#Instagram Best Practices 2014

Author: Colleen Kline on 10/30/2014

Instagram. It’s not just for selfies anymore!

But seriously, Instagram has become my very favorite form of social media. Not only is it super fun and easy to use, it’s as inspirational for me as Pinterest once was!

When I first downloaded the Instagram (IG) app, I remember thinking to myself, “why would anybody use this?”  Oh wait...filters that make my skin baby-smooth, hide my pale complexion and take me back to the 70’s. Ok, I get it….sort of.  So I began uploading photos and filtering them to be “pretty”. Then, I realized I could “find people to follow” using my Facebook and email accounts. I found a few buddies, who, by the way, happen to have the most adorable pets. So, and cute. Getting more into it.

Looking at other people’s comments, I was noticing this crazy symbol: “#”. At that time, hashtags were only “a thing” on Twitter, which I had never been a part of. So I randomly started hashtagging photos for no other reason than to act like I knew what I was doing...I didn’t. Until one day, I actually clicked on one of my hyperlinked hashtags and realized there was a whole world of #crazycatlady out there! Holy excitement!

Well, for me, this just opened up a whole new world (cue the Aladdin song that’s now stuck in your head). So what else fun can I look at? (Mind out of the gutter) I searched “#mixedmedia” and found an entire network of artists, some of whose work I was familiar with, and a whole new demographic of artists who I would’ve never had a chance to be inspired by had it not been for Instagram!

So I began engaging by following people and double-tapping the you-know-what out of photos that showed up in my newsfeed that inspired me. And before I knew it, a majority of my followees, had become my followers. “Winning!”

I was engaging with people I’d never met, and they were engaging with me. I’ve even entered a variety of Instagram-specific contests some of my new IG buddies had promoted. The contests are so easy - all you do is shoot, post and hashtag! Typically a winner is then chosen from that hashtag’s pool of photos.

I’ve been inspired by IG-posted photos not only to try new art techniques, but to visit new locations, try new dishes, attend new events, and even shop for new products! And let’s not leave out #tbt (Throw back Thursday) - a real reason to post old, embarrassing photos.

So what does this all mean from a business standpoint? A picture is worth a thousand words! You can inspire, simply with your brand! It offers a chance to flaunt personality, putting a face to your business. It gives customers or clients that warm fuzzy “I can trust these people” feeling. Customers can get a peek behind the scenes, have first glimpse at your products or services, view products or services in motion with video captures, or even get the opportunity to see your people at work.

Are there best practices for using an Instagram account? I’m glad you asked!

  • Post interesting images that tell your story
  • Develop a following by connecting your other social media accounts
  • Interact! Follow, comment and double-tap back
  • Use hashtags relevant to your brand, image, and are popular or trending (you can use multiple, but be careful of overuse to avoid being “spammy”). Need inspiration? Find popular hashtags here!
  • Develop a content and posting schedule to motivate you to create quality posts and track what interests your followers
  • To invoke inspiration, keep clients and potential customers in mind when posting
  • Use filters! No joke. Dan Zarella, Social Media scientist at HubSpot, put together data on “most liked” filters (amongst more info like best colors and best hashtags to use in “The Science of Selfies”)
  • Think about the best times to post. Webtrends offers some tips to get you started.
  • Hold fun photo contests! As I mentioned earlier, you can use a unique hashtag to collect submissions and vote internally for your favorite photos!
  • Shout out! Regram your followers posts to feature them and their post. Not only will it make them feel “special” and can in turn gain them additional followers.
  • On a similar note - Reward followers! Instagram-only-followers could be privy to special promotions
  • Link your posts to your other social media accounts and kill two (or six!) birds with one stone
  • Make sure your profile says what you do and lists ways to find you and do business with you
  • Follow and research industry competitors

And remember…”All work and no play makes [insert company name here] a dull [insert type of company here]” :O)

Whatever you post, be sure that it’s relevant to your brand, as it will be your customer’s direct perception of you!