Instagram is no longer a trending fad. With 200 million users and counting, it is a social media platform here to stay. Many businesses are already taking advantage of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook; Instagram should be a relatively painless next step in your brand’s online presence. Instagram is transforming into a channel where individuals, brands and influencers come together to share updates using attractive photography and just about anything that can fit within the iconic square photo space.

Instagram optimization for your business

There are several ways to leverage Instagram for your brand. Here are a few steps to help you get started on the platform and ramp up your Instagram presence:

1. Assess your existing assets

Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, but luckily, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to use it. After all, it was originally created to use photos taken with your smartphone’s camera. Additionally, you can assess photos you are already using for other social media platforms as they might also be great for Instagram. Pictures of new and existing products, event photos and your products in every day life are a great place to start. Just remember the ideal size is 510 x 510 pixels but you can use a range of third party applications to modify a photo to fit within the square limits. You can also use third party applications for more advanced photo editing to layer on a new look.

Using Instagram for any product or service

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you may think Instagram is inappropriate for your product or service. There are actually many ways to leverage your brand on Instagram even if you don’t have a tangible product to photograph. Sharing things like behind the scenes photos of employees at work, company wide volunteering, and capturing your brand at events are all great things to share with your Instagram followers. Better yet, tagging staff and encouraging employee engagement can foster some of your most powerful brand evangelists.

2. Identify your goals

If you are just setting out on your Instagram journey, you’ll first want to create initial goals. Instagram is ideal for driving product interest and brand awareness (rather than driving conversion, website visits or purchases). Set one or two primary goals like growing a follower base or increased engagement. In setting your goal(s) it is important to remember that Instagram does not allow links. You get one link on the profile page and any links in a comment or post do not hyperlink. Therefore, goals like increased click-throughs or website visits attributed to Instagram are likely to be underwhelming compared to other social media sites.

3. Optimize for discovery

Instagram is an ideal platform for discovery. Most goals should rely on some level of discovery–i.e. users have to find your content or follow you to engage with content. Optimize your profile and photos using a few different techniques:

  • Use hashtags relevant to your target audience.
  • Post photos that use trending or commonly used hashtags.
  • Post photos that can leverage geo tags or location based tags while at events or at locations.
  • Post photos that relate to relevant followers or influencers.

While there are hashtags for every day of the week, being selective will be a better and more effective long-term strategy.

Instagram is also a great way to show off user generated content. Discovering customer content around your brand is just as important as others discovering your brand. Pick a hashtag customers can use to associate with your brand to make user generated content easier to discover.

4. Decide on a process and a schedule

Like any social media platform, you should be current and up to date or risk being stagnant. Creating a set schedule to share photos will keep current users interested and work to draw in new followers. You can post as often as once a day to once or twice a week, but the important part is to pick a schedule that you can sustain long term.

5. Set your program and evaluate

After you put your process and goals in place, you’ll need to evaluate their effectiveness. Instagram is one of the newer social media platforms and, as a result, the tools and apps for measurement and monitoring are limited. Iconosquare is a free, easy to use tool (previously known as Statigram) useful for automated measurement as well as a degree of monitoring. By using this tool or calculating data manually, you can measure anything from engagement to maximum post reach.

Get started today!

This is just a quick overview of how to ramp up your business’s Instagram use. Chances are if you are a personal user, you already have a good idea how some of these features work. Instagram is a valuable tool, it’s easy to set up, and it’s relatively simple to leverage in a business capacity. Get ‘gramming today!