From individuals who want to connect with friends, to celebrities and brands looking to showcase themselves in a highly visual way, the power and appeal of Instagram is undeniable. With over 300 million daily users, engagement levels that outrank all other social media channels, and ongoing developments to aide marketers, it makes good business sense to get on board this thriving network. But how do you create an Instagram page that captures your brand’s identity and draws in the right audience? Follow our 7 top tips below for Instagram success!

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

This is common sense, but given that Instagram relies so heavily on visual content, you can’t just stick any old image online and expect great results. But this doesn’t mean you need to use a high end camera, in fact some of the best photography on Instagram has been created with little more than a mobile phone and good subject matter. Think about your potential audience – will this make them smile, make them think, or make them say wow?

The need to create good content on a regular basis can be overwhelming, but if you focus on just one piece a day that engages your fans and shows off your brand or values, you’re onto a winner. Instagram’s algorithm works similar to Facebook in that it rewards fans by giving them more of what they want. So if you post at least once a day, and your followers like what they see, your content will be put near the top of their timeline every time they log in. Posting 2 or 3 times a day is even better, as it gives your fans more choice (they won’t necessarily like every post you share), and it will exemplify value to your current and potential audiences.

 

Sunday night. ? #UOHome ?: @coreywolfenbarger

A photo posted by Urban Outfitters (@urbanoutfitters) on

Urban Outfitters post great content 3-5 times a day, and are rewarded with high engagement on every post

Note: If you’re new to photography, follow our social media content guide for a few key ways to create great content.

COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE

When viewing a profile for the first time, the username, bio and profile picture are what first greet the eye, so getting these right can be the difference between a new follower and a missed opportunity. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or any other channels, make sure your Instagram username matches (or is very close to) the name you use on other social networks. If you’re a brand, your profile picture should be your brand logo, and the text should be a succinct summary of your value proposition – both in terms of this channel, and you as a whole.

With the introduction of Instagram Business Profiles, you now have a contact button for enquiries as well as your location, so make sure your phone number, email, and address are also up to date. By keeping your profile clean and on brand, fans will recognise you as someone that is professional and trustworthy.

THE CLASSIC HASHTAG

One of the oldest tricks in the book, hashtags are an excellent way to increase the reach of your posts and allow your content to be seen by people beyond those that already follow you. But while it can be appealing to hashtag random words or statements such as #fun or #thisisthebestthingever, you’ll find far more value from using tags that apply directly to your brand, and are relevant terms that fans would search for to find a brand or person like you.

If you don’t already have one, it is good practice to create a branded hashtag such as #FindFocus from Adidas, as this allows you to own the conversation around your brand and encourages fans to spread your message far and wide.

 

The analysis on this varies, but 10-15  is generally the best number of hashtags per post, although you can have a maximum of 30. Test what works best for your channel, but remember to keep the tags relevant.

BE SOCIAL

The clue’s in the name – Instagram wasn’t designed for you to sit back and hope the likes, comments and follows fall from the sky. Be prepared to reach out to your fans, as well as users that align with your key audience demographics. Respond to their comments on your photos, like and comment on their posts, and if they’re someone you’d like to align with then follow them back. Regramming is another great way to engage with people, especially if they are talking about your product or service.

By staying active and interacting directly with users, you demonstrate that you are interested in more than just a seller > buyer relationship, and this will encourage new fans to follow and engage with you.

TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE

As stated above, if you are posting on a regular basis and your fans are liking and commenting on what you share, they will see your content near the top of their timeline regardless of when you post. But less-engaged fans won’t see everything you post, and new fans will only see your content by using explore, so it is important to consider the time of day you post each photo or video.

Data from Coschedule shows that the best time to post is between 8am and 9am, or around 5pm. These times appear to be when the majority of people check their phones, so these are good starting points for when to post your own content. However these times are only a rule of thumb, taken from data on many different businesses with different audiences, so make sure to test your own post times to determine what times generate the greatest engagement. Also remember to factor in the timezone your fans live in – there’s no point posting at 5pm in the UK if your core fans live in the US!

INSTAGRAM STORIES

Sure, Instagram copied Snapchat’s format when they introduced Stories, but they weren’t shy about it and it was clearly the right move. Whether you’re an athlete, craft beer distributor, fashion magazine, or even a law firm, Stories are a fresh way to give your fans a snapshot of your daily routine. In addition to rewarding your own fans, Instagram recently added Stories to the explore page – improving the chance of followers coming your way by using the feature. If you want to know about this fantastic feature, check out our blog on how to use Instagram Stories.

CONTESTS

As important as all of the above tips are for creating a well-rounded, engaging social media offering, there’s nothing quite like a good competition to generate buzz and excitement around your brand. Giveaways have been an effective marketing tool on every platform to date, and Instagram is no different.

There is more than one way to run a successful competition, and it is important to consider what end result you seek. If it is just followers and engagement, a ‘tag a friend’ competition is a good way to go. Simply detail what prize is on offer, and request that fans follow you and @ tag another Instagram user as the condition of entry.

 

Alternatively, if you are looking to increase brand awareness and tap into the power of user generated content, a hashtag competition or photo competition is a better option. With these types of contests, you are looking for users to actively participate by either including your hashtag with their personal photos, or by sharing photos of themselves engaging with your brand offline.

Unless your goal is to reach absolutely everyone, targeting your competition is essential. Your prize should be something related to your brand or business, such as a free product or service, or something that aligns you with people you want as your audience. Using hashtags is important for promoting the competition to new fans, but avoid using #competition or #win as these attract people looking for a quick prize and little else. By focusing on the type of people who will actually be interested in your brand, you have a much greater chance of attracting new fans that will actively engage with your channel, and eventually become online brand advocates.

 

If you’ve decided that Instagram is where you need to be, then these tips should give you a good start. As with all social media networks, it takes time to create a presence and an identity that resonates with audiences. But by combining a solid strategy with a touch of creativity, you can directly engage with Instagram’s highly active users to generate strong brand awareness, advocacy and loyalty.

 

Have these tips helped you? Do you have any of your own tricks? Let us know in the comments!