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With 400 million users and over 80 million posts per day, Instagram has become an essential part of a business’ social media marketing strategy. Businesses are already using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest and now it’s time to focus on Instagram. Like most companies, Instagram is always growing and changing. Today we’re going to discuss how to set up your Instagram and how to grow and optimize it to increase your audience, followers, leads, customers and continue to become a beloved brand!

Determine Your Goals

What are Your Instagram Goals?
Whether you’re Instagram account is for your company or you’re using your personal account to sell products or services, you may not think that your Instagram account needs to have a goal, but just like any other social media channel, your first step is to determine your goals. The second you decided to use Instagram as your inbound marketing tool was the second you decided that the way you use Instagram is going to change.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to figure out what your goal would be for your Instagram account.

  1. Will it be a place to show off your internal company culture?
  2. Do you want to showcase your customers?
  3. Will your Instagram be a part of your lead generation strategy?
  4. Do you want to gain followers and then decide what strategy to go for?

Once you decide on your goal, you can hone in on them. For example:
instagram goals


Determine Your Metrics

Use Data to Draw Conclusions
Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t allow you to view follow growth and the analytics associated with your account. A great third-party application to use to track such things those is Iconosquare. With real data, making conclusions on how posting on Instagram should work is easy. You can also use the app to track when the best times to post are for your audience. Tracking that is crucial so you can make sure that you are meeting your audience at the right times. Once you know the right times to post, you can then create a posting schedule and calendar that you can stick to. In turn, you’ll be able to track the number of followers gained per day/week because of that schedule. Determining these metrics before you get started and as you focus your strategy will help determine both your success and ability to repeat what’s working and cut what is not.
Five Reasons to Track Your Instagram Analytics

  1. You can get to know your community
  2. You get to understand what works and what doesn’t
  3. You can track your engagement progress
  4. You can visualize your growth
  5. You can export your data for reporting

Define Value to Management
Unlike an eBook or webinar that could generate hundreds or thousands of new leads and customers that you could show your CMO (chief marketing officer), Instagram is beneficial to the heart and soul of a company. Instagram humanizes and gives life to your brand. Where Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn’s primary uses are for networking, sharing and promoting your content, Instagram is more for showing its “human” side.
You want to utilize Instagram by displaying the things that make your company “you.” By doing that, you’re offering an invaluable window to your brand’s culture that is warm, inviting, friendly, and most of all: human. It’s also a great place to showcase your brand! Use these examples below as inspiration!

  • Showing off the amazing people who build your product
  • The place where you come together
  • Work, events, friends in the industry
  • The things that your company celebrates
  • Your products being used
  • Your amazing, happy customers using your products

hubspot instagram
Take HubSpot’s Instagram page as an example. HubSpot really gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the people who make HubSpot happen. Not only does it showcase the people of HubSpot, but it shows the culture of the company as well. Giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look of your business proves to them that you’re a real company. It’s a more personal approach and the people viewing your content. It feels like they’re the only ones getting to see the action, even though they have 39.5k followers also looking at the same exact content. If you can accomplish that, you’ll have a great Instagram profile!
Why Humanize Your Brand?
Culture and recruitment are two very big reasons on why you should humanize your brand. Out of Instagram’s 400 million+ users, 30% of US teens consider Instagram to be the most important social network. In comparison, only 23% consider Facebook to be as important.
Another reason for humanizing your brand through Instagram is the last stage in the buyer’s journey: delight. After attracting your leads, gained customers and increased your audience, giving that audience a community to be a part of is invaluable. It brings us back to the behind-the-scenes look aspect of it all. Giving them the feeling of being a part of your company is what you really want to delight your audience.


Determine Brand Guidelines

Stay on Brand
If your company utilizes a visual style guide (colors, fonts, etc.), make sure that your Instagram posts are “on brand” and follow the prescribed guidelines. Does your company only post social images in your brand’s specific color scheme on Twitter and Facebook? Should your pictures all include your logo? All of the places your brand is showcased, such as your website, physical stores, and social media accounts should all follow your brand. Consistency is KEY if you want your brand to be instantly recognized by your audience.
starbucks instagram
 
Check out Starbucks’ Instagram profile. When you look at their Instagram, you get the same exact feeling as you would if you were to step into a Starbucks store. It truly showcases the brand as a whole and gets people wanting to buy their products.
Here are some tips and tricks to branding your Instagram:
Use High-Quality Stock Photos
Though it’s better to use your own high-quality images, using stock photography from sites like freestockphotos.org, unsplash.com, or deathtothestockphoto.com (my personal favorite!) to set as a backdrop for text and graphics are a fantastic way to showcase your brand’s look and feel.
Follow the Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is applied by aligning the subject of your photo with the grid lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The rule of thirds creates a sense of balance without making the image appear too static, and a sense of complexity without making the image look too busy.
Designate a Content Creator
If you work for a large organization, chances are, many decision-makers will want a say in what is posted. Be prepared to have an organized request or guidelines document on how to request a post on your Instagram for Business account. Be prepared to back up your own posts as well!
Take Great Pictures
Not all of us are professional photographers or have a professional camera to capture a story in one image and make it look perfect in one take! That’s ok! Here’s a great article with tips and tricks on how to take better family photos, that also apply to taking Instagram-worthy pictures.
Follow Typography Rules
When adding text to images, remember the graphic design rules for typography and how to use different fonts to captivate audiences and create beautiful designs. If you’re unfamiliar with the basic rules of typography, check out this blog post!


Anatomy of the Perfect Profile and Post

7 Ways to Optimize Your Instagram Profile and Photos
optimized instagram
 

  1. Your Business Username
    Not only is your username/handle a prominent piece of your business profile, it’s also what your users will use to find you. Make sure to use a recognizable username, for instance, your business name.
  2. Make Your Profile Public
    Since your goal is to build an Instagram following, make it as easy as possible for people to follow you. 
  3. Your Business Name
    Make sure to add your full business name to the “name” section in settings. This will appear under your profile picture and under your handle in a search. This is especially important if your username either isn’t your business name or doesn’t fit your entire business name.
  4. Add Links to Your Bio
    Adding a link to your description section will make it easy for followers to go straight to your website. 
  5. Location
    When people see beautiful photos, they often want to know where they’re taken. Take advantage of the location feature!
  6. Post Relatable, Inclusive Content
    The more your users can relate to the content you’re posting, the more likely you are to get more followers.
  7. Customize Your Posts
    Don’t forget to use filters, tags, links and hashtags to your photos. Instagram has these features set for a reason; utilize them to ensure the best use of Instagram! If you want your followers to take action (like enter a contest), you have to call them to do it! Don’t forget to use links in your captions for your CTAs.

9 Types of Posts Every Marketer Should Try on Instagram

instagram post example
 
instagram post example
 
instagram post example


How to Use Hashtags

Hashtags Are a Proven Way to Grow Your Instagram Following
Hashtags are great, when used appropriately and are relevant to your goals, content, and brand. They help combine your images and will help associate them with trending topics. The importance of a brand identity goes along with a specific hashtag you create for your business. A lot of brands use their own name as a hashtag, so your business name can also be used as its own “brand hashtag.” When coming up with a hashtag for your brand, you should make sure it’s something unique enough that it will be relevant to your company and not overlap too much with other brand’s posts. For example, rather than Nike using #sneaker, they will want to use #nike instead.
When you use a hashtag that you’ve created for your brand, you can follow its evolution and start answering important questions such as:

  • Is the hashtag gaining popularity?
  • Do your followers use the hashtag?
  • Is that hashtag gaining you followers?

Iconoquare’s search engine allows you to see the number of times your hashtag has been used, which gives you a good idea of how popular your hashtag is. You can even compare your own hashtags to top trending hashtags by pursuing Iconosquare’s “Top Tags on Instagram” section, as well as export data about any hashtag (posts per day, likes, comments, advocates, geo-location, etc.) to dig even deeper into the analytics of hashtagging and optimizing for your audience.


Instagram Etiquette

No matter what the social network, there will always be people out there posting negative or inappropriate comments.
Respond to positive comments on your Instagram content if a user takes the time to ask a question and participate in any conversation you’ve started. As a best practice, check comments at least once a week thoroughly, especially for contests/timely posts.
If you use Iconosquare to manage your Instagram for Business account, check out the comments tool to mark things as read/unread, moderate inappropriate comments and reply to the positive comments and questions on your desktop without having to manage these from your phone every time.
Engage with people who follow you, or other people in your category that you follow, ie. you Give love to get love. Spend time daily or at least weekly “liking” and commenting on other posts besides your own. Don’t have time to sit and “like” everyone’s post on your feed? Use a tool like Likestagram to help you out with that.
Not sure how to respond when different types of comments start rolling in on one of your posts? Follow these guidelines outlined by HubSpot’s social media and content strategist, Brittany Leaning:
how to respond on instagram


How to Grow Followers Fast with an Instagram Contest

Whether you’re looking to support the launch of a new product, generate loads of attention or build momentum with consumers quickly, contests are by far the best way to expand your reach, engage your community and boost virality.
Among all the different types of contests you could be running on Instagram, nothing encourages people to engage with your brand and connect with your products more than UGC (User Generated Content) contests.
Asking for content expands the emotional connection between the consumers and the brand. Moreover, by running a photo or video contest you also effectively generate real and authentic marketing content that is created by and for consumers. This helps to spread the campaign reach beyond your audience because when Instagram users post their entries, their followers see it too.

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