camera and then slide the Grid feature on. If you’re relatively new to photography, I recommend you check out how to use the Rule of Thirds to help you compose stunning photos.
#12: Tag your location
If you own a brick and mortar business, you should make use of the feature which allows you to tag a location for the photos you upload. Doing this allows users to browse for all the photos tagged in a particular location which increases the visibility of your Instagram posts. It’s easy to do, just click on the option to add a location when you’re uploading your photo (see image below).
#13: Include people in your photos
Why? Well, according to this article on Mashable, Instagram photos with faces get 38% more likes than those without! That’s got to be worth testing 🙂
#14: Recommended filters for business use
One of Instagram’s most distinguishable features is the ability to use filters on your photos to enhance their look. Whilst you need to be careful not to get carried away and make your photos look too ‘fake’, filters can help make an otherwise standard photo look special. So which ones are best?
In a recent Instagram Course I took on Lynda.com, they recommend the following filters if you’re looking to sharpen up your image: Lo-Fi, Juno, Ludwig.
If you want to use a little blur in your photo or make it look a little older, try Mayfair or Earlybird. At the end of the day, it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with the photo. Sometimes the best filter is no filter 🙂
#15: Touch up your photos using a photo editing app
There are plenty of easy-to-use photo editing apps available for iOS and Android but my favorites are Snapseed and VSCO Cam (Both are free). It’s amazing what you can do to your images by adding some of the ready-made filters available in these tools.
#16: Add text overlays to your images to make them stand out
Sharing quotes, inspiring words or thoughts, announcements, sales discounts, limited time offers, contests and useful tips as text over your images is a great way to make them stand out and attract likes whilst ensuring your audience doesn’t miss your message. There are hundreds of apps to help you easily add text to your images; however, the ones I’ve listed below are some of the most popular:
- Word Swag (Only available for iOS) – This is a paid app but well worth the small investment. It allows you to create stunning custom text layouts with just one tap and also includes hundreds of quotes, thoughts and jokes you can add to your images.
- Over – Similar to Word Swag but also available for Android, Over contains a massive collection of 300+ fonts and 800+ illustrations for you to use. An integrated color sampler allows you to find the perfect matching colors from your photos. This is a paid app.
- QuotesCover – If you want to create a beautiful looking quote, this is a great tool to get the job done quickly and painlessly. It’s a web-based app but very easy to use; you’ll have your quotes ready in minutes!
- Quick – This app is made by the same people who designed the Over app. It’s name says it all, it’s ideal for busy business owners who want to add text to their photos as quickly and easily as possible. Whilst it doesn’t have all the features it’s older brother has, it is free (in-app purchases available).
- Studio – This is my favorite app for adding text to images. Available for iOS and Android it’s completely free to use and comes equipped with a fantastic toolset to help you add beautiful layers to your photos. The ‘Remixing’ functionality allows you to tap into the creative knowledge and inspiration of the Studio community to quickly create stunning images.
Using Hashtags on Instagram
If you want to get new followers and get your photos seen by more people, you’re going to want to add hashtags to your posts. Hashtags are a major part of the Instagram experience and it’s a key way to get users to find your content when they do a search. Choosing the right tags will help you connect with other people who have the same interests on Instagram.
#17: Make sure you use Hashtags which are related to your photo
This helps you describe what the photo is about. For example, if you’ve posted a photo of a beach, you could use the hashtags #Beach, #beachday or #summer 🙂
#18: Don’t use too many Hashtags
Instagram’s official limit on Hashtags per post is actually thirty but you don’t want to include anywhere near that number. Buffer’s blog post ‘ A Scientific Guide to Hashtags’ suggests that interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags, but I’d recommend you try with a few less – 6 to 8 work well – and see how things go. You can always add more later. Just remember that adding too many hashtags can make you look desperate and a little spammy!
#19: Keep a copy of the Hashtags you use in the notes app on your phone
If there are certain hashtags which you use frequently and you don’t want to have to type them all out each time you post a photo, keep them all as notes in your iPhone (should work on Android too) and then just copy and paste them as needed.
#20: Use an app called Grama to find related hashtags you can use on your account
I just found out about this great app whilst listening to Mike Stelzner’s awesome Social Media Marketing Podcast on my morning walk. It’s free to download to your iPhone – sorry Android users, it’s only available on iOS at the moment – and type in a hashtag related to the photo you’re posting. The app will then come back with a whole selection of related hashtags which you can use in the description field of your photo. A cool functionality is that it lets you copy the hashtags it finds onto your clipboard and then you just paste them into your post. Pretty cool!
#21: Use Instagram Autocomplete for new Hashtag ideas
This article on Search Engine Journal suggests using Instagram’s autocomplete feature to find the perfect hashtag to accompany your photo. Just type in the ‘#’ and the first few letters of a word and the Instagram magic begins. (see image below)
#22: Use hashtags which are specific to your brand and include your business or brand name
It’s a good idea to create your own unique hashtag which you can then use for particular marketing campaigns such as competitions and contests. You’ll want to try and promote your unique hashtags and here are 7 ways you can do that:
- Add the hashtag as a text overlay on your photo or image
- Add it to the descriptions of your posts
- Use it and promote it on other platforms such as Twitter or Facebook
- Use it in the signature of your emails
- Promote it at events
- Add it to slides in presentations
- Add it to your business cards
#23: Add your Hashtags after posting
That way you won’t stuff your caption full of hashtags which look spammy. Don’t worry, you still get the benefit of using Hashtags as adding them as a comment still allows them to be searchable. Another advantage of this tip is that you can safely share your post to other social networks without the worry of hashtag overload!
#24: Keep a look out for trending hashtags on Instagram
Think of it as a form of ‘News Jacking’; if you spot a hashtag which is trending and is applicable to your business or brand, by all means, jump at the opportunity to post something using that very tag. This is a little hit and miss but if the hashtag takes off, your post could quickly be seen by thousands of potential followers.
Use Instagram’s Video Option
Video is a great way for your business or brand to tell stories your followers can relate to. Instagram’s video feature only allows for 15 seconds of filming so you’re got to make them count if you want to create a good impression. Bear in mind that only 8.5% of Instagram users take advantage of the video feature so it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to stand out. Here’s a great beginner’s guide to Instagram video by Amanda at Spiderworking.com which will help you get started.
#25: Use Instagram’s Boomerang app
Released in October last year, this app allows you to easily create short engaging videos which “turn everyday moments into something fun and unexpected.”. Boomerang actually takes a burst of photos and then stitches them together into a high-quality mini video that plays forward and backward and is perfect for Instagram. You can find more information here.
#26: Shoot time-lapse videos
Time-lapse videos are a great way to grab attention. I recommend downloading Instagram’s Hyperlapse app which is very easy to use and allows you to shoot fantastic time lapse style videos in just minutes. The inbuilt stabilization technology means you can shoot amazing videos while in motion without the need for a tripod.
How to Find Content Ideas to Post on Instagram
Once your Instagram account is all set up and you’ve started posting photos, it’s quite common to run into the ‘What should I post’ syndrome… It’s important that you post photos and images which relate to your product or service in some way. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
#27: Take photos of your product
If you’re business manufactures and sells an actual product, it’s pretty obvious that you want to be posting photos of your products. But you have to try and be a little creative. Don’t just take a static shot of your product, use models and take shots of people using your product or think of creative ways in which it can be used.
#28: Take photos which show the benefits of your product or service
It’s about showing the end result of what you do or what you offer. For example, a carpenter could show photos of kids playing in a tree house he’s built for them and a hotel could show photos of guests lying by the pool sipping on a refreshing cocktail. You get the idea… just show the special moments when someone is benefiting from your product or service.
#29: Research your completion
Follow your competitors on Instagram and see what they are posting. I’m not saying you should copy everything they are doing but you can definitely ‘borrow’ ideas that you could use.
#30: Post Behind-the-scenes photos of your business
Your Instagram followers and customers like to see the more-human side of your business and this type of photo helps portray the real story behind your brand. The possibilities are endless but take a look at what other businesses are doing for some inspiration. The guys at Hubspot post some fun and entertaining photos and videos on their Instagram account.
For a few more ideas for what to post on your Instagram account, check out this great article on the Post Planner Blog.
It’s Your Turn
Well, you’ve now got a massive list of tips and ideas on how to improve your Instagram marketing and build a following on the world’s most engaging social network.
So what now? I recommend you take two or three of these tips each week and apply them to your Instagram strategy; don’t try and apply them all at once! If you’re consistent and gradually make use of these tips and ideas you’ll be an Instagram master in no time!
What other tips, tricks or ideas do you have to improve your Instagram Marketing? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to the list. 🙂
P.S. Stay tuned for our upcoming post on Instagrams new Stories feature and all the exciting things you can do with it to help promote your business 🙂