While it’s safe to say that Instagram isn’t for all businesses – and best practices say that you shouldn’t clog up your website with a dozen widgets leading to all sorts of social media sites – Instagram does have a place in marketing for certain types of companies.
Utterly gratuitous photo of a cool dog.
Plenty of big-name B2C and B2B companies are already using Instagram for marketing. Just a few:
Having an Instagram account is one thing; actually using it is something quite different. Of the big-name companies currently signed up with Instagram, about 22 percent are active users (including the ones listed above) according to a terrific article on the topic by Search Engine Watch. A company is considered “active” if it has a solid set of followers, and posts photos and videos regularly.
Get the Most from What You Post
You can post both photos and videos. Instagram’s video service is still relatively new, and doesn’t yet have the traction that photos get. For every 1,000 followers, photos produce between 35 and 40 interactions (the sum of comments and likes) while videos produce an average of 24 interactions per 1,000 followers.
If you’re planning to do visual instruction, be aware that Instagram limits videos to 15 seconds, which is probably not going to do the job. A very short video might be useful for showing a glimpse behind the scenes at your company, but for generally you’ll get better results if you rely on photos for most of your Instagram marketing efforts.
Use the Right Filters
Instagram’s filters are probably the tool’s most popular feature. Filters have catchy names (Sierra, Willow, 1977, Toaster, Mayfair, and Inkwell) that change some features of the photo (hue, saturation, clarity, and the border, to name a few).
To maintain a professional appearance, most companies upload unfiltered photos. You can follow in this path or use the Mayfair filter, which adds more contrast for a dynamic, yet professional, appearance. Interestingly, the Mayfair filter tends to garner more interactions than no filter at all. The other most popular filter is Inkwell, which simply turns the picture black and white.
Label Photos with Hashtags (#)
This is the number-one feature you need to know about if you plan to use Instagram for marketing. A strong correlation exists between interactions and the number of hashtags a particular post uses, according to research by TrackMaven. At first, the average number of interactions per 1,000 followers rises as you use hashtags.
- Zero hashtags: 14 interactions
- One or two hashtags: 17 interactions
- Three hashtags: 19 interactions
- Four or five hashtags: 21 interactions
But after five, the number of interactions declines steadily – so don’t go overboard.
- Six or seven hashtags: 20 interactions
- Eight hashtags: 19 interactions
- Nine hashtags: 18 interactions
Perhaps the reason interactions drop with excessive hashtag use is because it resembles spam.
When choosing which ones to use, consider hashtags that are already popular within your industry. You want your content to appear when people search for industry-related content.
You can also create your own that relate specifically to your business, such as using #yourbusinessname or an event you’re hosting as a hashtag. Incorporating hashtags throughout your post is more professional than listing them all at the end.
Are you inspired yet? Are you following any companies? Any ideas you’ve seen that you plan to adopt as you learn to use Instagram for marketing?