If you do a search for “Instagram best practices” or “Instagram tips,” you’ll be served a slew of results as well as ideas.
“Use high quality imagery.”
“Use trends like Throwback Thursday (#TBT) and Monday Motivation.”
It’s good advice, but a question remains. Why? Why is it important to use good imagery? Are trends like Throwback Thursday advantageous to your brand? Maybe. But maybe not.
At the heart of all the Instagram tips and tricks and best practices is this: the customer experience. What matters to them? Why do you matter to them? What is it that you do or sell that fascinates them?
If you can figure out the answers to those questions, you can determine which Instagram advice to follow and which to kick to the curb. Getting to that point, however, does involve some tips and tricks and maybe even a few best practices.
1. Know your audience.
Every social network is different. The people who follow you on Twitter may not be fans on Facebook. They may embrace Instagram but avoid Pinterest.
Because the fans and followers are different on the networks, the experiences have to be different, too. One message, yes, but one with variations. The tweet should not be a replica of the Instagram post and vice versa. To quote the well-known song, “Different strokes for different folks.”
2. Develop the narrative.
Instagram is a visual, social and mobile network. But that doesn’t mean plots and narratives are irrelevant. Quite the contrary. Plot is still important. It’s just being translated into a visual story.
What is that story? You decide. What imagery encapsulates the brand? What photos and videos share the brand’s story best?
Now consider which visuals will resonate with the audience. Test your theories. See how people respond and refine accordingly.
3. Decide on the style and tone.
The narrative is the skeleton. Put some meat on it with style and tone.
Again, this is determined by the brand. Is it quirky? Playful? Serious? Technical?
If you aren’t sure, go around the office. Listen to conversations. Watch how people interact. Use that information to dictate style and tone.
Do know that the internal style and tone may be different from what has historically been put out on social and other channels. If that’s the case, be prepared for some internal resistance.
Overcome it with a trial period. Ask for a few months to try out the new style and tone. Monitor the results closely, then present the data to win the case (and possibly a new style guide).
4. Be consistent (in all things).
If you want to tell a brand story with Instagram, post consistently. Set up a daily reminder if it helps. Joining Instagram is easy; posting to it every day is hard, but it’s essential to getting your message to stick in a person’s mind.
Also test different times of day, just as you do with email. Use the one(s) that garner the most attention.
Finally, be consistent with hashtags. It’s easy to go overboard with them, so decide on the essential ones and supplement as needed.
5. Use trends when they make sense.
Throwback Thursday is fun, but does it fit with the brand narrative? Use the trends, including real-time ones and breaking news, that make sense for your brand and its audience.
Using a trend just to use it will come across as gimmicky and could spawn a flame war. Always be true to your brand’s story and the audience’s interests, not the trend.
What tips do you have for telling a brand story on Instagram? Let us know!