We originally created this content years ago to show the astronomical growth Instagram was experiencing. Based on the statistics of the time and our own success, we stressed this platform’s importance for businesses looking to expand their reach to consumers through social media.
Six years later, Instagram is still going strong. Instagram images get an average of 23% more engagement than the equivalent on Facebook, and videos do even better.
As we stressed before, however, brands need to understand the landscape of the platform and elements of a successful strategy before they begin to represent themselves via Instagram. The platform is always adjusting things and unfortunately, they keep reducing the organic reach for businesses.
According to Hootsuite, in 2020 the average engagement rate for a business account on Instagram was around .85%. In addition to reducing the organic reach last year, Instagram also launched Reels in August, 2020 to compete with the massive growth of TikTok. Knowing Instagram will always change, we have updated this resource to help you understand the DO’s and DON’Ts of using the platform.
These are in no particular order of importance and are based on our experience with the platform. At STRYDE, we advise businesses on growing their organic visibility but we do not actively post on behalf of our client’s. Our focus is running paid social ad campaigns.
DO’s of Instagram
1. Make Your Brand Instantly Recognizable
- Your brand should be clear and identifiable.
- When posts don’t include your products, make sure they include your logo.
- Link to your company’s website from your profile page.
- Use design elements, colors, and complimentary colors from your website.
Your brand should be recognizable from your website and throughout all your social media platforms. Tell a story with your posts. Your customers should know about your products, your service, and what you stand for. A great example of this is BettyDesigns.
They are a women’s brand focused on Cycle, Triathlon, Swim and Run. Their account highlights women in these elements and reinforces that in their tagline Bad A$$ is Beautify. It is critical to have an identity in order to stand out among the millions of businesses on the platform now.
2. Post Quality Photos
- Have a mix of fun, lifestyle images with product images and inspirational quotes or messages.
- Use the platform to give users sneak peeks at upcoming events and product launches.
- Collaborate with other brands and highlight them with co-branded images.
Instagram users like photos that use light and positioning in creative ways. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your posts. Mix up the professional with fun photos that tell your story.
Also let your fans see the people behind the curtain that make your company successful. Kristin Mayer, the owner of BettyDesigns, is an athlete and links to her personal account to further connect with these women.
3. Post On a Regular Schedule
- Post daily but if you can’t then determine how often you can.
- Decide on a flexible, but consistent, posting schedule.
- Use quality content and limit filters.
- Post different types of content to mix things up.
Keeping visible on Instagram is essential, but you want the content to be relevant and interesting. Try not using the standard filters Instagram has but make sure you use your camera’s settings so that you don’t need to filter the image before posting it.
Takeaway: See if Carousel images ups your engagement. According to Social Insider, “when using all 10 carousel slides, the average engagement rate goes over 2%. Carousels that mix images with videos bring the highest engagement rates per post, around 2.33%. Carousel videos receive significantly more comments. Including ‘swipe left’ in the caption brings the average engagement rate from 1.83% to 2%.”
4. Use Hashtags!
- Create firm-specific hashtags so you can collect branded photos.
- Encourage followers to include your firm’s hashtags in their relevant posts.
- Utilize trending hashtags, where appropriate, to gain more eyeballs.
Keep track of popular hashtags and use them if you can. Track your own to see how well they do. Hashtags are everywhere and will help relevant users find your company and the topics that link them to you.
Vuori, for example, is a brand that often uses their hashtag #TheRiseTheShine and regularly share what that means.
5. Engage with Followers
- Follow back relevant followers!
- Repost user-generated content.
- Add personal comments to relevant posts by others.
- Tag individuals in your images and stories.
Of the roughly one billion users on Instagram, 90% follow a business. To inspire users to follow your company, offer a quality product or service that appeals to the public. To keep followers and grow more, maintain engagement with followers and make them feel valued.
Something Borrowed Blooms is a great example of this. They often use a mix of images, videos, Reels, and more to create a connection with their audience by tagging brides to be using their products.
This can become overwhelming as you grow your followers. The amount of likes, comments and shares can be difficult to stay on top of and users can start to feel that from a lack of engagement. This post from Mobile Monkey offers tools and resources so you can keep track of your followers and conversations happening in order to stay organized.
6. Partner Up
- Find compatible businesses or individuals that share your goals and vision.
- Promote and ask for help from companies that fit well with your business plan.
If you sell organic cotton socks with natural dyes, perhaps you need to connect with a good vegan shoe company. Occasionally recommend their products and ask them to recommend yours. Together, you can reach more customers.
Vooray does this a lot. They collab with similar products but take things a step further and create products together. They did a recent collection that was a fun mix of their duffel bag and a HydroJug sleeve and bundled them together.
Dont’s of Instagram
1. Post Irrelevant Photos
- Only post photos that are relevant to your firm.
- Don’t be invisible — connect the photos to your brand and design.
Your followers should always recognize you. Stay on brand with logos, design and colors. Only use good quality photos and ones that tell a story about your company. According to Paul J. Zak of the Harvard business review, he “advises business people to begin every presentation with a compelling, human-scale story. Why should customers or a person on the street care about the image you are sharing? How will people feel about it? These are the components that make information persuasive and memorable.”
Figs, in October of 2020, generated massive backlash from it’s customers and potential customers by posting a video of a female DO reading a Medical Terminology for Dummies book upside down. The post was quickly deleted but not before numerous individuals and News outlets started to talk about the company in a negative way.
Figs offers high-end scrubs that are expensive. Their customers are highly educated individuals so the fact that they posted a video downplaying their knowledge and expertise told a very different story than what the brand represents.
- There is no industry-wide acceptable posting schedule through Instagram.
- Post regularly, but avoid filling your followers’ feeds with an influx of content.
- Don’t have an irregular posting schedule.
- Keep it relevant and interesting.
Have you ever seen a commercial or a post so many times that you feel a flair of annoyance whenever it pops up? Sometimes it gets to the point that you wouldn’t even consider buying that product.
Instagram does not like it when you post multiple times in a row and you could trigger the algorithm to show your posts to fewer people. This becomes even more problematic if your followers start to block your content from showing, which could cause you to get banned, blocked or have your account diabled all together.
When people unfollow you, most likely they aren’t going to buy from you anymore, either. Post regularly, but mix it up. Don’t be too repetitive. And don’t post if the content just isn’t there.
3. Ignore Followers
- Interacting with your followers is the best way to grow your account.
- Make them feel like a part of your success as a valued customer.
- Thank them for their input.
- Ask for input! Find out what your customers want.
Make your followers feel like they matter. People who use your services or products regularly want to feel like they are part of your community. You have to actively respond to comments on Instagram. You may not be able to respond to every single comment but make it a habit of responding to more than 50% of the comments you get. Even if you like the comment but don’t respond that is better than ignoring it all together.
4. Being Spammy
- Mass following and unfollowing people
- Liking and unliking photos
- Commenting on photos too quickly
- Using third party apps and tools to post, follow and auto comment on people’s photos.
All of the things listed above have the potential to get your account blocked or banned by Instagram. The platform is designed for people and businesses and they expect those using the app to act like a human. If you are doing the things listed above, it does not look natural and you look more like a machine or bot that is automatically doing things in order to grow your following by spamming others. Doing these things could result in a message like this:
Image credit: Combin.com
Auto-posting apps violate Instagram’s terms of service so make sure you avoid those kinds of apps all together.
The bottom line is you have to spend time in the app and leave authentic comments on your own content and others. It takes time to build up a loyal audience and grow your following on Instagram these days. You have to really consider how the platform is going to potentially help your business given the amount of time and effort you have to put toward using the platform.
Is your company active on Instagram? Share your successes and lessons with us in the comments!
Interesting to see how so few socially active brands use Instagram when the loyalty is so high amongst users.