A Five Minute Guide to Instagram Success

 In Blog, Featured, Instagram, Social Media

With some Instagram users making upwards of thousands for every photo they post, there is a big incentive to establish a presence with the photo-sharing network. If you’re interested in not only posting pictures but also finding fame and fortune, there are a few things you’re going to want to know. After all, there are 70 million photos posted per day, and that’s a lot of competition to go up against. Here are some quick tips that will help you start finding more success with Instagram.

Minute 1: Establish a Brand Identity

The word “brand” is bandied about a lot these days, but it’s for a reason – when people subscribe to your channel, they’ll be expecting content of a consistent quality. What kind of content will your subscribers be looking for, and how will you meet that demand? Don’t get so caught up in this step that you never get a start posting, but do consider your image as you begin to establish your online presence.

@behance Captures The Design-Savvy Crowd

An instagram follower we keep on our feed is @behance, a well-known muse for designers and Adobe bi-product.  It’s clear from their feed what to expect. Behance is a place to share creative design, but also promotes Adobe’s products.  It’s a beautiful synergy of all products.  Not only are notable design pieces consistently shared, but the target audience is clearly established.

Designer IG Posts

@girleatworld Maintains a Consistent Visual Brand

At nearly 250 thousand followers, @girleatworld may not have the largest following on Instagram, but when you think about it, that’s not that bad for pictures of food. So, how does girleatworld get these kind of numbers? Each of her photos follows a clear format: a yummy-looking food centered in front of an interested locale. Users who subscribe to her account know exactly the kind of content they’ll be seeing from her.

Around the World

@gopro is a Go-To for Sports Enthusiasts

Take a look at GoPro’s feed and try not to become dizzy. GoPro expertly markets their brand to the extreme sports enthusiast crowd with photos from their own products. Users who see these photos imagine themselves using these products in exciting ways. And that’s the point – to get users wanting to buy and use GoPro cameras.

GoPro Surfer Post

Minute 2: Study Your Competitors

What are the top Instagram users in your niche doing that makes them successful? Take a look at their top posts to get some ideas of what kind of content you should be providing your audience. You’ll also want to be weary of the filters you use. A study by TrackMaven found that posts without filters were the most popular. The study noted, however, that this may be due to professional art departments touching up photos. The point is that user engagement depends on good-looking photos. Take a look at some of the top Instagram brands of their industries:

Example 1:
Fitness Marketing Done Right (@jayelllewis)

Jayel Lewis Instagram SnapshotIt’s notable that you don’t just win a Best Of category for a major US city out of nowhere, or for Instagram no less.  It takes a lot of work to get good photos and that’s why its amazing to see the continuous stream of high quality photos coming from Jayel Lewis, owner and founder of JL Fitness.  Jayel prides herself in her high quality photos.  In a highly competitive personal training and fitness consulting industry, there’s a lot of bicep photos, frequently used stock images or just generic gym photos. Jayel’s angle is to show her story through her photos.  She doesn’t rely on selfies, grungy weight photos, rather, the focus is on top quality content.  Her Instagram feed is full of beautiful photography.  Check out more here to keep up with her.

Example 2:
Oreo Leads the Way in Food Marketing (@oreo)

Oreo is an established brand, and it certainly doesn’t do any harm with its @oreo Instagram account. Besides mixing clean, colorful animations with pictures of delicious Oreo products, the account is timely, with posts that correlate with recent holidays and events. Users notice and appreciate this.

Oreo Post from Instagram

Example 3:
T-Mobile Establishes Itself as the Bad Boy of Tech Marketing (@tmobile)

Across all channels, T-Mobile’s brand identity is the opposite of what you would expect from a phone company. The @tmobile feed is not very different. T-Mobile knows – and subverts – the expectations of mobile phone customers and makes headlines as a result of its irreverent marketing.

T-Mobile Post on Instagram

Minute 3: Share Photos More Than Videos

There is opportunity to make a splash providing videos for users, but in the end, Instagram is not a video-sharing platform; it’s meant for sharing photos. The statistics show as much: photos get 36 percent more likes and better engagement than videos.

See for yourself on Nike’s @nike Instagram account. This video, a bit of cross-promotion with their @nikewoman partner account, has a thumbnail that isn’t visually striking, and you can see how this affects the numbers: 230 thousand likes and a thousand comments. Those are respectable numbers, but even this video that comes next on the feed has 100 thousand more likes and double the comments. The difference? The thumbnail shows a person sitting on the edge of a city rooftop, urging users to click and play the video. And still, that’s still hundreds of thousands of likes short of what Nike’s most aesthetically-pleasing pictures get. People who are scrolling through Instagram don’t always have time to click through a video, but this demonstrates how they do stop when something grabs their attention.

Minute 4: Use Targeted Hashtags

Hashtags get your audience interested. Studies show that using at least one hashtag leads to 12.6 percent more engagement than not using any hashtags. Be mindful, however, that some hashtags will be more effective than others. To figure out the best hashtags that will reach your targeted audience, take a look at hashtag trackers such as Keyhole, Tag Sleuth, and Minter.

Too many hashtags

Misuse of Hashtags

There’s no content, no explanation of the picture, and it’s difficult to read. What does #instamood mean, anyway? Make sure that if you’re using hashtags, you’re using ones that are relevant to your picture and ones that your followers will want to engage with.

Chicken and Fries

On the other hand, consider Applebee’s #fantographer campaign in 2014. With this simple hashtag, their follower base increased by thousands and engagement rose 25 percent. On top of that, Applebee’s got customers to advertise their food to their friends. What made it work? An easy-to-remember hashtag and a chance of participation for followers who want to show off their own creative minds.

Minute 5: Post at Key Times

Your Instagram success will also depend on when you post. An analysis of Instagram posting times shows that the best times to reach users are 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, while the worst times are 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. When you come to think about it, it’s common sense. At 2 a.m. on a weekend, many young Instagram users are coming home from a night out. During the week, at 9 a.m., they’re just getting to work, so there’s no way they’d be caught dead playing on their phone. But at 5 p.m, people are finishing work and beginning their commute home, which are perfect times to check Instagram. By 6 p.m., chances are they’re already home and occupied with making dinner or checking in with their family, not with Instagram.

The level of user engagement with your posts depends on the day. For example, 2 a.m. is the best time for user engagement on Saturday, while 5 p.m. is the best time (by far) on Wednesday. Using what we know about people’s habits during the week, this should all begin to become clear. If you start to think about your users and when they will have time to see your content, you’ll be doing a lot better than many other Instagram marketers.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll find Instagram success overnight. After all, depending on the demographic you’re going for, your brand, and your content, you’ll likely have to experiment and tweak your strategy to find what works best for you. But if you pick up some of these tips, you’ll be on the right track to building your Instagram empire.

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