Since it does get less attention than some of its contemporaries, you might first ask yourself why you’d bother with Instagram in the first place. Well, let’s look at the numbers: Instagram has over 400 million monthly active users, and that number is growing consistently, month over month. It’s become an incredibly popular platform in a relatively short amount of time, and its growth trajectory doesn’t indicate any signs of that momentum coming to a halt.
Moreover, much of the Instagram population skews toward younger demographics, making it an even more powerful social force (especially if younger demographics are your target market):
If you’re targeting older generations, or rural users, Instagram probably isn’t the best platform for you, but then again, social media in general may prove an obstacle for these markets.
I’m going to assume that Instagram is a good platform for your business or organisation in general, because this is the case for the vast majority of businesses. With that in mind, we need to take a look at how your business can be successful.
Perfect posts are a good way to start
There are a lot of ingredients that go into a successful Instagram campaign, but at the center, there must be high-quality, effective posts. Drilling down to uncover what makes an individual Instagram post effective is a good first step to building a solid strategy. Here, we’re looking to accomplish a few goals:
- Attractive. An ideal post is one that will attract new people to your brand, helping you build and retain a massive following, which you will then hold influence over.
- Engaging. The more you engage with others, in some meaningful, connective way, the more influence your brand will hold and the more actions your users will take.
- Valuable. Your posts should also carry some direct value for your brand, such as generating more traffic or sales, without disrupting the relationships you hold with your followers.
- Take lots of pictures, but choose only the best.
- Edit and crop appropriately
- Add the right filter
- Make your message short
- Tag People
Yes, hashtags. They’re a polarising strategy because it’s easy to cross a line here, but the fact is, they’re the best way to get your content discovered by new audiences, hands-down. People search for and follow hashtags for their favourite topics, and if they search for yours, your post will get in front of them. Your existing followers will see your posts in their newsfeeds, but your ideal post should include hashtags to attract the people who don’t follow you.
There are only two lines you need to be wary not to cross:
- Relevance. Whatever hashtags you use, make sure you’re using them appropriately. If you try to exploit a hashtag that you don’t fully understand, you could wind up alienating your audience or seeming ignorant. If you’re in doubt, do your research. If you’re still in doubt, drop it.
- Volume. You can post up to 30 hashtags per photo. Select only a handful that you feel are most appropriate for your post.
In addition to the best practices I listed above, there are a handful of other, less obvious quirks about Instagram that could help you craft the ideal post:
- Blue images get more likes. According to a recent study, images with blue tones tend to get more likes than those with red or other colour tones. If you can, try to post more images with a sense of “blue” about them, with the colour dominating the majority of the image’s area.
- Images with lots of background space get more attention. Cropping in your photo too closely will lead to a drop in engagement. The idea here is to preserve a level of minimalism.
- Images with low saturation and block colours are popular. Walden and Rise are two filters that can help you lower your saturation, so use them to desaturate your photo.
Instagram is the social platform with the highest propensity for growth, and it’s one of the most valuable new platforms to emerge from brands. If you know what makes an Instagram post successful (as you do now), you can build and maintain a strategy that will earn you tons of followers, and of course, more bottom-line revenue. Get started early, stay flexible, and keep building until you get to the level you want.