With 200 million active users, 20 billion shares and 1,6 billion likes daily, Instagram can easily be named the hot shit of current social networks. What started mostly with private users has long since spilled over to the business world where more and more companies try their luck with this popular image sharing platform. To make the channel worth their while, companies should take heart to the following advice:
Releasing the shutter with the right expectations
As Shakespeare used to say: Expectation is the root of all heartache. Meaning: Before snapping the first square, companies should decide why they’d like to use this channel in the first place. In contrast to Pinterest, where pictures are specifically shared to guide users back to one’s own website, e.g. to the blog, Instagram’s purpose is not to create such referral traffic. Instead it helps companies to build a visual profile, establish contact to their community and therefore strengthen their brand loyalty in the long run.
If you want pictures, you have to take pictures
I know, this is a no-brainer, but after years of working as a consultant I’d like to mention it, just in case: To use an image sharing platform such as Instagram, first and foremost you need pictures! If it won’t be possible to create images during your every day work, you might want to rethink starting an Instagram account. In reverse this doesn’t mean that only fancy brands with lots of colorful products can join. As for example the account of payment service Paypal shows, completely virtual services can be pretty convincing in retro squares as well. The company simply uses images from their community, demonstrating what beautiful experiences can be financed with Paypal. In general, everything is possible on Instagram, nonetheless companies should plan in advance what kind of images could fit the brand, who is going to take them and what style the channel should have overall.
Without words: Storytelling with images
The Paypal example also demonstrates another important point: Storytelling! As with all social media channels, Instagram gives companies a stage to tell their story. The problem: The room for text is very limited. Instead companies need meaningful, expressive imagery to perfectly capture the company’s spirit. Since the channel is known as a catalyst for brand love and love storms, followers should be embraced as testimonials.
A spark of inspiration: Choosing clever motifs
One closer look at Instagram reveals what makes the community tick: In addition to beautiful images with retro charm, users are mostly in search of inspiration and creative ideas. From cooking recipes to styling advice or DIY ideas – everything that invites to engage is pure Instagram gold.
Form follows function: Formal tricks for a better visibility
To start the dialogue and get noticed by fans, companies best make do with some formal tricks. First and foremost Instagram is worshipping the holy hashtag. Fervently as in no other network, instagrammers adore the small pound and regularly create new trends, run-on sentence style. Companies that want to take part should therefore check out the currently hip hashtags first to see which could fit for their communication. For events the #fromwhereistand tag could be interesting, cooking recipes are best shared with an #onthetable tag while #makeportraits almost screams to be used for introducing the team.
Extra tip: To appear as high up as possible in the stream of followers, image descriptions should always be pre-written and directly copied into the post. In contrast to other social channels, on Instagram not the posting time but the beginning of the post creation decides the placement of a post. While thinking about what to write about your new super snapshot, other users and companies are literally already outrunning you position-wise. Another trick: Re-opening a post to fill in hashtags later will also vault companies to the top of their follower list.