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Instagram Best Practices

Instagram started in 2010 with only a handful of users. Soon it became the number-one photography app, gaining 100,000 users in only one week, and then increasing to 1 million users in just two months. It went on to be bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, and now has 1 billion monthly active users and is still growing.

Instagram can help businesses reach new audiences and grow their brands significantly, but in order to do so, business users need to understand how to build their strategy around Instagram’s changing trends.

In HubSpot’s Instagram Engagement Report, they took a look at “…81,258,182 Instagram posts and 1,676,748 of the top users to observe trends about engagement, influencers, location, caption length, and other insights that would be interesting and valuable to businesses, as well as marketers.”

If you don’t have time to pore over the 52-page report, here are the key takeaways to help build your Instagram strategy:

Increase your ENGAGEMENT:

Increasing your Instagram engagement is difficult, but it’s still possible if you put in the work. The best (and easiest) thing you can do is to post regularly. Make sure your posts are a good balance of content — including both posts and stories.

In 2019, Instagram hinted at possibly “hiding” the "like" feature on images in the future, so it might be a good strategy to focus your content on promoting comments instead of likes.

It’s also important to figure out which Instagram metric is the most relevant to your business and focus your yearly KPIs around that.

TAGGING best practices:

When it comes to tagging others in your Instagram posts, don’t be shy! If you’re unsure of the proper Instagram tagging etiquette, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Only tag profiles that are related to your post in some way. Tagging other users and businesses in your posts can get you more engagement with your content, but be careful who you tag. It's considered spammy to tag random, non-relevant profiles in your posts.
  • If you repost someone’s content, tag them in it. This is a common courtesy and should be paired with verbally crediting them in the copy of your post.
  • Tag partners, clients, employees and brand ambassadors. This is an obvious opportunity to get easy engagement with your content.

perfect your posts:

Growing your follower base organically is hard on any social platform, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Here are some things you can to do to help:

  • Complete your Instagram profile setup. Don’t skip over anything. Fill out the bio using relevant keywords and set up some Instagram Stories highlights on your profile.
  • Post high-quality images/content regularly. Instagram is a visual platform first and foremost, so make sure to post clean images that are sized correctly — none of that pixelated junk with the edges cut off. It’s also important to include a descriptive and informative caption so viewers know exactly what your post is about.
  • Be responsive and engaging. You want people to engage with you on Instagram, so when they do, make sure you acknowledge them!  Be sure you reply to comments, messages and follows, and always respond or acknowledge when you’re tagged in a post. This way your audience feels seen and appreciated whenever they take the time to engage with your content, which will encourage them to engage again in the future.

Work with INFLUENCERS:

  • Start Small. There’s no need for urgency here, influencer marketing is hot right now and it won't be going anywhere anytime soon. If you’ve never worked with an influencer before, it’s always best to start small, regardless of your budget. Take your time researching the different micro and nano-influencers who fit your brand and will really enhance your message.
  • Don’t be afraid to work with more than one influencer in order to find your best match. Reach out to others in your industry to see if they have influencer recommendations that might fit your brand. Word-of-mouth recommendations from someone you know are usually the most reliable.
  • Don’t focus on "likes." Don’t place too much focus on "likes" in your influencer campaigns — focus on the amount of impressions and quality comments your content is getting.  

Promote your LOCATION:

Always add a location — especially if you’re a local business — in both your Instagram posts and stories. It can only help boost your exposure and engagement. Adding a location tag is an easy way to track posts about your business and see what the community is saying about you. If there isn’t a specific location tag for your business, you can create one.

create mindful captions:

You should really put thought into your caption, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be long. Use long captions when they are necessary, like when you’re telling a story or have something important to say that’s relevant to your brand. Otherwise, short and sweet should do the trick.

perfect your timing:

Take a look at your Instagram insights to figure out what time your posts get the most engagement. You can also experiment by posting on different days and at different times, and track the engagement after a few weeks or months. At the end of the day, the timing of your post is not going to make or break it, but it’s still good to be aware of your insights and use them to your advantage if possible.

strategize your stories:

If you aren’t taking advantage of stories yet, you need to start. Branded stories have high engagement and conversion rates and can be a big asset to your campaigns. When you create stories, keep the following in mind:

  • Imperfect is the new perfect. Instagram posts are edited pictures, but Instagram stories are meant to be “spontaneous, authentic and imperfect,” so don’t overdo it by editing them to death. People want to see authentic content.  
  • Make them fun. Stories should be fun and engaging for your audience, so spruce them up with some of the different available options like polls, stickers, emojis sliders, questions, quizzes and more.
  • Use business features. Instagram stories have several interactive features that were created specifically for businesses (product stickers, in-story links, swipe-ups and ads), so make sure to use them!
  • Repurpose old content. Try using some of your most popular content from the past and recycling it by adding a new spin or some quick rewording.
  • Highlight your products. Show people your products and how to use them. 
  • Highlight your company. People like to see the human side of your brand, so be sure to highlight your company's culture and the people and activities behind the scenes.

With Instagram having 1 billion monthly users and 8+ million business accounts, it can be an extremely beneficial tool for your business if you follow these best practices.

We have a pretty good handle on Instagram and how it can help your business. If we can help you, reach out and let's discuss.

Morgan Tate

About the author - Morgan Tate

Account Manager, Instagram hotshot, BBQ fan and Red Raider