@@Instagram has over 500 million daily users, including over 25 million businesses that are using Instagram as part of their marketing strategy.@@ Instagram seems like the top place to reach Generation Z, due to the large number of “social media stars” or, influencers, on the platform. What seems to make Instagram so special though, is the addition of the Stories feature in 2016, which almost makes it seem like one platform has become two. But with the huge popularity of Instagram Stories and the advertising opportunities available to us, what does your business do to stand out from the crowd? Here are our top 12 tips to make an impact on Instagram.

Confused about Instagram’s algorithm changes? Here’s how it works in 2018.

Tip #1 – Post every day


Tip 1 - Insta 12 tips-2.png

@@Posting consistently means that you are keeping your followers updated and entertained with regular content.@@ There is no point in spending time creating an Instagram account and strategy, to then only post once a fortnight. Followers will not remain your followers for long if you are inactive, so make sure you have a plan in place to post at least every day. But don’t over-do it. If you feel that you can’t create a piece of high quality content for your account every day, then don’t try, as this may affect the quality of your Instagram account, which won’t look good for your brand.

Tip #2 – Post at the right times

Tip 2 - Insta 12 tips-2.png

@@Posting at the right times means that you will hit the top of your followers feeds whilst they are most active@@, as well as coming up at the top of hashtag searches whilst they are being searched for. This means that a much larger number of people will see your content and engage with it. Do some research on who your audience are and when they are most likely to be online and what they would be searching for and use it. Experiment with different posting times and see which ones get the highest levels of engagement and use these as your posting times. If you’re not quite sure where to start, have a look at this post by Spindogs. Think about the industry you are in and what your audience will be doing at different stages during the day. For example, if you are a clothing brand, will your customers be looking at buying during their Tuesday morning meeting, or when they are at home in the evening planning their weekend out? When are your posts most likely to reach your audience, and when will they engage with it?

Tip #3 – Use hashtags

Tip 3 - Insta 12 tips-2.png

Hashtags are integral to Instagram - we blogged about their importance here. @@By using hashtags, you are more likely to expose your brand to your target audience@@ who are searching for hashtags related to your content. This increases your chances of achieving higher levels of engagement with your posts including likes, comments and follows. If you are a product-based brand, this may even lead to sales. According to Buffer, posts with 11+ hashtags gain the most engagement on Instagram, but in theory even using four or five hashtags will help to increase your engagement levels. One key thing to consider is how you find and choose the hashtags you are going to use. This is made easy by websites such as hashtagify.me and the iOS app, hashtagger. Both help you to find hashtags that are being used on Instagram and show their popularity, as well as related hashtags. With Instagram’s new algorithm it is important to choose relevant hashtags, not just random ones, as you then risk your content being withheld from being distributed by Instagram.

Tip #4 – Write good captions

Tip 4 - Insta 12 tips.png

People like to see beautiful images and videos, not a ‘buy me’ poster. So instead of your captions urging people to buy your products, @@ask them questions, tell them a funny story, ask them how their day is going@@. By varying your captions you are sharing your brand’s personality – such as your culture and brand values. Airbnb are a company doing Instagram captions well, by pairing images of beautiful locations with the #Airbnbexperiences and sharing stories of what customers could experience if they travel to these locations. They then link back to their bio – an easy way of generating travel envy and getting customers to do something about it!

Tip #5 – Use Emojis

Tip 5 - Insta 12 tips.png

Emojis are pretty much part of our daily lexicon now, especially on social media. Even @@Instagram report that nearly 50% of all Insta captions include Emojis.@@ Emojis draw the eye because their colours stand out amongst the plain black text, and they make your brand appear real and fun!

Tip #6 – Use square images

Tip 6 - Insta 12 tips.png

Instagram’s platform is all about the squares – after all, that is what the platform is famous for! On your profile and your newsfeed, all images and videos are square shaped (Apart from Stories of course which are full screen and portrait with an aspect ratio of 9:16). Yes, you can post rectangular images and videos, however Instagram will make the content appear smaller as it must shrink to fill the square box. This doesn’t make the content stand out as much. @@Square content is what Instagram is all about@@, and stands out the best compared to photos and videos that have been shrunk to fill a box.

Tip #7 – Use the right filters

Tip 7 - Insta 12 tips.png

@@Studies have shown that using the right filters can increase your levels of engagement@@, in fact filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on than photos that don’t have a filter at all. But you can’t just choose any old filter. This infographic by Curalate explains which Instagram filters work best.

Tip #8 – Use call-to-actions

Tip 8 - Insta 12 tips.png

A call-to-action is a piece of content that has a purpose to encourage viewers to do something, for example a newsletter with a ‘read more’ button at the bottom or a sales poster with ‘buy now’.  @@Having a clear call-to-action on your Instagram posts means your audience will know exactly how you want them to digest your content@@ and then act on it. A common call-to-action on Instagram is “go to our website, link in bio.”

Tip #9 – Put a link in your bio

Tip 9 - Insta 12 tips.png

Unfortunately, @@links on Instagram are highly restricted and the only place you can put a link is in your bio@@ – so make sure you use it! This will be one of the first things a user sees when they click on your profile and having your website or blog link in your bio will help to drive traffic. You can’t put links in the captions of your posts, however you can add in a call-to-action such as ‘click the link in our bio to read more’ to encourage users to follow through to your website. If you are one of those lucky Instagram accounts with more than 10k followers, you can also use links in your Stories. Adding a link in your Story will create a ‘swipe up’ option linking directly to the web page you wanted. This is another great way of driving traffic to your website or blog through a call-to-action, and it looks great too.

Tip #10 – Try Video

Tip 10 - Insta 12 tips-2.png

Instagram launched video on the app in 2013 and it has sure been a big hit! @@5 million Instagram videos were posted within 24 hours of the feature being added to the app.@@ In 2017, average engagement on video posts increased by 53% and with Instagram upping the time limit from 15 seconds to 60 seconds in 2016 brands have more chance to get creative with video and get their brand messages across.

Tip #11 – Use Instagram Stories

Tip 11 - Insta 12 tips.png

@@Added to the app in 2016, Instagram Stories now have more than 200 million users a day@@. Stories are a great way for brands to show their company culture or values, advertise products or share exclusive, behind the scenes content. Instagram Stories can also be a great way to drive traffic to your blog or website, especially if like mentioned earlier, you have 10k followers and can include a swipe up link. Cosmopolitan talk about how Insta Stories are a great traffic referral tool for them here.

Not quite sure how to use Stories yet? We’ve written a whole blog post about them here.

Tip #12 – Interact with your followers

Tip 12 - Insta 12 tips.png

If your followers have taken time out of their day to comment on and like your photos, then you should do the same back. @@Show that there is a real person behind your account and not just a robot@@ by replying to comments and giving some likes back. You can also interact with your followers by asking them questions in your captions, running giveaways and competitions or asking them to help you with user-generated content for a repost.

So, there you have it. 12 tips to help you on your way to becoming an Instagram pro. Do you do something that we didn’t mention that you find makes you successful on Insta? Let us know in the comments, follow us on Instagram @ByThisRiverLtd or tweet us @ByThisRiverUK.