How to make the most of your Instagram account

A photogram of an IPhone with the colourful Instagram logo displayed on it.

Social media has become an essential tool in the marketing box of any business. Whether you’re selling a product, a service, or even an idea, social media is a fantastic way to reach out to new customers, and keep in touch with existing ones. Businesses flocked to Twitter and Facebook, and we’re now seeing Instagram (also owned by Facebook) pick up the slack. As Facebook’s popularity wanes, Instagram’s continues to rise. It is perhaps slightly less easy to use for marketing in that it seems purely photo-based; with a tweet you can get away with a few witty or informative words, but for Instagram you need a striking image as well. But as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you can get your post in users’ feeds, you can capture their imagination. But how can you be sure your posts are getting views? Social media algorithms are mysterious beasts, so below I’ll share some great ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of the time and creativity you put into your Instagram posts.

Insights

Once you’re got an Instagram business account you have lots of useful information at your disposal. You ca use it to explore the age, gender and location of people who are liking your images, allowing you to target your posts, or adjust them if you’re missing your ideal audience. You can also view data on individual posts to help you figure out what’s most popular, and when is the best time to post. Insights can also be a great way to set KPIs, as they give you much more detailed analysis than a simple follower or like count.

Consistency

I’ve written before about how important consistency is within the world of copy, but is it no less significant on social media. Instagram consistency can be viewed from a number of different angles.

Firstly, you want to think about how your Instagram posts fit in with your broader brand. Are you getting across the main things that make your company unique? Are you telling stories that would be recognisable to customers who find you on other platforms? You don’t wan to slavishly stick to the same style you use in other channels, as this wouldn’t allow you to take full advantage of what Instagram can offer. But you do want to make sure there is a sense of cohesion across your brand.

Secondly, you want to achieve some aesthetic consistency within your account. Instagram shows users posts on the Explore page that are similar to ones they’ve already liked. So once you’re identified the audience you’re aiming for, try to maintain a look that fits with their general tastes. A meme-based post would be out of place on the account of a high-end homewares brand, for instance. Again, this isn’t something you should feel too strict about, but try not to throw your followers too many curveballs! Building expectations for one thing, and then offering another, can lead to your followers becoming unfollowers.

Thirdly and finally, consistency of posting is absolutely key. If you want to get in the feeds of your current followers, let alone attract new ones, it is paramount that you post regularly, and ideally at similar times of day. Use insights to help you find when this is, then keep to it. There are great tools like Hootsuite which allow you to schedule posts, so this doesn’t have to involve much extra work. There isn’t really a golden rule as to how often in a day you should post, but at least once is a good place to start.

Interaction

There is an idea in social media marketing that you should either interact with your audience all the time or not at all. This depends on what type of business you want to be, but if you’re thinking of getting an Instagram account, chances are the first option is the one for you. The Instagram feed prioritises accounts users interact with most, be this through likes, comments, or direct messages. Consider where you place yourself, and how proactive you want to be. You could take a really engaged approach and seek out people to interact with, but the basic minimum should be responding when people interact with you. If you’re tagged in posts, people mention you in their stories, or people comment on your content, make sure you’re getting in there and responding in a timely manner (and remember that on social media even a single day is a long time). The hope is that interactions will not only help people discover you, but that they can also create a bond between you and your audience, leading to future interactions, good digital word-of-mouth, and ultimately more paying customers. This is the most time expensive aspect of Instagram management, but your replies can be short and sweet, and it will pay-off in the long tie, without the need to invest in influencer marketing. Why pay when people will care about you enough to do it themselves (especially as audiences are increasingly skeptical of influencer marketing)?

Captions

The photo is the draw but often it is the caption that keeps people hooked. From a simple statement to a short story, Instagram captions are a great way of letting users know what you’re all about. Paired with carefully chosen hashtags, your captions can really get people talking. So it’s worth investing some time and thought into what you want people to be saying.


I hope that these tips have given you a sense of how you can really get good value out of the time you invest in Instagram. It is a vital new arrow in the marketer’s quiver, and can get good returns for minimal effort. All you need is a little time, thought and creativity.


Feel like you need a jump start to get your social media moving? Why not drop me a line to see how I can create striking and successful social media posts tailored to what makes you special?

Published by Helen

Feminist lifestyle and art history blogger making the leap from the dreaming spires of Oxford to marvelous Melbourne. Find me on twitter @helen_mccombie, and Instagram at nel_mccombie

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