Image is everything, and these days everyone loves a photo — filtered or #unfiltered. Instagram is proof. Last month, according to Nitrogram, the platform sported over 150 million monthly active users who posted 55 million daily grams. These posts received approximately 8,500 likes per second (that’s way ahead of Pinterest and Tumblr). The social photo and video sharing network launched in October of 2010, and today includes 1,300 brands. Of these, the top 50 brands (Starbucks, Nike, and the NBA lead the pack) average 772,000 followers and set shining examples of how to visually market in the digital world. Here are seven ways on how to snap, filter and tag to acquire more customers via Instagram.
1. Mix up Filters
It’s easy to get attached to one filter. Amaro adds that extra exposure, while Mayfair gives a warm undertone, and a study by Simply Measured shows that businesses love Lo-Fi. Make sure to switch it up and let customers see the product, the service, or the experience from more than one perspective. Keep in mind that Normal (or #nofilter) is still the most used on Instagram. Trust the elements and go au natural once in a while.
2. Use More Hashtags
Whereas 2Checkout recommends cutting it off at one to two hashtags on Twitter, the Instagram platform is much more liberal; four is acceptable, because the right hashtags lead to discoverability.
Tip: include a hashtag in the Instagram bio, and every gram will be tagged with that hashtag. Starbucks does it right: Freshly brewed instagrams from Starbucks in Seattle, WA. Tag your coffee photos with #Starbucks! http://starbucks.com
3. Create a Photo Contest
Photo contests build community and work wonders for branding. Jason Mraz had a contest to promote his single, “I Won’t Give Up,” by asking his fans to visually interpret the song’s title in one photo with the hashtag #iwontgiveup. The 25 winners were invited to a private gallery event in New York to meet the singer and see the winning photos on display by CanvasPop.
4. Host a Hashtag Event
A hashtag event is similar to a contest (in that it drives customer engagement), but these events keep people coming back. This December @malayoganyc is celebrating #31daysofyoga by posting a new yoga pose every day. The studio is using students and teachers alike to demonstrate the pose of the day. They also’t shying away from hashtags: #YogaEveryDay #31daysofyoga #Day10 #Seatedspinaltwist.
5. Showcase Employees
Posting grams of customers is obvious, so go the extra step and show the employees. This behind-the-scenes view shows followers how valued the staff is and how everyone interacts. @beaucoupbakery, a bakery and cafe company, created #beaucrew to highlight employees in the on and off hours and a public way to welcome new members to its team.
6. Mix It Up
Instagram is not all brass tacks and business. Followers enjoy the fun stuff, so as much as UK brand Innocent Smoothies markets and sells juice drinks and healthy eats, @innocentsmoothies Instagram feed is far from product imagery. The company finds new followers (and customers) with photos of smiling faces and disgruntled animals in knit hats. Dogs, books, trees, license plates—it doesn’t matter, just get creative with an off-brand theme.
7. Keep up with Instagram
Routinely check in with Instagram for Business blog. Though it does not post daily, this blog is abundant with tips, news, and success stories of companies around the world using Instagram for business and marketing purposes — straight from Instagram HQ.