Names doubling as keywords, collections of uniquely specific hashtags, the impact of a perfectly placed photo paired with a compelling color palette, content that promotes authentic human interactions… if these exciting features don’t immediately make you think of the fastest growing social network in the world, then it’s time you met the new Instagram.

As of 2019, Instagram boasts a mind-blowing one billion monthly users. New and exciting changes are constantly being tested and implemented, and it’s important for brands and businesses to keep up in order to fully harness the power of this unique social platform.

Make the most of Instagram with our top 12 tips:

1. What’s In A Name? Everything!

On Instagram, words in your username are searchable and act as a keyword. How are you best recognized? For some, simply your business name fits perfectly. Others may want to be more detailed (for example, a pizza spot may want to add their city in the name, like @JohnsPizzaNYC). Think of what sets you apart and specifies your business, and utilize those words in your username. A recent change even made Instagram names searchable, not just usernames. It’s important to optimize both to the fullest extent!

Instagram name example on feed of Johns Pizza NYC.

2. Create A Visual Story

Instagram is all about pictures, so an inferior snapshot is a waste of a post. Using too many stock images is also a big turnoff for your audience. Instead, be savvy by using creative shots and filters to make the most of a photo. You can even download other apps to help you create interesting or beautiful filter options, which help you to keep your look and brand consistent within your Instagram feed. Also, make sure to follow the rule of quality over quantity. Since Instagram has image recognition technology, it scans and connects your photos to others that are similar. Just as your company has a story, from the founding day to present, your account tells whatever story you find best to represent you.

mConnexions Instagram Example

Patterns are also a clever way to showcase an attractive theme of colors and graphics, while looking professional and polished. On our mConnexions Instagram, we mix inspirational quotes (on a white background with our brand’s shade of green color for the font), with photos that are soft and muted in color. Scrolling through the page shows a visually appealing feed, and the images are broken up with graphics. Utilize the preview app to look at ideas on feed styles and layouts, and see how your feed turns into visual art. See a screenshot of our account below to see how we use patterns and colors!

3. Watermark All Original Content

Entreprenuer.com offers a safety tip to protect your content. “Watermark all original content so people know who the credit should go to if they do share it. People are going to screenshot and repost your pics, so you need to protect your original content so you get credit and thus exposure. Create a watermark that’s legible but not bothersome.”

5 Surprising Social Media Statistics - mConnexions

4. Utilize Alt Text and Image Descriptions

With 285 million people in the world experiencing some form of visual difficulties, having an accessible Instagram makes it easier for those with visual impairments to still use the platform. You can add an image description in the caption of your photo, as well as take advantage of new alternative text options recently rolled out by Instagram. Automatic alternative text creates a description of a photo through object recognition technology, which is read through a screen reader. You can also manually improve the automatic alt text for an even richer, custom description, by following the steps below as outlined by Instagram:

  1. Start by taking a photo or uploading an existing photo to Instagram.
  2. Choose a filter and edit the image, then tap Next.
  3. Tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap Write Alt Text.
  5. Write your alt text in the box and tap Done (iOS) or Save (Android).

5. Don’t Oversell

While your brand is certainly something to market and promote, too much self-promotion can alienate followers. Obvious self-promotion is frowned upon, so share aspects of your brand without going overboard. Try using a lifestyle approach; find things that relate to your brand’s personality and use them for interesting posts.

6. Find Brands You Admire

What brands do you enjoy following on Instagram? What are they doing right? Do your research to find popular and effective companies that you want to emanate. This is an easy way to become more familiar with Instagram marketing and learn from those who are successfully utilizing it.

7. Product Placement

Some of the top stories on the news lately have included innovative pictures of common products used in strange, new ways (ketchup cups, for example). Several have gone viral, simply due to the interesting approach or how it blows the public’s mind. It’s a fun challenge to look at your products and think outside the box. New products can also be previewed through Instagram, like announcements and a “Look what’s coming!” buzz.

8. Make It Personal

A company’s greatest asset are its employees. Make your account more personal by using your human capital! Whenever you hire a new employee, take a photo of him or her and post it to Instagram with some fun hashtags. This simple approach builds personal relationships between Instagram users and your team, and is a good way to break up product-specific posts. In mConnexions’ year-end blog on Digital Marketing Trends for 2019, we examined the growing importance of authenticity for brands & businesses, and Instagram is a particularly great platform to begin capitalizing on this trend.

Instagram Hashtags - Example from mConnexions

9. #Hashtags are #Essential

Hashtags are searchable keywords. When users search a particular hashtag, everything tagged with it will appear. Something as common as #sunset may generate millions of results, while #marketingtools will have a more narrow response that’s specific for businesses. Find hashtags that describe your photographs, speak to your audience, and lead to the most awareness and engagement. While you can post up to thirty hashtags per post, use them wisely to find relevant and appropriate tags for the photo and your company.

Social Media Planning - mConnexions Calendar

10. Plan and Prepare

Setting up a routine to post pictures on certain days or times will take away the stress of coming up with content without a plan. Decide your posts beforehand, by the week or even month, enforcing that you keep updating your account and have the posts easily at hand.

Social Media Planning - mConnexions Calendar

11. Track Your Statistics

There are many online tools and apps that will allow you to understand your account statistics, and track your views, clicks, engagement, and overall success on Instagram. A trusted marketing agency like mConnexions can provide you with the right social media experts to evaluate how effective your campaigns are performing, and offer suggestions & strategies to help you get the most out of your business’ Instagram experience.

12. Engage, Engage, Engage

Being an active user allows you to recognize and thank users for their comments. Being responsive to other people’s feedback maintains these virtual relationships, and is simply good social media etiquette. Tag them back by clicking on their name and writing a response that they’ll see. After all, marketing is all about making connections!

Instagram Engagement - Example from mConnexions

Instagram Engagement - Example from mConnexions

Most importantly, be sure to enjoy using Instagram! It shouldn’t be a chore. It’s a marketing tool that will grow your followers with time and patience. Don’t take it too seriously and expect instant results or viral posts. Do your research through users, companies, and online blogs. There are many great recommendations to increase your Instagram following and strategies that every brand needs to know. Have a good time familiarizing yourself with and educating yourself about the program. If you’re having fun with your account, it will show through your content and photos. Enjoy being a part of this social media sensation, and see where these tips can take your business!

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