Instagram started as a simple online mobile photo/video sharing app but has exploded in popularity in the last couple of years. It now boasts of about 400 million active users monthly. Instagram has proved to be a fabulous tool for marketing a business/brand owing to its visual storytelling medium. A study conducted by Simply Measured earlier this year found 59 percent of the world’s top brands are now active on Instagram. Here are some pointers to make Instagram work for your business.

Tell a story

‘Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.’ – Seth Godin

The best storytelling on Instagram involves telling micro-stories and bite-sized anecdotes that tie with brand’s values and purpose. Leveraging the power of the written word in conjunction with a striking image created a powerful medium to connect with audiences.

Use videos

Videos are popular visual storytelling mediums, and Instagram supports posting of videos. Your videos don’t have to studio quality to be appreciated but do balance the fun with inspiration and information.

Using video tools can also help capture user’s attention. For example, Hyperlapse is an app that allows users to create digitally stabilized time-lapse videos that are mesmerizing and immediately attention grabbing. Videos can also be used along with storytelling to build a more engaged audience.

Grow your community by participating

Instagram communities have been growing rapidly, gravitating towards brands and influencers who strike the right cords. If you try Instagram guru Chalene Johnson’s 5/3/1 rule, you’re likely to grow your community even further: Like 5 photos, comment on 3 photos, and you will earn 1 new follower. Some brands believe that the best days to post are Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, however, you need to experiment and find out what works best for your audience.

Use hashtags

Find out the hashtags which describe your photos well, and are being used widely and searched for. Top hashtags are available on a number of websites which analyze a hashtag’s popularity and even rank them by their usage.

Hashtags present an opportunity to engage via user-generated content. Fans of your business/brand may use the hashtag you’ve created on their own posts – making it all the more easy to share. For example, Hershel Supply regularly posts the photos they receive from their customers who are traveling with their Hershel backpacks of course, under their #WellTravelled hashtag. So does the pen company Sharpie, which takes photos and content created by its user community and reshares them on their own platform.

Another way to use hashtags for businesses is to search for trending topics and correspondingly trending hashtags, and create messages and stories around these hashtags.

Use apps to enhance photos

A well-composed photo is worth a thousand words. Instagram provides tools to enhance your photos in the app itself, but there are external tools which let you play around with the visuals.

Webstagram helps you search, sort, tag, follow and comment on photos shared by other users, allowing you to build a bigger community. Postagram allows you to turn any Instagram image into a postcard with the push of a button. This little tool could be used well for physical events and generating some instant memorabilia.

Pick a relevant theme

Being clear about the purpose of your business and choosing an appropriate theme will help to keep your Instagram feed well curated. The chosen theme should be relevant to the nature of your business/brand and enhance its value in the eyes of the audience. Whole Foods Market posts photos to promote healthy, wholesome food products, to their active community of customers and employees.

Become a visual brand

Instagram is a ‘visual-app’. Some industries are naturally suited to take advantage of this platform – for example, fashion, retail, food, and beverage, travel, luxury items, arts etc. However even if you’re not from these industries, you could still find creative ways to tell your story by sharing photos of customers, employees, life in the office, motivational quotes or by reposting relevant content from your user community.

Something special for your followers

Plan to treat your followers with something special, like discount codes, sneak peek of new product releases, backdoor views of events, or specials contests. This will help keep the interest and engagement alive while drawing attention from potential customers and fans.


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