Instagram has created a social media community that now totals 400 million accounts from every corner of the globe. The mobile photo and video sharing app, which launched in October of 2010, now boasts 200 million monthly active users, 60 million photos posted each day, and 1.6 billion likes per day.
It is a lovely place to be because it’s about everyday people sharing images of their lives and the things they love.
For businesses, Instagram offers a place to reach a wide audience and show them what you do in a creative way. The more striking or appealing your images, the more people you reach. Instagram users are there to be inspired and discover, which means they are a very engaged audience. In Instagram's survey of users, 60% say they discover new products on the platform and 75% take action after being inspired by a post.
More and more brands are using Instagram to engage with larger audiences. Instagram users are also more receptive to branded content so it’s a great time for you to start promoting your business.
Advertising in Instagram works in a similar way to Facebook. In fact the channel is owned by Facebook. Targeting your ad allows you to reach the exact audience you want.
Choose your audience based on location, demographics such as age, gender and interests (their interests are based on the accounts they follow and other activity).
What to post
Brands that sell products will find this easier. The most active brands are automotive, media, fashion and home design but you don’t need to have a physical product to tell a brand story. Virgin post inspirational quotes and images and ASB Bank uses the channel to post photos from events they sponsor. And even the product brands like Fitbit or Red Bull post lifestyle images that demonstrate their brand attitude rather than just product shots.
High quality images and video
Instagram is a great place to promote your business, but don't make every post an ad. Share other people, other things and images that relate to your brand but are not all sales.
If your business is service oriented, think about images that show your brand identity and company culture. You can post videos up to one minute long and these could include tips, guides and advice. Go behind the scenes to show the process, or your company culture and the personalities behind it. Try different posts such as product photos, design sketches or your vision diagram scribbled on a whiteboard. View the results of different posts and see what type of post gets the most engagement.
Find the balance between stunning and authentic. Glossy stock photography will do less to build your brand than images of the real events, products and people. Try to capture these ‘real' subjects in striking images.
Instagram is visual but you can include captions too. Use them to write relevant and useful comments. Include a call to action or a link back to your website. You can mention others using @mention. This links your post to other accounts and is a great way to amplify your message through their following but don’t spam other users. Make sure it makes sense in the context of your post. It might be a charity you sponsor, a commercial partner or a spokesperson connected to your brand.
Hashtags were developed by Twitter in 2007 and are used to categorise content and sum up the main theme of a post. Adding hashtags to your posts makes it easier for people to find you. Your post will also be found on the page of the corresponding hashtag. A hashtag allows users to search for posts under that heading. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag tend to receive 12.6% more engagement.
Hashtags can be used to encourage participation and action. Here are some examples:
- A ski-field promotion asks ski-iers to take a photo of themselves on the mountain and post with the name of the field in the hashtag to go in the draw for a ski pass. The result is a dramatic rise in posts relating to the brand and a wider reach and following.
- A clothing store asks customers to take shots of themselves wearing a new outfit for the chance to win a store credit.
- A sports drink company asks people to post a pic of their favourite sport. The drink company benefits from consumer engagement and builds an image gallery relating to their core proposition.
- At an event, organisers publicise a hashtag so that attendees can track all the social posts related to the event.
How to write a hashtag
Hashtags start with a # sign to categorise the content on social media channels. The words that follow have no spaces or special characters like $ or %, but numbers are allowed.
Here’s an example – a home insulation company could include the hashtag #WarmDryHomes but not # warm dry homes. By making the first letter of each word a capital, the hashtag is easier to read.
Make sure your hashtag is relevant to the content that you are sharing and it's memorable. You can create your own hashtag, based on your brand, a new campaign or an event, or you can take advantage of popular ones in order to reach an existing audience. To get some ideas for hashtags that are trending you can use RiteTag, which also gives you suggestions for Instagram or Hashtagify.me which shows what’s trending on Twitter.
Your video or photo won’t post if you add more that 30 hashtags in the post. However even if you can post 29, less is probably more here. A few succinct and relevant hashtags will have more impact than trying to fill each post with everything you can think of.
In the platform’s own words
“Advertising on Instagram has the power to move people – inspiring them to see a business differently or take action.”
Social Ads in BOMA
You can create Facebook and Instagram ads via the BOMA app, alongside organic posts on your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter pages plus the ability to send email campaigns. BOMA delivers your ad direct to Facebook and Instagram, keeping all your digital marketing under one roof! When your campaign is underway you can look at the performance insights on likes, shares and clicks to understand the effectiveness of your ads.
About the Author: Liz Studholme is the Marketing Content Manager at BOMA.
BOMA takes the complexity out of digital marketing. Find out more.