Selfies, YOLOs, FOMOs, JOMOs, and OOTDs, we can likely thank Instagram for making these expressions of our current mood or state of mind part of our modern day vernacular. With 1 billion users, this social network juggernaut is as intimidating as it is inviting, pulling its users, a combination of influencers, celebrities, politicians, millennials, Gen Zs, and brands, into its beautiful black hole of creativity. Instagram holds the power to make you feel on top of your game one minute and scrambling to get noticed the next. A creative space to document your travels, your dinner, your feet (I don't know why this is a thing?) and, of course, your mood.
Although all ages seem to gravitate to Instagram these days (Hi Mom!), 86% of its users are under the age of 44 with 120 million users coming from the U.S. alone.
Top Instagram users include the likes of Selena Gomez, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian. But 14 of the top 20 posts of all time came from just 2 individuals....can you guess who? Let me give you a hint: one got "out-liked" by something round and the other likes to kick something round...that's right, both Kylie Jenner and Cristiano Ronaldo had 7 posts each in the top 20 of all time on Instagram.
"Wonderful," you say "But that's not my brand. Honestly, I'm not sure if Instagram is the right place for me." You may be surprised to hear that 80% of Instagram's users follow a brand and 65% of top performing posts feature a brand. And it's not just consumer brands that are jumping onboard. B2B brands like IBM, Mailchimp, Intel and Adobe are paving the way for businesses to speak creatively to other businesses in a way that has never been done before. In fact, more B2B companies are finding innovative ways to appeal to a wider audience leveraging a much more consumer feel. Intel did this by partnering with Lady Gaga to showcase their technology within the music business. Letting audiences know that, in the words of Gaga, "there is magic to be made with technology."
I know, I know, it's all very overwhelming. The posting, double tapping, tagging, following, unfollowing. following again, refresh, refresh, refresh. For a new brand trying to create some space to be heard, it can bring on a serious case of FOMO. Or just plan fear of not knowing when, where and how to share the heart of your brand...your best content.
With all that anxiousness in mind, here are 5 basic (very summarized) tips on how you can get started:
#1: FULLY update your profile. There's not a ton of flexibility on how you setup your Instagram profile so you really need to use every square pixel of real estate you got. The bio section is the best place to include as much about your self as possible. Use hashtags and emojis to help break up the copy. Don't use links. ANNOUNCEMENT: "Links ONLY work in Instagram in the website section." That is in fact the ONLY place that you should be using a URL on Instagram. Please don't drop them into your posts.
#2: Post frequently. I know you've heard this before but it is critical to your Instagram success for you to be fully committed to sharing your best content as often as possible. Post brand photos, quotes and videos using hashtags to both support your message and build your reach. It is recommended that you post at least once a day (which can be tough, I know) - at a minimum try to post 3-4 times a week. Or do the best you and your budget allows. The main goal is to let people who visit your account know that you are active and have an online presence.
#3: Followers. I really see this as 2 stages or steps: Find + Get. First, find your followers by using tools within the app to identify contacts that are already on Instagram as well as suggestions from Instagram for similar or connected contacts. Beyond that, you'll want to use the search tool to look for accounts that are your target audience, competitors or just of general interest. The "Get" is a bit tricker and does require a medley of active engagement (likes, comments, shares), hashtags (leverage trending and popular days of the week), tagging and sharing (of interesting content).
#4: Use Stories. In fact, Instagram recently announced that 500 million people now use its Stories function every day. Stories are a great way of showcasing images and short videos leveraging the collection of available stickers (hashtag, location, mention, polls questions, music and countdown), gifs, filters and fonts to stylize your story. Stories only live for 24 hours but once they are created they can live on forever and ever in your highlights.
#5: Partner up. If you're ready to get a bit savvy, you may want to consider partnering up with a brand or a person with a good-sized Instagram following. Have them try your product and post a review or a video. An example of leveraging influencers to be your brands' storyteller is from Southwest Airlines. Southwest was looking to curate some authentic travel content so asked their Instagram audience to enter to win a spot as a #SouthwestStoryteller. Winners got to travel and Southwest got the authentic content it needed. A win-win on both sides, I'd say.