Overview of Instagram
Instagram is a popular social mobile app focused on sharing images and videos with an emphasis on mobile. The Instagram mobile app offers more features than the web version. Most people view Instagram on their mobile devices.
For marketing a company, set up a business account or convert a personal account to a business one in Settings on the mobile app. Creating a business account is advantageous for companies because you can publicly display your business phone number, email, or location. Double-check the Contact button on your Instagram business account to make sure you’re providing the best way for people to get in touch. You can also access analytics to better measure your company’s Instagram marketing results.
When you create a business account on Instagram and already have a Facebook Page, some information from your Page can be imported. If you already have a Facebook page, you’ll be a able to access additional features and benefits if you link it with your Instagram account including managing both accounts from the Meta Business Suite. Meta is the parent company of both Facebook and Instagram.
Posting to Instagram
There are several main post formats on Instagram:
- Upload square, vertical, or horizontal (portrait) photos to your Instagram feed.
- Upload videos to your feed. Videos can be up to 60 seconds in length.
- Create and publish Instagram Stories with photos, videos, and stickers.
- Create and publish Reels (vertical videos) to your feed.
Square images are still standard on Instagram; however, Instagram does accommodate other image dimensions. Feed videos can appear in a square format; however, this does not translate well on vertically held mobile devices.
Instagram is mostly about sharing your own visual content. You can “regram” or repost other people’s posts, but only if they have tagged you or allow sharing posts and Stories or “remixing” Reels.
Instagram Stories are similar to Snapchat Stories where content is posted and available on a temporary basis for 24 hours and then disappears. The Stories feature appears at the top of the app, giving them additional visibility. Instagram added the ability to save a Story video or the entire series of Stories created within a 24-hour period.
Instagram Reels are similar to TikTok videos: short-form and attention-grabbing in a variety of styles and content types. Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, began placing a lot of emphasis on Reels in 2022 to make them more visible than regular posts to your feed.
Hashtags are an important part of Instagram captions. Most popular social networks use hashtags to some degree, including Twitter and Pinterest, although Facebook no longer emphasizes hashtags. On Instagram, hashtags are used to group together similar content or to enhance the main content of your post caption.
Some popular hashtags on Instagram designate particular types of content based on specific days of the week like #MotivationMonday, #ThrowbackThursday or #FridayFeeling. Other hashtags such as #love, #nofilter, and #photooftheday are also popular. The Instagram community even created hashtags particular to the app such as #instadaily and #instacool as well as #dogsofinstagram and #dogstagram.
Hashtags on Instagram can be used like keywords in search engine optimization to help increase your post visibility. Understanding the proper use of Instagram hashtags can impact the reach of your posts. You can come up with your own hashtag in the hopes that others will pick up on it to help extend your brand. Examples include REI’s #optoutside and #ShareACoke by Coca-Cola.
Here are some specific ways to strengthen your Instagram presence:
- Fill out your bio. Include a URL to your website, either your home page or a different landing page where people can connect, take advantage of a promotion, or do something else such as fill out a form to ask for more information.
- Establish your key messages. As with any marketing effort, start with your goals, identify the audience you’re trying to reach, and specify the actions you’d like them to take. Focus on messages that don’t require clicking on a link to another web page for more details since clickable links are not an Instagram feature. Most posts include the phrase “Link in bio” when referencing a link. Another way to make Instagram posts clickable is to use third-party software that leads people to a page where your posts then click to other web pages.
- Come up with an “aesthetic.” Instagram emphasizes visuals and a well-designed aesthetic or “look and feel” can set your company’s account apart. While you want to use visual clues to stay on brand such as your logo, the emphasis should be on the images or videos themselves. One way to create an aesthetic is to use a particular filter or set of filters for a more stylized look or to emphasize a particular color palette.
- Be authentic. Using social media can “humanize” your company and attract customers and prospects. Be less commercial and more intimate and personal. Show pictures behind the scenes at your place of business. Tell the stories behind your company, products, or services. Introduce your team. Give your followers an insider glimpse such as making your wine or crafting your jewelry, not just the bottles of wine or the rings and necklaces.
- Upload multiple images or post several times in a row. Uploading multiple images to a post is called a “carousel” and it is a popular format that can be used like a pseudo-slideshow. Posting several times in a row may not be favored on all social networks, but it is fine to do on Instagram and can attract attention to your posts. You can post in the moment or post later using the popular tag #latergram.
The images and videos you create for Instagram can be leveraged on the rest of your social networks. For example, you can simultaneously post your Instagram Stories to your Facebook Page Stories, adding visual interest and more immediate content to your Facebook Page. Adding Instagram to your social marketing mix can attract a new, younger audience and help build brand awareness.