August 05, 2015
/ by Katie Gaab
As the fastest-growing social network, Instagram is a must for brands looking to boost their social presence. At her recent webinar, social media consultant Jenn Herman discussed the best strategies and tactics to effectively engage your audience, promote your brand and create effective content on Instagram.
Before the webinar, Jenn took the time to answer a few of our questions on using Instagram effectively. Now, Jenn, along with Cision’s social media manager Shirien Elamawy, look at some of our webinar attendees’ questions, which weren’t answered during the time frame of the webinar.
JH: Unfortunately, no. Instagram is a mobile-based app, and although you can perform certain actions from the desktop, you will require a mobile device to set up an account and post content to Instagram.
JH: No! Please stop using hashtags in Instagram bios! The only searchable criteria on Instagram are the name and username fields so put your keyword, industry/niche term, or other descriptor in these fields. The bio is not searchable information, and hashtags in the bio are not active or clickable. When you stuff your bio with hashtags it looks unprofessional. The only time you should include a hashtag is if you use a custom hashtag for branding and you want to include that one hashtag in your bio description.
JH: I think it’s great! Putting text over an image is a great way to get your audience to stop and pay more attention to your content. If you have a question, message, promotion, or call-to-action that you don’t want people to miss, definitely include this in the photo. That doesn’t mean that every photo should use this tactic but it can be very powerful when used.
SE: Most users on social networks use their accounts for personal purposes, so what you share really depends on your intentions. Is it just for your friends and family? Do you want to grow a following? My advice is to follow these principles that will not only make your page appealing, but can help anyone grow followers:
1. Upload high-quality, unique photos with detailed descriptions.
2. If you can have an overlying theme of interest, only upload photos that fall within that category so that people know what to expect when they follow you.
Themed Instagram accounts are great because they bring people together who have a common interest. A great example is an account called “Dapper Men” which brings together anyone who has an appreciation for a well-dressed fella. Themed accounts are also great because you can encourage people to submit their own photos, making it a mini-community page you can manage.
3. Utilize hashtags.
JH: No. You can backdate posts on Instagram. They will upload to the date/time that you put them on Instagram. If you have a lot of content you want to add to Instagram, consider your audience. If you have a new account, upload everything, then add your followers and grow your audience. If you already have a large following, take your time uploading this older content so that you don’t overwhelm the feeds of your followers with all your content.
SE: You can’t manage what other people post to their pages. However, people love for their photos to be appreciated by others, especially by brands they recognize. There is no problem in kindly asking if they could send you a copy of the photo so you can upload it to the company’s page and give the individual credit in the description, linking back to their page. However, I would consult a legal team to see what you need to do in order to properly obtain the rights to use the photo.
JH: It depends on the situation. In certain graphics, or marketing content, yes, I think adding a logo can be helpful and beneficial, especially for branding. However, I do not think you should put your logo on every piece of content as it can look too salesy. An exception to this would be photographers who want to put their watermark on their photos. Or another way to add your logo is to have the logo from your product in the photo of the product. This also works if you’re showcasing your service or work space and you have a logo on your computer or in the background.
Want more tips for using Instagram? Watch the replay of Jenn’s free “Build Your Brand With Instagram” webinar today!
JH: While this is a very broad question, I’ll add some more context to what we covered in the webinar. The types of videos that work well are similar to the types of photos that work well: Tips, tutorials, behind-the-scenes, greetings or messages, marketing segments and ways to humanize your brand. You can also include videos purely for entertainment value so long as the content is related to your brand.
Videos start playing in the Instagram feed as soon as someone stops/pauses on the cover image in the feed. It will not play with audio unless you tap on the video once to initiate the audio. Once playing, it will continue to loop automatically until you scroll past or stop the video.
You can record video from right within the Instagram app by going to camera and selecting the video icon. As long as you are holding down the record button, you are videotaping. So, you can create one consistent (up to) 15-second long video. Or you can start and stop the recording to create a spliced video that works for your needs. This works well for stop motion or other short burst shots to put together a tip or tutorial. You can also upload videos from your archives by importing them to Instagram. You can choose a video from your camera roll (Gallery option on the Instagram camera) or choose to share a video from your camera roll to Instagram. If the video is over 15 seconds long, you will have to use the cropping tools during the upload process to reduce the video to a maximum of 15 seconds.
As I mentioned, make sure you pick a good cover image for the video. During the upload process, you can choose which frame of the video will be the “photo” that appears in the Instagram feed. Drag the slider back and forth until you find a quality frame. It shouldn’t be blurry or irrelevant. It should be something that looks clear and of quality in the feed and showcases the value of the video.
JH: This is something that takes a little bit of research to determine preference for your audience and your style as to which one looks/performs better for you. Many people think that putting too many hashtags in the caption is distracting and salesy and prefer to place them in the comments. And this is fine! Others, including myself, have found that putting them in the caption work and perform better.
With recent changes to how hashtag galleries work, there are a couple things to consider. You used to be able to “refresh” hashtags which would allow you to add a hashtag at any time and pull your photo back to the top of that hashtag gallery. However, now, the timing of the hashtag makes no difference in where the photo shows up in the gallery. Therefore, if you’re using popular hashtags, these ones should be included in the caption because the hashtag galleries move so quickly. If you upload and share your post, then take the time to write up your additional hashtags in a comment, this delay in time can cause your popular hashtags to become irrelevant. Therefore, post your popular hashtags in the post caption, and place the remaining hashtags in a subsequent comment to avoid these additional ones looking too spammy in the original caption.
JH: The tactics are similar for any type of business – the key is to engage with your audience and provide value to them. Some of the best ways to build your audience are to use relevant hashtags that your target audience is using and searching for. I also recommend searching for and engaging with other content around your industry hashtags. For example, if there is a conference or convention related to your industry/niche, follow that hashtag on Instagram and engage with those users’ content (like their posts and comment on some content). This will put your brand in front of new (relevant and targeted) eyes and help you grow your presence.
Also focus on showcasing your services (rather than products). How do your services work? How do others enjoy or find value in your services (user-generated content)? Use calls-to-action to get people to sign up for webinars, your list, downloads, or other offers in a way that directs them to your website where you can convert or capture the leads.
Inviting engagement through tips, questions and conversation is another way to engage your audience. Rather than just posting content for them to digest, post content or captions that invite them to participate.
SE: This varies from business to business depending on size and nature (B2C, B2B). Generally, I would recommend following other brands and thought leaders among your target audience. See what your target audience is interested in, follow those accounts and then use what gets the most engagement as inspiration for what you choose to post.
Find out how you can be successful on Instagram! Read our “10 Tips to Make Instagram Your Most Effective Channel”!
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