Written by Jess Gorton • Published 01st February 2016

Instagram is one of the most valuable tools in a brand’s arsenal, but only if used correctly. With over 400 million users it’s officially bigger than Twitter. Here are a few helpful hints on how to grow your channel and make your brand ‘Instafamous’.

1. Know Your Brand

Firstly, whilst Instagram is an incredibly popular channel, it’s not a necessity for every brand…for example, if you’re a fashion brand, it could be your most valuable channel, whereas for a bank, not so much! Plan your content carefully and think about the tone your audience will want you to take. Are you a fun brand disrupting the marketplace? Then funny quotes and pugs in hats might be the way forward. If you’re aspirational and sophisticated, beautiful, picturesque images will be the order of the day. Sharpie is a great example of a brand that’s found their niche – creative and a bit quirky. Their regular posts of ‘fan art’ drawn in with a Sharpie pen are fun and gives the brand a sense of identity.

Sharpie Instagram feed

2. Timing is everything

Think about what people want to see and when. If you’re a food brand, it’s beneficial to post early in the lunch hour when people are taking a break but thinking about food, whereas for a fashion brand, a Sunday evening post when people are in the mood for online shopping might work better. Instagram does not have a built-in scheduling function, so if you want to post at the weekend or in the evening, it’s either a case of setting an alarm as a reminder or downloading a separate app which will allow you to schedule your posts. Look to asos for an example of a brand with a really consistent – but not overbearing Instagram presence.

Asos Instagram Feed

3. #Hashtags

Like with Twitter, Instagram users can search for trending hashtags, so it’s good to think about if there are any commonly searched for tags that you could use in order to expose your post and subsequently brand to a wider audience. Instagram users aren’t shy of using a mash-up of many varieties of hashtags so don’t be afraid to pile them high. If you’re running a particular campaign, you can use hashtags to monitor the success too, again similarly to Twitter. If you’re just starting your channel out, you can also search relevant hashtags to find people to follow – something that’s key to building your audience when you’re just starting out. Starbucks uses a great mix of their own hashtags and other more widely used tags such as #coffeelove – even if they are as simple as #espresso. Some of the most popular hashtags around include #Photooftheday and #Instagood so if you want to reach far and wide check these in the mix!

Starbucks Instagram Feed

4. Find a balance

The mixture of content that you use will depend entirely on your brand – you already know your brand so think about what goes down well with them. Even if you’re more corporate, posts that humanise you and your company, such as a charity event, staff dress down day or ‘meet the new starter’ are all great ways to include different and varied content in your channel. Similarly, if your channel mainly focuses on your product, it’s great to mix up posts that are essentially showcasing this with ‘behind the scenes’ images. By making your audience feel like they are gaining an extra level of insight into your brand, they’ll automatically feel more engaged, which can translate into brand loyalty. For example, American Express might not seem like an obvious example of a brand that should excel on Instagram, but their posts of priority events that their cardholders can take advantage of takes them from corporate to cool.

American Express Instagram Feed

5. Mix it up
Instagram is fundamentally a creative, visual channel, so use the different mediums available to you to your advantage. As well as classic and filtered pictures, use videos or try using an app to create inventive posts, such as the boomerang app which flicks between two images, a photo booth app to split the screen into multiple images or the new VSCO app which enables a subtle, arty finish for pictures. Burberry is a great example of a high end brand whose channel exudes class and style, but still keeps things fresh and exciting by using a variety of filters and mediums.

Burberry Instagram Feed

6. Know who likes you
Use an analysis app such as Crowdfire to manage your followers. You can see which of your followers are inactive – and see who unfollowed you – to make sure that your audience is engaged and also look for relevant users to follow. You can also see who your biggest and most engaged fans are so you can show them some love. Building up an engaged follower base will help to take your brand to the next level and make the most out of Instagram.

Crowdfire Instagram Tool

7. Get verified
The ‘blue tick’ of verification is a key step for any brand, but unfortunately, there’s no way to get this certificate of authentication other than to get noticed by Instagram. In order to do this, it’s necessary to build up a large, but engaged following. There’s no quick fix to this other than to post regularly and know your audience, which hopefully some of the above tips should help with. Carry on like this and you could be following in the footsteps of Taylor Swift, owner of Instagram’s most followed account who as of now has 64.1m followers…and counting.

C--fakepath-verified

 

8. All eyes on the prize

One of the most effective means of growing your channel is through competitions. A competition allows you to really build of engagement to your channel and get more people following and talking about you. Do what works for your brand, so for example offer the first 50 people to comment on your picture a free pizza, or give away a bag to someone who tags your brand in their own post.

Jess

Entrepreneur and Business